Classic Anime & Manga “Black Jack”: Masterpiece Medical Manga by Osamu Tezuka
Osamu Tezuka is one of the leading mangaka comic artists in Japan who has produced “Tetsuwan Atomu (Astro Boy)”. He has actually studied medicine at college.
This time I would like to introduce “Black Jack”, one of the masterpieces created by Osamu Tezuka. This story unfolds with the theme of medical care and life, and it poses many issues for the readers to ponder upon.
A genius surgeon called “Black Jack” has incredible skills and he miraculously cures dying patients one after another.
However he always demands ridiculous fees in exchange for his service.
What is more surprisingly is the fact that he is an unlicensed medical doctor.
But there is no end to patients who come to him after losing hope in conventional medicine.
1. Black Jack
He is the main character of this story and a doctor without a proper license.
Because he charges enormous fees for his treatments each time, he is often treated as an unscrupulous doctor.
Nevertheless he cures many patients with his miraculous skills, and he has made his name in the country as a genius surgeon.
He had a history of being blown up to pieces along with his mother when an unexploded bomb was accidentally activated.
He miraculously survived the accident by the treatment of his mentor Jotaro Honma, another surgeon.
She is a girl living with Black Jack.
An incident resulted in their encounter and they started living together.
Her appearance is that of a child, but her age is actually 18-20 years old. Her history will be revealed later in the story.
She behaves unilaterally as if she was Black Jack’s wife.
She often works as Black Jack’ assistant and has an important role in the story.
3. Jotaro Honma
He is the mentor who saved Black Jack when he was critically injured in the accident involving an unexploded bomb.
He is the person who gave Black Jack the reasons to become a doctor.
4. Dr. Kiriko
He is a doctor who receives euthanasia contracts while dodging the law.
A former army surgeon, he put down wounded soldiers that couldn’t die despite their sufferings, and he has experienced receiving their gratitude.
From this experience he started handling euthanasia.
In the story he fills a position of a rival against Black Jack.
My Selection of 3 Best Episodes
Each episode of Black Jack is self-contained. Now I would like to introduce 3 best episodes that I selected for you!
1. “Ue to Shita (Top & Bottom)”
Black Jack was contracted to operate on the president of a large corporation.
The president’s blood type is Rh negative, a very rare type in Japan, and a laborer with the same blood type was brought from a construction site in the neighborhood in order to help him.
The operation was successful and the president is about to board an airplane bound for the USA in order to work on a very important trade arrangement.
Then he receives a message that the laborer has been critically injured and requires blood transfusion to survive.
But if he doesn’t take this flight, his trading deal will fail and his company’s future will be doomed.
With his company’s future and his benefactor’s life on balance, what will the president decide?
2. A Sixth-Magnitude Star
Dirty power struggles continue in a hospital between two physicians to determine who will be the next director.
There is another doctor, Dr. Shiitake, who has similar skills and experience in addition to the two doctors.
Dr. Shiitake does not stand out at all in the hospital despite his great skills as a doctor, and he is not a candidate for the director’s position.
But when the two candidates are arrested in a corruption case…
3. Laughing Drunk
When Black Jack was a middle school student, he had a friend.
This friend was always laughing joyously.
Black Jack didn’t like him at first.
But having learned the friend’s past and future aspirations, he started to get attracted to him gradually.
One day a disaster befalls on the two.
Black Jack is no ordinary manga.
What is life and death?
How should medical care be?
What does human life mean?
His work makes the readers think about many different issues.
This story is a classic work in Japan that Osamu Tezuka has created in the 1970s and 1980s, but its excellence has not yet tarnished to date. I strongly hope this work to be read by the international community as well.