Black Jack Vol. #7 - Mania.com



Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 50
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Black Jack

Black Jack Vol. #7

By Chris Beveridge     March 04, 2005
Release Date: March 08, 2005


Black Jack Vol. #7
© Central Park Media


What They Say
A young woman is poisoned by toxic waste and begins to deform...or transform. Black Jack operates and discovers that she might be transforming into a mermaid. Is there a connection between the victim's illness and the ancient myth? Episode 10.

The Review!
Bringing the OVA series to a conclusion, Black Jack faces a massive number of mysterious ailments all at once.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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 but there are some really vibrant areas that shine such as any scene dealing with the sea. 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.

Packaging:
A bit cleaner looking than some of the past covers, the artwork this time provides two shots that work well together, one being a close up of Black Jack and Tsukiko and the other being the background image of Tsukiko swimming under the sea. 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.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
The standard extra included in this release is a video gallery of art pieces from the show. But with this being the last volume, a few more things are on here. One is clean versions of the opening and ending sequences but the really big one is a director's commentary with Osamu Dezaki. This is a fresh new commentary done by CPM and parts of it serve as a Q&A session of sorts with Dezaki before he just really gets into talking about all the aspects of the show. With this being one of his favorite stories that was adapted, he's got plenty of things to say here about how they carried it over from the manga to anime and the additional pieces of mythology related to it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this seventh volume of the OVA series, it presents the tenth and final of the original series of OVAs made for the Black Jack property. The franchise has had a number of interpretations over the years, from this particular one to the new TV series, a theatrical animated movie and what looks to be two separate live action series. This is something that you could almost envision easily on US TV in a live action adapted form due to the strength of both medical and investigative series in the last few years.

The final episode of the show, the one that the director felt was his favorite from the selections they chose from the manga series, is one of the more accessible ones of the set of ten, especially compared to some of the really strange ones like the last episode with the carbuncle. The plot revolves around the Mikazuki area where some years ago, the town that was in dire need of new cash inflow that it wasn't getting from tourism allowed a chemical company to set up shop in the area. The town grew dramatically and plenty of other businesses came in. But what happened in the town wasn't supposed to happen and for two years the chemical company didn't notice things that were seeping into the bay. Before anyone know what happened, an illness quickly became known as the Mikazuki Syndrome and dozens had died with hundreds more ill and needing treatment. The fish were inedible and life in the small town was now a national issue with a huge lawsuit, which eventually was won and forced the company to clean things up and help those who were hurt.

This is where Black Jack gets brought in as someone on the relief committee knows about his skills having seen him in action years ago. With so many people in need of help and so many unknowns due to the toxins and other heavy metal elements that are wrecking havoc on the patients bodies, they offer him a huge sum of money to try and get his skills there, though of course he'll have to come under an alias. Black Jack is intrigued since there's so much to be able to learn there with so many varied cases that he's practically ready to accept but he wants a hands on feel first to really get an idea of just how committed the committee is to actually providing relief.

Mikazuki is a place of opposites to be sure, with a huge industrial area and lots of high tech built up areas, such as the hospital and city hall, but it's contrasted by the beach areas and many of the older residences and hot springs. Black Jack and Pinoko end up at an out of the way place but it's ideal for them as it keeps things quiet and they get a top notch hot spring out of it. Before they're even able to really take much in with the entire operation, Black Jack learns of a young girl who surely has Mikazuki Syndrome that lives in a cave on the beach and sells her fish for a living. The locals buy the fish though they just bury them or burn them so they help her earn a living without destroying her way of life. Her legs are weakened and she's in more and more pain each day, something that Black Jack takes a personal interest in as he goes over other issues within the hospital.

The storyline here sways between a number of topics and handles each of them just right. Though there's plenty of talk about the environment and responsibility, it isn't forced down your throat and isn't the central point to the story; it's an element of it but not the focus. The relationships between the skilled surgeons is interesting to watch as is the way things flow when they discover who it is that's working with them. A lot of the secondary characters here, especially people that you write off as cronies almost from the start, are done well here and are more fleshed out than you'd expect given the run time. Though this episode isn't profound or says anything that hasn't been said before, it does everything well and is quite enjoyable and visually entertaining.

In Summary:
When the OVAs for this first started coming out, I wasn't sure if it was something I was going to be able to get into. Over the course of the ten episodes, the series has definitely grown on us and it's become something that we've been looking forward to seeing, particularly when it hit the widescreen episodes and the overall quality went up even more. Though it took a long time to get everything out, it's all finally here and more than CPM had done on VHS before. Hopefully it won't be long before the anime TV series is picked up and maybe someone investigates the live action series as well. This is really good fun material that's got something to it that a lot of other shows don't.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles, Art Gallery, Director’s Commentary by Osamu Dezaki,Clean Opening & Closing

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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