Review: Young Black Jack, Episode 4: Vietnam Part 1

Review:

The episode opens on a war scene. Hazama is thrown by the force of an exploding vehicle, landing some distance away, only to see a soldier get shot in the throat a few moments later. As Hazama’s doctor instincts kick in, he quickly picks himself up, retrieves his bag, and rushes to the man’s aid. At this point, time is turned back to show us how Hazama got himself in this predicament. Apparently Yabu, inspired by Hazama’s achievements, had decided to go to Vietnam and offer his services as a doctor so that he could actually do something productive with his life. Upon hearing news of Yabu’s hospital being destroyed, Hazama takes off to Vietnam to search for his friend, where he meets a freelance photographer. After spending some time with said photographer, Hazama manages to hitch a ride with some U.S. Army soldiers heading to a base in the region where Yabu was last seen. On their way, they are attacked by Viet Cong troops, ultimately bringing the story back to the episode’s beginning. While Hazama ultimately manages to save the soldier, it causes him to be taken prisoner.

Well, it appears that the previous review’s theory that Hazama would end up in Vietnam as a result of his operation on the CIA agent was wrong. As has been the trend thus far, this episode stands apart from any on-going plot, although reference is made to previous episode, and Hazama’s ploy from the second episode does play a role in getting him to Vietnam. A bit of research shows that the original Black Jack manga seemed to also be based around self-contained stories, so it makes sense that “Young Black Jack” would follow the same pattern, though at the same time it clearly combines elements from previous stories, which sort of awards viewers who have been in it for the long haul.

One thing that should be said for this episode is that it does not shy away from the realities of the Vietnam War. While not as graphic or violent as it could be (since war and violence were not the primary focus of the show), there is still plenty of gunfire and blood to put you right in the horror of the Vietnam War, and if you are someone who is sensitive to scenes of war violence then this may not be a pleasant episode for you; otherwise, it is an intense episode that captures the tension of the greater situation while also bringing that same tension in to the more immediate concern: what happened to Yabu. One of the only criticisms that can be leveled at the episode comes in the form of U.S. Soldier Bob, who is initially presented as if he does not speak Japanese based on his short English phrases (spoken by a Japanese V.A., meaning it comes across a bit Engrishy) and need for a translator, only to be shown speaking in Japanese a few scenes later. It’s a minor detail, but still an inconsistency.

Outside of that, there aren’t really any complaints in regards to this episode. The writers have managed to create a situation where we truly care about the fate of the characters involved, and they have also broken the mold that the show has followed up until this point. While Hazama still performs a surgery, the surgery was not the focal point of the episode itself, and the story behind the episode did not neatly wrap up by the end. While Hazama’s survival is not a question (there wouldn’t be a “Black Jack” series if Hazama died in Young Black Jack, after all), it will still be interesting to see how he and his companions will gain their freedom.

A Christian Perspective:

Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,

As the episode explores the events that ultimately brought Hazama to Vietnam, it reaches a point where it shows Yabu expressing his desire to put his skills to use and not to simply be a doctor who faints at the sight of blood. He expresses that watching Hazama work to help others was his source of inspiration, and that is ultimately what inspired him to go to Vietnam. While Hazama may not have been intending to lead Yabu in that direction, his life and actions set an example that his older friend simply could not ignore. In the same way, the author of Hebrews tells us that we should spur one another on toward love and good deeds. The major difference is that the author seems to be saying that we should do this intentionally—we should “consider” how we may do this. That’s not to say that we may not spur others on unintentionally; after all, a brother or sister in Christ (or a co-worker, family member, friend, etc) could see us doing our best at whatever task we are working on and be inspired by our example to also do their best, but we shouldn’t simply hope that someone will follow our lead. Instead, we should seek to identify the ways in which we can actually spur others on.

Another thing that stuck out to me in this episode was how Hazama worked with a single-minded focus to help the soldier on the battlefield to the point of not being bothered by the bullets flying by or his doctor bag being destroyed. He doesn’t even realize that he is being taken prisoner until a gun is shoved in his face to snap him back to the world around him. This focus reminded me of the single-minded focus we as believers are called to have in our service and commitment to Christ. True, we may often fall short of this, but we are still called to be focused on Him entirely even when life throws temptations, threats, dangers, heartaches, grief, and anything else at us. It is easy—oh so easy—to lose our focus when the bullets of life come flying at us, and in doing so we lose our peace, our focus, and our goal. If Hazama had lost his focus due to the bullets, a soldier would have died. If we lose our focus, then we put ourselves at risk of falling away from the purpose for which we were created and potentially falling out of our communion with Jesus. In either case, the stakes are high, and we should consider the importance of maintaining our focus even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Content Guide:

Language: 2 “sh*t”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: A tank is hit with a shell and explodes; men fire guns; a soldier is shot; two people are executed off screen; a soldier hits a man with the butt of his rifle; fighting breaks out between the American and Viet Cong troops complete with gunfire, rocket launchers, and explosions; men are shot

Blood/Gore: A man is shot and blood sprays out; a man has blood coming from the corner of his mouth; Hazama operates on a man, resulting in bloody hands and lots of bloody gauze

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