Plot: What’s it about?
In the realm of medical services, there is a name that defies all the odds, a name that is called when it seems the impossible must be done. That name is Black Jack, which belongs to the most skilled surgeon alive and although he is a master, you won’t find him at your local hospital, not by any means. He is a freelance medical worker and unless the highest dollar amounts surface, he remains underground and waits for his next assignment. His work is the finest there is, but when a young and healthy patient ends up dead, it seems as though his touch might have vanished. He soon learns however, that his patient was a superhuman and the death was not his fault, but can be blamed on a strange virus. This information is given to him by Brane, who wants his assistance in discovering the truth behind the virus, before it attacks more than superhumans. Black Jack is the best in his field and he’ll have a gifted team to work with, but can even the best of the best figure out this virus in time, or is mankind doomed?
I’ve been looking forward to this release, as I haven’t had the chance to see Black Jack, but I have heard some very good reviews. The cover and information on the case made me even more curious, so I popped this disc in as soon as it arrived, to see how it all panned out. Even with my high expectations, I was very pleased with Black Jack and liked it even more than I had thought, so in other words, I loved this release. As the case states, the piece is unrated and has graphic violence, so if those elements concern you, this isn’t a title you need to look into. I don’t think the violence was too bad, but the whole surgeon and medical angle could spook some folks, I can totally see that in some instances. The animation is both traditional and computer enhanced, which gives it a unique look at times, but in a very good way, I think. I’ve read some reviews where people felt this was too slow or what not, but I think the pace is dead on and allows for just enough suspense, which is welcome, in my book. If you’re an anime fan and you’re looking for something a little different, I give Black Jack a high recommendation. Even the disc is barren in terms of extras, the audio & video are excellent and that’s enough to make it worthwhile.
Video: How does it look?
Black Jack is presented in a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. I was unsure of how well this non anamorphic transfer would hold up, but man, I was blown away by this presentation. The colors look vibrant and rich, without even a trace of bleeds or oversaturation, very solid work. Just as sharp is the contrast, which is well balanced and allows for an excellent level of detail. This piece mixes traditional animation with some slick computer enhanced visuals and here, it all looks terrific and never misses a beat. I do wish this was anamorphic, but I still have to give this one some high marks, great work indeed from Manga on this one.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc also features a good Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound option, but it only comes in English, which will be a let down to some fans. There’s still a Japanese track (stereo) on deck of course, but it can’t compete with this full on surround track. The English 5.1 option is very active and handles the material well, but don’t expect the paint to peel off the walls. All of the audio that needs to be present is, which is all that matters in my book. The Japanese stereo track is still my mode of preference however, even with the loss of dynamics, as original language is the path to true cinematic bliss. This disc also includes an English stereo option, as well as English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
You’ll find a hidden preview for Black Jack, but no other film specific features were packed in on this one. The usual selection of Manga based goodies are still here, but I would have liked more stuff geared toward the feature, as opposed to other Manga releases.