Kuroo Hazama, also known as "Black Jack," is a legend in the medical world. Famous for being one of the best, as well as not having a license, Hazama and his assistant Pinoko save countless lives that other doctors cannot... for a price; an exorbitant price, in fact, which causes many to view the genius as greedy and heartless. Despite these claims, however, none can deny his skill and the lengths that he will go to treat his patients. This dark medical drama tells the story of the ominous and mysterious world of underground medicine as Black Jack risks his life to cure some of the most bizarre diseases imaginable, even if it means breaking every law in the process.
#1: "Just Before Sunrise" by Rhodes (eps 1-3, 11-12) #2: "Kioku no Kimi e (To You in My Memory)" by Another Moon (eps 4-5) #3: "Moon Shadow" by The Orange Vox (ep 6) #4: "Rebirth" by Kudo Eiko (eps 7-10)
#1: "I'll Be Back Again --- Moonlight" by Rhodes (eps 1-3, 11-12) #2: "Kono omoi tsutaerareru (I Thought I Could Convey This Feeling...)" by Another Moon (eps 4-5) #3: "Black Jack" by The Orange Vox (ep 6) #4: "HOPE --- Not to be defeated, not to cry, and not to be daunted" by Kudo Eiko (eps 7-10)
Black Jack is an iconic figure in Japan. The original manga was created by Osamu Tezuka, creator of Pheonix, Buddha and Astro boy. Tezuka was often called the god of manga, or Japans Walt Disney, and he derserved these titles. After all, Tezuka's creation of the sci fi Manga epic "Metropolis" is what convinced Japan that comic books could be just as mature an artform as novels.
So when Osamu Dezaki (Who had worked under Tezuka) was asked to direct the new Black Jack series, he had a daunting task ahead of him. Osamu Dezaki decided, quite wisely, too create his own version of Black Jack. One less cartoony and more serious than the Manga, while staying true to the original. Comparing this version of black Jack with the original Manga, is like comparing Batman Begins to Tim Burtons Batman. There both great interpretations of the charachter, but there so different there's no use trying.
Black Jack tells the story of a brillaint , but horribly scarred surgeon, who works outside of the law. As long as you pay him enough, he'll perform seemingly impossible surgical procedures. The surgeons name is BlackJack.
Don't worry if your not into medical drama's, Black Jack has enough weird diseases, and good drama to keep anyone entertained. Infact, alot of the best episodes are not about medical operations, but charachter interactions and interesting stories, which is what makes the show so interesting. One of my favourite episodes is not about a medical procedure, but a civil war in a south American country. There are a few charachters I don't like, for instance Pinoko, Black Jacks irritating sidekick, but for the most the chaachters are fleshed out enough for you to like them.
The soundtrack has a great 80's feel to it, especially the many opening themes. The dub and original are both great, though both very different. The biggest difference is Black Jack's VA, who sounds quite old and stern in the original, but young and calm in the English Dub. Not sure which I preffered.
There's alot to like in this show. The charachters are all very interesting, lots of dramatic scenes, and the fact that each episode is an hour long gives everyone's charachter time to develop. Great voice acting. Nice animation style, not ussually seen in anime. Alot of episodes are very grand in scope, and this show actually got me interested in medical stories and dramas.
Slow pace in some areas. Never really strays from the formula. Endings sometimes feel rushed. Pinoko Wasn't needed.
This is really one of my all time favourite anime. Osamu Dezaki did a good job of updating Black Jack for a new audience while staying true to the source material. I can't reccomend this series enough.
I'm glad that they released this series on two boxsets rather than individual volumes. Also, the dvd's are regionless, so it works on any dvd player. read more
Well as you probably already know from reading the above summary, this anime is all about the unlicensed surgeon named "Black Jack."
While this anime does show its age when compared to other series, its story is something that is truly a breath of fresh air to say the least. The surgeries themselves are pretty detailed and will especially appeal to those that have an interest in the medical field, yet are not overly graphic like you would expect. (though it does still stay true to its mature rating to be sure)
The character design is good and well detailed, you can tell the artists really wanted to try and draw as realistic human characters as possible. The soundtrack did not fair as well though, other than the opening theme, the music is pretty forgettable. Each episode begins with Black Jack getting a call from a random patient in need, and so the story goes. Which indecently is this series weakest point, each story plays out and concludes at the end. While it is very entertaining to watch, those that are looking for a deep storyline and plot twists, won't find it with these OVAs. The medical problems that he counters with each patient range from the ordinary.....to the super natural. Which also may be a turn off to some people, as not all cases are realistic.
