Monday, August 27, 2012

Manga Monday: Only a master blacksmith could dare to make Black Jack's scalpels

Doctor Black Jack operates out of spite, and is reminded to always be humble, in Black Jack Volume 5.

Note:  Black Jack Volume 5 is, of course, the sequel to Black Jack Volume 4. The Vertical edition is published not in chronological order, but in the preferred order of Osamu Tezuka, so spoilers are not generally a problem. The review for Black Jack Volume 1 is here, and the review for Black Jack Volume 4 is here. Otherwise, read on!

In 'Quite a Tongue,' Doctor Black Jack is invited to see one of his successful patients use what he gave back to them. A thalidomide baby, Eiji was born without proper hands. The great talent of his childhood, though, is using the abacus. He learned how to compute with it using his tongue, but other schoolchildren made fun of him and shamed him so badly that he no longer uses one.  Black Jack was able to give him hands with a transplant, but cautions him that even though they are fast, they are also weak and can not hold up to long sessions. Now, at the finals, will Eiji be able to continue?

'There Was a Valve!' brings us another visit from Black Jack's greatest enemy, Doctor Kiriko. Kiriko's father is dying, and her sister has brought her to Doctor Black Jack to be cured. Kiriko, however, has already decided that it's a hopeless case, and is ready to euthanize him. Will Black Jack save the father of his greatest rival, or is it already too late?

Finally, 'On A Snowy Night,' Black Jack is approached with a special case. A brother and sister appear at Black Jack's cabin in the middle of a blizzard with a suitcase full of money. They want Doctor Black Jack to save their mother, and are willing to pay whatever it takes for him to do it. But when Black Jack asks where their mother is, they point to the empty bed and insist that she's laying right in front of them. Will Black Jack be able to figure out what's going on, and when a plane crashes in town, will he reserve the bed for their mother when there are more visible causalities to be saved?

As always, Black Jack has both successes and failures in this volume. Pinoko has her jealous moments, we revisit several familiar faces, but each story still brings something new to the table. In all, Black Jack Volume 5 is another in a line of fantastic story collections, worthy of even the most discerning manga fan's shelf space.

Highs: Stories with the acupuncturist always seem to have lovely morals to them.

Lows:  The jealousy from Pinoko can get a bit tiresome at times, but it's nice for Black Jack to have someone to bounce dialog off of.

Verdict:  Another winner from the God of Manga.

Further Reading:  The Book of Human Insects, Dororo

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