Black Jack TV (ブラック・ジャック)

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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!