Tag Archives: Young Black Jack

Review: Young Black Jack, Episode 8: Painless Revolution Part 2

Review:

Yabu has returned from Vietnam with an American soldier who is suffering from PTSD. When the pair goes to the hospital for the soldier to be examined, Yabu is surprised to run into Hazama, who has exhausted himself by searching for a cure to Johnny’s analgesia. While Hazama and Yabu talk, Tommy, the soldier with Yabu, goes elsewhere, only to return later and mention that he ran into Johnny, who was a former comrade of Tommy’s. During their conversation, Hazama finds out that Johnny never actually went to Vietnam, contrary to what Johnny had divulged. Realizing that he has been lied to, Hazama returns to Johnny’s room and uses scare tactics to drag the truth out of the injured man. Elsewhere, Professor Risenberg meets with a CIA operative, where they discuss the true causes of Johnny’s analgesia, Risenberg’s secret past, and the implications for Johnny’s future. Afterward, Risenburg approaches Hazama on the roof of the hospital and tears up Johnny’s test results, commenting that Hazama will no longer need them since he is returning to Japan. Risenberg later injects Johnny with a sedative before hooking him up to a machine that restores his ability to feel. Back in Japan, Hazama laments that he was not the one to heal Johnny before finding out that Johnny has now retired from civil disobedience movements.

This episode is unique in the series thus far, as it is the only one to not feature Hazama involving himself in a surgery of some sort. Instead, the focus shifts more to Johnny and Professor Risenberg, with Hazama actually serving as more of a plot element than anything this time around. Instead, the more shocking revelations come in the form of Risenberg’s true personality and the truth behind Johnny’s lack of pain recognition. These revelations, combined with the attitude of the CIA agent, do make one question what the Japanese (or at least the writers of this show) think about Americans.

It is also interesting that everything beyond the first two episodes has stemmed from the Vietnam War (and even the second episode provided the resource needed to get Hazama to Vietnam). While the episodes themselves are largely self-contained (minus the trilogy and duology aspects), this common theme does serve to provide a sense of unity for the series, and the weight of the Vietnam War as a backdrop continues to give the series a historical perspective. This particular episode manages to capture the type of drama you’d expect to find in a live-action medical drama such as House without losing its originality, and it also raises the question of whether previous events will continue to culminate in future plot developments. After all, we did see the return of the CIA agent who is familiar with Hazama’s skills this time around. Young Black Jack has successfully managed to defy our expectations in this installment by following a different path than normal, but whether or not this pattern will continue has yet to be seen.

A Christian Perspective:

The first idea I had was to compare Professor Risenberg to the apostle Paul. After all, both appear to have a murderous background (Risenberg seems to have worked for the Nazis while Paul was a Pharisee who executed the early Christians) prior to changing their lives around and ultimately using them to help people. On the surface, this seems like a good comparison; however, it quickly falls apart with a little thought. For one, we have to consider the culture: Paul’s murdering of Christians was legal, at least by the worldly authority of the Pharisees, whereas Risenberg’s murdering of Jews was seen as a heinous crime. While turning from murder is obviously right in God’s eyes, Paul’s transformation actually went against the governmental authority he was under, so him facing worldly punishment for his crimes was not realistic. Risenberg, on the other hand, should have faced justice, but instead was harbored by the American government in exchange for his research. This is also an abdication of duty by the American government, as they failed to administer appropriate justice when presented with the knowledge of Risenberg’s crimes, and instead profited off of that information. Let’s not forget that God is the One who gives authority (Romans 13:1), though humans do have a tendency to abuse their authority. In the end, Risenberg at least makes some form of repentance by choosing to use his knowledge to reverse Johnny’s analgesia and save the young man’s life, but one must wonder if this is really enough to make up for the fact that he never faced justice for all the lives he took.

