Black Jack 21 (ブラック・ジャック 21)

All posts tagged Black Jack 21 (ブラック・ジャック 21)

The main protagonist makes his (presumably) final return to this blog.

The awesomeness of the slice-of-life anime Black Jack TV reviewed in this blog last month prompted me to watch its sequel right after the the ‘Anime of the Year 2010’ audition was over. Black Jack 21 is a 2006 anime title, therefore it will have a chance to dethrone the slice-of-life anime Chocotto Sister, the reigning ‘Anime of the Year 2006’ title holder. This anime does have a very big shoe to fill though, therefore will the plot that this new season will have helps this anime scale the heady heights that its predecessor has reached before? Read on to find out.

And he went for the highest fee he has charged in the whole first season, right in the first episode in the second season.

Our main title protagonist BJ (this abbreviation that is used in the second season unnerved me somewhat – for obvious reasons) was reunited with his estranged father under professional circumstances. And within a single episode, some vague questions that have always bugged me during the course of the first season were readily answered straight to the point. You know, questions like what the hell happened to BJ’s mother after the explosion in the first episode of the first season. After extorting some good amount of money out from his father for a routine plastic surgery (he does this too a couple of times in the first season – the plastic surgery I mean) he went home just to find himself in yet another explosion that destroyed his house and nearly killed him. With that explosion, this anime has truly switched genres from slice-of-life to shounen, as the main protagonist has to run away from a mysterious organization that wants him dead and buried, Amazing Race-style.

This explosion completes this anime’s switch from slice-of-life to shounen genre.

When I first learned that the second season will have a prevailing plot, I thought the story would be seinen (like Wolf and Spice or Kaiji etc.), based on what I have seen in the first season. Instead, whoever wrote the main plot for the second season has decided instead to wrote a kiddy storyline that targets the elementary schoolers, not unlike what you can see in Onmyou Taisenki and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. And this is where my first complaint comes in. Unlike what the writers in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has done, the writers for the second season doesn’t bother to remove any of the clichés associated with such kinds of storyline though. This makes this anime extremely predictable except for one occasion (which will be explained later) and gratingly very cheesy too.

Now armed with a prevailing plot, you cannot skip any of the episodes anymore and expect to still understand what is happening in this anime. Yet this anime still inherits one of the few weaknesses that the first season has, which is uneven story development. There are many occasions where the events and/or scenes seems to happen unnaturally, as if it being forced upon the viewers. This weakness was compounded by the fast pacing, despite this anime not being episodic anymore, and also undermined BJ’s strong point seen in the first season: the awesome surgeon skills he has. You know, mad skills like that out-of-the-world, so ridiculous it must be fictional, anesthetic-free open heart surgery he performed in one of the episodes. Is that even possible? The awaken patient doesn’t even groan!

This anesthetic-free self-surgery that he does upon himself pales in comparison to the anesthetic-free open heart surgery mentioned above.

Maybe if the director can slow the pacing a bit, he can extend this anime up to 21 episodes, which will fit the title theme perfectly instead of only 17 episodes. I think the uneven flow of the storyline and the fast pacing can be blamed by the need to cram at least one full manga arc inside only one episode maximum, instead of letting the arc flows into the next episode. And this will become worse as the anime nears its end, where you can see 2 manga arcs (presumably modified) being rolled into one anime episode. In those episodes, presentation of this anime really suffered a lot.

By the end of this anime, I definitely have thought that the prevailing plot that the second season has did not exist in the manga version. But I do not read the manga therefore I do not know for sure.

As expected, the very conservative 4-episode 2-phase ending arc is naturally predictable, cliché-laden and has a over-the-top plot (HOLY SHIT! NUKES!!). But one very good exception in the first phase of the ending arc is the hidden daughter-turned-assassin plot twist, which I really didn’t see coming. What makes this plot twist an excellent one is that the writers has already dropped hints about it in the previous episodes, but I didn’t even know what is going to hit me later. This is almost comparable to the shocking episode 44 in the first season when it comes to impact, and would have been just as good if the fast pacing and horrendous flow of the story doesn’t dilute the impact by the time the first phase ends.

Character developments is one aspect where the second season has done tremendously very well compared to the first season. The prevailing plot allows you to know more about BJ’s background, and the plot also allows his character to develop according to conventional shounen genre development strategies. His pseudo-loli assistant is more subdued compared to what she is in the first season, maybe because her character has already matured due to what happened to her in the first season. Therefore BJ is definitely the best character in this anime.

Will there be a third season? If there is one, the anime should just returned to its roots shown in the first season where all we can see is BJ’s extreme greediness combined with awesome people-cutting skills.

You won't see him doing these Indiana Jones stunts in the first season.

Character Design:-
My comments for the same section in the first season review still applies.

Voice Acting:-
My comments for the same section in the first season review still applies.

The OST is still has the same average quality seen in the first season. The first ED theme uses the 3rd ED theme from the first season, and frankly speaking, this is the only theme that is any good. The OP theme and the 2nd ED theme wasn’t really good.

The main protagonist tried to portray his nemesis using an apt description that, ironically, also applies to himself.

Do you know the horrendous animation technique I have always disparaged in this blog before? Unlike the first season, this anime employed the same technique too, but unlike the other anime titles that does so, this anime uses the said technique correctly. Yes, you heard that right, this anime uses that blurry animation techniques extensively only in very slow motion scenes, which can be flashbacks, or during surgeries etc. That animation technique really doesn’t have a place in fast-paced scenes or even normal ones.

Apart from that, the animation quality in this anime is still average just like the first season. There are more fast-paced scenes in this action shounen title, and the quality is also passable. Choreography is just ordinary though. The directing has regressed if the presentation of this anime (fast pacing and rough storyline flow) is taken into account.

By the end of this anime, his fee has now risen to the equivalent of a GDP of a small country, therefore…

8 out of 10.
This anime failed to match the awesomeness of its predecessor, and Chocotto Sister survives the challenge on its throne. So what random anime title I will review next?

…all greedy people will meet their deserved end.