Black Jack: The Two Doctors of Darkness
Dr. Black Jack returns for a new feature-length film. This time he finds himself at odds with an old nemisis, the infamous Dr. Kiriko, who is known as the "walking death," dedicated to ending his patients' pain--even at the volunatry cost of their lives!
Soon Black Jack is kidnapped, forced to work on a remote island to cure adeadly epidemic that is plaguing a small band of rebellious researches. Will they ever release him? What happens when he learns that Dr. Kiriko is involved? Will Pinoco and the others be able to save him from this dangerous conspiracy? Moreover, will Black Jack be able to save his patients' lives, or will they fall into the "merciful hands" of Dr. Kiriko?
Black Jack fans couldn't have it any better! The nitty-gritty aspect of the manga that has to be toned down for the kiddies during prime-time television is present and accounted for in Two Doctors.
The film doesn't hesitate for a moment before plummeling us into a terrifying disaster straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster: a bomb planted in a Tokyo department store explodes, trapping and injuring hundreds of people in an iron and concrete tomb. A lonely mother is in hysterics a distance from the ruins, pleading that someone rescue her son.
Just moments before, a detective releases a single figure dressed in black from the dark confines of a local prison. As much as he wants to, the detective has no concrete reason to keep this man in prison. His only crime is saving hundreds of lives--without a medical license. He drives the shadowy doctor onto the scene. The mother's little boy is trapped between two metal beams. If released, he will no doubt bleed to death.
That is, unless, she can fork over Black Jack's medical fee.
Just how much is a life worth? To rescue your only son, how much would you pay? That is the test Black Jack puts all of his clients to. His outrageous fees and unorthodox methods make him a rogue practitioner--but his ability to perform medical miracles--and openly shun the rigid and legalistic medical system--make him widely sought after by both friends and foes.
As we learn, Black Jack isn't alone in the underground medical world. The Two Doctors of Darkness marks our first brush with Dr. Black Jack's creepy arch-nemisis, Dr. Kiriko.
One could say that Black Jack and Kiriko are two sides of the same coin. One will do anything to save the lives of his patients, the other will do anything to end their pain--and for Dr. Kiriko, who is emotionally scarred by his service in wars--he believes that for many patients, surrendering to death is a better alternative than struggling through the pain of living.
Both doctors are put to the test--and just when our hero reaches a conclusion, a plot twist is thrown in his face, that turns the tables in Dr. Kiriko's favor. Is Dr. Kiriko right, after all? Is all of Black Jack's efforts to save lives in vain?
It seems to end here, but fortunately for us, there are still about fourty-five minutes left in the feature. At this point, Black Jack, who has been sulking and encountering death seemingly everywhere, returns to his home only to have his services requested by a mysterious organization (not the one in Black Jack 21, this is a small band of rebels) and is taken (alone, of course) to a remote island full of unusual creatures and a strange illness.
In addition to Dr. Kiriko, The Two Doctors of Darkness introduce some of Tezuka's other beloved characters in his universe--most noteably Rock, who some people might know from Metropolis. His "is he or isn't he?" character is once again put to good use in Black Jack, and he leaves us guessing right until the end.
If an amazing story isn't enough, the animation and music for the movie is also above standard for the TV series, as should be expected for a feature-length film. The artwork is consistantly marvelous--Black Jack is particularly dashing (*fangirls*) and some of the action sequences have wonderful mannerisms animated into them. There were several occasions where I found myself gasping, gulping, crying out--I can only imagine what this must have been like on the big screen, I kick myself for missing it last December. The icing on the cake, though, were the stills that were used for the ending credits. They were nothing short of breath-taking. (If I can find a way to get them credit-less so I can make icons...)
The music is a mix of incidental orchestrated music, and best of all, some dark, smokey jazz ensembles that can only be described as smooth and sexy. They did an exceptional job of setting the moods of the scenes.
Nothing more needs to be said--The Two Doctors of Darkness does for Black Jack fans that every animated feature film should do. It makes a great stand-alone movie for new-comers, but also weaves a story that is consequential for the loyal fans for whom this movie is made. Even with a lack of Pinoco (weeeh!), I cannot find anything for this movie to improve on...well, except for maybe a slightly happier ending.
Black Jack fans get the best of both television series Black Jack and Black Jack 21 in this film. More violent than what prime time television usually allows, but fortunately, the over-sexed material from the 1990s OVA and movie are nowhere to be found. In this BJ obsesee's opinion, this is the best Black Jack product to come out since the manga themselves. — Melissa Sternenberg
Recommended Audience: Probably best for those that have seen at least the first few episodes of the TV series, but this is also a pretty good introduction piece to the rouge doctor. But this series isn't reliant on a great deal of back-story, so this is safe for anyone who has seen up to "Tetsu of the Yamanote Line" from the first season.
Version(s) Viewed: R2 DVD release
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Black Jack: The Two Doctors of Darkness © 2005 Tezuka Productions, YTV, Toho Ltd.
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