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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A surgical anti-hero
A super-hero surgeon seems a pretty unlikely protagonist. but Tezuka pulls it off with his hero Black Jack. Like any proper rouge, Black Jack lives outside the rules of society, sweeping in when his skills are needed and making the corrupt pay for their mis-deeds. Hey, he even wears a cape.
Each story manages to set up a situation where a super surgeon is...
Published on March 4, 2003 by Zack Davisson

versus
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars WARNING: Chapters extremely out of order, but at least in original right-to-left reading style.
My biggest problem with the Astro Boy comics sold in the U.S. was that the art was mirrored, and I felt kind of betrayed by that. I really love Tezuka's art style and I try really hard to learn from it, I feel maybe looking at the art backwards makes it more difficult to get where Tezuka was coming from. It's nitpicky, but nice to know before buying, which I didn't know...
Published 23 months ago by WILHELM


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A surgical anti-hero, March 4, 2003
This review is from: Black Jack, Vol. 1 (Paperback)
A super-hero surgeon seems a pretty unlikely protagonist. but Tezuka pulls it off with his hero Black Jack. Like any proper rouge, Black Jack lives outside the rules of society, sweeping in when his skills are needed and making the corrupt pay for their mis-deeds. Hey, he even wears a cape.
Each story manages to set up a situation where a super surgeon is necessary. However, due to Tezuka's fine writing skills, there is a humanist element to each tale, that is often melancholy. Black Jack makes other's happy, but he is rarely happy himself. He cannot taste the forbidden fruit that is peace of mind. Life, death, failure, lost love, childhood and age, these are all the themes presented here. Each story is some sort of morality tale, so the logistics behind the melodrama are not as important.
Tezuka's cartoony style can be off-putting to those who are used to more refined Japanese manga artists, but it soon flows into the story and is admired rather than questioned. Those already familiar with Tezuka will find the art here as fine as anything done by the "God of Manga."
All in all, a really excellent comic. Give it a chance, and you won't be disappointed.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authorities hate him but the patients & readers love BJ., December 28, 1998
By 
This review is from: Black Jack, Vol. 1 (Paperback)
BJ is considered to be one of Tezuka's best comics. The whole series consist of twenty-two paperback volumes of short stories. The main character, BJ, is a genius surgeon who practices without a license. Although BJ is an outcast, many people rich and famous are willing to pay top money for his service. Through out the people and events that BJ encountered, Tezuka questions the value of Doctors in the medical systems, the meaning of a qualitative life, and the price of health.

update: 9/16/2010 - fans of BJ are in luck. Vertical has published the entire BJ in 12+ volumes. Thank you.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Psycological Thriller of the Best Kind!, February 18, 2001
This review is from: Black Jack, Vol. 1 (Paperback)
This is manga at it's greatest! I admit, when I first picked this book and thumbed through the artwork, I had my doubts, but reading the first novel changed my view on Black Jack for good :) Black Jack has to be one of the most engrossing mangas that I have ever read. The storyline of this novel has yet to be surpassed in my mind. The depth of the storyline is fantastic. The stories themselves - although maybe seeing far-fetch at times - always have a great twist or turn. What is most intriguing about the storylines though; and the philosopical and psycological implementations in each story. All events have a good reason - there is no mindless play-fights or brain-knumbing stupidity. Black Jack is written with intelligence and intergrity. Although difficult to explain, Osamu Tezuka has a way off exploring the human interlect, in ways other manga artists cannot. (Many have tried, but never quite made it).
To sum it up. Black Jack is for anyone who enjoys a good intelligent story. There is also a good spattering of comedy, (You see Astro Boy hidden in the odd corner, or running out of buildings occasionally!) and raw human emotion. The manga is rendered in Osamu Tezuka's typical loose style, but the characters have a feel of their own.
An absolutely fantasic read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great 95% complete edition of Black Jack, April 18, 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Black Jack, Vol. 1 (Paperback)
How many volumes will there be?

This edition of Black Jack has a total of 17 paperback volumes, containing about 12 stories each. It is based on the Japanese 17 volume Akita bunkouban edition.

Wait, paperback? so what are those expensive hardback versions?

Vertical also published special limited hardback editions of books 1 to 3 in the series. They are limited to 1500 (vol.1) and 1200 (vol.2 & 3) copies and distributed through Diamond to brick and mortar comic-book stores.

The difference is not only in the cover, they include three additional stories (one in each) NOT included in the Japanese edition on which the Vertical paperbacks are based. These three stories will not appear in the softcover books. More on this later.

Is this The Complete Osamu Tezuka's Black Jack, then?

Well, no. Even if you buy all the three hardcovers, the answer is still no. No book edition, including all the Japanese editions so far, includes all Black Jack stories as originally serialized in magazines. Also, not all the book editions omit exactly the same stories. It is a bit messy, actually. More on this later.

Why were some stories excluded from the books?

In many cases, criticism or controversy about the medical conditions depicted. Some of the stories missing from the books deal with lobotomies, for instance. Or are inaccurate. Or relatives of patients with the disease depicted in a story would complain. Tezuka was very sensitive to all this criticism. In other cases he simply thought the stories weren't good enough to be reprinted in book form.

