Posted by psgels on 6 April 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews




Osamu Tezuka is an utter genius. With that I don’t just mean that he single-handedly fired off an entire new medium; he’s also a masterful storyteller. Especially his stories that aren’t aimed at children rock. But what’s more, due to his legacy his stories also have been adapted by some of the best directors imaginable. Ryouruke Takahashi, for example: I may be a huge fan of Votoms, I still consider his masterpiece to be his adaptation of Hi no Tori. Rintarou meanwhile delivered brilliant renditions of Metropolis and again Hi no Tori. The Black Jack OVA meanwhile is Osamu Dezaki’s chance to shine. And again: this was undoubtedly the best thing I’ve ever seen from him.

There have been more adaptations of the Black Jack franchise, but all of them just seemed to be missing something. This however is a perfect adaptation. It’s an epic that took eight years to be fully created. It has only ten unrelated episodes, but each episode is fifty minutes long, and that turned out to be the perfect length: long enough to include some deep storylines, yet short enough not to drag on.

This show… completely took me by surprise. Every single episode has a deeply imaginative story that tests the boundaries of medical science. Every episode is somehow combined with either political, military, corporate or some sort of other intrigue. Seriously, the stories here put in a lot of effort to set themselves apart. Stories are often multi-layered and just keep building up with all kinds of plot twists, in the true fashion of Osamu Tezuka’s best works.

But beyond that, when you look at this show with a more technical view, it’s amazing to see what the creators did here. The attention to detail in all of the medial procedures is stunning. They even got a number of medical advisers in order to make sure that everything is accurate (or as accurate as possible when dealing with made up diseases). It’s well known that Osamu Tezuka used to be a doctor and that he wrote Black Jack with a ton of medical knowledge in mind, but it’s also the way in which this series is animated that is just stunning. It’s all completely uncensored: this show doesn’t shy away in the slightest to show Black Jack’s operations in full detail, whether this is ranging from a simple medical check-up to a brain surgery.

The result is a show that seriously gave me a new interest in medical science, even though this usually doesn’t interest me in the slightest. This show did justice to both inexperienced doctors, and geniuses. It shows that there are many different kinds of doctors, and how even the best surgeon in the world is powerless in some cases. And furthermore it also is brilliant in portraying the actual victims: the people who contracted these bizarre diseases and the people close to them. This show shines like no other portraying the agony that these people go through, and it does so with strength and conviction, (courtesy of Osamu Dezaki’s unique style), instead of cheese.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Just brilliant. Always knows when to deliver its next plot twist. Its stories sparkle with creativity.
Characters: 9/10 – Terrific voice acting, amazing characterization, both for the doctors and the patients in this series. Even Pinoko was adorable this time.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Gorgeous artwork, but granted: Akio Sugino‘s style is completely different from usual anime.
Setting: 10/10 – An amazing medical background, even compared to the other Black Jack installments.

Suggestions:
Black Jack Special (Don’t get me wrong: the Black Jack Special is crap compared to this OVA; it completely got Pinoko’s character wrong. But it does contain the very important episode on Black Jack’s backstory. This OVA assumes that you’ve seen that, even though it aired at a later date…).
Hi no Tori
Metropolis

18 Responses

  1. darkerthanblackswordsman says:

    This backstory you mention – is it part of the TV series as well? Don’t really fancy watching an OVA you rated 69…

    And in more general terms: In what order should I watch this… eh… franchise? There seems to a series, and several OVAs and movies…

  2. elianthos says:

    I watched this series about three weeks ago and I sorta fell in love with this XD. Trust an Osamu to bring out the best of the other Osamu… and I especially love those little touches that are typical Dezaki yet fit so seamlessly into Tezuka’s story&characters (my personal favourite here? Starry skies and fireflies/floating pollens. The same combo he had used in some key scenes of Rose of Versailles (you’ll know which ones when you see them ;D ). Ditto on the pastel and watercolour still frames… so effective and beautiful). Are you going to watch the 1996 movie http://anidb.net/perl-bin/animedb.pl?show=anime&aid=686 as well :>?

