If you’ve been around the anime scene for a while, then you’ve probably at least heard of Black Jack, the story of a rogue doctor who does what other doctors can’t. Young Black Jack tells the story of the legendary doctor’s humble beginnings as a med student. After being roped into helping with victims of a train crash, he comes across a child who lost an arm and a leg in said accident. While the hospital doctor rights the child off as an amputee, Black Jack (still known as Hazama, for now) offers to reattach the boy’s limbs for the lofty sum of five million yen. Desperate, the parents take him up on his offer, setting Hazama off into his first (not to mention, illegal) surgery, with another med student as his aide.
To be honest, this introductory episode is likely to be more interesting to those who are fans of Black Jack or at least those who have some knowledge of the series. There isn’t a whole lot of explanation given—the story sort of just starts—but then again, since this is a prequel for all intents and purposes, I suppose there really doesn’t need to be much in the way of backstory. In general, the plot is pretty simple and easy enough to figure out: in Japan, circa 1960’s, there appears to be an intern strike, which leaves the hospital where Hazama and another intern are at short on staff. Hazama gets roped into helping, and that’s how he performs his first miraculous surgery. For all of its simplicity, though, it is a gripping enough plot, proving that a story doesn’t need to be complicated to be good.
Those with medical knowledge will undoubtedly have to suspend their disbelief for this one, though. The surgery that Hazama undertakes in this episode is indicated to be complicated and lengthy several times, and yet Hazama breezes through it in four hours, with his aide repeatedly commenting on how fast he is. While I lack any real medical knowledge myself, I’m pretty sure the story is pretty sensationalized, but it still does a good job as a medical drama (for lack of a better term). Viewers who are squeamish about blood will be glad to know that the show isn’t very graphic. While there is some blood, there isn’t really any gore. The worst you can expect are two limbs that are wrapped in gauze, which means you never actually see the severed limbs themselves. Given how gory surgery can be (just watch any of those real life medical shows), this could either be a relief to squeamish viewers, or a break of reality with those who want more realism.
It’s always hard to judge a show by it’s first episode, but given that Black Jack is a show with a history, it is probably safe to assume that this is one worth sticking around for. At the very least, it’s worth a few episodes to see how it plays out. Fans of the manga will either love it or hate it, depending on its accuracy to the source material, while those of us with no knowledge of the source material will have to make a determination based on what we see. I, for one, am fairly positive about this series, even though I’ve only read a small portion of the original Black Jack series years ago.
This perspective isn’t really a lesson as much as it is a reflection that I would love to hear your feedback on. So, Hazama offers to reattach this little boy’s limbs when the actual doctor callously refuses to even try, but he states that it will cost five million yen for the surgery. The parents are, understandably, shocked at the number, but they ultimately accept the offer. Later, after their son has his limbs reattached, the father approaches Hazama with 500,000 yen instead, stating that they can’t afford the five million price and that they researched Hazama and found that he is only a student. The father proceeds to threaten to go to the police and ruin Hazama’s chances of getting his medical license, forcing him to accept the 500,000. This prompts Hazama to get angry because the parents are haggling with the child’s life. While Hazama’s frustrations aren’t without merit (how unthankful can you be to threaten the person who just did what should have been impossible?), but is he really justified in being frustrated at the parents when he tried to charge them a significant sum of money (roughly $50,000) in the first place? After all, Hazama is still acting illegally, and it isn’t really costing him anything other than time to do the surgery, so why the large sum of money? While we, the viewers, are understandably appalled by the father’s callous actions, does Hazama lose that right? Please share your thoughts below!
Language: 1 “b*stard”
Alcohol/Drug Use: A needle and vial fall out of a man’s lap, and Hazama comments that the man has been getting high again
Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Hazama is shown shirtless in the episode as well as the intro; a little boy is shown naked (nondescript nudity) in a scene where Hazama is imagining the body as he works on it; Hazama and another man are shown shirtless in the episode preview
Violence: A scene shows police engaging rioters; the intro shows a helicopter shooting its gun; the intro shows explosions; a woman beats a man in the head
Blood/Gore: Blood is shown on injured patients; bloodied limbs are shown bandaged in a cooler; blood is shown on Hazama’s face in a metaphorical image showing him wrapped in thorns; blood drips off of a sheet; veins are shown, but they aren’t particularly gory; bloodied gauze/tissues are shown