So, how *complete* is this?

Very, actually, one of the more complete there is. There are a total of 243 issues of Black Jack. 5 "sealed" issues where never collected in book editions because they contained controversial or sensitive material. 20 more issues are excluded from some, but not all, of the Japanese book editions. 12 of these are included in the bunkouban edition on which the Vertical edition is based. And three more of these 20 appear in the special hardcover volumes 1-3. So. If you have all the Vertical paperbacks you will have 230 out of 243 stories. If you also buy the hardcovers you will have 233*.

*i researched all this at tezukaineglish.com. of course i might have misread or miscalculated something.

Is Black Jack a series or a serial?

A series. Each chapter is a self-contained story. You can read them in almost any order. In fact, that's what you're already doing. This edition does not present the stories in chronological order of publication, but in the order Osamu Tezuka himself indicated for a deluxe edition planned shortly before his death, in 1989.

For instance. The stories in this first volume are not issues #1 to #12 of the serialized manga but rather issues #1, #167, #12, #52, #29, #50, #86, #185, #57, special issue between #113 and #114, #54, and #49. There is a rationale to all this. Several of the stories give backstory information about Black Jack, where his scars come from, why he decided to become a doctor, etc. So Tezuka decided to put them at the beginning of the series in this new form.

Where can i learn more about Black Jack and and all this mess about the excluded issues?

Go to 'Tezuka in English' website (tezukainenglish.com). That's where i dug all this stuff up, all kudos to them.

Is Black Jack really that good?

As a surgeon? Definitely. As a comic-book classic? The answer is also yes. Black Jack is as classic as Tintin or Terry and the Pirates, but with surgical gore.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Jack rocks!!!, May 30, 1999
This review is from: Black Jack, Vol. 1 (Paperback)
Cool stories and one cool main character. Strong character designs and crystal-clear storytelling. I hope that more of Tezuka's work gets translated for the U.S. market -- I like his style!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected from the "Manga Master"..., December 29, 2000
By 
Zagnorch (Terra, Sol System) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Black Jack, Vol. 1 (Paperback)
Having seen a few episodes of "Astro Boy" and "Kimba The White Lion", I never considered the possibility that anime/manga legend Osamu Tezuka was capable of heavier fare. So needless to say I was thrown for a loop when I picked up and leafed through a copy of "Black Jack" volume 1. It's significantly more mature in theme and story than Tezuka's more notable works, and contains some fairly graphic depictions of surgery. But considering the fact that the books' title character, Black Jack, is the world's most skilled and naturally gifted surgeon, I should've at least semi-expected it.
The book contains eight one-shot stories, and have no linkage to each other. Probably the most significant chapter is the one that tells the origin of Black Jack's "daughter" Pinoco, since she makes appearances in a few subsequent stories. Another significant chapter is the "origin" of B.J. himself, which tells the story of what inspired him to become a healer, and introduced (and sadly, also bade farewell to) his mentor. But quite possibly the most unusual moment is our hero's reunion with a lost love-an interesting take on the popular manga & anime formula of gender-switching. There's quite a few other offbeat moments inside this tome, which you'll have to read for yourself...
Quite a few of the secondary characters depicted in Tezuka's renderings are reminiscent of early Warner Brothers and Hanna-Barbera cartoon shorts, with a little bit of the "Speed Racer" look thrown in for good measure. For someone who's considered the originator of the modern anime and manga genre, I guess it was only natural that Tezuka had to draw his inspiration from somewhere. It's a rather unusual hybrid of mature storytelling and cartoonish artwork that I found to be a bit off-putting at first, but got used to as I kept reading.
The only tiny problem I have with this book is the dialogue. It's a bit clipped and relatively simple,likely due to the complexities involved in the translation of the original Japanese text. When the characters "speak", they usually get right down to the point and waste few words. As a result, I found this volume to be a pretty quick read. Oh what to do...
`Late
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please, Buy These Books and Read Them, November 23, 2009
This review is from: Black Jack, Vol. 1 (Paperback)
Following the knowledge, logic, guesswork, and touch of luck that goes into diagnosing a patient is like reading a great detective story. The mysteries contained within the human body have fascinated us since the dawn of time. Even today, television shows like CSI, Bones, and House have taken such a hold on the American imagination that juries in actual courtrooms expect to see forensic evidence admitted with every case. Knowing this, is it any wonder that Black Jack is one of the most popular manga of all time in Japan?

Black Jack is brilliant surgeon, able to operate successfully on a score of patients in a matter of minutes. But due to a series of conflicts with the medical profession, he remains unlicensed. Instead, he operates outside the law, remaining one step ahead of authorities as he moves from one country to another, charging patients exorbitant rates for his services and remaining cold to their pleas for mercy--or for a discount. But Black Jack isn't heartless; he just operates under his own code of ethics and fair play. He'll travel for miles to save a man who once did him a favor. He'll give aide to any doctor prepared to go all-out to save a patient. He'll cry after a failed operation. And he always chooses to fight for life rather than settle for an easy death.