  3. psgels psgels says:

    Elianthos: http://psgels.net/go.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fpsgels.net%2F2010%2F01%2F02%2Fblack-jack-the-movie-review-80100%2F&i=0&c=660192d7afb15ff872568c82e8d5f1d406eac9e2

    Darkerthanblackswordsman: unfortunately I haven’t seen the Tv-series, so I can’t comment on that one. Most of that special is indeed something you can skip, but its fourth episode details some key information about Black Jack’s past.

  4. elianthos says:

    @darkerthanblackswordman: the 4 OVA series mentoned by psgels at the bottom of his review adapts some of the early stories, but the manga source starts ‘in medias res’ and it’s quite episodic at first… hence as far as both the 10-OVA series of this review http://anidb.net/perl-bin/animedb.pl?show=anime&aid=2544 , the 1996 movie http://anidb.net/perl-bin/animedb.pl?show=anime&aid=686 and the 4-OVA series http://anidb.net/perl-bin/animedb.pl?show=anime&aid=2672 are concerned, you can watch them in any order you wish basically :> . Dezaki’s rendition (10 OVAs + movie ) is the more adult one, just keep it in mind as watching the franchise handled by other directors might feel ‘kiddy’ in comparison. .
    In the 4-OVA series instead the ‘Like a Pearl’ episode reveals why Black Jack decided to become a doctor, so if you are interested in the backstory that’s the episode to pick out of the four.

  5. elianthos says:

    @psgels: thank you. I spotted your movie review only after I posted XD.

  6. gan says:

    Psgels,have you finished with the TV series of Black Jack?
    Its sequel Black Jack 21 is pretty amazing too!It follows a continuous plot.Are you gonna make a post about it soon?

  7. psgels psgels says:

    Gas: I haven’t watched it yet, though at the moment I have no concrete plans to check it out.

  8. Michael says:

    I watched the first episode of I believe Black Jack 21. I saw a chibi and a doctor who said to a medical board – “I don’t need a medical license to practicing medicine, because I care about my patients!!”

    And that’s when I turned that crap off..

  9. njh317 says:

    This OVA was really a masterpiece in my opinion.
    I really like the style of drawing and the story.
    Short but full of meanings. Thumbs UP!!

  10. elianthos says:

    @Michael (#8): I’ haven’t watched that series, as my BJ and Tezuka’s manga expert suggested me to watch just the Dezaki’s 10 OVAs (&movie) and the other 4 OVAs. But if that was the sentence you heard, they’ve screwed his motivations for being a doc, compared to the manga source ^_^;.
    He does care for his patients, but in his own way… and the doc license (or lack thereof) is tied an entirely different set of reasons related to

    ***SEMI-SPOILER***

    a certain chain of events in his childhood (see the 4th epi in the 4 OVAs series + the beginning of the 1st epi in the same OVAs set )… and his ‘solution’ to that (to my knowledge said solution/aim is explained in the manga source only and it’s quite a twist).

    *****END SPOILER of sort***

  11. astrocurrent says:

    I just want to add that the english dub of these ova are quite good. I remember I was surprised by the acting of the voice acters when I watched them on TV. Some of the stories have a strong eastern culture background, but nevertheless are interpreted quite well in the english dubbed version. In fact, it is more colorful and vivid as in terms of the characters, while the sound effects are surprisingly quiet. The japanese version is more dramatic.

