Manga-ka: Osamu Tezuka
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: September 2009
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. Black Jack charges exorbitant fees for his services, the proceeds from which he uses to fund environmental projects and to aid victims of crime and corrupt capitalists. But because Black Jack keeps his true motives secret, his ethics are perceived as questionable and he is considered a selfish, uncaring devil.”
Though few qualms can be had for the fact that this seventh volume of Black Jack is more of the same, there are some distinct moments in the book that stand out in true effective fashion. Black Jack himself is most often seen by those around him as a money-grubber first and a doctor second but it’s no secret to readers that his cocky exterior and high prices still garnish a man of strong moral character.
Children are always one to easily reach the sympathetic side of Black Jack and he puts his all on the line to attempt saving more than a few in this one. Receiving 5 million yen’s worth of payment from a young boy is enough to bring a smile to any reader’s face and a chapter that brings him face to face with the sick young girl from whom Pinoko was based on proves equally emotional.
In another story, Black Jack relentlessly hounds a man on a mission to cross an ocean by himself to seek a repentance of sorts for the loss of a young child that Black Jack recently operated on. The lengths Black Jack goes to achieve this is both cunning and brave to the point of foolish, but the real kicker of the story proves to be the good deed of his final act that makes for a real feel-good moment.
Animals also play a number of significant roles in different stories throughout the volume. These chapters are frequently interesting because Black Jack’s patience and affinity with animals often seems more sympathetic than when he’s dealing with humans, even if they don’t prove his area of expertise.
In one chapter a man suffers damage to his brain after an accident that claims the life of his family. After a family of stray cats move into his home, he begins to see them as his deceased family. The mother cat in this family shows a strong understanding of the situation and even takes to doing errands for the man. Black Jack is brought initially to save one of the kitten’s lives but can’t avoid the challenge presented by a man who believe his family are a group of cats. Another story sees Black Jack doing surgery on a bear that saves his life in the wild and then he finds himself both annoyed by and indebted to a flock of birds who’ve grown fond of a young boy that he’s treating.
One of the most memorable stories in this book however has a rich company executive getting his just deserts from Black Jack after a construction worker almost loses his life in an accident. Despite all the similar sounding events in Black Jack so far, the actual occurrences in this story may surprise you and reinvigorate some of the faith in man that more often than not falls under harsh but honest scrutiny in the series.
The mixture of Black Jack’s callous and caring nature continues to make him an amazingly compelling character who despite some predictable reactions, still manages to be amazingly unpredictable in most circumstances. The social commentary and humour keeps every volume of Black Jack a thought-provoking read, while some emotional outbursts and brief peeks into character origins (with chilling current day results) proved especially compelling in this volume. No book has yet to provide anything less than pure, outstanding entertainment. Osamu Tezuka’s medical classic should be on every manga reader’s list and each volume eagerly anticipated.