Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Review: Young Black Jack

What's it about?

Black Jack is one of those classic anime characters you see with the old school stuff.  Astro Boy, Goku, Sailor Moon, Ranma, Vampire Hunter D... Black Jack is one of those pillar characters that I'd heard about back in college, even when I wasn't completely sure what anime exactly was. I never really got a chance to look at his anime and manga before and now with this new series coming out, I figured I'd give it a shot.

Young Black Jack is the prequel to the well known character, showing how he became the well known surgeon.  Set in the 1960's, Black Jack is a medical student who has a mysterious past and is the outcast genius with his fellow students.  During the middle of a strike with all the students, a horrible accident occurs and there's no one left to take care of the patients so Black Jack has to step up and perform his first surgery.


I'll be honest, I'm not much into the medical drama category of shows.  With the exception of House, I've never really gotten into them.  I wanted to give this one a shot - based on the history of the character and pure curiosity, but I couldn't really get into it.  I gave this show a couple episodes, but had to let it go after that.

That isn't to say this is a bad series.  It's actually beautifully animated with all the same dramatic tension styles that one tends to see in sports and shonen (young male aimed) style anime.  We have a mysterious lead character, who we'll for sure learn more about, something he excels at and is needed for, and an interesting setting.  Black Jack himself reminds me a lot of Spike from Cowboy Bebop, that almost pirate type who can do the things you hire him for, charges a lot of money but in the end really has nothing to show for himself other then a good drunken story to tell.  That is a compliment to the series and if that's the type of character you love, then give this one a shot.

Me personally, I couldn't find anything to latch onto.  The show also has a large amount of almost 'pandering' to the audience.  They are clearly banking on the fact that this character is the attractive unique type, with his scars and frequent closeups of the animation of his eyes.  He feels the need to strip before a surgery, further driving home that the scars are everywhere on his body, and the opening to the anime is basically him being shirtless - the demographic for this new anime is clear and it's really not me.  I actually found the pandering distracting more then anything else.  But I can appreciate the other stylistic choices, such as the stunning animation bits of him lacing up wounds and mentally figuring out where to 'attack' next to make the surgery a success.

In the end, this is probably a pretty good anime, just not really my cup of tea.  But if you're in the crowd that likes medical drama and bishonen (attractive male) characters, give it a shot.  I'm sure there's quite a bit you'll enjoy.

Watched on?
Streaming on Hulu, subtitled.

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