Black Jack (series)

All posts tagged Black Jack (series)

In this OVA, the greedy money-spinning main protagonist actually spends up his ill-gotten surgery fees very well. Here you can see him sipping pina colada somewhere in La Manga while sizing up potential young women for one-night-stands.

When I wrote my review of Black Jack 21 a couple of months or so back then, I mentioned that that particular title is the final Black Jack title that I will review in this blog. I made that claim because I initially thought that there are only two seasons available within the franchise (the Black Jack 21 mentioned above, and also its predecessor which is the excellent slice-of-life title Black Jack TV). Someone in this blog’s Facebook page then informed me about the existence of the OVA (and other titles too) and that I should watch it too. Therefore, here he is, the wicked doctor has returned to this blog for the third time, and highly likely, not for the last time either.

This 10-episode OVA was aired in Japan in a 7-year span during the 90s, so none of the ‘Anime of the Year’ holders listed at the right sidebar of this blog will be challenged this time around.

You really cannot blame him for doing so though, because in this OVA, it's always raining cats and dogs at his house on the cape.

My synopsis from the first Black Jack title I reviewed here (Black Jack TV):-

This anime revolves around a part-time unlicensed veterinarian, full-time genius unlicensed surgeon who performed near-miraculous surgery feats while charging outrageous fees on his weeping patients. Aided by a pseudo-loli assistant, he prowls around Japan and around the world, extorting desperate people out of their life savings, one episode at a time. Then he buys more exotic islands. The end.

Well, in this OVA, the main protagonist still extorts outrageous fees out of his unfortunate victims, but at least he doesn’t blow it on exotic islands anymore (see the first screenshot above to see how he launders his ill-gotten gains instead). Another notable difference in this OVA is that the main protagonist seems to work more outside of Japan, usually on fictional South American countries. But the most important difference between the previous two Black Jack series reviewed here before and this OVA is that the pseudo-loli assistant’s role as the main protagonist’s helper has been diminished a lot, with her featuring in about only 4 episodes in the OVA at all.

Even back then, our main protagonist doesn't hold back at charging people out of their life savings. Seen in this scene is the case where he charged 3 million dollars or roughly 250 million yen right in the first 10 minutes of the OVA.

Just like Black Jack TV, this OVA is also episodic, with one disparate plot per episode. Furthermore, just like the TV series (and unlike Black Jack 21), the plots are not interconnected at all, which means that you can skip any episodes and you won’t miss anything at all story-wise (although of course you will miss the awesomeness of this anime). But unlike Black Jack TV, each episode in this OVA is roughly 50 minutes long. This means that this 10-episode OVA is comparable in length to a 30-episode series, and is half the length of Black Jack TV. The long episode format is definitely the biggest selling point that this OVA has.

You see, with the 50-minute episode length, it enables finer nuances plus comprehensive context and background stories to be ingrained within the main plot of any given episode that I am watching. This means that none of the episodes in this OVA suffers the hurried story presentations, broken scene transitions and fast pacing problems that plagued some of the episodes in the TV series. The detailed nuances and context plus the more elaborate background stories that explained the circumstances of the main protagonist’s patients will then allows better and smoother storytelling gigs compared to what you can see not only in the TV series, but also Black Jack 21.

But while this OVA has a superior presentation than the two Black Jack titles reviewed here before, the plots adapted into the OVA from the manga is inferior to what you can see in the TV series. I’m not saying that the stories in this OVA is bad, because in general they (the stories in this OVA) are really good. It is just then when compared to the stories within the 10 out of 10 TV series, the OVA will definitely come short. The only episode which I can call outstanding is the heart-wrenching episode 5, which incidentally also featured the rare incident where the main protagonist actually failed to save his patient. This OVA could have become MUCH BETTER if the plot in 9 of the better episodes in the TV series were adapted into this OVA instead, taking advantage of the superior presentation that this OVA has.

While still a slice-of-life anime, there are a couple of explosions happening here and there in this OVA.

Speaking about the storyline, while the OVA is still within the slice-of-life territory just like the TV series (but unlike the kiddy shounen genre seen in Black Jack 21), you will be able to see some mature themes (and scenes) in this OVA. There are also some explosions in this anime, just like Black Jack 21 and unlike the TV series. And for once, the surgeries in this OVA is more measured and far more believable than some of his gigs in the TV series or its sequel. There is no surgeries like the anesthetic-less open-heart surgery seen in Black Jack 21 in this OVA. And he doesn’t do animals too (or should I say ‘again’?). Oh, before I forgot, I should also tell you that the main protagonist in this OVA, while still as greedy as ever, is more involved with his patients and their circumstances, unlike the aloof him in this OVA’s two sequels reviewed here before. That could be good, or bad, depending on your opinion.

While the main protagonist has stopped being an unlicensed veterinarian, he has become a psychologist instead. There is nothing he can't or won't do when he starts chasing for more yen.

