Modern Visual Culture

Recommended Works

Black Jack


Mangaka: Osamu Tezuka 手塚 治虫
Born: 11th of Mar, 1928 Osaka Prefecture, Japan
Original Publisher: Akita Shoten
English Language Publisher: Vertical, Inc.
Published: September 1973 to October 1983
Status: Finished
Number of Volumes: 17
Serialized: Weekly Shonen Champion 週刊少年チャンピオン
Genre: Adventure, Mystery
Demographic: shonen

The mysterious Black Jack is a brilliant but unlicensed physician with a clouded, mysterious past who charges immense fees to those who can afford it and nothing to those who can’t.

Characterized by his poor bedside manner and a rather dark sense of humor, even Black Jack 's physical appearance is off-putting, his stern two-tone face is bisected by a scar, and he has a white shock in his black hair. His assistant Pinoco, isn’t much help in the marketing department department, either: she’s an eerie little girl constructed from a patient’s engulfed twin. People nevertheless seek out his help, calling him the “Surgeon with the Hands of God”, as he is a genius who can can save almost any of his patients' lives.

Black Jack is arguably Tezuka’s most popular manga; in Japan, the terrifying but helpful surgeon is as recognizable as Astro-Boy. Just don’t expect Astro-Boy’s wholesomeness; Black Jack is Tezuka-sensei pouring full-on, balls-to-the-wall action and medical gore straight into the reader’s skull.

It should be noted that Tezuka was himself a qualified medical doctor, although medical accuracy is not exactly paramount in these stories.
Background & Impact
Black Jack has been animated into an OVA, two television series and two films. In 1977, it won the 1st Kodansha Manga Award for shonen manga.