English: Black Jack
Synonyms: Burakku Jakku
Published: Nov 19, 1973 to Oct 14, 1983
Authors: Tezuka, Osamu (Story & Art)
Serialization: Shounen Champion
Score: 8.571 (scored by 1322 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top manga page.
Aug 18, 2010
"He'll only cure you if the price is right!" many scoff. Despite his crusty, ugly outside, might he possibly be a good person?
The drama is quite rich. And we cover every type of emotion possible, from comedy to tragedy and in-between. In each new encounter between the Doc and his patients and their families/friends/associates, we wonder which side of his face he is going to turn. Will he be cold and impassive, mercilessly demanding 30 million yen? Will he take on the case for free, or will he do it for some bizarre exchange?
As you might guess, Black Jack isn't as cold-hearted as tries to seem. Sometimes he has to give "tough love" style treatment. The patient may hate what he asks of them, but things turn out for the best in the end. And occasionally, he helps people for no apparent reason. Maybe he really has a heart of gold. He just buries it as hard as he can. Maybe it seems like he can't understand what it means to be chopped up and sewn together, and go through painful years of rehab. But he does. Because he has. After all, that's what that scar on his face, and many more all over his body, are from.
Several stories made me tear up. Like one where he saves a patient, and thereby causes the death not only her, but her entire family. You wonder if his cold outside is to protect himself from those kinds of outcomes. After all, how do you emotionally deal with that kind of responsibility?
Most of the light comedy in the series is carried by a girl (woman??) he essentially saves from the trash heap. In the body of a little girl, and treated like one, Pinoko insists that she is 18 years old, and is Black Jack's wife. Well, that's because they live together. A hopeless case that the Doc adopted to be his own daughter. The Doc would adopt someone!?! Yes, he must be a good person after all.
Each chapter is a self-contained story. At the end of each chapter, I had to pause, and decompress. Most endings are climactic, often with some unexpected twist, whether a tragic turn, happy ending; maybe bittersweet, or something to make you ponder.
The series began publication in the 70's. Lots of social issues from the time are brought up, from racism, women's rights, gang violence, and euthanasia, to animal rights, gender identity, and drug abuse. And other things from dirty politics to artificial intelligence.
Tezuka used his typical art style. It's much more rounded than I usually like for my comics. But I didn't notice it after the first few pages. I was too engrossed in the stories. More annoying was that many of the character designs are repeated for different people. It's like, "Wait, that looks exactly like the guy from two chapters ago!" but it's a different person.
Like any medical drama, it shouldn't be used as a reference for real medicine. Some procedures are impossible even now. And on that note, there are quite a lot of realistic close-ups on body parts that are being surgically worked on (including cut up flesh, knives slicing skin, innards). They don't look gory; mostly like black and white drawings out of medical textbooks. But if you get queasy around that kind of stuff, consider yourself cautioned. Sometimes more gory are the bodies of accident victims. We sometimes see mauled and burned bodies; some of that was a bit disturbing.
A rich and satisfying series about the fascinating character called Black Jack. A tad mature, very engaging, and highly recommended.
Aug 15, 2012
Now to start the review....
Black Jack is a series of episodic tales about an unlicensed doctor who charges amazingly high prices. He is known as one of the most talented in the medical world. He is respected and loved -- and hated by his peers.
The major problem with Black Jack is that it relies way TOO much on chance meetings and coincidences. Sometimes you will probably be staring at your screen in pure disbelief. Each chapter will range between good- absolute garbage.
At this point I'm going to assume asspulls and laughable chance meetings are a part of Tezuka's trademark style, but it's certainly not good writing. At times the attempts at drama is quite laughable. So take your time to savor the good and the horrible.
I'll forgive most of these problems since Dr. Black Jack is really, really cool. He's like the Captain Harlock of the medical world, but less consistent and harder to understand.
Another good thing about this: It's probably the only Tezuka worked aimed at adults that doesn't attempt to be edgy. It's also his only adult work that was a point. It's just good. No bullshit.
The art is also inconsistent. The styles often change between panels. Characters are often way too small for their own good. But the surgery panels are usually well handled. Props to Tezuka, I guess.