Black Jack Vol. #6 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Running time: 50
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Black Jack

Black Jack Vol. #6

By Chris Beveridge     February 09, 2005
Release Date: January 11, 2005

Black Jack Vol. #6
© Central Park Media

What They Say
A desperate man is plagued by a tumor shaped like a human face. When the tumor begins to talk and think, renegade surgeon Black Jack is the one man who can free the victim from its grotesque tyranny. Meanwhile, a serial murderer is on the prowl, a criminal beset by an identical deformity. Black Jack must decipher the connection before the hideous mutation devours its host, body and soul! Episode 9.

The Review!
Continuing with the new standalone tales, Black Jack deals with something truly gruesome with a human faced carbuncle.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The two OVAs here feature a good sounding stereo mix that's mostly center channel based for its dialogue but provides a fairly well rounded stereo mix for the ambient effects. This is mostly noticeable in the first episode with the sounds of the crashing waves. Most of the show is dialogue and a few quick bursts of sound effects, so it's not problematic with the format. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and the show simply sounds good.

Originally released in 2000, the single fifty-minute OVA is presented here in its original widescreen aspect ratio and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The transfer lets a lot of the detail really shine through, particularly the black folds of the leads jacket/cloak. The majority of the colors are fairly dark and subdued with only a few bright vibrant areas coming through such as the glowing green plants, but the look in general is excellent with no noticeable over saturation or cross coloration. There's some minor shimmering of aliasing during some panning sequences, but nothing that's overly distracting. The only area that doesn't fit well but still looks decent is the opening sequence which is just a zoomed in version of the original full frame version. It just doesn't have the same kind of color depth or detail to it the rest of the show does.

A bit cleaner looking than some of the past covers, this volume has a collage of face shots of the characters from the show with the larger image of Black Jack along the right and taking up much of the bottom area. With the better colors and cleaner work it comes across much better and less murky than some of the previous ones. The back cover provides a number of shots from the show and a couple of sentences about the premise. The discs features, with it being anamorphic standing out a bit, and technical information are all quick and easy to find. The reverse cover goes for a profile shot of Black Jack. The episodes chapter listings and the voice actor credits fill out the main panel. Unlike previous volumes, the Japanese cast is included here and linked to their characters while a paragraph listing of the English voice actors is next to it.

The menu is a rather simple little piece that uses the same artwork as the cover but reworks the sizes of Black Jack a bit to make it fit better with the selections. There's a brief music loop to it but no animation associated with it like there was in previous menus. The selections are lined down and across the screen in the usual format we get from CPM. Access times are all nice and fast and we had no issues with the menus. The disc also correctly read our players' language settings.

The extra included in this release is a video gallery of art pieces from the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Getting closer to the end of the OVAs run, I'm finding myself thinking how much I'm going to miss getting one of these every couple of months, which is a sizeable change from when they first started coming out and I wasn't sure I'd be able to get into it at all. The series has definitely grown on me as I've gotten to know the characters, the setting and the way things play out in a typical Black Jack story. The material isn't something I'm usually interested in and I avoid most medical dramas of any shape but this series has just managed to win me over.

In this installment, the show gets into some seriously creepy medicine and illnesses when Black Jack is called in to handle a case where the head of the Tsuzuki company is in need of his services and confidence. Being the eighth head of the massive conglomerate with worldwide reach, Koichiro Tsuzuki has had a problem since his youth but it's now becoming such an issue that he needs to get it resolved. In the confidence of the doctor and Pinoko as well as his wife Machiko and servant Taneda, he disrobes to reveal the human faced carbuncle that covers his stomach. The disturbing image is something that he claims has grown there over the years but even as a young boy it would talk to him and its first words that Koichiro should not worry. Since he's the head of the family he could never reveal such a weakness and has kept it to just those in the room.

The illness itself is quite disturbing and through Black Jack's diagnosis we get a brief history of such cases and the strangeness of them all over the course of time. As he gets further into figuring out what's going on, he learns that the thing causes him so much pain at times that when he goes to sleep at night he's kept completely locked down on a table so that he can't break free and cause more problems. The case is a completely mystery to Black Jack since there's no case history and little real scientific study of them over the years so he proceeds slowly.

Playing out against this is a series of different cases in the city that the police are investigating start showing some similar details to each other. One case has a young boy that's taking to the streets and smashing the hell out of very expensive cars, something that's been going on for nearly two years now. Another case involves a woman who picks up men and takes them to love hotels where she promptly kills them. The similarities between the cases are intriguing and once you pair it up with Koichiro's case, as you know they'll come together at some point, it brings an interesting if very beyond belief storyline to the forefront about how Koichiro deals with this hideous face on his body. One of the best parts of this investigation is the detective seen in previous episodes who is now on juvenile beat ends up involved. With his penchant for busting on Black Jack for his no-license world and things he does, he brings a lighter nature to things but is also nicely placed to help bring certain parts of the story together easily.

Much like the past couple of episodes, the animation here looks really good and is kept in the same style as the earlier ones but with a bit more of a budget and refinement to it. With this one taking place in a busy city as well as in a more traditional home, it has a great mix of colors to it and a lot of detail across both of the main sets that it really looks great. The city doesn't quite take on the role of a character here but combined with the good weather effects and the music, the whole thing just becomes much more important in how everything comes together.

In Summary:
The whole concept of a carbuncle is just damn creepy to begin with and that makes this episode particularly difficult at times, especially with the beyond reality things that they do as the story progresses. The plot itself is interesting enough and it runs in a straightforward manner but there are enough small twists and turns here that while they're easy to guess early on, it's a logical series of leaps that make sense. Probably one of the more enjoyable recent ones, the creepy factor alone helps make this one stand out above some of them, providing you can handle it.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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