Tezuka Ryoan (later Ryosen), one of the leading characters, is based on a historical figure. He is known as the founder of a vaccination clinic in Koishikawa, and was also a great grandfather of Tezuka Osamu. The story is focused on Ibuya Manjiro, a talented swordsman and lower-class samurai who has a strong sense of justice and a tendency to act on impulse, and Tezuka Ryoan, an enthusiastic doctor endowed with efficient technique who is also a happy-go-lucky womanizer. The story, set in the last days of the Tokugawa government, one of the most dramatic periods in Japanese history, describes how the two become rivals for the love of the same woman and close friends at the same time, and also shows how they grow as men while being tossed about mercilessly by the trends of the times.
Original Story: Tezuka Osamu Planning: Ito Kazuaki, Ito Umeo, Yamashita Akihito, Ueda Fumiro Director: Sugii Gisaburo Screenplay: Takayashiki Hideo, Kawashima Sumino and others Music: Matsui Keiko, charcoal Character design: Eguchi Marisuke Animation production: Madhouse
On March 10, 1868, the Edo Castle surrenders after a meeting between Katsu Kaishu and Saigo Takamori, thereby saving Edo from war. In the meantime, Aya is recovering. Ryoan confirms how Aya feels about Manjiro, and the two decide to marry. But Manjiro feels, as a samurai , that he is being left behind the times. Manjiro hears at the wedding ceremony that the Shogitai troops of Ueno have entrenched themselves at Kaneiji Temple to protect Tokugawa Yoshinobu. Immediately following the wedding, Manjiro appears in front of Aya clad in armor.
2nd Episode: Ryoan Sets Sail
One day, Ryoan and Manjiro happen to meet at a noodle restaurant in Azabu. Sharing adoration for Oseki, the daughter of the priest of the Zenshoji Temple, both of them go to see her. The two are rivals again, but this time in love. On their way back, Ryoan is attacked by a group of unfamiliar samurai. Manjiro instinctively draws his sword against two samurai and kills them. Because of this incident, a student of Genbukan starts to target Manjiro: it is the same Kiyokawa Hachiro who had fought previously with Manjiro.
3rd Episode: Sonezaki Shinchi
Arriving at Osaka, Ryoan meets a prostitute named Tomiyakko, who is suffering from appendicitis. But being a doctor practicing Western science, he is not allowed to treat her for appendicitis. The Chinese medicine doctor who comes to see her is helpless. Ryoan despairs.
4th Episode: Before the Storm
Ryoan is finally accepted into Teki Juku private school in Osaka. But disgusted with the selfish students and the dirty room they share, Ryoan continues to sleep in Sonezaki Shinchi, neglecting his studies. At the same time, Ryosen devotes himself to opening a vaccination clinic in Edo, and manages to get a chance to see Endo Tajimanokami, the supervisor of the direct retainers of the Shogun. But it is the doctors in charge of the Shogun that appear in front of Ryosen. They oppose the establishment of a vaccination clinic.
5th Episode: The Great Earthquake of the Ansei Era
A large earthquake hits Edo. Manjiro guides people evacuate to the sea, but this area is full of scoundrels. Manjiro draws his sword at rogues who threaten to kill if they are not given money.
6th Episode: Vaccination Clinic
Ryoan is not allowed to vaccinate patients, and he is urged by Koan to first make people understand before vaccinating them. Meanwhile, many cases of smallpox are reported. Ryoan moves around the town to prevent the spread of infection, but it is already too late.
In the meantime, Manjiro, who is acknowledged for his post-earthquake disaster relief efforts, meets Abe Masahiro, a member of the Shogun's "Council of Elders," and is abruptly asked if he supports the opening of Japan to foreign countries.
7th Episode: Harris Arrives
Ryoan is told by Koan to persuade Oshina, daughter of Ninaya, to accept a vaccination. Ryoan tries to convince her by wooing her. Oshina tells him that she has a fiance chosen by her father, but that she is in love with somebody else. Ryoan doesn't know what to advise her. Then, the "bird of the night" Okon volunteers to help.
In the meantime, one of the 'black ships' which is carrying U.S. envoy Townsend Harris, arrives offshore of Shimoda on the Izu Peninsula. The magistrate of Shimoda, Inoue Shinanokami, orders Manjiro to guard the U.S. mission.
8th Episode: Sad News and Expulsion
Manjiro is told by Harris' interpreter, named Heusken, about the manufacture of cannons in Shimoda. Manjiro reports the discovery to Inoue Shinanokami, and he is ordered to go to Nirayama. There he is amazed to find a giant brick furnace. A man named Hashimoto Sanai appears in front of Manjiro and extols the necessity of establishing a central government by abolishing the Shogunate. He also explains that the plan was devised by Abe Masahiro, a member of the Shogun's "Council of Elders," and that Manjiro is one of their number.
In the meantime, Okon visits Ryoan, who is studying at Teki Juku in Osaka, and says she wants to observe an autopsy of a criminal put to death by the death penalty.
