Young Black Jack Ep. 1: I just want to save lives!!!

He’s so young! But he’s so fast! He’s so mysterious! It’s his first surgery ever! The whole thing kicks off like some generic shounen. As Hazama prepares for the time-critical operation, he sheds his civilian clothes to reveal ripped-as-hell body.

Like “I spend hours at the gym” ripped. Sure, I guess it’s possible. Of course doctors can be in great shape… this isn’t just great shape, though. This is young Brad Pitt “I’m going to make the audience swoon” shape, so you can’t deny that it’s a little groanworthy to see. Then on top of that, Hazama’s body is full of scars. Like “I’ve seen some shit” scars. Cut yourself on this edge scars. And he’s got that grey streak in his hair just to drive it all home. It’s all just very ridiculous. No, really, it is:

See? The main character’s in bondage while a cartoonishly evil-looking character clutches fat stacks of cash. It’s, like, a metaphor of how the pure and noble profession of medicine can still be constrained by greed. But rawaawwwwwrrrrrh…!

Our maverick doctor unfetters himself…

…and engages another dude in mortal combat with nothing more than a scalpel?

Jags_fan

Ah, the one GIF I just love to use over and over whenever I blog about anime. What can I say? It just so perfectly captures how I feel every single time I sit down to watch 90% of these shows.

But honestly, the main character’s over-the-top portrayal isn’t even the biggest problem that I have with the first episode. I’m poking fun at it, sure, but if anything, anime has innoculated me to this sort of thing. Anime is stylish and often overly stylish. It’s also for a younger audience, so yeah, I bet a scar-ridden, edgy-as-fuck young doctor is just the ticket. Sure, whatever. The biggest problem for me is that, well, I just don’t think that broadcast anime is the right format for this kind of story.

Anime is the wrong format because I can’t see anything. I literally can’t see anything.

Like what’s going on? Can you… can you just move the camera over a little bit? No? Darn. Yeah, I get it. We can’t show anything too graphic, but that’s my point: if we can’t even show the surgical procedure itself, what am I watching this for?

For example, Maiko marvels at Hazama’s speed, especially since he’s just a student, but all I’ve got to rely on are her words. I can’t see his speed for myself except for that one cringeworthy moment where he twirls a scalpel (like really?). I can only hear Maiko assert that the main character is skillful. This results in a rather dull operating scene, and I honestly couldn’t help but glance away from the screen from time to time because… what am I going to miss? Hazama’s furrowed brows? C’mon.

We get some x-ray shots.

And… this… whatever the fuck this is. But the palpable, visceral nature of the operating room — the fact that a life is hanging in the balance and all it takes is a millimeter misstep one way or the other — is sorely lacking. I may as well have just read the manga instead. I don’t feel like I’m getting anything out of an anime adaptation other than the pleasure to hear the characters speak.

In the end, even though Hazama saved the kid’s life, his father refuses to pay up the 5 million yen mark that they had originally agreed to. I just think the whole thing felt a little forced. The story is trying to hammer home its theme a little too hard, so it doesn’t feel natural. The father isn’t even close to being grateful. He just becomes cartoonishly greedy overnight. Not a hint of relief, not a hint of shame, not a hint of regret — nothing. He just grins as he knows he has the upper hand on the guy who just prevented his kid from being a quadriplegic for the rest of his life. It’s a tough pill to swallow, basically. Human nature is a little more subtle than that.

The only part I kinda like is when we see Hazama’s hands shaking shortly after the operation. At least he doesn’t have nerves of steel. At least he’s got weaknesses (for now). But all in all…

…I just am not too impressed with the show’s initial direction. It’s all a little too goofy.

Even the characters are goofy-looking. And the current message of the story?

Blunt trauma at work.

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12 thoughts on “Young Black Jack Ep. 1: I just want to save lives!!!

  1. kenshirojoestar

    I am not saying that this is a good or a bad anime, but being goofy and silly is not really something bad in this type of show, I mean this is a prequel of a manga that was published in 1973. This is an old school show, this type of goofy situations and characters are really common in this type of anime and manga. Apart of that Black Jack is a romanticised ideal of the medical profession created by Osamu Tezuka(who was a doctor himself). All the Black Jack shows lampoons the era of the seventies, that is why all the characters(with the exception of Black Jack and others doctors) are in a major or lesser degree stupid. Again, i am not saying you should like this type of shows, i just wanted to explain why this anime may looks stupid.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I even said the goofy parts weren’t even my biggest problems with the episode. Sure feels like you guys are caught up on that though.

