When I was first introduced to anime I was familiar with a lot of the “pillars” of the genre that helped to bring Japanese animation into the mainstream. Shows like Kimba the White Lion, Speed Racer and Astro Boy piqued the imagination of those who watched them and paved the way for more. Among these monumental titles was Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack. The manga ran for 10 years from 1973-1983 and consisted of the adventures and deeds of Hazama Kuroo, also known as Doctor “Black Jack”. Distinguished by his patchwork stitches all over his body, Black Jack is a genius doctor who uses his medical skills to provide life-saving procedures. While he often quotes outrageous prices at first, depending on the client he may significantly lower or ultimately remove the cost altogether, following his own code of morality. Young Black Jack is pretty self explanatory in that it follows the development of the young Hazama Kuroo from young, idealistic medical student to the rogue, unlicensed practice he runs in Black Jack.
I’m a big fan of Young Black Jack for a few reasons. First, the animation does a great job of capturing the spirit of Tezuka’s earlier work while simultaneously employing a more modern style. The surgery scenes are also well constructed and animated, lending the same level of excitement and engagement as one might expect from a fight scene in other shonen series.
The story of Young Black Jack is also really interesting, mainly due to the historical background that it’s set against. Starting in the 60s, when Japan was still reeling from the aftermath of WWII and facing economic strife and social unrest, it provides an intriguing and necessary look into the social and economic events that helped to shape Black Jack’s code of morality and philosophy on medicine and helping people.
Finally, the characters are often developed well and with purpose, though it can be frustrating when their appearance is fleeting.
Overall, while it’s not the same experience as watching galactic powers clash spectacularly as you might find in other action series, Young Black Jack leans on a pillar of anime and provides some unique insight not only into the character of Black Jack, but also the time-period that gave birth to such an interesting character. I would definitely recommend it!