In summary, while Risenberg and Paul appear to have similar stories at first, that comparison quickly falls apart when we realize that Paul was murdering with the full support of his government before turning against that to spread the true Gospel, while Risenberg was murdering and committing acts that were considered a crime by pretty much the rest of the human race before turning from those actions and being harbored under a false identity. Paul never hid who he was—everyone knew his past and the miraculous work God did in his life. The same cannot be said of Risenberg.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “sh*t”; 1 “swear to G*d”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: Scenes of gunfire and explosions are shown; a flashback shows Johnny having his leg broken by a police baton; Johnny is beaten by several police officers

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Scenes are shown to indicate people being killed by poison gas, but they are represented by shadowy figures

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

Review: Young Black Jack, Episode 6: Vietnam Part 3

 

Review:

Hazama and Kiriko operate on a patient with the threat of bombing looming over their heads, determined to complete their surgery. Shortly after, the episode’s timeline rewinds to show the primary characters from this trilogy of episodes going about their lives in the village. Dr. Kiriko helps out with an old man in the village while Bob stands vigil over Steve, with Phan reassuring him that Steve will be okay. While he is alone, Steve wakes up and begins to panic, not knowing where he is, and ultimately wandering off into the fields near the village. Hazama, Bob, and Phan rush off to look for him, and when they find him Bob calls out. Steve, happy to know that everything will be okay, begins moving towards Bob, before stepping on a landmine and being blown up. This throws Bob into a state of mental decline (likely Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), causing him to initially deny Steve’s death, then to blame the Viet Cong. When an injured Viet Cong boy is brought into the village, Hazama, Kiriko, and Yabu discuss performing surgery, which angers Bob, and learning that this boy was the one who made it possible for Hazama and company to escape confinement does little to assuage Bob’s anger. While the doctors take the boy into surgery, Bob makes a call to the Army, ordering an air strike on the village. After placing Steve’s remains into a bag, Bob wanders off, and Phan works with the photographer to evacuate the village. The trio of doctors decides to continue operating, racing against the clock as the U.S. air strike looms ever closer….

As has been the case during this trilogy, this episode again exhibits the horror and unpredictable nature of war. The end of the previous episode certainly left us with an apparently false sense of security about Steve’s fate, and although the idea that Steve would die was pretty obvious when his rambling in the field begins, the manner in which he died managed to catch this reviewer off guard. Bob’s subsequent mental decline shows the effects of war on soldiers, though the accuracy of the symptoms shown are likely lost on those with no real knowledge of psychiatry and other related fields. Still, we know historically that soldiers have suffered from PTSD, and that reality seems to be accurately reflected here. While an animated show probably can’t produce the same effect that meeting a real soldier with PTSD could, it is still eye-opening and shocking to see the lengths that Bob is pushed to by his mental condition (which is possibly accelerated by racial tensions already existing from the war).

Of course, it wouldn’t be an episode of Black Jack without a surgery, and though this formula has undoubtedly gotten repetitive, the writers at least manage to make the circumstances surrounding the surgeries (and the conditions during the surgeries) diverse enough to continuously create tension, though it is the circumstances that tend to provide more entertainment than the surgeries themselves, at least in this case. Still, the banter between Hazama and Kiriko make for a moment of amusement, and it adds to the sadness of the short statement about their futures at the end of the episode. Unfortunately, the fact that this is a prequel series does manage to take away from some of the tension brought on by the doctors’ operating under a time limit before the air strike happens; after all, Hazama can’t be blown up in Young Black Jack if it’s the prequel to the Black Jack series.

At the end of the day, the fictitious aspect of the series cannot be overlooked. Even someone with no medical knowledge whatsoever can probably deduce that complicated surgeries being performed in thirty minutes or less is not realistic, but as with most medical or crime dramas a little suspension of disbelief goes a long way in enjoying Young Black Jack. Fans of the original Black Jack manga will also find this episode’s reveal of the parachuting doctor’s identity shocking. Overall, Young Black Jack manages to maintain its enjoyability due to its stellar characters and writing.

A Christian Perspective:

Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The verse above speaks to how those of us who are in Jesus are all one, and that the things that the world defines us by are not to define our true identities. Truly, a diverse background of ethnicities and cultures comprises the body of Christ, from the middle class salaryman in America to the tribesman wandering the plains of Africa, yet should the two ever meet they would see themselves on the same plane as brothers in Christ (or at least, they should). I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying that when God looks at those of us who are in Christ, He no longer sees us, but Christ. Given that idea, it further drives home the idea that is expressed in the Galatians verse, as it would mean that God literally sees no difference between any of us.

