Black Jack is the feature-length animated thriller based on the manga of Osamu Tezuka, who also did Astro Boy. Originally released in 1996, it is now on DVD courtesy of Manga Video.
Black Jack is an underground and highly skilled surgeon who commands top dollar for his medical expertise. When "super-humans" suddenly appear around the world, possessing incredible talents with mysterious origins, Black Jack is naturally suspicious. After a previous patient, who was both young and healthy, mysteriously dies, Black Jack is recruited by Jo Carol Brane. Brane informs him that his patient was a "super-human," and that all "super-humans" are falling prey to an unknown virus that kills them. She wants Black Jack to help her and her team of highly trained medical specialists to uncover the virus and find a cure…before it kills them too.
Black Jack started out fairly interesting and had a good premise, but I lost interest in the film as it went on. I found the film to be rather slow, especially in the middle. The characters are all a bit shallow and really needed some more development. Black Jack remains an enigma throughout, and while he's supposed to be dark and mysterious, some background or purpose would have been nice.
Black Jack is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen. The film employs a combination of traditional animation and computer graphics, with great results. Colors throughout the film are vibrant and crisp, with accurate flesh tones and rich blacks. I detected no flaws throughout the film.
Black Jack is presented in English and Japanese 2.0 Stereo and English 5.1 Surround. Differences between the 2.0 and 5.1 tracks are few: The 5.1 track features increased directionality, though the rear surrounds are seldom employed, and better definition. Dialogue in all three is crisp and clean with no distortion that I detected. Optional English subtitles are included, though the subtitles and the English dubs are quite different.
Extras include a separate preview for Black Jack (hidden in the Manga icon), Manga Video previews for X, Ghost in the Shell, Perfect Blue, and Ninja Scroll, merchandise & DVD catalogues, and weblinks.
Manga has provided a great presentation for Black Jack, though like most other Manga DVDs, the extras are generic, with the focus on promoting their other releases. Fans of Black Jack will definitely want to consider a purchase, though I recommend a rental for those who haven't seen it, but are interested. Rent it.