  12. Perrin4869 says:

    Just finished watching all the episodes, and I must say, this series was amazing by any possible standards I know.
    As you said, Pinoko was indeed cute in this series. It’s a shame that in most anime comic relief characters are used so badly, and end up ruining what would have otherwise been a solid experience (at least somewhat), but here it was used exactly right.
    When watching or read older stuff, like, say, Matsumoto Leiji anime or manga, I tend to just enjoy the stories and atmosphere, but I don’t expect the level of storytelling here. If Black Jack manga is as good as this OVA, I find it not surprising at all that Osamu Tezuka did all he did, he was so far ahead of his time.
    I do believe the rating here is too low, this series stands well above many other things you rated higher, but whatever. At least it got me to watch this.
    I can go on adding praises, but I’ll leave it at that.

  13. I didn’t watch any episode but by reading your post I am eager to watch it. Glad to visit your site.

  14. We absolutely love your blog and find most of your post’s to be precisely what I’m looking for.
    can you offer guest writers to write content available for you?
    I wouldn’t mind publishing a post or elaborating on a lot of the subjects you
    write concerning here. Again, awesome website!

  15. Thanks for sharing such a good opinion, article is nice, thats why i have read it fully

  16. Jannie Euler says:

    Hi my family member! I wish to say that this post is amazing, great written and come with almost all vital infos. I would like to see more posts like this .

  17. Great website you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics talked about here? I’d really like to be a part of online community where I can get responses from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Cheers!

  18. There are a couple of private firms round, such as Cell Detail Man and Deckhand Detailing.

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, May 1. 2016 02:30 AM)
    @Bam: Meant to ask you, are you a fan of Thomas Pynchon’s work?
    I re-watched Inherent vice today which was based on a book by him, complex noir thing, made more sense on second viewing and was pretty funny. Figured you’d be into it given its stoner fiction origins.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, May 1. 2016 02:23 AM)
    Some people literally do live off patreon though on drawing hentai art though as their sole income.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, May 1. 2016 02:18 AM)
    @Bam: I know that film by name but I will be watching it either now or tomorrow.
  • SuperMario
    (Sunday, May 1. 2016 02:10 AM)
    Matteo Garrone directed Gomorrah (2008), Reality (2011) which all were screened at Cannes, as well as this one. I liked Tale of Tales well enough, the only thing that I don’t like about the film is the treatment of women. They paid their prices just because of their lust.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 1. 2016 01:30 AM)
    I ran into the weirdest movie last night: an English speaking French-British-Italian movie called Tale of Tales. Loosely based on the Pentamerone series of folklore, it was a pretty dark yet vibrant-looking collection of fairytales, slimly connected by a main plot. I don’t know much about this director Matteo Garrone, but he has a unique style.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 1. 2016 01:25 AM)
    @K-off: I think Patreon recipients mostly fail during the first year. Just as with Kickstarter, you only hear of a very few that result in anything worthwhile; and pointing at 2-3 successes in an ocean of failures doesn’t really imply effectiveness.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 1. 2016 01:21 AM)
    @Kaiser: Kaufman and Hoffman were a match made in heaven; also weird that they rhyme with each other.
    The only Kaufman match-up that might get close would be him and Spike Jonze working on a Nicholas Cage flick. That man is really a mystery to me.
  • k-off
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 09:29 PM)
    @Kaiser Someone who actually still likes Nicholas Cage outside of his internet memes? To me he’s one of those actors who at this point, I can’t visualize playing a role outside of himself. Similar to how I can’t see any of Steve Carrell’s movies without seeing Michael Scott.
  • k-off
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 09:19 PM)
    @Bam Yup, asking for money online is flawed in almost every way from the donor’s point of view, a lot of my former art history degree friends have taken to Patreon in a last ditch effort to float their poor career choice.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 07:46 PM)
    With synecdoche it has the benefit of Hoffman’s performance and to get it you just have to “Feel it”.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Mayoiga – 05

We now back to the status quo on Mayoiga this week, as the group who left the village decided to come back, and the cliffhanger happened last week was never explained probably. I will say this upfront: this is not a good episode. We don’t learn much after it ends. We have even longer conversations […]