9th Episode: Duel at the Kanda River
Manjiro hurries back to Edo upon hearing of the sudden death of his father, Sensaburo.
Manjiro is determined to take revenge after learning that his father died trying to protect Ryosen from an assassin. Ryosen and Otsuki Shunsai entrust him with a parcel to be delivered to Abe or Hotta for the purpose of establishing a vaccination clinic.
In the meantime, as punishment for allowing someone who is not a doctor to observe an autopsy, Ryoan is ordered by Koan to memorize a clinical medicine book entitled the "Empirical Teachings of Hufeland" within the period of a month. With the help of Fukuzawa Yukichi, one of his classmates, Ryoan endeavors to memorize the book.
10th Episode: The Petition
In April 1857, Hotta Masayoshi and Abe Masahiro discuss the Japan-U.S. Commercial Treaty, of which Harris is demanding authorization, at Edo Castle.
Manjiro is summoned to Edo Castle together with Katsu Rintaro (later Katsu Kaishu), and questioned about Harris' true motives. But Manjiro proposes the need to set up a vaccination clinic, an idea which is totally irrelevant to the meeting. In the meantime, the doctor in charge of the Shogun, Taki Seisai, bribes the chief treasurer Kawaji Toshiakira, who receives a petition from Manjiro. Then Oshina, whom Manjiro rescued in the great earthquake of Ansei, comes from Osaka to see him.
11th Episode: Audience with the Shogun
In 1857, U.S. envoy Harris is to have an audience with Shogun Iesada. But the delicate Iesada is unable to carry on a normal conversation. Members of the Shogun's Council of Elders assemble doctors in charge of the Shogun, and order them to fully cure him within the space of one month. One of the troubled doctors secretly consults with Ito Genboku, a Western medicine practitioner. Perceiving this as a rare opportunity for Japanese practitioners of Western medicine, Genboku and Ryosen summon Ryoan and Manjiro and ask them to come up with a "brilliant idea."
12th Episode: Doctors in Charge of Shogun
The audience goes well, and Ryoan feels relieved. But he receives an urgent summons from Ito Genboku. Genboku tells him that one of the doctors in charge of the Shogun, Taki Genpaku, has consulted with him. Teppei wonders about the symptoms of Shogun Iesada, who has been diagnosed with insomnia.
Ryoan heads for Osaka to look into the books of Ogata Koan. He devotes himself totally to the investigation and is hardly sleeping. Then, Koan gives Ryoan a book written in English. Ryoan takes the book back with him to Edo, and asks Manjiro to arrange for a meeting with Heusken so that he can ask him to translate it.
13th Episode: Setting up the Vaccination Clinic
In 1858, Ii Naosuke becomes the chief minister, and Hotta Masayoshi falls from power. Manjiro, who had been serving Hotta, is dismissed from the position of guard to Harris. In the meantime, Shogun Iesada becomes critically ill. Ito Genboku is summoned to Edo Castle as the doctor in charge of the Shogun to give him treatment. Genboku is overjoyed to be unexpectedly appointed as the doctor in charge of the Shogun. Hearing the news, Ryosen asks Genboku to deliver his prospectus for setting up a vaccination clinic to the members of the Shogun's Council of Elders. Genboku promises him that he will do his best.
14th Episode: Cholera Lands
It is early summer in 1858, and Ryoan is energetically working at the vaccination clinic.
Then he received the news that 7,000 people have died of cholera in Nagasaki. The disease spreads from Kyushu to the mainland, and finally to Edo. Hearing that Okon is also ill with cholera, Ryoan rushes off to her, but she has already has lapsed into a coma. Will Ryoan be able to save her? At the same time, Ryoan's mother, Onaka, is also infected. What will he do?
15th Episode: Imprisonment
By July 1858, the cholera has disappeared from Edo. Ii Naosuke, who has taken over the seat of the chief minister due to the fall of Hotta Masayoshi, is suppressing the Hitotsubashi clan, which is made up mainly of Mito clan people.
Manjiro is also arrested for having held secret talks about overthrowing the Shogunate with Saigo Yoshinosuke (later Saigo Takamori) and Hashimoto Sanai, and on top of this he is no longer considered part of the Fuchu clan.
Ryoan devises a strategy to rescue Manjiro, who is being subjected to torture.
16th Episode: Storm of the Spring
As suppression by the Shogunate of the anti-foreigners becomes more severe, Ryoan, who has been pretending to be dead, goes to see the principal retainer of the Mito clan, Ajima Tatewaki, to report on the situation in Edo. There, Manjiro meets with the Royalists including Takahashi Taichiro. Manjiro tells them that he wants to see the Shogunate government overhauled.
In the meantime, the vaccination clinic burns due to a fire started in Kanda.
As a large sum of money is required to re-establish the clinic, Ryoan visits Okon, who has a shop in the newly opened port in Yokohama, and has her introduce him to some prospective sponsors. But he unexpectedly becomes involved in an incident.
