Our challenge this month is the medical anime, Black Jack. A young boy, born into a happy family, loses his family in a horrible accident. Facing certain death, he survives countless hours of surgery and goes through long, torturous rehabilitation. Orphaned and disfigured, the boy vows to become a surgeon, because of the kind old doctor who stood by him through every operation.
Years later, the miracle worker Black Jack is born. A doctor of unfathomable skill that performs the impossible on the operating table. A doctor who charges his patients’ unbelievable fees. And do these surgeries without a license.
People turn to Black Jack, the doctor when they have no hope left. Even animals like a killer whale… yes a killer whale… Well, he likes dealing with medical cases not very well known, which can be strange, dangerous, or not known at all… He rarely gets recognition; often curing the poor and destitute for free, or teaching the arrogant a lesson in humility. He is actually the good guy anti-hero type because he’s is a modern-day Robin Hood with a scalpel, that charges his rich patients’ enormous fees, that really hurts their pockets, but treats the poor for free.
There are many Black Jack OVAs and movies but this month we focus on the first 12 episodes of the Black Jack anime which ran from 2004 t0 2006 which is an adaptation of the manga. The full series is 61 episodes long.
Week 1 February 7th -13th
Episode 1 – 3
As we are watching episodes 1-3 of Black Jack it is also a great idea to look at some other anime doctors, let’s start with the cutest this week… Tony Tony Chopper from One Piece. Born a normal reindeer, Chopper ate a Devil Fruit called the Hito Hito no Mi. (The Hito Hito no Mi is a Zoan-type Devil Fruit that allows its user to transform into a human hybrid and a full human at will. “Hito is Japanese for “Human”.) He is the sixth member of the crew and the fifth to join Luffy, Chopper is also the youngest member on board. This little doctor mostly appears as a toddler-sized human/reindeer hybrid, but his Devil Fruit abilities allow him to change his appearance. Chopper’s left antler is braced at the base by a metal plate because it was reattached due to an incident when he was younger and ran into the leader of his old herd, who severely injured him. He usually wears a large pale red/pink fuzzy top hat with a sideways medical cross (perfect for a pirate doctor) and a maroon pair of shorts. Sometimes he wears a blue backpack that has the same sideways medical cross as his hat. He also has a remarkable blue nose.
Many female characters, such as Nami, Robin, Makino, Porche, Shakky, and Vivi find Chopper very cute. There are even males that find Chopper cute such as Foxy. Chopper’s chibi looks make him very charismatic. A running gag in One Piece is that various characters in One Piece think Chopper is a tanuki (raccoon-dog, often simply translated as “a raccoon. In 2014 he even had his own special episode/movie released One Piece: Episode of Chopper + Fuyu ni Saku, Kiseki no Sakura (Bloom in the Winter, Miracle Cherry Blossom), which was based on a 2008 movie.
Week 2 February 14th -20th
Episode 4 – 6
One of the most powerful healers in anime is a lady, the epic Tsunade from the Naruto anime franchise. Her resume is impressive. She is a descendant of the Senju and Uzumaki clans and she is one of the Konohagakure’s Sannin (The others being Orochimaru and Jiraiya). She is known as the worlds strongest kunoichi as well as the greatest medical-nin. Losing those dearest to her heart, such as her brother caused her to abandon her life as a shinobi for a long period, but she is persuaded to return to Konoha to take up the mantle of the Fifth Hokage where her skills prove her to be invaluable to the village.
She is inspired by the mythic Tsunade from the Japanese folktale Jiraiya Goketsu Monogatari, and in that story, the original Tsunade specializes in snail magic. Tsunade’s favourite hobby is gambling and if she wins it is actually seen as an ill omen, which is a very interesting contrast to the character. Another interesting fact about her is that she has the same blood type as the other two members of the Konohagakure’s Sannin, Orochimaru and Jiraiya!
Week 3 February 21th -27th
Episode 7 – 9
Most doctor’s in anime are respected and well-liked, even Orochimaru from Naruto, but there is one doctor so creepy and evil, everyone hates him with a passion… Shou Tucker from Fullmetal Alchemist. In the beginning, when we meet him we like him, and we like his daughter Nina, and Alexander, her dog. He seems like a kind and gentle person. Tucker is a state Alchemist who works for the Amestrian military. He is obsessed with combining animals into a chimaera and with giving said chimaera the ability to talk like a human and to that end the military fuels his research. Tucker seems to take shortcuts with his research by combining humans with animals and presenting those abominations as his chimaera. These poor creatures never live long after their creation.
Then one day Edward the Fullmetal alchemist calls on them, wanting to visit with young Nina and Alexander and talk about alchemy with Shou Tucker. In a scene that gives many anime fanatiks, PTSD a chimaera greets Edward. It is a chimaera consisting of a dog and a little girl…”Ed…ward” it groans… Tucker experimented on his own child and her dog. The image from that anime still burns in the minds and eyes of all who watched it. Because of the heinous evil experiment, Tucker did on his own child, he became the most hated doctor/alchemist in the history of anime… Of what became of the Nina/Alexander chimaera we will not say. It hurts even thinking about it.
Week 4 February 28th – March 6th
Episode 10 – 12
Our last doctor of the month is a botanist, apothecary and healer, Shirayuki from Akagami no Shirayukihime or Snowwhite with the Red Hair as it is known in English. Shirayuki is very resourceful and quite knowledgeable when it comes to medicine. We first see her abilities at work when she finds an injured prince while she is fleeing her country. She tends to him and cures his wounds. That seals her fate as she ends up working as the Palace Pharmacist for the Kingdom of Clarines.
Ahirayuki may not technically be a medical doctor, but she performs all the duties of a medical doctor in a fantasy setting, making her perfect to be one of the ‘doctors’ we focus on this month. She diagnoses and treats patients, which are the core medical skills of a doctor.