Even so, if you are looking for a different style of anime with a refreshing change of pace, Black Jack may just be what the doctor ordered! read more
Every once in awhile, I stumble across an anime which manages to surprise me. Knowing nothing about what I'm going to watch in advance, I start viewing, ending up with this rare sense of...joy; as if I've unearthed a buried treasure. Whilst watching this OVA, based on the work of Osamu Tezuka, I ended up feeling this way.
I'm not experienced with Tezuka’s work. So far, I've only watched three or so anime adaptations of his numerous manga titles. However, going on what I've read, this OVA is darker, and far more realistic in its approach than the source material. The character designs, for example, are said to have been altered from cartoonish to a grittier style. But, in the end, different or not, I doubt it'll matter to most reading this; most, like myself, not knowing a lot about it prior to viewing.
:: Story :: -- 9/10
The story is about a man known by the name of 'Black Jack'. He's an unlicensed doctor, said to be the best in the world, who will do almost any job asked of him... for a price. With a black cape he keeps wrapped around himself even in the heat of the desert, he travels the world, being paid crazy amounts of money to find the cure for various diseases and illnesses that normal doctors can find no remedy for. No-one knows much about him, only a basic description: he has a surgical scar on his face, a mixture of black and white hair and, as his name suggests, he wears black.
The best way for me to explain the series to someone totally in the dark is to use Mushishi; a very popular, totally episodic title, with very little development for its lead and few recurring characters. Like the lead of Mushishi, Black Jack is always on the move, attempting solve mysteries in order to save the lives of his patients. Each episode focuses on a different problem, and Black Jack often finds himself in a race against time to save lives. There's isn't much in the way of greenery, the stories mostly taking place inside towns, and there isn't any relaxing music that soothes the soul, but the basic premise of both titles are very, very similar. There are even a number of supernatural cases included, meaning there's no realism/supernatural divide separating the two. Black Jack does try to stick closer to reality, with its lead using the power of science rather than information about supernatural life-forms, though.
In the first half, the focus is heavily on realism. There's a story involving the effects drugs have on people and how they destroy lives; there's a story about a clearly-not-renamed-version-of-America attempting to re-capture the leader of a smaller nation out of greed; there's a story about an actress being unable to eat, edging ever closer to starvation and, finally, there's a story about a young man trying to uncover the mystery behind his dreams, which result in him having spasms and bleeding from an old bullet wound. The first episode involves a supernatural illness, but the majority of the content in episodes 2-5 doesn’t stray too far from what can be viewed as believable.
However, the second half differs greatly, and it came close to making me lower my rating slightly. I won't go through them all, but one episode I can use as an example is the sixth. It involves a box full of money arriving two years late at the residence of Black Jack and a rather bizarre dream sequence playing out, where Black Jack goes back in time and has to try to figure out why a princess is suffering as if a serpent is wrapped around her, with her also going into rages where she attacks others. After what came before, it struck me as being out of place, although the later episodes made it fit in better. Honestly, I didn't get as much enjoyment out of episodes 6-9 as I did out of 1-5, and only the moving and very involving final episode about a 'mermaid' compares to the earlier episodes in my mind.
I wouldn't go as far as to say Black Jack is a tale of two halves. The second half did have some interesting episodes, nearly all of them being entertaining, and the final episode allowed the series to end on a high. I will, however, say that, depending on if you enjoy realistic or supernatural elements more, you'll probably end up preferring one half of the series over the other.
:: Characterization :: -- 8.5/10
The characterization is the main plus or negative, depending on your perspective, though. Black Jack, and his youthful looking and immature assistant, Pinoko, receive no real development throughout the series. Black Jack always attempts to distance himself emotionally from his patients and, while he does sometimes end up becoming close with a number of the females involved in each story (even sleeping in the same bed as one of them), the relationships never advance to a point where you learn more about Black Jack. He's quiet, he's kinder than his the fees he asks for suggests and he's a God with a scalpel - that's all you'll ever learn about him from this OVA. Nothing is shown of his past, and you aren't even told why he lives with the ever colourful Pinoko; a character that wasn't needed and often got in the way with her light-hearted scenes, especially in the last half.
