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Young Black Jack (anime review)

Title: Young Black Jack: Complete Collection on Blu-ray

Director: Mitsuko Kase

Studio: Tezuka Production

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 7th, 2007

Format: Blu-ray / 12 Episodes / 300 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Age Rating: TV MA

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Synopsis:

The year is 1968, the war in Vietnam is approaching its zenith, and the counterculture movement that’s been sweeping the world is engulfing Japan. While others are in the streets protesting, one young medical student becomes embroiled in a different kind of battle.

As new medical technologies to save and extend lives come into play, the temptation for a surgeon to play God has never been so powerful. Even as he strives to prove his own skills to his colleagues, Hazama Kuroo begins to suspect that the potentials for abuse inherent in the medical system are already being exploited.

To attempt to change the system means risking his own promising career as a surgeon, and to move against the perpetrators will put his own life in danger. However, as a doctor, how can he not act when lives are on the line?

The diagnosis is murder as the origin of Osamu Tezuka’s legendary rogue surgeon Black Jack is finally revealed in YOUNG BLACK JACK!

Commentary:

In the world of manga / anime few names take on the cult status that Tezuka does. Even the great Myazaki concedes that Osuma Tezuka was a undeniable force in the 1960s. The one thing that Osuma Tezuka did not do was to give us the rich and dramatic early days of Black Jack. This series produced after the legend has passed is far above anything I expected and stands out as one of favorite characters and stories derived from the Tezuka legacy. Young Black Jack provides plenty of drama and a wonderful dose of excitement.

Overall Grade: A-

If I was on the design staff for this series I would have brought up the one glaring issues with the character development. It has to be the unevenness of the character design. I know that there will always be a group that want to stay true to the strange and somewhat silly character design that is trademark Tezuka, but for this series it would have made more sense to make them all look more contemporary than the silly bulbous headed people that show up in the series. There is an uneven mix of normal looking characters and the silly Tezuka people. All I can do is ask why, it looks silly and detracts from the solid aspects of the anime.

To be perfectly honest I see Young Black Jack as something more than a Tezuka product, but rather a drama that continues to prove that humanity may need to be saved and at the same time not saved. I felt this way with other series like Black Lagoon and Darker Than Black. It just seems that Young Black Jack highlights the futility in our world and that giving all of yourself still may not be enough.

All you Tezuka fans get ready to be overjoyed and everyone else please try to get over the poor character design and look at the series as a whole. You will be very surprised and discover the deeper thoughts that run many anime that relate to a very easter way of thinking. So, be sure to check out Young Black Jack you will be happy you did.

 

She, The Ultimate Weapon (anime review)

She, The Ultimate WeaponTitle: She, The Ultimate Weapon

Director: Mitsuko Kase

Studio: Gonzo

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: April 7th, 2015

Format: DVD / 13 Episodes / 325 Minutes

Genre: Drama, Apocalyptic, Romance, Anti-War

Age Rating: 17+

Overall Personal  Rating: B+

Synopsis:

Not every soldier wants to fight. Not every weapon wants to be used. But when an unexpected force attacks their city, the hopes and dreams of students Shuji and Chise are shattered by the fires of war. Surviving the bombing after a mysterious defender decimates the attackers, Shuji discovers Chise in the ruins – but she is no longer the girl he has always known.

Changed and twisted by military experiments, Chise has been altered into something no longer completely human. Even worse, though they both fight to deny it, the things that made her the person she was are slowly beginning to fade away. Can a human soul exist inside a device that was created to kill? And can any heart continue to feel love for something that is only a shell of the person it once was?

Commentary:

She, The Ultimate Weapon  (a.k.a. Saikano) is a very different series that posses some very complicated questions to the viewer. It pushes you imagination and at the same time asked you to try and take a moral position while watching these high schoolers deal with a rather horrific situation. The writing of the series is by far the shinning aspect and because of it you see Chise and Shuji very human or at least in the beginning. Of course there is the constant struggle to maintain  their humanity and at times it is hard to know which one is being more human or loosing their humanity faster.

Even though Chise is forced to go through the transformation it becomes clear that Shuji has to deal with many of the same demons without the ability to blame it on a unwanted life altering modification. In many ways I really felt more sympathy to Shuji than I did for Chise.

Overall Grade: B+

At first I had to stop and check when the series was originally created and based on the art style I was sure it was the mid 1990s but to my surprise it was 2002. I think this throw back in art style made it hard to want to watch at first. Once I got several episodes into the series I began to appreciate it a little more, but never go to the point that I felt like it really fir the series that week. I reminded me a lot of the styling of  Serial Experiment Lain which is how I got the the 90s with the art style, but at least the plot and story is a little easier to follow. Al though there is plenty of  the series that will give you a reason to pause and give it some genuine thought. I found the question to much of the same ones raided in Gunslinger Girls, but in that series their transformation saved their lives.

It is very understandable that this series will find a fairly narrow fan base, but I think that you like to thing and are willing to give a solid drama a chance then you are going to be glad you check out She, The Ultimate Weapon.