In a tense war-torn climate, on the eve of the Japanese surrender in 1945, Doctor Akagi, the local doctor of a seaside village on one of Japan's islands, takes a stand to save his professional integrity. He is concerned by the growing number of people coming down with hepatitis the main cause of death in an undernourished country. He bands together with his old buddies, a dissolute monk and a nihilistic morphine-addicted surgeon. They're all on the fringe of Japan's militaristic society. The naive and somewhat wild Sonoko joins their group as Dr. Akagi's nurse. However, because she has been taking care of her brothers and sisters ever since her parents died, she sometimes makes money as a prostitute. But in working with Dr. Akagi, she learns something of her destiny. She loves the unusual doctor and wants to spend the rest of her life with him. A wounded Dutch soldier arrives on the scene. An escapee from a prisoner of war camp, he completes this little circle of friends. They are all united in their passion to create a microscope powerful enough to discover the cause of hepatitis virus -Doctor Akagi's personal quest. And they are willing to go to any lengths to do so.