17th Episode: Return
In the summer of 1860, Manjiro, who is pretending to be dead but is actually lurking in Mito, is summoned by Katsu Rintaro (later Katsu Kaishu) to Edo. He is asked to serve as a guard for Harris and to stay at Zenpukuji Temple as a Shogun's retainer. The order surprises Manjiro, but he immediately leaves for Zenpukuji Temple. There he is attacked by assassins including Ushikubo Tobei. Manjiro follows Tobei to his house, where he is surprised at what he sees.
In the meantime, Ryosen falls ill with apoplexy. Diagnosing his condition, Shunsai lets Ryoan in on a secret.
18th Episode: Parting
In the spring of 1862, Katsu Rintaro (later Katsu Kaishu) declares that a conscription system will be initiated in December in order to ensure that the country will be able to stand on equal footing with other nations. Rintaro asks Manjiro to train farmers as infantrymen capable of handling heavy weapons. Manjiro experiences many problems training the farmers.
In the meantime, the circumstances surrounding Manjiro and Ryoan shift; Oseki of Zenpukuji Temple became a Buddhist nun, and Ryosen falls critically ill.
19th Episode: The Visitor
In August 1862, the movement embodied by the phrase 'revere the Emperor and expel the barbarians' intensifies. Ogata Koan is to leave Teki Juku in Osaka and come to Edo to take over as head of the Western Medicine Center and as the doctor in charge of care of the Shogun. Just as Ryoan is to go and meet Koan, masterless samurai who identify themselves as patriots of the Mito clan come for treatment. Although Ryoan tries to seek the support of other doctors because of the seriousness of the wounds, he is stopped from notifying the others. Will Ryoan be able to save them?
In the meantime, some members of the farmer infantry led by Manjiro are considering joining the masterless samurai group (later Shinsengumi) set up as advocated by Kiyokawa Hachiro.
20th Episode: Military Station Doctor
The Shogunate government sought a military doctor in the spring of 1863. Koan recommends Ryoan, but Ryoan delays his reply to Koan by hiding in Toyoya with Okon. Okon was, at that time, about to undertake all lumber procurement involved in building a military station for infantrymen. But Seikichi, master of Tamaya, interferes. Seikichi threatens Okon that he will reveal her identity as "Okon the night bird" at the bidding. Ryoan wishes to help Okon.
21st Episode: The Infantrymen Take the Field
In November 1863, masterless samurai band together under the banner of expelling the barbarians and providing assistance to the poor. In the Kujukuri district, the Shinchu-gumi Group is staging raids as if they were thieves. Then, the infantrymen group led by Manjiro is ordered to suppress the Shinchu-gumi. But the infantrymen hold back to know that their main enemy is not a foreigner but the Shinchu-gumi, which is made up of farmers like themselves. Although Ryoan has become the doctor to the military station, he encourages them by saying that he will take to the fields.
In the meantime, Seikichi of Tamaya, who has a grudge against Okon regarding the procurement of lumber for the infantrymen's station, consults with Tobei.
22nd Episode: Storm at Dawn
Aya, younger sister of Kusunoki Otojiro of Shinchu-gumi, appears in front of the infantrymen who depart to suppress Shinchu-gumi. She has come to find out about the possible course of the Shogunate army. Manjiro decides to stage a surprise attack at dawn. The frightened soldiers bravely charge at the battle cry of Manjiro. He then engages in a battle with Otojiro, who staged a surprise attack on his father, Sensaburo. Is there any chance for Manjiro to prevail?
23rd Episode: Dispatch of Troops to Choshu
In the summer of 1864, Aya, younger sister of Kusunoki Otojiro of Shinchu-gumi, appears to Manjiro and the infantrymen who are in training, collapsing on the spot. After being tortured at the supreme court of the Shogunate in Edo, she has presumably come to take revenge for her brother, but is barely able to remain conscious. Although Aya is the sister of Otojiro, who has killed Manjiro's father, Manjiro says he will take care of her. In the meantime, the Shogunate government is preparing to suppress the Choshu clan, who were expelled from Kyoto and denounced as enemies of the Imperial Court. Manjiro and his infantrymen also depart Edo for Osaka. There, Manjiro meets Sakamoto Ryoma. Sakamoto tells him that the Tokugawa Shognate government is nearing its end, and he will establish a new nation.
24th Episode: The Direct Petition
The Shogunate government army is fighting desperately against the Choshu clan in 1866. Being an army doctor, Ryoan is feeling helpless as he treats the stream of wounded soldiers carried in to him. Manjiro proposes to Katsu Kaishu a reshuffling of the Shogunate government, but Katsu is thinking about how to put an end to the government altogether. Later, the Satsuma clan joins hands with the Choshu clan in betrayal of the Shogunate government, and in the end power is returned to the Imperial Court. In the meantime, Aya regains consciousness thanks to the good care of Manjiro. But Manjiro makes a certain decision and leaves her behind.