The 1996 Black Jack anime film is actually a side story of sorts from a series of OVAs that were released throughout the 1990s, featuring Osamu Tezuka’s famous unregistered surgeon. Here, Black Jack has to aid a mysterious doctor named Jo Carol Brane, who blackmails him to aid a number of supposed “superhumans” who possess extraordinary capabilities within different fields, yet find their bodies deteriorating after a period of time from a newly discovered disease.
The Black Jack movie is more-or-less a medical mystery film with the titular character trying to figure out the origins of the disease affecting the superhumans. Those who have dabbled into the OVA series from the 1990s can think of this as an extended episode of it. It retains the dark, gritty mood found from the OVA series and the mystery in question plays into the franchise’s overall theme of dabbling into corruption within the medical field. The film drops hints of shady activity at play with the disease in question and Jo Carol having something to do with it, that is gradually unraveled by Black Jack and others as the film progresses. The mystery is an engaging one to see develop and offers solid exploration of Jo Carol’s motives for her involvement with the superhumans, though the film’s efforts to make a moral of the mystery do usually get overly dramatic and to-the-point on occasion. Also a fair warning, this movie can get quite graphic at points as there are several scenes depicting Black Jack performing surgeries that are shown in rather graphic detail thus I’d avoid this film if you get squeamish at the site of gore, even when depicted during medical procedures.
Visually, the Black Jack movie’s more-or-less on par with the visual quality of the OVA series in depicting Black Jack with a modern drawing style with detailed character designs and subdued color tones to be in line with the dark mood depicted from the OVA series. The drawing style does allow for some lifelike character designs and detailed scenic shots to be shown, though Pinoko seems to oddly stick out in still being drawn in Tezuka’s classic drawing style which does clash with the intended aesthetic choices for this film.
Anyone with interest in medical mystery or anything connected to Osamu Tezuka should give this film a watch. There is solid buildup with the mystery as more elements concerning the superhuman medical crisis get unraveled and the fleshing out of Jo Carol’s character with her connections to it show she has more dimension than your run-of-the-mill anime villain. Those looking for anything a bit more action-heavy or squeamish over graphic violence may not get as much enjoyment out of seeing the 1996 Black Jack movie.
Rating: 7.5 of 10
Someday I’ll be gone To somewhere that we belong And God has never played his role 'Cause I’m the one who saves my soul It’s a perfect world we’re longing for
This is the serious kind. I remember watching the anime series on the International Channel. It scared the hell out of young me. From the review, the movie stepped it up a bit. Interesting, character designs clashing with the aesthetics and environment designs.