Black Jack is back with a wide array of new challenges. An animator with cancer want to see his work move as he envisioned it just once. A fading actress wants to take the stage one last time. A modern-day Cyrano goes to Black Jack for help with his Roxanne, and Black Jack helps some young people determined to commit suicide that there is something in life worth living for. These are just a few of the cases Black Jack takes on in this volume.
Each time I read a new volume of Black Jack, I keep an eye out for several stories that I can relate as a theme. This volume comes out swinging with a strong sports theme. The first two chapters are about athletes, the first is a swimmer who loses the use of his legs, and the other is a boy that does well in gymnastics but loses his arm. Both suffer from losing their abilities to play their selected sport, but both are also redeemed by girls, though their paths to it couldn’t be more different. A third chapter is about a baseball player with an aneurysm who demands Black Jack’s services because of arrogance, but gets a good dose of humility instead of redemption.
This volume also features stories that border on the supernatural and fantastic. Black Jack must overcome a mummy’s curse to save the archaeologists that discovered it, and then he must operate on a patient that is out of this world. I liked the mummy chapter, as Black Jack takes the job while claiming to not believe in curses. He stays completely in character, which not only helps him beat the curse, but seemingly gets him a blessing. I like how Tezuka hints at the supernatural with Black Jack ever acknowledging it could be real.
I’ve been lukewarm on this series for a while, so it’s nice to get a volume that had so many chapters that I enjoyed reading. The life affirming aspect of Black Jack is prevalent in this volume in not just the sports chapters, but also in the chapters where he gets suicidal people to change their mind. The chapter with the pregnant woman is especially satisfying. I also enjoy seeing Black Jack get a reminder from his mentor Dr. Homa not to play god, as he gets again in a warning from the grave. It’s grounding for both Black Jack and the reader when he gets a dose of reality.