The setting for this colorful and convincing film directed by Shohei Imamura (The Eel) is a small Japanese coastal town just before the end of World War II in 1945. Dr. Akagi (Akira Emoto) is a fiercely dedicated professional whose motto is "a family doctor is all legs. If one leg is broken, he will run on the other. If both legs are broken, he will run on his hands." He has earned the nickname "Dr. Liver" on account of his zealous search for a cure for hepatitis, a malady that has afflicted many of the villagers.

Dr. Akagi's passion attracts an idiosyncratic circle of outsiders and rebels who are driven by own compulsions, desires, and ideals — a one-time prostitute (Kumiko Aso) who becomes his devoted housekeeper and nurse, a libidinous monk (Jyuro Kara), a morphine-addicted surgeon (Masanori Sera), a beautiful inn keeper (Keiko Matzsuzaka), and a Dutch escapee from a local prison-of-war-camp (Jacques Gamblin).

Shohei Imamura is a talented director who has a fondness for anti-authoritarian characters who march to the beat of their own drummer. He also respects the innovative and often surprising ways these juicy individuals can band together in community.