Ok, I’m going to be honest with all of you on two things. The first one is this post is a replacement for the Kyousougiga post that I really wanted to write. Wanted to, but have continually failed time and time again. The problem is that this is one of the few times that I’ve ever had a loss for words on what to say on something when writing about on something for this blog. Usually I would dive in and see what happens when I write it, but I’ve been staring at too many blank word processer screens when doing that with this series for that to work. There is just something that goes beyond explanation when writing about this series. Even compared to Kaiba and Tatami Galaxy where the words just flew for me. With that thought, go look at Irina’s post and Pinkies’ post from a while ago. Two more talented bloggers that knew how to tackle Kyousougiga unlike me. That one random guy in the corner.
The second one is watching and talking about Black Jack: The Movie means talking about an absolutely tone-deaf subject thing in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic we are facing right now. That should tell you a lot what this movie is about. An epidemic with a massive, corporate conspiracy behind it. Not what is actual truth of this virus, but what some stupid people think could be the case. This is an adaptation of a character from the great mind of Osamu Tezuka and directed by the amazing Osamu Dezaki. It’s a 90-minute movie with the sole focus on the famous and intelligent, but unlicensed doctor by the name of Black Jack (Kuro Hazama) working hard with professionals to solve an epidemic from the super human virus. It’s a virus that started with normal people over performing in the Olympics, then many other things, then the reality hitting them. Their insides aging is the end result of the disease.
The most interesting thing about the beginning of this movie is how Black Jack didn’t want to even get involved with it. This film starts with Black Jack off to heal people for business while the little girl living with him, Pinoko, is watching the super human feats from the Olympics. He also gets a mysterious phone call from a certain Joe Carol Brane to work for him. A call that he ignores until it’s too late. A patient that he helped a while ago, a young girl whose an astounding artist, came down with the disease and he didn’t know what to do with it. After yet another operation and the sudden appearance of the female Joe Carole Brane, Black Jack is immediately recruited to join a group of talented doctors from different parts of the world to solve the secret of the virus.
Black Jack is a ninety-minute movie and moves at a very fast pace. Yet with those ninety-minutes, it does a lot of work. It establishes some side characters, Black Jack himself in a short manner, has some cool action shots to show where the virus comes from and who wants to keep it quiet, has a lot of good operating scenes, gives patients time to feel like real people, and a lot more. It’s one of those movies that doesn’t have a single second of breathing room so you have to pay attention to every second of it to get the full context of the next scene. Also, the movie is hyper focused on one singular goal, telling the tale of the virus. You know, all of it. How it effects the people who have it, how the families of the victims get increasingly desperate, the medical team handling the problems, and larger things I don’t want to share any spoilers about. It’s a very well thought out movie.
The major problem is that the film is too fast and hyper focused. So yes, the movie tells you a complete story with a possible cliff hanger towards the end to a future movie that doesn’t happen. Because of this singular focus, the movie isn’t that deep or explore any unknown territory. The world is mostly known or enters the world through a battering ram. Except for some twists you probably don’t expect because you feel like the movie is setting up something, there are no surprises in this film at all. That doesn’t mean that the film itself doesn’t have anything to say that is meaningful. Oh no, this is an adaptation of a Tezuka property. It’s just that the message that the watcher has probably heard before and that’s ok.
I feel like Black Jack: The Movie has done Osamu Tezuka incredibly proud from a subtext level. The story isn’t just getting his famous doctor to solve a virus case and then go home. It’s more human than that. There is a lot more into the history of the virus then that. The history of greed, trying too hard to push forward a goal without ever thinking about the consequences, and the political consequences too. Just don’t yet Black Jack: The Movie as your go to to explain the Coronavirus, ok? Let’s not be stupid here and just have fun talking about a good film. You know, this film. Smart, focused, too fast, but predictable and unpredictable at the same time.
I don’t usually talk about the voice cast, but I watched this filmed dubbed. This wasn’t a choice that I felt immediately sure about at first, but the dub was absolutely solid. Black Jack was voiced by the talented and very underrated Kirk Thornton who carried a lot of the dramatic weight of the film through his voice acting. I feel like he’s played a lot of side roles, so it’s nice to see him take a main role for once. Black Jack seemed to be in his late 20’s, early 30’s in the film so Kirk’s grown up, intelligent voice worked. As this was a small cast, the important role of Joe Carol Brane was from the Major, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn herself. I really just do love how her voice exudes this sort of intelligence and confidence naturally. The kind the character needs to work because that’s how this character functions. Those two are at the core of this series, but the side characters are well casted too. They just aren’t as important to the story over all.
I feel like this is my third favorite edition of older/Tezuka like character designs in a series or movie. Black Jack: The Movie is from 1996 and it updated the characters to look a lot more realistic. The older standard, large noses from the old anime art style are there, but in a more realistic sort of way. Also, Black Jack is still distinguishable from everyone else even if he looks more realistic too. Each character have a larger feeling of heft to them so they move with a lot of weight behind their character models. The world is treated like this too. The world is realistic, the mechanical designs when they appear are stellar, and have some excellent weight to them. It all fits the heavily realistic tone the show is going for. Some with dezaki 4:3 expressive still frames. There is a lot of his standard sort of emotional and expressive still frames in this movie and I want to make them backgrounds for my computer.
Black Jack: The Movie gets a good rating for me. It’s a wonderful and well-done story for one of Tezuka’s famous anime characters. One that I didn’t know a lot about either, so it feels like a good origin story and/or way for people to learn about this character. A simple character, but one that comes with a lot of thought and meaning for why they do things. That’s enough honestly. Black Jack: The Movie is a great movie that suffers from its hyper focused nature and it’s time limit, but it doesn’t suffer a lot from it. I am honestly sort of astonished that this movie didn’t become some kind of mid 90’s classic because it’s honestly stunning and very expressively made with a lot of attention paid to detail. It’s not a Macross Plus, but it has human emotions and impact to it that a lot of the best movies have. Just needed a little more time in the even to be complete. (I’ve been baking recently, sue me.) It’s still somewhat tone-deaf to watch this film, but I’m glad it took the subject matter seriously.