The flipside of this coin is that all of the main characters in each of the stories get fleshed out significantly. More often than not, I was able to sympathize with their struggles... or, at the very least, I was able to understand enough to care. Using the characterization in episode four as an example, a woman was shown to gradually deteriorate until she was close to being a skeleton. From time to time, she dreamed about her childhood days spent with her friend; when they both shared childish dreams. As she neared death, despite her will to live, she wanted her pain to end, and to 'see' her friend once again. Because of the slow pacing and powerful images shown, it was impossible for me not to become emotionally involved, and I felt similarly about a number of the other characters.
While I would've loved to learn more about Black Jack and Pinoko, I don't think it damaged what is a totally episodic title. If anything, knowing little about Black Jack made him more of an enigma; adding to his appeal.
:: Art / Animation + Sound :: -- 7/10 & 6/10
By far, the visuals and sound are the most disappointing aspects of the series. I like the gritty art style, I like the detailed and bloody surgery scenes, I like the dull colour usage and the voice acting is perfectly acceptable. The problems lie with the animation and soundtrack. There's very little animation of note included, sometimes still-shots being used. The openings and endings are both very disappointing, the opening in particular because it flashes between poor quality (video) artwork for around three minutes. And the soundtrack is totally unmemorable, me not even noticing when there wasn't any music during the many parts with only voice acting and sound effects. While far from horrible, this isn't something to go into for eye and ear pleasing material.
:: Overall :: -- 8.5/10-9/10
To sum it up, Black Jack is an excellent, slightly under-rated and VERY under-watched anime. I highly recommend it to fans of Mushishi's story-telling style, or to anyone looking for something not reliant on moe to appeal. Without wanting to sound pretentious, Black Jack is an anime aimed at adults; aimed at those who can look underneath and appreciate stories not needing to be pushed along with constant, attention grabbing plot twists. Unless you believe you need 2000+ flashiness, do yourself a favour and look back in time; you never know, you might just see what I saw when I watched it.read more
I have learned to be skeptical of OVAs derived from manga. More often than not they are simplistic and do no justice to the source material. I am glad to say that Black Jack is an acceptation to that. While each story is a stand-alone with an entirely new supporting cast, humanity and depth is given to the characters and their circumstances with only forty-five minutes to tell their story. This is impressive, and I am glad for it. Black Jack and Pinoco stay true to character while showing a shockingly human adaptability and capacity for fault. This has always been one of my favorite aspects of the Black Jack franchise. I am glad it did not change.
While these stories are stylistically departed from the original Tezuka manga, they retain a powerful and simple charm. Instead of Tezuka's club-foot pseudo-Gumbyish body types, the characters are drawn in realistic anatomical detail, which I personally like given that the more recent anime adaptations return to Tezuka's art style. This is a dark, gritty world for Black Jack, and many of the visual elements from the movie remain--nearly retro-futuristic technology combined with urban decay. Japanese culture is also deeply entrenched in those cases that do occur in Japan--the final OVA with its mermaid story comes to mind. It is faithful to the juxtaposition of modern technology and Shinto animism still present in Japan.
For better and worse, the animation is highly derivative of its time (mid 90's)--it is high-quality hand-drawn cels, but I would have told the director to lay off the dramatic triple-takes and action lines. It gets maudlin fast.
The political issues are also painfully contemporary. A thinly-disguised (and I do mean *thinly*; the damn flag is the same, Niagara Falls is on the Northern border) United States invades a country under pretenses of correcting a corrupt government when all it wants is oil rights. (Note that this was pre-Iraq, but post Desert Storm). The President speaks of a God-given duty to spread justice throughout the world in the form of forceful policing. Chemical weapons and radiation left from the world wars cause devastating diseases. Biological warfare, something less prevalent in Tezuka's manga, takes a center stage.
I can recommend this to those unfamiliar with the Black Jack franchise given that they are stand-alone stories with little integration into the manga storyline. However, this is not my favorite anime adaptation of the doctor's adventures, despite my love for the pseudo-realistic style given to the character designs. Everything else this OVA does well, the 2004 adaptation does just as well or better, and given how well-done this OVA is, that is truly saying something. Knowledge of the background is helpful but not necessary to understand what is going on. read more
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