What’s it about ?
Adaptation of a recent manga series spinning out of Osamu Tezuka’s famous 70s opus. It’s basically a prequel set in the hero’s college years.
Our point-of-view character (and obvious audience identification point) is Maiko Okamoto, a medical intern. She’s a bit clumsy and mostly does paperwork at this point, but she takes her vocation seriously. So when the world’s stupidest transit accident happens and all the regular doctors are too busy to deal with this one kid who’s in danger of losing half his limbs, she’s desperately looking for anyone else who’ll step in and achieve a miracle.
Hazama, the man who would later become known as Black Jack, guerilla surgeon with a patchwork face. For now he’s just a mere medical college student, and has yet to operate on anyone. But he’s clearly been preparing mentally for it, and he’s willing to help out, so off they go. It helps that he happens to own a favour from a washed-up surgeon nearby, who’ll lend his his operation theater.
As apparently always happens in Black Jack stories, the patient’s father is an asshole : even after our hero miraculously patches up the kid’s limbs, he refuses to pay the previously-agreed amount. Screw you too, jerk Dad.
The OP sequence wastes no time in pandering to the target audience, as it immediately show the hero shirtless and in bondage.
The ED sequence, on the other hand, makes a terrible mistake : it shows side by side Tezuka’s original character designs, and the “updated” versions this show is going with. Which only demonstrates how badly the redesigns have gone : either they’re much blander and less expressive, or they’ve barely different from the Tezuka blueprint and then they look horribly out of placed next to everything else.
Also looking awful : the surgeonning sequences. Most of the screentime is spent on Hazama playing with scalpels and strings at random in a very abstract way ; what we’re actually shown of the actual operation looks ludicrous. It’s like the storyboarders noticed halfway through that this should be a very bloody mess, and then endeavoured to show as little of it as possible.
Urgh. Nevermind how terrible it looks : the script is much, much worse. Because it relies on nearly everyone but our two main characters to be either a moron or an asshole. (And even then, Maiko’s mostly there to fawn over Young Black Jack being so awesome.) The accident is beyond stupid, the circumstances that lead to him taking the case only happen because people are being jerks, and the ending just comes out of nowhere to make the point that the people he helps are jerks too. Heck, even Hazama is a bit of an entitled git, too.
And then there’s the politics of it. The reason the hospital is short-handed is because the interns and the medical students have gone on strike and are organizing protests. This is set in 1968 (which was a hotbed of unrest in Japan too), and they do have legitimate grievances (such as internships being unpaid). But the show thinks this is all frivolous, and depicts the lot of them as utter assholes, with not a single on willing to help out in an emergency. Now, the late-60s student movements were far from sainthood, but this reactionary and revisionist take on them sits very badly with me.
Forget about the franchise’s prestigious pedigree ; it only makes this look worse in comparison. And it was already so annoying that I refuse to watch any more of it.