First Impression – Young Black Jack

Fall15-TV-blackjackThe story of a crazy doctor, written by a crazy doctor


This show is quite something.  It both pays homage to the great Osamu Tezuka masterpiece Black Jack, completely disregards other things that made Black Jack special, adds a heaping dose of abs, and a bit of interesting historical trivia.  But before anything else, this show puts Black Jack in the “Beautifully and Horrifically Scarred Peoples Club” along with its founder Balalaika from Black Lagoon.

Doctor Doctor, Give me the news

Young BJ2015-10-04-05h32m00s788Black Jack: Better than Samurai

So who is Black Jack you might ask.  Well Black Jack is awesome.  But before he became the underground doctor of legend, Black Jack was a university student of legend named Kuroo Hazama.  I don’t care what his name is, this guy is Black Jack and I wouldn’t call him anything else.  Anyhow, Black Jack is a university student in the 1960s.  As your history books undoubtedly didn’t include, the 60’s was a very interesting in time in Japanese history.  WWII has been over for a long time, Japan was on the upsurge after the post-war depression, and a mangaka named Osamu Tezuka was already a house hold name.  In the medical world, this was also a time when many students were protesting unfair treatment and low wages.  But you see, this show isn’t about the student protests, its about Black Jack.  Which is weird.

You see much, of the charm and the reason Black Jack holds up till today is that Black Jack wasn’t really a developed character.  He gets into insane situations where he creates a human being from a bunch of half formed organs, he solves a case where people burst into flame, he heals a baby, a cat and an asshole politician all on a single boat ride.  But in typical Tezuka fashion, most rich people or politicians are complete dicks, willing to barter the medical fees even when dealing with the lives of their own children.

Young BJ2015-10-04-05h32m30s682 Personally, I love these goofy designs.  I really hope this sticks around

A lot of the stuff that I love about Black Jack has remained in this adaptation.  Surgeries that should fail (though really, that’s the staple of all medical drama), wacky side kicks, asking for an ridiculous amount of money in doctors fees, and of abs.  Wait a second, you never see Black Jack’s abs in the original!  This is why the show is so weird.  We aren’t dealing with international conspiracies where a magic drug that enhances all human aspects is being used to take over the world, rather Black Jack now has angst.  I think that this show holds up on its own, but it really causes a degree of dissonance with my feelings about the franchise as a whole.

Oh yeah, a kid gets run over by a train and Black Jack reattaches his limbs.  I did like the jazz hands, but this surgery was pretty tame.  Not a single bone or muscle was shown, just lots of jazz hands.  The surgery was fine, the weak to blood doctor was entertaining, but I don’t watch Black Jack to see if he will succeed.  That’s like watching Akagi to see if Akagi will win.  It’s a forgone conclusion.  I just hope that this show really brings up the crazy dial.

Young BJ2015-10-04-05h32m47s200Subtle is as Subtle does

At the end of this episode I actually can’t make up my mind on how I feel about Young Black Jack.  On one hand this is a perfectly competent medical procedural with a historical flavoring.  And maybe some problematic political views.  I’ll just say that I’m sure the real student protesters probably weren’t monsters that would just look the other way to a boy missing half his limbs.  But on the other hand, I read Swallowing the Earth by Tezuka, so I get the feeling some troublesome viewpoints will pop up again.   As a Black Jack show this isn’t as good as the work done by Osamu Dezaki.  Going forward, I will definitely be keeping an eye on how this show progresses.  Right now we are at crazy levels “wears a mood altering path.”  If we can reach “on FBI watch list levels” then I can guarantee this show will be a spectacular ride.


As someone of questionable tastes and even more questionable ethics; if we laugh at the same things you are one of two things: A person of discerning taste or a weirdo. Guess where I fall.
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5 Responses to “First Impression – Young Black Jack”

  1. BlackBriar says:

    I’ve come across the name Black Jack now and again and seen related pictures but never understood what it was about, what makes it (in my opinion) semi-famous. First episode in and I can’t really find anything to say aside from the titular character being exceedingly competent. Then again, he is the lead and by decree, should have some kind of edge. Maybe this will prove to something good but I’m nowhere near swayed to be invested to follow weekly and it gives the feel of better off getting praise through being marathoned. So if I’m ever inclined to give Young Black Jack another go, it will be when all episodes are available.

    • Samsura says:

      Here is a brief primer on why Black Jack is a legend. 1. When Osamu Tezuka actually wrote it in the 70’s there wasn’t many manga that told similar stories. 2. A lot of the manga and TV show is like a big morality play. Black Jack meets people, people suffer sickness or whatnot. Black Jack heals them, imparts a life lesson. 3. Black Jack can get really crazy. He took a half formed tetratoma, stuck it in an artificial body, and literally created a sentient human being! The work done on the franchise by Osamu Dezaki is my favorite of the bunch. I wouldn’t really call Black Jack a procedural kind of show, its not really the same type of story as House. Though I believe Young Black Jack will actually be closer to that type of show anyhow.

  2. BlackBriar says:

    @Samsura: Hey, the last episode of Kekkai Sensen is finally out. Here’s the link.

  3. zztop says:

    Tezuka studied medicine growing up, and got a proper medical degree. He said Black Jack was the “doctor he never became”, and drew on his medical knowledge in illustrating many of Black Jack’s cases.

    Did Tezuka have any political beliefs that would warrant criticizing the student protests of the ’60s?

    • Samsura says:

      Now I have not read any statements by Tezuka that say “this is what I believe about issue X.” Going by how much of his more political manga have gone, I do believe Tezuka would fall under the anti-authority camp.

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