Trane's Reviews > Black Jack, Vol. 2

Black Jack, Vol. 2 by Osamu Tezuka
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's review
Dec 13, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: manga-and-comics
Read in December, 2008

With the second volume of the Black Jack series, Vertical is continuing the same good work they did in volume one. Lovely graphic design and layout, quality paper, and a decent translation all serve to highlight Tezuka's excellent storytelling.

This volume contains some great stories including "The Ballad of the Killer Whale," a story in which a killer whale pays the doctor in pearls for surgery; "Emergency Shelter," a story that serves as comeuppance for a rich braggart who builds a skyscraper that is so technologically sophisticated that it becomes an inescapable fortress of death; "Dirtjacked," in which a grade-school teacher and her students get trapped under a landslide while lava from the volcano they were visiting seeps slowly into the area that they're trapped in; "Stradivarius," the story of a plane that crashes in the Arctic Circle and the violin player who refuses to abandon his violin, even at the risk of losing his fingers to frostbite; and "Hospital Jack," in which the doctor performs surgery in the pitch black because masked gunmen have taken over the hospital and cut the power.

The most important story in this volume is "Where Art Thou, Friend?," the story that reveals the origin of Black Jack's appearance. It turns out that the the dark patches of skin on Black Jack's body were donated by his friend Takashi when he was young. Although Takashi is half Japanese and half African-American, Black Jack refuses to replace the patches of skin that have been donated by him: "Forget it!! This patch of skin belonged to a dear friend! If I replaced it, I'd be rejecting his gift to me." Although Tezuka, like other manga artists of his era, is sometimes guilty of trafficking in some pretty gross stereotypes (the depiction of the Inuit people in "Stradivarius" is none too flattering), in general his political stance is deeply egalitarian and it's that egalitarianism that comes out in this story.

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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Susan (new)

Susan Fairly dead-on review, though a pet peeve of mine is that Takashi is half-African, since I can assume that his parent is not from America. African-Japanese doesn't make terribly much sense, either.

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