In Black Jack, Tezuka has created an iconic character, one that has a predictable set of actions and responses but still manages to surprise the reader. Sometimes harsh, other times moving or laugh-out-loud funny, each chapter is a complete episode. Many times the stories are about characters whose lives are touched by the rogue doctor, and these are often the most memorable. But no matter who the star of the story is, Black Jack is thoroughly addicting.

Before becoming a professional cartoonist, Tezuka studied to become a medical doctor and it's easy to see that he had a ball putting his training to use on the page. The scenes in the operating room are as graphic as what you'll find on primetime television, and some of the plots are just as outlandish. But Tezuka's tongue is firmly planted in cheek as he takes his antihero up and over the top, and he keeps the reader engaged for the whole ride.

Vertical is releasing the Black Jack stories in the order Tezuka set out before he died, and they're great. They are also beautifully put together, with artful covers and illustrated inner covers. This may be the only time a gorgeous package actually hinders sales. These stories are perfect for teens and adults, but the covers do nothing to attract a teen reader. So, please, buy these books and read them. Then buy a set for your favorite teen, male or female, and make them sit and read a story or two. These stories will become favorites and you will instantly be the coolest adult in the room.

-- Eva Volin
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and Moving Stories, January 14, 2009
By 
Victor Hartwell (Colorado Springs, Co.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Black Jack, Vol. 1 (Paperback)
I remember seeing the Black Jack series years ago at a con I was at, and from that moment on I was hooked. I searched for the comic books, which are rare and hard to find, and I ordered the original Mangas when they were first released in the states, but the copying of the art was shoddy, and the translations were terrible. When I heard that they were re-releasing the Mangas I was delighted. As soon as I got my copy I knew I would be pleased. The page spacing is perfect for the artwork, the translations are wonderful, and I am happy to see this beautiful example of Japanese manga released in a format that will apeal to American and European readers. The stories themselves show a deep and probing knowledge of the human heart and psyche, and each story helps you look into the choice between right and wrong. In anycase, after several decades, this is still an amazing series whith a rich and deeply developed plotline, and this edition truly does it justice!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About the author., April 1, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Jack, Vol. 1 (Paperback)
BJ is one of best known works of the author Tezuka Osamu, the god of manga, the creator of the modern manga in Japan after the WWII. Tezuka Osamu was also a student of medical doctor, and he also obtained Medical Doctors degree in Japan. In his life he wrote more than 400 books of manga as many as 150,000 pages or more than that as well as directed many animations. We hope the US readers have access to more titles of his master pieces like BJ.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Acchon Burike!, May 20, 2009
By 
animate ~ "Rob" (Fayetteville, NC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Black Jack, Vol. 1 (Paperback)
With Vertical, their hands were wet after they tackled just one great Tezuka achievement. But then came others; "MW", "Phoenix", "Dororo" - and now they've gone and outdone themselves! A reprinting of "Black Jack" finally has its home in America.

An elitist surgeon for hire, Black Jack works without a license, and some say without morals. But as deeply as Tezuka loved medicine (he himself never practiced, but it's worth noting) he loved a good story, and the story telling in these twelve stories is top notch.

Many of them have morality as a central theme. Some would say this is overdone or tedious after awhile, but Tezuka has a wonderful way of making each story interesting. Included here is the beginnings of Pinoko ("Teratoid Cystoma"), the MD's lovely home-made daughter, erm, make that 'WHIFE'! Among other things, the doctor must detect a killer from a patients haunted eyeball ("The First Storm of Spring") as well as diagnose a gruesome devilish face sore ("The Face Sore"). A personal favorite of mine is "U-18 Knew", which depicts an entire hospital run by a single robot, now diagnosing himself as sick and asking for Black Jacks direction.

Black Jack's mentor is also given a story in "Sometimes Like Pearls", which, like other stories, ends in demise but sprouts knowledge about its characters and adds depth and meaning to the human quality each story has in itself. This collection of Black Jack works is among the best around, and starting here is a must.

A NOTE ON THE TEXT:
Vertical has done a great job wrapping these stories in lovely artwork and even accompanying them with extra stories assuming you through in the extra cash for the sought-after hardcover editions of these books.

The traditional Japanese sound effects are kept in original kana form, with subsequent English translations next to them. Most signs and labels are kept in Japanese as well and this is appreciated by any manga fan who wants their Tezuka preserved as it was meant to be.

From what I hear the touch-ups from the original BJ releases in English are very well done and the overall presentation in monochrome is wonderful, especially sice Vertical is going with a larger palette and charging a bit more (Tezuka is worth it to me).

One (very minor) complaint I could have is the exclusion of any chronology of the stories in an Appendix. It's apparent by later Volumes in the series that these stories are not in chronological (as they were printed) order and to have a reference of original publishing dates (& cover art) would be appreciated.

But for what Vertical has done, I can only applaud.
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Black Jack, Vol. 1
Black Jack, Vol. 1 by Osamu Tezuka (Paperback - September 23, 2008)
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