Without Osamu Tezuka’s influence on the world of Japanese pop culture, chances are it wouldn’t be the same as it is today. When people hear his name, their minds will link directly back to Astro Boy, but Osamu Tezuka’s Mighty Atom isn’t the only creation of sheer brilliance that he has brought into the world, simply the most popular. Princess Knight, Kimba The White Lion, Phoenix, Buddha, these are the works that lead Japan onto the creative path it currently walks today. That’s why an Osamu Tezuka is titled “The God Of Manga“. In 2011, one of his darker series, Black Jack, was used as direct inspiration for a new Manga revolving around the younger life of the titular character. Tezuka having passed away decades ago, had nothing to do with it but the spirit of his creation carried on into the Yoshiaki Tabata/Yugo Okuma collaboration. This Manga was called Young Black Jack, and now, in 2015, it has finally gotten an Anime adaptation.
Not having read Tezuka’s Black Jack, nor having read the Young Black Jack Manga, I came into the first episode of this Anime practically blind. I know the premise of Black Jack, and with a title like Young Black Jack, I could assume what the Anime would be about, but as far as deep knowledge of the story goes…I was practically floating around in the shallow end of the pool. That could be the reason why I enjoyed the first episode of this new Anime as much as I did, or it could be the fact that Osamu Tezuka developed such a legacy through his creations that it’s excellence carries on no matter who is at the story’s helm.
The story of Young Black Jack is simple: It follows medical student Kuroo Hazama before he becomes the infamous Black Jack, and details the events that turned him from the path of the straight and narrow, to the back streets of medical professionalism. It is, essentially, the origin story the original Manga never had but, I assume, the one that many fans of the series very much wanted. That is…depending on who it is you ask. Some would prefer to keep the mysteries mysterious. Despite not having read much of Tezuka’s work, I have a great deal of respect for the man that changed the state of the creative industry single-handedly, so I simply had to experience Young Black Jack one way or another…and I’m so fortunate that I did.
Throughout episode one we get to experience, in tandem, Kuroo Hazama’s very first operation; a young child who lost an arm and a leg due to an almost-fatal accident wherein which a train collided with a public bus. After no doctor would attempt to reattach the limbs of the poor child, Hazama steps in to do his duty as a doctor, despite the fact that, at this point in time, he’s nothing more than a medical student. Through surgery, and the way Hazama handles himself whilst performing, the audience discovers exactly what type of person this man is. To be able to portray a character’s personality and emotional state without the use of long-winded dialogue pieces is quite a feat, and one that proves not only the high calibre of the series but the high calibre of the writers behind it.
Story alone isn’t enough to drive a modern Anime, unfortunately, which is fine for Young Black Jack because it has both wonderful visuals and a strikingly fitting soundtrack to back up an emotional, heart-pounding tale such as this. Being based on the illustration work of Yugo Okuma, Young Black Jack perfectly walks the line between modern Seinen and classic Tezuka, with some characters shown as visually sharp and others as soft, almost Disney-like caricatures of true-to-life individuals. The animation is smooth, and flows perfectly from frame to frame, never showing anything more than high-quality visuals. The characters move the way they’re supposed to, and the visuals also bring about a great sense of comedic timing which is perfect for a series like this that clearly uses humour to break up the dank sadness that comes with having to perform operations teetering over the edge of fatality.
I was surprised to hear modern musical sounds coming from an Anime set in the 60s but the use of subtle electronica really filled out the episode in an amazing way. Deep base and the buzzing of a modern composition allowed the audience to truly feel the gravitas of the situation in a way that, to be perfectly honest, I simply didn’t expect. While there wasn’t a large variety of music throughout the episode, it only needed a select few to do the intended job, which they very much did.
Young Black Jack I always assumed I’d like, but I never once thought I’d like it THIS much. Out of all the Anime I currently have my eye on in the new season, this one is somewhere near the very top of my list. While I can’t say it’s the best of the season, that’s only because most of the other Anime out there have yet to premiere, so for all intents and purposes; Young Black Jack could be the best Anime of the season. It has all the good elements; a gripping story, overly enjoyable visuals, a great soundtrack, and it is based off of a Manga that was based off of a creation of Osamu Tezuka. It almost demands for you to fall for it and, if you’re anything like me…you most likely will!
Crunchyroll are currently streaming this as a part of their new Anime simulcast lineup, so check it out by Clicking Here.