Kai Byoui Ramune (Dr. Ramune -Mysterious Disease Specialist-) was a fun winter anime full of dick jokes and tear-jerking moments. If you weren’t crying from laughter, you were crying from the pain and hopelessness the characters felt. Even though most of the characters you meet are only focused on for 1-2 episodes and the circumstances of their kaibyou (mysterious disease) are ludicrous, their suffering becomes palpable. Dr. Ramune is a mix of unbelievable afflictions and real-life drama that still maintains an air of danger and mystery that makes us eager to learn the reasons behind the diseases!
It’s Colorful in Every Sense of the Word
From its vibrant shading (similar to how hair is shaded in Rent-A-Girlfriend) to the bright and whimsical character designs, Dr. Ramune doesn’t let you forget that it’s a hilarious, light-hearted anime even with its depressing scenes mixed in. Thankfully, the super bright and eye-catching colors do a lot to distract you from the rather simplistic way the characters are drawn. The almighty Dr. Ramune is a petulant child compared to the actual child, Kuro, who often has to use brute force to set his master straight. Kuro’s stoic nature is made even more ridiculous compared to his friend Shun the artist with eyeballs in his hair and the attitude and vocabulary of a happy, drunk child.
As if looking at deformed, cursed body parts that take the shape of food make him hungry, Ramune always prepares the same type of food that has manifested as a curse with his patients. He usually uses this time to elaborate to Kuro what he thinks is behind the patient’s kaibyou so we get some exposition and cooking lessons at the same time! The art truly takes a fairytale-like turn with sparkles and beautiful coloring to complement happy moments or to illustrate Shun’s artistic thinking. It can turn very dark and ominous as well, such as when the details of Yuu’s death are revealed.
Though Lacking In Depth, There Is Still Character Development
Aside from Ramune and Kuro, most people undergo a very formulaic transformation that results from them either addressing their own trauma or recognizing the pain they inflict on others. These instances all come about because of various kaibyou that disappear just as quickly as the problematic behavior that caused them. It’s almost unreal how quickly Koto’s mother went from using her daughter as a tool to doing a 180 and treasuring Koto despite giving up her precious belongings in exchange for Koto’s life. Usually, unwanted behavior persists and mindsets are harder to change but it does make for concise episodes with happy endings.
Comparatively, the changes Ramune and Kuro undergo are more subtle and not in direct relation to overcoming a kaibyou. Kuro does have to learn to trust his family enough to believe him and protect him instead of shouldering burdens on his own. The difference is that this is not a change that extends to others in his life. Ramune remarks on Kuro’s characteristic inability to express himself on several occasions. It’s not until Kuro has to save Shun the way Kuro was saved by Ramune that he starts speaking more honestly and showing his smile. Even Ramune couldn’t get him to do that. Ramune himself goes through some turmoil trying to listen to his master’s advice but doesn’t drastically change his behavior. Instead, he attempts to change himself only to be more assured in his own way of curing people.
Trauma is Caused by Close Relationships, Not ‘Bad Guys’
While these supernatural afflictions seem very otherworldly, the traumas that breeds them are the result of very ordinary occurrences of one being so wrapped up in their personal suffering or desires, they hurt others without meaning to. It’s easier to separate people into good and bad categories but life is not so simple. Dr. Ramune takes very awful behavior and explains it with varying levels of understandable circumstances. Not many people are going to pity the two-timing playboy with a crush or the small-time thief but watching the relationship between two friends sour due to poor communication invokes empathy. As Ramune seeks to not just remove the malady but heal the afflicted, these feelings and motivations are made known and ultimately humanize those who have made poor choices.
Children are Not Off-limits
Not everyone will be able to handle the pain and death of children in this anime. Watching Koto slowly begin to die due to her mother’s refusal to see her as a person is sad enough, but Rio and Yuu’s story is nothing short of tragic and potentially triggering. It’s not enough that Yuu dies (at least kidnapped and mutilated, but the gruesome way he is murdered and the hopeless things Rio and their mother do to lessen the pain is gut-wrenching to behold. There’s no coming-to-terms with Rio’s desire to find his brother maimed but alive either. At least finding the rest of his body would provide some closure for the family but instead, we must be content with Rio and the mother’s relationship being fixed.
The genital humor would have us thinking that we’re not going to be diving too deep into the human psyche yet we’re shown a world of supernatural manifestations of psychological issues. The specifics surrounding the support characters are quite out there, for example, most of us are not child actresses nor martial art masters. However, we can see ourselves in those wishing the expectations of their family did not so infringe on their happiness or in those that made a mistake and are now suffering an undeserved punishment. Thankfully, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, the tunnel being one to two episodes long! Be it chili pepper nails or dumpling ears, which kaibyou do you think you’d get? Let us know in the comments!