Likewise, Hazama, Kiriko, and Yabu present a similar viewpoint in this episode. When Ahn is brought into the village, the three doctors immediately begin to examine him and discuss surgery. Bob, angered by the Viet Cong’s mine killing Steve, finds himself appalled by the fact that these doctors would want to help an “enemy”, especially after several of those involved had been imprisoned by the Viet Cong. The revelation that the boy before him aided in he and his comrades’ escape—and that he was probably injured because he was found out—seems to have little impact on Bob, but the doctors refuse to back down. To them, it doesn’t matter if this man is Viet Cong or American, friend or foe. He is a patient, they are doctors, and he is in need of their care. May we take such a view of our brothers and sisters in Christ, not defining them by their ethnicity, background, financial status, or any other characteristic by which the world divides us, but rather by our mutual relationship with Christ.

Content Guide:

Language: 2 “b*stards”, 3 “b*stard”, 4 “sh*t”, 1 “h*ll”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Two men are shown shirtless

Violence: Scenes of war; Steve remembers being shot at; a man steps on a landmine and is blown up; a village is bombed; a man is punched in the episode preview

Blood/Gore: Steve’s wound is shown, and there appears to be blood around it; a blanket is shown with bloody spots on it; a man is shown with blood on his body; a doctor has blood on his glove; a bed and bag are shown with blood on them; a blood bag is shown

Review: Young Black Jack, Episode 5: Vietnam Part 2

Review:

Hazama and company are taken to a village by their captors, where they are subjected to torture and eventual imprisonment. The situation looks bleak for all involved, and especially for Steve, who is in great need of proper surgery to repair the damage to his neck. A particularly gross scene shows Hazama flicking maggots away from the wound. When Phan is drug away by the villagers, Bob begins to despair; however, her torture is postponed as the soldiers are called away from the village. In a particularly fortunate turn of events, one of the would-be torturers who had a previously positive experience with Phan slips her a key, which she uses to free herself and her co-captives, enabling them to flee into the jungle. As time passes and the jungle environment takes its toll on the party, they begin to drop into despair before passing out, but are thankfully saved by Yabu, who takes them to a nearby village where he is staying. There, Steve is finally able to get the help he needs from a doctor who answers a radio call for help. While there is some tension between this new doctor and Hazama (who is adamant that Steve is his patient), the two ultimately work together in the surgery before sharing a peaceful moment together.

While the historical accuracy of the scenes shown are up for debate (this reviewer knows nothing about the methods or attitudes of the Viet Cong to determine whether the torture and treatment of Hazama and his cohorts was accurate), it can certainly be said that the episode keeps viewers on their toes. From the beginning, we are left with this question of how the characters would make it out of their captors’ hands, or even if they would. Granted, we know that Hazama would at least make it out since this is a prequel series, but the others were certainly expendable. Even when they do get out, they are left in an “out of the frying pan, into the fire” situation as they wander the jungle with no apparent sign of help. It could be argued that Yabu being the one to find them was a bit of convenient writing, but on the other hand it could also be argued that stretching the search for Yabu out for too long could have become tedious and uninteresting. Prior to this, Young Black Jack had been a fairly concise series with self-contained episodes, so a two-part (going onto three-part) is already a departure from the norm. Having Yabu be the one to ultimately rescue the group would seem to be the best way to resolve the current conflict without dragging out the overall plot for too long.

The episode also deserves credit for managing to display some of the horrors of the main characters’ imprisonment without being overly disgusting. Specifically, the photographer is shown shackled between the other characters and needing to use the bathroom. While he ultimately reaches the point of not being able to hold his bladder, this isn’t explicitly shown, though there may have been sound effects. In fact, the worst thing shown is probably the maggots around Steve’s wound which, admittedly, is a disgusting scene. Granted, there is something to be said for authenticity, but there is also something to be said for being able to convey the horror of a situation without having to descend into disgusting imagery to get the point across. Young Black Jack chooses the latter, and in doing so probably creates an episode that is more accessible to a wider range of viewers.

In discussing this episode, one cannot neglect to mention the doctor introduced near the end, a doctor who seems to be just as fanatical about operating as Hazama himself. While his initial introduction seems to suggest a rival role (Hazama argues that Steve is his patient while the new doctor tells Hazama to get out of the way), the end result suggests something of a friendly relationship between the two. Perhaps this new character will even serve as a mentor to Hazama in episodes to come. As of now, his role is unclear, but Hazama certainly recognizes the other doctor’s skills, and it would seem to be a waste to introduce a highly skilled doctor and not have him play some role in Hazama’s growth. Only time will tell, but that’s one thing that Young Black Jack does well—it leaves you with questions that draw you back for the next episode.

