The closet-cleaning for the Black Jack series continues, since everything after volume 11 has been bonus material. But this being Black Jack and this also being Osamu Tezuka, it’s a fascinating closet: Tezuka’s throwaways are better than what most other manga-ka produce in their prime.
This volume contains a few stories that are of that high caliber: a mother of seventeen (!) children is determined to birth one more with Black Jack’s help; an operation on an American soldier turns into a grotesque allegory for the Vietnam war (still timely when this series was coming out); a man with no connection to his past struggles to find something to link himself to his mother, and finds it in a very unlikely place; and Black Jack finds, to his dismay, a disease has been named after him — and, in typical Black Jack style, wants nothing more than to shirk the responsibility associated with it.
I suspect one of the reasons Tezuka discontinued Black Jack was because of a paucity of ideas for the series. It shows, as some of the stories this time around are entirely too familiar. Viz.: a pair of Corsican twins (when one is hurt, the other cries out, etc.), whom Black Jack forcibly separates with a little reverse psychology. It’s a trick he’s pulled many times in previous volumes — call it “curing by deceit” — and one which is starting to show its age. But for every one of those been-there-done-that experiences there are two or more which are brilliant.