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A Japanese manga written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka in the 1970s, dealing with the medical adventures of the title character, doctor Black Jack. Black Jack consists of hundreds of short, self-contained stories that are typically about 20 pages long. Black Jack has also been animated into an OVA, two television series (directed by Tezuka's son Makoto Tezuka) and two movies. Black Jack is Tezuka's third most famous manga, after Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion. In 1977, it won the 1st Kodansha Manga Award for shōnen. About.com's Deb Aoki lists Black Jack as the best "re-issue of previously released material" of 2008.

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PlotEdit

Most of the stories involve Black Jack doing some good deed, for which he rarely gets recognition — often curing the poor and destitute for free, or teaching the arrogant a lesson in humility. They sometimes end with a good, humane person enduring hardship, often unavoidable death, to save others.

Anime History/DiscoveryEdit

Perhaps the first televised appearance of Black Jack was in the 1980 remake of Tetsuwan Atom. Episode 26 of Astro Boy brought together three separate Tezuka creations, as Astro, Uran, Doctor Roget (Black Jack) and Penny (Pinoko) travel back through time to 15th Century Molavia (Silverland). In this storyline, Black Jack performs a life-saving operation on a critically injured Princess Sapphire (from Ribbon no Kishi), while Astro and Uran fend off Gor, a malevolent magician bent on usurping the throne. Characteristically, Roget/Black Jack refuses to operate until he is offered the key to the treasury vault, but later takes only one commemorative coin from the grateful court (which turns out to be worth $200,000,000 when he returns to Astro's time). Presumably, the name changes were due to Western audiences being unfamiliar with the Black Jack franchise at the time. Black Jack also made a cameo appearance in the theatrical film Phoenix 2772 as an interstellar prison warden, and is one of the main characters of the TV movie One Million-Year Trip: Bandar Book, in which he plays the role of a space pirate, somehow similar in concept to Leiji Matsumoto's Captain Harlock. In 1992, Tezuka's protege Osamu Dezaki did the direction for a theatrical movie and an OVA series. Ten OVAs were made (six of which, along with the movie, were originally only available in dub-only VHS form in North America, but all 10 OVAs have since been released on bilingual Region 1 DVD). Wizard selected the series as their "Anime Pick of the Month" for August 1997, calling it "one of the darkest and hardest-hitting made-for-video series of recent years." There is also a four episode TV special from 2003 called Black Jack: The 4 Miracles of Life. Princess Sapphire appeared in episode 3 of this series. A new TV series was released in fall of 2004 in Japan, and a new film entitled Black Jack: The Two Doctors of Darkness was released in December 2005. While the television series is an (albeit sugar-coated) adaptation of Tezuka's original manga, the film's storyline is wholly original. The film describes Black Jack's attempts to prevent a group known as the Ghost of Icarus from starting a widespread, biological war which could wipe out humanity, while working alongside the infamous Dr. Kiriko. In late April 2006, a seventeen-episode series titled Black Jack 21 took up where the previous anime had left off. Adapted from standalone manga chapters, Black Jack 21 features an all-new overarching storyline. Though neither the 2004 series nor the Black Jack 21 series have been licensed in the U.S., there are several fansubs available on websites such as "Crunchyroll" and many episodes have been uploaded on YouTube by fans of the anime.