      Reply
      1. kenshirojoestar

        Don’t worry E Minor, I know that you said that the thing that you disliked most was that you can not see what happen in the surgery, because television anime is not the correct format to this type of shows. I was just defending the goofy part of the show, because you made a lot of jokes about that :)

        Don’t worry, the Osamu Tezuka fanbase is not like the fate stay night fanbase. We are not that bad ;)

        Reply
  2. IonCaron (@IonCaron)

    If it wasn’t for this article I would not have been able to make it through this. heh Seriously.
    Oh I feel sick still, though. I actually feel sick. This is worse than seeing teenage Doctor Who and teenage Sherlock Holmes (I know they aren’t teens but they may as well be). Poor Black Jack getting the shounen faux-Hollywood treatment…

    I’ll at least say that the scars and hair have a legitimate reason behind them, though his skin should be more…off-color in many areas, also for legitimate reasons. Why he’s built like that however is beyond me.

    Also, the nature of Black Jack was always one that focused less on the art of surgery and more on the interpersonal drama surrounding the cases, which ranged from uncomfortably realistic to outlandishly bizarre. The problem that arises, however, is that they gave you NOTHING of that in this episode, whereas every single episode in the original series (and manga) was filled with it. The series is also meant to be a semi-family show, something serious with light moments that adults and their kids can enjoy (it was from a simpler time when such a thing was even considered).

    The character designs are still goofy mostly, rather rounded and stylized (by one of the greatest creators in anime history), but so much more is offered and all with twists of mystery with brutal gut-punching emotional moments that are just so sincere it hurts.

    You don’t even know how much I adore the original Black Jack series, mate, but don’t worry, I’m not going to inundate you with info. I’m looking forward to your posts!

    Matter of fact, let me show you one of the best episodes to illustrate my point. Have a watch if you’re interested and have the time, mate!
    Here (the first 20min is the episode I mean, the rest are other episodes):

    Reply
    1. kcat4

      I figured that to be the case when you described it previously. I always have felt anime works best when it is stylish yet well anchored in difficult issues of the times. Enough distance to enjoy or laugh at while close enough to reality to reflect on. At the moment there appears to be a lot of inbreeding in anime, shows jumping off from the borrowed ideas of other shows without being anchored to the bedrock of reality making it useless fluff at best. And that’s before even going into the lack of writing fundamentals in a lot of shows.

      P.S. The show is pretty good after having watched the episode you recommend. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone but its pretty solid in its delivery.

      Reply
  3. Day

    “Ah, the one GIF I just love to use over and over whenever I blog about anime.”

    Oh. I just assumed it was a different one each time of that guy at every Jaguars game over the past five years. Damn.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    I agree with your point about not being able to see anything. I’m not sure it was entirely a choice to made to placate censors. I’m tempted to believe this was also an aesthetic choice because it reminded me of the way Hollywood likes to depict computer hacking. It showed nothing, explained things poorly, but believed tense acting and frenetic music was sufficient to make the audience feel immersed in the drama. Perhaps the director believed this is an effective way to depict complicated technical endeavors.

    In any case, I’ll continue watching a few more episodes because I found its ridiculousness hilarious and because it’s rare for an anime to be set in the ’60s and depict historical events.

    Reply
  5. gorzerger

    As others have, I’ll defend the goofy style of the show: it is given the source correct and acceptable.
    I will however add that I think that this show, as a prequel to black jack, does not make any sense, as it was intended to be a very idealized doctor, something that in reality couldn’t exist or in any way come to being, and making a series about his origins is just biting his own tail.
    I would have rather have them adapt decently some of the classic manga, as it has only received adaptation in a relatively short OVA.

    Reply
  6. Overseer

    I got more out of the manga and I was flipping through with no translations. This anime butchers it. I don’t even want to see some of the stories included in the anime cause they’ll fuck em up.

    Reply

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