Review: Young Black Jack, Episode 7: Painless Revolution Part 1

Review:

Maiko and Hazama take a trip to Chicago in order to watch an acclaimed doctor perform a surgery. While there, they run into an old friend of Maiko’s named Tiara, and they encounter a young man named Johnny who is a big name in the ongoing Civil Rights Movement, a practitioner of peace in a time when activists were resorting to violence. When two violent activists try to force Johnny to join them, things go bad and Tiara ends up shot while Johnny ends up with a broken arm. While Tiara’s wound ends up being non-fatal, Johnny’s opens up a new world of questions when it is discovered that he cannot feel pain. Maiko expects Hazama to seek a solution to the problem, an idea that Hazama has no interest in until it is discovered that Johnny’s condition is not genetic. With only three days left in Chicago, Hazama challenges Johnny to let him find a cure. Elsewhere, Yabu and an unknown man also land in the city.

It is amazing to see an anime tackle historical issues like Young Black Jack has. From the Vietnam War to 60’s Civil Rights, the show has expanded its focus beyond Japan, which is rare in anime. Old school fans may remember Chicago-based anime Gunsmith Cats, but that’s honestly the only name that sticks out immediately. To see an anime depict a cultural struggle in another country is quite frankly different and refreshing. The lack of a stereotypical portrayal of black people is also a nice touch. Many anime seem to fail in this regard (I’m looking at you, Mr. Popo). While the general focus of the episode still remains as Hazama finding a new medical mystery (this is basically House: Anime Edition, after all), the Civil Rights Movement serves as a different back drop, and is given the appropriate respect it deserves as a struggle for fair treatment. The writers even manage to capture some of the tension that would have been prevalent during that time when the four main characters sit in a restaurant where the white patrons clearly are not happy to have them.

While it was previously stated that the episode still ultimately revolved around Hazama discovering a new medical situation, the episode does stray from that a bit. True, it is the penultimate conclusion to this installment (and will probably form the major focus of the next) but there is quite a bit of character drama and development that goes on in between. Finding out that Hazama has a limit to what he will try to “fix” was surprising, to say the least. Of course, the episode isn’t without its shortcomings. A big name doctor allowing two people he doesn’t even know to assist him in surgery (one of whom is still a student, which the doctor makes no effort to discern) kind of puts a chink in the armor of the episode’s believability, and one must wonder if the airplanes shown at the end of the episode are really circa-1960’s. Still, the episode gets far more right than it does wrong, and it may be one of the best installments in the series thus far.

A Christian Perspective:

Matthew 5:9 – Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

I was honestly having a hard time coming up with a Perspective for this episode. Certainly a lot can be said about the Civil Rights Movement, the events leading up to it, and the reason why discrimination is biblically wrong, but honestly that wouldn’t really be unique to this anime, and much has likely been said about these things by men wiser, smarter, more spiritual, and more devoted than I. The best reflection I can come up with is to compare Johnny’s desire to be a peaceful activist as opposed to others who would rather resort to violence with the words of Jesus in the above Scripture. Granted, the reasons for Johnny choosing to be peaceful could be questionable, but whatever the case he has made a decision to not pay back violence with more violence. It seems like such a simple concept, and yet most people seem to not realize that if you respond to violence with violence, it will only lead to even more violence as each side gets more and more angered by each subsequent attack. Staying peaceful in the face of someone being violent towards you is certainly hard, but at some point the cycle needs to be broken.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: A woman calls a surgeon’s skills an “advent of God”

Language: 1 “d*mn”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: A flashback shows Hazama shirtless; Maiko’s dress shows a little cleavage

Violence: Hazama throws a knife into a man’s hand; a man fires a gun; flashbacks to Hazama being beaten in Vietnam and to war time violence; Johnny is punched many times; Tiara has a gun put to her head; Tiara is shot

Blood/Gore: Tiara’s gunshot wound bleeds, and blood pools next to her; Johnny’s arm is shown mangled and twisted

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