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Review: Black Jack (Vol. 02)

Reviewer: Lissa Pattillo

Manga-ka: Osamu Tezuka
Publisher: Vertical
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: November 2008

Synopsis: “Black Jack is a mysterious and charismatic young genius surgeon who travels the world performing amazing and impossible medical feats. Though a trained physician, he refuses to accept a medical license due to his hatred and mistrust of the medical community’s hypocrisy and corruption. This leads Black Jack to occasional run-ins with the authorities, as well as from gangsters and criminals who approach him for illegal operations.”

Volume two of Black Jack served as a real character-flesher for the enigmatic doctor. The opening chapter sees him faced with the reality of the human body, that there will always be some things he can’t ever control or predict. Seeing how stressed he became, even at the positive outcome of an otherwise bizarre case, spoke volumes about his faith in his own abilities and what he believes to be set in stone. It proved a strong opener to a book full of equally revealing stories of continuing medical mysteries and materialistic morality.

Along with this there are numerous chapters in the book where Black Jack’s moral fibre and sense of loyalty are put to the test, and though I’ve come to expect the best of him despite the bitter-outlook, it never actually ceases to be entertainment in itself watching the way in which he handles each individual scenario. Take one story in this book for example, where Pinoko is kidnapped and held for ransom in exchange for Black Jack’s cooperation. For a moment there, I actually didn’t know which way he would go, so confident am I in his self-arrogance. On the story’s note, the ending had Black Jack sporting a level of preparedness that even I found stretched the limits of believability. You keep those on you all the time just in case, Black Jack?

We also get back-story explanatory chapters in regards to Black Jack’s semi-disfigured experience. Having not seen him in colour, this chapter gave me a better idea of his intended appearance and also shed a little more light on people’s immediate recognition of his facial deformity. I love watching him exhaust the resources he squanders so diligently on things like scouring the planet for an friend or repaying the kindness of strangers. It is wrong of me to love the pages of Black Jack in mental distress most of all? Turmoil and desperation in place of the levelheaded attitude brimming with his own ego always makes for good reading when handled as deftly as it is here.

The most impacting chapter for me though was that of Black Jack’s friendship with one of his odder patients, a killer whale who consistently shows up at his beach for medical treatment. When Black Jack finally learns the cause behind his friend’s injuries, he makes a moral decision that sees near heartbreaking distress.

On the flipside of moral exploration is Pinoko, still whiny and impetuous, she continues her role as Black Jack’s self-proclaimed wife and totters beside him loyally. Still a little weirded out by his origins, I can’t help but love her. She amuses me so much that I laugh aloud at some of her more cranky outbursts. Black Jack’s role as a guardian to Pinoko also offers up some really cute moments as he indulges her childish whims and enthusiasms. He seems genuinely at peace with her, even if she does stress him out on occasion, such as her insistence to attend school.

Another strong volume keeps Black Jack high on my list of recommend reads. I always pick up a volume of this series with full faith in Osamu Tezuka to keep me both thoughtful and entertained.

Review written June 27, 2009 by Lissa Pattillo
Book purchased in-store from Chapters

About the Author:

Lissa Pattillo is the owner and editor of Kuriousity.ca. Residing in Halifax, Nova Scotia she takes great joy in collecting all manners of manga genres, regretting that there's never enough time in the day to review or share them all. Along with reviews, Lissa is responsible for all the news postings to the website and works full time as a web and graphic designer.

Kuriousity does not condone or support the illegal distribution of manga online.
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