Among the underrated anime classics, Welcome to Dr. Irabu Office deserves more attention. Toei’s 2009 adaptation of Hideo Okuda’s novel is unique in every way, both visually and thematically. While certainly strange, potential viewers shouldn’t assume it’s gimmicky or too outlandish; The focus on mental health conditions and treatments is something that is rarely mentioned in Japanese media.
It’s really not an exaggeration to say that there’s nothing quite like Irabu’s, called Trapeze in Japan. While its psychedelic imagery is a good conversation starter, its real strength is its storytelling, thanks to its surprisingly nuanced look at psychological issues and self-improvement close. So far it seems like no other anime is willing to tackle this topic, which is what makes this show so special.
Irabu’s Office is a psychedelic tour through the field of psychology
At first glance, Irabu seems strange for the sake of strangeness: a “patient of the week” walks into the abstract office of Ichiro Irabu, a bully doctor assisted by Mayumi, a chain-smoking nurse. After a strange injection, the patient’s head transforms into an aptly metaphorical animal, while Irabu inexplicably begins to appear with two more personalities: a mischievous man and a calculating boy. . Meanwhile, the background characters are literal cardboard cutouts and Irabu blends in live-action performers, their faces attached to hand-drawn bodies. It’s an absurd world that makes you doubt whether anything will be taken seriously.
Ironically, it is the sight and image of the doctor giggling that helps inject humanity into each story. Each patient has anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, addictions and phobias; The hyper-stylized animation helps convey the tension of fear that the stove has been left unattended or is likely to crash. Just to reassure the audience that mental health is no laughing matter, the anime even has a real psychologist doling out facts and advice from time to time. It’s an in-depth yet surprisingly accessible mental health examination that requires Dr. Irabu to act foolishly to avoid some more serious cases.
Perhaps the best part of the story is that although Irabu may be a miracle doctor, handling 11 cases in just one week, solutions are always understated and never treated like bullets Magic. Indeed, one episode subtly mocks the idea of a momentary thrill, as the patient fantasizes that shouting at his ex-wife will earn him a standing ovation. Many patients simply learn to live their lives with newfound confidence and tools to manage their problems. That’s probably the best message to take away from watching Welcome to Dr. Irabu Office:don’t be afraid, no one is perfect.