Black Jack: Biohazard (2000) – DVD Review

Black Jack: Biohazard DVD cover art

Film:
DVD:

Written by Osamu Dezaki, based upon the manga by Osamu Tezuka
Directed by Osamu Dezaki
Music by Eiji Kawamura and Seiji Suzuki
English Adaptation by Steve Kramer

Features:

  • Clean opening and closing animation
  • Art gallery
  • Commentary with director Dezaki
  • Manga and anime previews

Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:

  • Tortured love
  • Ocean pollutors
  • The immoral question the morals of others

Released by: CPM
Region: 1
Rating: 13+
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Add to your collection immediately

Black Jack: Biohazard brings us another adventure (and what is hopefully only temporarily the final OAV) in the life of the mysterious doctor Black Jack, “the physician with the hands of God.” We are introduced to Mikazuki Bay, which has been polluted by a corporate chemical giant; the people, mostly fisherman, have been sickened, and are suffering from rather mysterious symptoms, a disease now called “Mikazuki Syndrome.” Black Jack is retained by the people responsible for the ordered clean-up and discovers some startling things, such as how the people, especially a lovely young girl named Tsukiko, are becoming deformed, even starting to transform. Black Jack’s lack of official certification as a surgeon also comes into play in this episode.

Black Jack (aka Dr. Kuro Hazama) is a fascinating character; the combination of dislike for corporate fat cats and material wealth, combined with his belief that doing good is its own reward, makes it all the more interesting that he cultivates his reputation for being greedy and selfish…when we know he is not. We don’t know where he got his amazing training, but we do know that he’s so good that he saves even “hopeless” cases, and that once he operated on three young men at once, saving all their lives. Pinoko, also an interesting and mysterious character with fascinating and unusual origins, is much more childish in this version than she has been before, though she does make a point of praying at a shrine that Black Jack will finally tell her that he loves her.

The visuals are all very nice, with the show’s trademark darkness and nicely evocative art—just what you would expect from an OAV. My copy showed only a few problems with digitalization, especially during scene transfers and panning; the scenes where the legend of the mermaids are inter-cut with Black Jack’s activities are especially nicely done. The sound is comparable to previous installments. Sparky Thornton, the English voice of Black Jack, is especially good, a nice mixture of deadpan, mysterious, and powerful. The dialogue is all digitalized nicely and professionally, and the music is exceptionally well executed, all the more so because you only notice when it makes you shiver.

Black Jack: Biohazard

The case itself is clear, allowing the inside of the cover to show through, displaying a nice portrait of Black Jack, as well as the cast listings—a rarity on most anime releases that don’t seem to want to give the seiyuu (anime voice actors) their due.

The extras are nice, including a full-length, all-new audio commentary with the director, Osamu Dezaki. There’s a kind of question-answer period, and then the director spends the rest of the film discussing various interesting aspects of the anime-making process; in addition, it seems that this was his favorite story adapted into anime from the original manga, and he therefore has a great deal to say about the writing, the story, and the associated mythological elements. There is also a clean opening and a clean closing, as well as an art gallery of stills from the show. One day, manga adaptations will include PDFs of the manga original or just scans as a special feature. Not today, though. A shame.

Black Jack: Biohazard

An absolute must for anime fans, Black Jack is also a good choice for someone new to anime who wants to learn what all the fuss is about. This series can be appreciated by anyone who likes medical dramas, surgical stories, mysteries, noir, and dark fantasy. People who like the “against-the-system loner” ideal will love Black Jack. We can only hope that American TV picks up the Japanese idea of a live-action version of the show (although translated properly, please), especially given the success of similar medical/investigative shows, like CSI and Law and Order.

Buy it on DVD from Amazon.

By | 2017-09-24T23:56:44+00:00 July 15th, 2005|Anime, Reviews|0 Comments

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