A Christian Perspective:

1 Peter 5:5 – In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

Hazama’s behavior when confronted by the new doctor ultimately, if imperfectly, exhibits the qualities shown in this verse from 1 Peter. At first, Hazama certainly seems intent on being the one to perform Steve’s surgery; however, he never seems to pose much of a roadblock to the new doctor getting into the operation. While Hazama does insist on being in the operating room because Steve is “his patient”, he willingly stands back and only gets involved when asked, all the while marveling at the new doctor’s skills. When it all is said and done, the two actually seem to exhibit something resembling friendship, a result that would not have happened had Hazama not humbled himself and instead insisted on his own way.

Much like Hazama, we may sometimes feel like we deserve to be the ones to do something or serve some role within the church, but a church elder may feel that we aren’t qualified for it yet or that someone else is more qualified. We may feel slighted, and feel as though the elder does not know what they are doing. Nevertheless, Peter makes it clear that we are to submit to the elder, although it may not be unreasonable to politely ask the elder to explain why the particular decision was made. The point is to not pridefully insist upon our own way, because that could lead to more problems, much like if Hazama had insisted on his own way with Steve’s surgery. Now, I feel there is probably something to be said if an elder teaches something that is clearly unbiblical, but that is probably a topic for another day.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “bullsh*t”, 2 “cr*p”, 3 “sh*t”, 1 “b*tch”, 1 “d*mn”

Alcohol/Drug Use: Hazama and the new doctor drink something at the end of the episode, but it may just be water

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Hazama is shown shirtless; other men are shown shirtless; Phan’s top shows cleavage

Violence: Hazama is tortured; a man is hit with a rifle; Phan is beaten

Blood/Gore: Steve is shown with blood on his bandage; Hazama vomits; Steve’s bloodied wound is shown, and Hazama is shown flicking maggots away from it; a simulaiton of maggot therapy is shown; Steve’s wound is shown in the operating room; droplets of blood are shown as another doctor cuts into Steve’s neck; two ends of a vein are shown while they are operated on; blood is shown rushing through a vein; the episode preview shows a bloody man

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

Review: Young Black Jack, Episode 3: Deserters

Review:

On an unspecified evening, Hazama is preparing his dinner while Okamoto pokes around his apartment, seeking to discover the secret to Hazama’s surgical prowess. While she only discovers some fish that he has practiced on and some pigs’ feet, both of them stumble into an unexpected situation when they hear a loud noise from another apartment. Upon investigating, they find to defectors from the U.S. Army being harbored in another apartment. One of the men is suffering from severe head pain, which is the source of the yelling. The man and woman harboring the soldiers try to pressure Hazama into investigating the source of the man’s headache, but he adamantly refuses and storms out, only to be confronted by his own morals, which ultimately lead him to look into the source of the soldier’s headache. There is pressure on the man’s brain that requires a piece of his skull to be removed, and though Hazama (again) protests against doing the procedure, he ultimately gives in and does the surgery. Afterward, it is discovered that the man was actually working undercover for the American government, and that Hazama’s involvement is known. After being briefly detained, Hazama is released and his medical bag returned.

Determining the continuity of Young Black Jack is difficult. We know that this is definitely after the events of the previous episodes, as references are made to both surgeries, but how much time has passed and what the nature of Hazama and Okamoto’s relationship is are a couple topics that are not expounded upon. There does seem to be some type of plot continuity as well, since the couple harboring the fugitives knew of Hazama’s fame, and on top of that the next episode appears to have Hazama in Vietnam, which could likely be the result of him being identified as the one who performed the surgery in this episode. All of this is to say that, while the episodes themselves are entertaining and well-written, it would be nice to have a slightly better idea of how they all tie together into the general plot.

