Black Jack is a manga written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka in the 1970s, dealing with the medical adventures of the title character, doctor Black Jack.
Black Jack consists of hundreds of short, self-contained stories that are typically about 20 pages long. Black Jack has also been animated into an OVA, two television series (directed by Tezuka’s son Makoto Tezuka) and two films. Black Jack is Tezuka’s third most famous manga, after Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion. In 1977, it won the 1st Kodansha Manga Award for shōnen. About.com’s Deb Aoki lists Black Jack as the best “re-issue of previously released material” of 2008. Osamu Dezaki’s anime film adaptation, Black Jack The Movie, won Best Animation Film at the 1996 Mainichi Film Awards.
The first televised appearance of Black Jack was in the 1980 remake of Tetsuwan Atom. Episode 27 of Astro Boy brought together three separate Tezuka creations, as Astro, Uran, Doctor Roget (Black Jack) and Penny (Pinoko) travel back through time to 15th Century Molavia (Silverland). In this storyline, Black Jack performs a life-saving operation on a critically injured Princess Sapphire (from Ribbon no Kishi), while Astro and Uran fend off Gor, a malevolent magician bent on usurping the throne. Characteristically, Roget/Black Jack refuses to operate until he is offered the key to the treasury vault, but later takes only one commemorative coin from the grateful court (which turns out to be worth $200,000,000 when he returns to Astro’s time).
Black Jack also made a cameo appearance in the theatrical film Phoenix 2772 as an interstellar prison warden, and is one of the main characters of the TV movie One Million-Year Trip: Bandar Book, in which he plays the role of a space pirate, somehow similar in concept to Leiji Matsumoto’s Captain Harlock.
In 1992, Tezuka’s protege Osamu Dezaki directed a theatrical film and a ten OVA series which were released between 1993 and 2000. Six OVAs, along with the film, were originally only available in dub-only VHS form in North America, but the ten OVAs have since been released on bilingual Region 1 DVD. Wizard selected the series as their “Anime Pick of the Month” for August 1997, calling it “one of the darkest and hardest-hitting made-for-video series of recent years.” A further two OVAs were released in 2011 and were referred to as Black Jack and Black Jack Final.
In 2003, a four-episode TV promotional special aired called Black Jack Special: The 4 Miracles of Life.
From 11 October 2004 through to 6 March 2006 an original television series was aired called Black Jack, featuring 61 episodes. The series is an adaptation of Tezuka’s original manga. The TV show can currently be viewed for free on Viki (website) and Crunchyroll. Anime Sols has successfully crowd-funded the first 26 episodes of it for DVD release, starting from Episode 0. Right Stuf and Crunchyroll are currently selling extra copies of the first boxset through their website.
From 10 April 2006 through to 4 September of the same year, a sequel series of seventeen episodes was aired, called Black Jack 21 (Black Jack for the 21st century). Adapted from standalone manga chapters, Black Jack 21 features an all-new overarching story line involving Jack’s father and a powerful mysterious organization who try to assassinate Jack. Though the Black Jack 21 series has never been licensed in the U.S., there are several subtitled versions available on the internet.
The previous two anime, Black Jack and Black Jack 21, depart somewhat from the manga by changing the setting to the early 2000s, allowing for flat-screen LCD computer displays and other items not present in the 1973–83 manga. The episodes are based on chapters from the Black Jack manga, either in part or full, sometimes combining two stories in one episode, and also slightly modified to lighten stories’ serious issues and overtones. Background and supporting characters such as Largo the dog, Wato, Sharaku and Hige were added and used for comic relief or to support Pinoko when the doctor was not present.
On 1 October 2015, a twelve episode anime entitled Young Black Jack began to air, about Black Jack’s adventures as a medical student. It is based on the November 2011 and ongoing spin-off manga of the same title written by Yoshiaki Tabata and illustrated by Yūgo Ōkuma. More closely following the timeline of the original 1973–83 manga by Osamu Tezuka, the new anime is however somewhat discontinuous with the 2004 anime.
While Young Black Jack is set in the late 1960s against the backdrop of activism against the Vietnam War, the 2004 anime is set in the early 2000s, representing nearly a 40-year time difference, even though Black Jack appears to have aged less than 10 years between them.
An ONA adaptation of comprising 12 episodes also known as Black Jack Internet or Black Jack Flash was released in 2001–2002 and only available via a subscription online download. The series was created using Flash animation which had the unique “Zapping system” and “Action system”. The “Zapping system” allowed gave the viewer an option to change the camera viewpoint and the “Action system” was used mostly for comical effect.
In 1996, two films of the series were made: the first Black Jack The Movie and the second Black Jack: Capital Transfer To Heian.
In December 2005, a third film entitled Black Jack: The Two Doctors of Darkness was released. The film describes Black Jack’s attempts to prevent a group known as the Ghost of Icarus from starting a widespread, biological war which could wipe out humanity, while working alongside the infamous Dr. Kiriko.
A 7-minute short called Dr. Pinoko no Mori no Bōken was shown before Black Jack: The Two Doctors of Darkness.
is a fictional character created by Osamu Tezuka, introduced in Weekly Shōnen Champion on November 19, 1973. He is the main character in the Black Jack manga franchise.
His odd appearance comes from a childhood incident, in which both he and his mother were terribly injured in an explosion. Although Kurō’s mother succumbed to her injuries, and Kurō’s own body was nearly torn to shreds, he was rescued, thanks to a miraculous operation by Dr. Honma. Although Kurō survived, part of his hair turned white due to stress and shock. The skin covering the left side of Kurō’s face is noticeably darker due to getting a skin graft from his best friend, who is half African. Kurō refused to have plastic surgery to match the skin color as a sign of respect for his friend. Marked by this experience, Kurō decided to become a surgeon himself, taking the name of Black Jack.
Despite his medical genius, Black Jack has chosen not to obtain a surgical license, choosing instead to operate from the shadows, free from rules and the corrupt bureaucratic establishment. Although he usually treats those he meets in chance encounters who have heard of his legendary skills, he occasionally travels to hospitals around the world to covertly assist terminally ill patients.