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Black Jack

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Title: 怪醫黑傑克:特別篇
Original title:
English title:Black Jack
Author: Osamu Tezuka
Artist: Osamu Tezuka
Publisher: Tezuka Productions
Year: 1973

Comic books often receive scorn from parents and the elder generation because they are inferior to “real” books when it comes to teaching a language. However, as a grown-up studying a foreign language, I’ve found out that comics is very useful. It’s true that the language is less formal, but that presents me with a rare opportunity to study spoken Chinese in written form.

I didn’t so much choose this book, it was recommended and lent to me by a friend. I had heard the name of Osame Tezuka before (in the Wikipedia article about him, he’s likened to the Wald Disney of Japan, the father of manga), but I had never watched or read anything by him. The shadowy and unlicensed doctor Black Jack is one of his more well-know characters and this book is a collection of short episodes relating to him and his life. It mostly consists of weird or special cases where people need medical attention but cannot hire legal doctors. Black Jack is called in and with a grim face and some dark humour he does his job expertly, demands heaps of cash (although it’s unclear what he want to do with all the money) and then tries to untangle himself from whatever situation that led him to be hired in the first place. The stories are quite serious, but a nice touch is that Tezuka more often than not manages to be quite funny or at least add details that make me smile.

Although I don’t think this book is bad, it’s probaly the wrong end to start. I would have preferred longer stories with more coherence, so perhaps I should have taken a look at the series instead (which wasn’t available to me at the time, however). This book, and perhaps most others similar to it, fits in a neglected nische in my language learning and as such, it’s highly appreciated. Still, I do think I could find manga that are more suited to my taste and personality, but Black Jack was still a good first try. Expect me to review lots more manga translated into Chinese in the future. If I can find series or authors I really like, this is a veritable gold mine, a combination of entertainment and language learning!

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