The episode also manages to raise some questions about Hazama’s character: namely, why did he suddenly have such an aversion to doing this surgery? The immediate thought would be that it’s because the surgery is being forced upon him; however, the previous episode’s surgery was technically forced upon him by the cult, as well, although in that situation Hazama technically had something to gain (the preservation of his life, as well as his desire to perform a heart surgery). Whatever the case may be, we see something deeper ultimately come into play this time around: namely, Hazama’s conscience. This provides a look into why Hazama is the way he is, and may have an impact on his ultimate transformation into Black Jack.

Ultimately, the episode follows the same general guidelines as the previous two: Hazama is presented with a medical emergency, Hazama performs the surgery, and we see what happens post-surgery. Much like the first episode, Hazama ends up getting the short end of the stick when everything is said and done, but where this leads him (apparently Vietnam, if the events of this episode have any connection to that) could prove interesting for his character development. Also interesting will be seeing where the relationship between Hazama and Okamoto goes, if anywhere.

A Christian Perspective:

*Review Romans 14*

If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you’ve probably come across the Romans 14 principle of acting within the confines of your conscience. The chapter speaks about there being things that aren’t inherently sinful by themselves, but if a person feels they are sinful then to that person those things are sin and the individual should avoid them. While this episode of Young Black Jack does not speak about sin, it does show Hazama being faced with a situation that he does not want to be involved with, yet his conscience eventually kicks in, reminding him of his conviction to save lives. Although he doesn’t like the idea of being coerced into performing a surgery (whether as a result of pride or something else), he recognizes that to not help the patient would be a violation of his own personal moral code, and ultimately performs the surgery.

In the same sense, we as Christians should be prepared to do (or not do) things in accordance with our own consciences, even if they are things we do/don’t want to do. For example, a friend may be perfectly fine with watching an anime that depicts blood and violence, while you may feel uncomfortable and convicted by the same anime. The fact that your friend is okay with the anime should not cause you to justify violating your conscience by watching it.

Content Guide:

Language: 2 “j**z”, 1”hell”, 1 “*ss”, 1 “sh*t”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: Hazama punches a woman and grabs her face; scenes of war in the episode preview

Blood/Gore: The inside of a man’s skin is shown as it is peeled back from his skull; a chunk of a man’s skull is shown being removed; blood is shown several times in the episode preview

Review: Young Black Jack, Episode 2: Abduction

Review:

Hazama, Yabu, and several other men find themselves kidnapped as potential heart “donors” for a cult leader with a failing heart. All of the men owe some amount of debt to their kidnapper, and are offered freedom from their debt if they are compatible donors (of course, this means death for the chosen donor). Hazama and another man, Raymond, both turn out to be acceptable candidates, and when the aging cult leader for whom they have been kidnapped surveys both men, he chooses Hazama; however, the leader’s health is quickly failing, and the black market doctor that was hired to do the surgery goes underground to avoid pursuit. This buys Hazama a potential reprieve, as he is now expected to do the surgery; of course, failure very well could lead to his death, as well. For Raymond, the now-donor, this is actually welcome news, because it means money will be given to his daughter for needed medical treatment. As Hazama prepares for surgery, Yabu argues against his decision, stating that doing this surgery will brand Hazama a murderer and keep him from every legitimately practice medicine. Hazama wrestles with his conscience, as well as the failing health of both of his patients, and must make some very quick decisions.

Young Black Jack is enjoyable in its simplicity—from the beginning, we can pretty much determine that Hazama will be performing the heart surgery, so the only question that remains is how he will reach that point. The writers also manage to work in a potential explanation for the high rate that Hazama charged the family in the first episode. If you remember, the review for that episode questioned the morality behind Hazama’s rate; however, in this episode we find out that he is deep in debt as a result of trying to help yet another person, which means that his outrageously high rate could have been dueo to him trying to pay off that debt. It’s a minor plot point, but it is one of those things that are neat to pick up on.

Also commendable is how the writers manage to make us care about Hazama, despite the show still being in its infancy. Ultimately, the crux of the episode is the moral dilemma that Hazama faces. He wants to do the heart surgery for whatever reasons he may have—whether for the challenge or because he simply loves practicing surgery—but he also knows that what he is doing is wrong. Yabu’s added presence as a voice of reason helps to amplify this dilemma, even as Hazama prepares to cut into Raymond’s chest. The climax of the episode isn’t whether Hazama lives or dies—we knew the outcome of that before the episode even started—but how Hazama will handle the situation placed before him, which appears to be a lose-lose scenario. His solution to the problem is as novel as it is surprising, although it does leave at least one question in the viewer’s mind. Unfortunately, we can’t discuss that here, lest we spoil the ending for those who haven’t seen the episode. Instead, please feel free to sound off in the comments if you think you know what said question is.

