Black Jack 16

July 17, 2012

Osamu Tezuka – Vertical – 2011 – 17 volumes

One more Tezuka volume tonight! I’m trying to catch up to the English releases. I’ve got one more volume of Black Jack to go, then it’ll be back to reading Buddha for me. But Barbara will be coming soon, as will Message to Adolf. I’ve already talked about the latter quite a bit, it’s one of the best manga I’ve ever read. I’m curious to see the new translation, though. The Viz edition was really quite good.

But Black Jack! This volume was a little more subdued than its predecessors, but still good. The highlight of the volume, for me, was the lengthy story at the end of the volume introduced by Tezuka himself, who claims that there were several documented cases of this in the US. It’s a story about a young man who seems to gain sympathetic injuries, and his symptoms act up again when he happens to pick up Black Jack as a passenger in his cab. His life takes a turn for the worse when the symptoms cause him to mimic other illnesses and he can no longer hold a job. He goes after Black Jack, blaming him, who then has to help him when bullet wounds on his back start to bleed. The youth claims that they are birth marks, but utterances in his sleep that the boy has no recollection of take Black Jack to the Americas to investigate. The boy apparently had a skilled surgery performed on him at some point, and Black Jack wishes to meet his equal in the medical field. The story takes a turn for the (even) weirder when we begin to learn about the revolutionaries in the area, that the boy may be experiencing memories passed from a savior, and that the surgery may have literally been performed by the hand of God. It’s all sorts of weird, and goes into a lot more depth and detail than any other Black Jack story. It’s a bit less about Black Jack as a character though, and I tend to like the stories that hinge on what he will and can do, rather than something like this where he is more of an enabler. He still gets to perform his miracle surgery, but it’s not quite as spectacular as it usually is.

Other stories include one about saving the son of a soldier who is pressured to uphold the family tradition of dying a proud soldier’s death, one about a pair of star-crossed lovers that has the kind of creepy “good” ending that only a Black Jack story can pull off, one is a spectacular revenge story where a man gets youth and a face change to do something outrageous to a man he hates (this is almost on par with Black Jack’s insane methods of revenge), one about a tokusatsu performer with a case of elephantiasis, one about a Black Jack lookalike that is also bent on revenge, one about a little boy with glaucoma that wishes his eyes were alien eyes that scare off bullies, one about Black Jack having to perform surgery as an ostracized outsider in an Italian village, one where he digs a body out of a basement, one with a high school boy that has a crush on Pinoko’s voice (!!!) from hearing it aloud in the public baths, one about a Hollywood director that tries to trick Black Jack into letting him film a surgery, and one about a doctor that desperately wishes to save face when a famous cancer treatment fails.

So, you know. The same old mundane Black Jack stuff.

I’m joking, of course. The stories run the gamut once again, and they are all wonderful. None were stand-out favorites, but this was still an awesome read, and you won’t be disappointed if you’re looking for more. I’ve already talked at length about the finer points of Black Jack, and my favorite parts are still the crazy plot points anyway, so there you go. Still fantastic. One more volume to go, then I’ll need to get my Tezuka fix elsewhere.

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