Character developments in this OVA is almost non-existent. This OVA never discussed the background of either the main protagonist or his pseudo-loli assistant. There are only 2 recurring characters from the TV series or its storied sequel in this prequel OVA, but their backgrounds are not touched either unlike in the two titles reviewed here before. You can say that this anime doesn’t have a starting point (unlike the TV series that started with that beach explosion), with the main protagonist being shown strutting his stuff and expertise cold turkey. But just like the TV series, this OVA doesn’t have an explicit ending, which is just fine and dandy being set up for more sequels to follow. I did tell you that this OVA is the first animated title of this series right, while the TV series being third in the series and Black Jack 21 being the fourth one.

In saying that, I will definitely review more Black Jack titles here in the future, it seems that there are at least 2 other titles to watch. But not in the near future though.

Damn! The main protagonist has never done things like these before! I knew that he will leave the pseudo-loli assistant behind sooner or later.

Character Design:-
The character design for all recurring characters in this OVA is different than their equivalent in the TV series or Black Jack 21. A great example of this is the pseudo-loli assistant. In the TV series and Black Jack 21, she has flaming red hair, while in this OVA, she has a more mundane brown hair. The design for the main protagonist did not change though.

It is blatantly obvious that the character designs in this OVA is less Westernized compared to the TV series and Black Jack 21. Frankly speaking, you will not see the unique style that the original author Osamu Tezuka has on the characters here that is not the main protagonist. Because of this, I will say that the character designs in this OVA is inferior to what you can see in the TV series and Black Jack 21.

The design for the pseudo-loli assistant is different than the one in Black Jack TV and Black Jack 21.

Voice Acting:-
The two main characters here are still voiced by the same voice actors/actresses (quite surprising considering the age of this OVA), therefore my comments from the previous two reviews still applies.

The OST is sparse, but actually is better than the ones in the TV series and Black Jack 21. This OVA has four OP themes and four ED themes, but only the 1st OP and ED themes, and also the 2nd and 4th ED themes are any good. The 1st ED theme in particular is excellent.

A human hot spring. Just one of the hazards he encountered on his way of more millions of yen.

The animation quality in this OVA from the last century is good, even in fast-paced scenes. Choreography in the small amount of action scenes here are passable at best. The director of this OVA is better than the one who does the TV series and Black Jack 21, if the superb presentation is taken into account. Too bad that the superb presentation did not accompany some of the best chapters that is available from Osamu Tezuka’s source manga though.

No Winamp yet in our main protagonist computers, unlike in Black Jack TV. This OVA predates that music player you know?

An easy 10 out of 10 score, just like what the TV series managed to get. While inferior story-wise, the presentation more than make up for it. The final episode of this OVA has given me a hint of what title I will watch next. So watch this blog in the very near future because the next entry will come up very quickly.

Is our main protagonist a closet 'Karaoke Ninja'? Watch this anime to find out.


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.


The bad-ass main title protagonist…

…and this is an apt description for him.

A few hours after Brazil was dumped out of World Cup by the Netherlands (definitely the best match to date), I finished watching yet another humongous 63-episode anime series, titled Black Jack TV. It includes 61 regular aired episodes and two extra unaired episodes. This anime was also aired in Animax some time back just like Tantei Gakuen Q, Gakkou no Kaidan and Urusei Yatsura but I didn’t watch it. This is a 2004 anime, therefore it will not compete for any of the ‘Anime of the Year’ titles. Read on for the most screenshot-laden review this blog ever have.

Just another victim of the main protagonist…

…and his price will eventually increase 10-fold as the series went on.

This anime revolves around a part-time unlicensed veterinarian, full-time genius unlicensed surgeon who performed near-miraculous surgery feats while charging outrageous fees on his weeping patients. Aided by a pseudo-loli assistant, he prowl around Japan and around the world, extorting desperate people out of their life savings, one episode at a time. Then he buys more exotic islands. The end.

The main protagonist is sweet-talking an innocent vulnerable kid into paying gazillion yen as payment to save the kid's father life. Notice the windowless van behind the main protagonist.

If the victim is a sweet young thing and she doesn't have the money to pay for the surgery, he will ask for 'something else' as payment! No prizes for guessing what he will ask as payment in such situations.

This anime is an episodic series, therefore it doesn’t have a main prevailing plot (no saving the world from aliens invaders or no saving a female protagonist from bad guys). Each episode will feature the surgery (and rip-off) of the day, but more often than not, any given episode will usually revolves around the circumstances of the surgery. The surgeries itself are rarely shown, and usually takes only 10 seconds or so of the airtime of any given episode (exceptions are very rare). Some of the plots are reused a few times throughout the series too. Due to the episodic nature of this anime, you can actually skip many of the episodes in this series, and you won’t miss anything.

Some of the reused plots involves the main protagonist operating on traffic accident victims. In this episode, he is the one who mowed down the unsuspecting victim though. And even when the accident is completely his fault, he will still ask for outrageous fees for a surgery that shouldn't have happened in the first place.

The main protagonist will also do animals. The fees are still exorbitant though. You should see how he makes the killer whale in the picture above to look for precious pearls and corals as payment for his treatment. In another episode, you can see how the main protagonist forced a bird to pay for surgery of the bird's master. The bird dies in the end, from exhaustion. The main protagonist is evil, am I right?