While Young Black Jack may not be an intense medical drama like House or E.R., but it does well as a character drama focused on Hazama’s younger days and, presumably, his transformation into his alias of “Black Jack”. One cannot help but wonder if the black market doctor “Joker”, who is mentioned in this episode, has any ties to Hazama’s ultimate alias, seeing as how both names relate to cards. Perhaps we’ll find out as the drama of Hazama’s life unfolds, but only time will tell.

A Christian Perspective:

John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Okay, so this is probably a pretty obvious example, but Raymond’s willingness to give his life away for the sake of his daughter’s health is a perfect example of the above verse. Raymond has nothing personal to gain from the arrangement he has made—he is clearly slated to die—yet he loves his daughter more than his own life and is willing to die if that means she can live. Perhaps the verse above can have a much deeper meaning than simply dying for others, though: one could arguably lay their life down by serving others regularly and putting the needs of others above their own. Regardless of whether this is true or not, Raymond’s sacrifice is quite obviously an example of the former interpretation.

What I find more interesting is to examine the moral implications of Hazama’s actions in regards to the Christian worldview. The dilemma that Hazama faces in this episode—to do the surgery or to not do it—seems pretty obvious, but then again the whole show is technically immoral given the fact that Hazama’s surgeries are technically illegal. True, he does what no one else is willing to do, and prodcues results, but it doesn’t change the fact that he is breaking the law in the process. So I guess if we really want to just be done with the subject, we can say that Hazama is an immoral character (or morally ambiguous, at the very best), wipe our hands, and walk away; however, that is boring, so looking past the seeming immorality of him even doing the surgery, let’s look at the result of this episode’s surgery.

As Hazama prepares to operate, Yabu interjects with words of wisdom about why Hazama shouldn’t go through with the surgery. It is interesting to see the drug addicted veteran being the voice of reason, as even Yabu sees himself as pretty much good-for-nothing, and it sparks a thought about how God can speak to us in a variety of ways. Let’s not forget that He one used a donkey to convey a message (Numbers 22:28). You pretty much know you’re doing wrong when the character who has no positive image of himself is telling you that what you’re doing is wrong. As Hazama is having this conflict both internally and externally, Raymond’s heart begins to fail, and the cult leader isn’t fairing much better. Yabu suggests just letting it be and throwing in the towel.

Some time later, we see Hazama sitting outside, and the cult leader getting out of his car. The two meet with each other, and Hazama addresses the man as “Raymond”. We find out that, rather than do a heart transplant, Hazama performed plastic surgery on Raymond to make him look like the cult leader who was supposed to receive Raymond’s heart, effectively making it look like the surgery was a success. The question of what happened to the real cult leader’s body is never addressed, but we can assume that this means Raymond’s daughter got the money she needed, and we know that Hazama did not commit murder while also appeasing the cult. Still, the question remains as to whether this was a moral action at all, because it all hinges on deception. Hazama deceived the cult by making them believe their leader was still alive, and Raymond now lives a life of deception. Of course, cults aren’t typically respectable or moral in the first place, so one could also ask if being immoral to the immoral really matters, but as Christians we are supposed to exhibit godly character all the time, which would make me think that a Christian should still do the right thing in this situation. Of course, a Christian wouldn’t likely be practicing illegal medicine or taking loans from shady loan sharks, so it’s probably a moot point to talk about what a Christian would do in this circumstance. Still, I’d like to hear your thoughts, so please sound off in the comments below!

Content Guide:

Language: 2 “b*stard”, 3 “d*mn”, 1 “h*ll”, 4 “sh*t”, 1 “a**hole”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Hazama is shown shirtless; Yabu and some other men are also shown shirtless

Violence: Hazama is hit in the face with money; Yabu is forced to the ground

Blood/Gore: Men are shown with bloody bandages

Review: Young Black Jack, Episode 1: Where’s the Doctor?

Review:

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.

Christian Perspective:

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!

Content Guide:

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