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – 03

                There are no brakes on the Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress train even when it goes for a pit stop to pick up some water and say a prayer for the dead. While my fellow writers firmly believe that Koutetsujou no Kabaneri will disintegrate into a trainwreck […]

Bungou Stray Dogs – 04

Bungou Stray Dogs sure never get tired to showcase more new characters every week, and judging from the OP I’m certain that there are more to come. This week there are 3 more new faces and each of them is over the top in their own ways, but that turns out to be for good […]

Joker Game – 04

I am starting to get a little worried about Joker Game. After a very strong start it’s gone down in quality once it revealed it’s episodic format. This episode marks the lowest point of the series so far though I still don’t think of it as bad. Rather than focus on a member of the […]

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 04

Despite nearly dying our protagonist wakes up out of the loop and now in the mansion of a strange clown like fellow with twin maids. The mansion looks to be Emilia’s home and we not look to be in a new time loop as evidenced by the last scene where it appears that Subaru was […]

Kiznaiver – 03

So this episode was an introduction to our new seventh Kiznaiver who looks to be a roguish shut in with a pendent for self harm. Adding a masochist to a group that shares pain is certainly a dilemma but I wonder just how they plan to make use of him in the plot. Considering that […]

Flying witch – 03

Flying witch has another solid episode this week. Flying week’s formula seems to be half of Makoto the witch getting to know an everyday country life, and other half of Makoto’s witchcrafts and meeting people from that magic world. All of these stories take place mostly in a single location as well, this time are […]

Mayoiga – 04

It’s until this week that I just noticed the rather strange part of the OP of Mayoiga, the sequence was shown in the point of view of Masaki. It starts with her, then introducing the cast and finally ends with her standing alone in the lost village. But when I think about that, only in […]

Bungou Stray Dogs – 03

This week Bungou Stray Dogs had improved a lot over its last episode, probably because the main storyline has kicked in. Look, I’m always in favor for character developments more than plot development, and one of my favorite character development is through the small character moments when the cast interacts with each other. That’s why […]

Latest Reviews

Schwarzesmarken – 65/100

Schwarzesmarken is a strange title in that it has a setting with fantastic potential yet the story is dampened by a rushed pacing and Missing characterisation. Despite this there are signs of a greater story under the hood and at times that story can shine despite haphazard adaption. The Stasi make for a great villain […]

Boku dake ga Inai Machi – 85/100

In the large reservoir of anime it is surprising just how few titles focus on the concept of time travel. There are of course titles which feature time travel but few that make it the core focus. So here we have Boku Machi or ERASED, a tale about a mangaka time traveling to his childhood […]

Gangsta. – 58/100

Gangsta is an anime with a lot of things going for it. A mature cast, gritty themes, a interesting setting and a trio of main characters who can carry the show. However due to a number of factors it never quite reached its potential. The main trio of characters are unconventional and quite interesting with […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 80/100

Gakkou is one with a good facade as promotional material would have you believe it was some dime a dozen moe slice of life. I was one who wasn’t fooled by the cute cuddly exterior but I was truly surprised with just how good this anime ended up being. Gakkou is one of those rare […]

Little Witch Academia The Enchanted Parade – 81/100

I wonder when it was that a film being childish became a flaw. As a medium grows it takes steps to aim to mature itself and seek a more intellectual level of presenting entertainment. Animation did it as Anime aimed to explore terrontry that cartoons refuse to explore and video games only recently broke away […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks Review – 85/100

For a long time now this adaption has been the dreams of many a Fate fan with many believing it would never come to pass, but now that it is here is it everything that we dreamed? Short answer to this is no, long answer is nearly. I feel this show will have many divided […]

Shirobako Review – 80/100

When you see a harem anime and sigh as the breasts of the female lead jiggle with every step and wind that can flip a skirt it’s easy to forget that somewhere in Japan a group of people worked hard to get that jiggle right and draw each frame of animation. The hardships of the […]

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]