Anime Vice News

BLACK JACK #1 - - Special Review

A most morbid and bizarre med school teaching aide!

Of the copious-unto-excessive comparisons I drew between Western pop culture and Tezuka’s BLACK JACK during my review of the series’ first couple volumes, I somehow neglected to bring up Mr. A; a character that Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko wrote and drew during his more extreme independent years. Anyway, Mr. A was a superhero to embody objectivist philosophy and his strips were basically illustrations of how Ayn Rand’s inflexible sense of morality would play out in a fantasy thriller setting. In one story, for example, Mr. A coldly ignored the pleas of an endangered mother to save her teenage delinquent son in her place because, by his reckoning, she had far more to contribute to society.

(To give you a better point of reference, Rorshach from WATCHMEN was partially inspired by Mr. A and he’s a less-extreme take on such a vigilante).

Maybe there’s some poetic parallel to be found in how Black Jack’s black and white hair might recall Mr. A’s literal black and white sense of justice, but I’ll let that be. The stronger similarity lays in how most of Black Jack’s adventures seem to boil down to extreme and uncompromising dramatizations of the concepts of market-driven care. That’s the case in the comics, anyway.

The Black Jack of this cartoon seems to have been softened a bit from the one of the pages. He’s less of a jerk, certainly - - but his adventures are just literal realizations of theories. In this instance, we see the more benign principle of triage in medicine getting played out, with the point seeming to be that Black Jack can still be exploitative with the pricing of his services, but he now must also respect the fairness his Hippocratic Oath presumably asks him to uphold (even though he probably never actually swore it since he's, you know, unlicensed).

Seriously, this tension of this pilot comes down to him deciding on which order an animal, a senator and baby deserve treatment. I wouldn’t be surprised if this were an especially… progressive medical school professor or two who used this as a teaching aid to make class just a wee bit more enjoyable for his students

Only in anime, right?

Watch this episode, "Karte:00 The Order of Operations” here and decide for yourself.

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk

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