Nevertheless, the episodic plots around those surgery-of-the-week are the main essence of this anime, and where this anime really shine. The stories behind each surgery are largely excellent, making this anime one of the best slice-of-life title I have ever watched. The episodic plots contains various kind of stories. Heart-warming stories, ones that tugs your heart, heroic efforts from the main protagonist, or more likely, other people; sacrifices for the sake of others, some funny stories plus a few advocacy messages too from the author (the legendary Osamu Tezuka). You can watch the kind of stories that you can read from the ‘Chicken Soup For The Soul’ book series in this anime. And not all episodes has a happy ending, which also helps this anime immensely. Very immensely.

When the main protagonist feels generous, he will only charge this price. The man above is one lucky SOB.

Some of his former victims are now very wary about being double-dipped by the main protagonist.

Being an episodic anime series, the pacing within the episodes is usually fast and sometimes this caused the plot development to suffer. But only a few times within the sixty-something-episode run does that happened in this series. Characters’ development are virtually non-existent, and flashbacks are used to depict the past of the two main recurring characters. It was these kind of episodes that you should not skip when watching this anime because they are the closest thing this anime has as a substitute for a prevailing plot.

This Black Jack episode is a cross between Hikaru no Go and Midori no Hibi.

This guy even have the nerve to charge a grey alien 2 million dollars for a surgery. Thank god the aliens doesn't destroy the Earth for his greediness.

A very good example is episode 44, which deals with the past of the pseudo-loli assistant I have mentioned above. But if you ever plan to watch this anime too, make sure that you watch at least 20 episodes that precedes the 44th episode, preferably the first 10 episodes, then any random 10 from the next 33 episodes. Episode 44 contained a very powerful plot twist, in addition of one of the more controversial and outrageous surgery feats ever done by the main protagonist (which puts him in the same bracket as Victor Frankenstein). But it was the plot twist that really defines this episode. You know, in many of the preceding episodes before episode 44, the pseudo-loli assistant always make an outrageous claim when introducing herself to the new characters that she met. More often than not, her claim was dismissed as a lie by the characters that she met, and even I do think she is just overexaggerating. But only when I watched the 44th episode, I did realize that she is not lying after all and Osamu Tezuka has just managed to troll me. And this is why the pseudo-loli assistant is the best character in this series.

A talking tumor with powerful psychic abilities. Just a hazardous day in the office for the main protagonist.

The scene of a desperate victim who will pay anything to have their loved ones cured is the cue for our main protagonist to make his entrance.

A minor drawback that this anime has is the outrageous surgery feats that the main protagonist performed, even with suspension of belief in place. Apparently, the main protagonist can do limbs transplant (WTF!?), brain transplant from the head to torso (holy sh*t), open surgery in total darkness (okaaay…), open surgery on grey aliens (facepalm ), open surgery on himself without anesthetic and more. The feat performed in the aforementioned episode 44 should also mentioned, but I don’t want to spoil that episode to you. Some overreactions can also be seen in this anime, where a cholera outbreak was treated as if the Black Death has just occurred again. The fansub group (or is just the broadcasters themselves?) has to made a disclaimer before an episode was played, saying that tuberculosis was usually treated with antibiotics, and not surgery as the main protagonist has done in the said episode. Seeing his skills in action, you will be forgiven if you think that the main protagonist has the ability to cure AIDS, and cancer too (he does this quite regularly).

The bad-ass main protagonist can even perform open surgery on himself without any anesthetic.

OMG! The Hell is freezing!

There are no visible ending of course, being episodic and all. But I heard that the sequel has a plot. Therefore I will have to watch it some time in the future.

The main protagonist favorite computer program: Winamp. It really whips the llama's ass!

Character Design:-
One thing you will notice about the character designs in this anime is that they are very Westernized. If the dialogues are in English and the names are changed to Caucasian ones, no one will realize that Black Jack is an anime from Japan. However, this is not a bad thing for this anime.

Thank god there are no silly card jokes being used in this anime.

Voice Acting:-
Voice acting in this dialogue-heavy anime is very good, with the two main protagonists being the best of them all. Definitely a positive point for this anime.

There's only one time where our serial blackmailer become the one who are blackmailed!

The sparse multi-genre OST is just average, but the 1st and 3rd OP as well as the 1st and 3rd Ed themes are good.

The sad past of our main protagonist: beating innocent classmates and become the big bully at his high school.

The animation quality s just average, but the little amount of fast-paced scenes in this anime doesn’t seem to be affected. Choreography is non-existent. While unspectacular, the directing is basically flawless and has no persistent weaknesses, except in the rare cases where the pacing affects the story development as mentioned above.

The manga which this anime is based upon is actually older than the CD-ROM technology itself. And Winamp for the matter.

10 out of 10
for this excellent slice-of-life anime. This anime, the second Osamu Tezuka work that I have watched, is better than the first one I have watched before, titled Metropolis, in AXN a few years back. The next anime that I will review is the long-awaited Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which alongside Winter Sonata, are probably the only anime titles out there that can dethrone Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei off its current title.

This is the main protagonist's pet. Would not be alien in Looney Tunes or Hanna & Barbera shows. Hahahaha!