Black Jack (found chapters of Osamu Tezuka serialized manga; 1970s)

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Blackjack.jpg

Artwork of the character Black Jack drawn by Osamu Tezuka.

Status: Found

Date found: 04 Jan 2018

Found by: Sketch the Cow

'Black Jack (ブラック・ジャック) was a medical drama series created by artist Osamu Tezuka. The manga ran from November, 1973 until September, 1978, spanning over 240 chapters. Due to Tezuka’s background in the medical field,[1] many different illnesses and diseases were written with extreme accuracy for their time. However, there were times where Tezuka would receive complaints, stating that the way that some illnesses were portrayed in his series were either offensive or simply just factually incorrect.

Due to Tezuka’s perfectionist nature, these chapters, along with others he simply was not satisfied with, would be omitted from future publications, or "sealed" as it’s known in Japan. Some chapters have been omitted from definitive collections, but are still available to read in older reprints. Out of the twenty two chapters that have been omitted from reprints, five of them are considered "sealed".[2] Out of these five, two have been officially published, and the remaining three have been scanned and uploaded online.

Controversy

Chapter 28, known as "Finger" (指), was omitted from future publications not because of controversy or inaccurate depictions of medical conditions, but because Tezuka would later rework the story into another chapter. Chapter 227, "Print Proof" (刻印), features the same characters, although the themes are drastically different. "Finger" features themes of friendships that get twisted and destroyed overtime, while “Print Proof” features themes of long lasting friendships that never end. Critics and fans of Tezuka believe this change in tone is likely due to a change of the author’s personal life.[3]

Chapters 41 and 58 were sealed due to controversy, most notably, mentions of lobotomy and brain death. Chapter 41, known as "Human Vegetable" (植物人間) featured a plot point in which a young boy was able to “talk” to his mother while she was in a vegetative state, by using a device that connects two brains together. Although Tezuka’s message that a person shouldn’t be treated like a machine still resonated, there was a concern that young readers could get the wrong idea by seeing someone in a vegetative state talking.[4]

Chapter 58 depicted a lobotomy, and although the chapter criticized the practice, it too was considered too controversial and was quickly sealed.[5]

Distribution

Before the discovery of the scanned chapters on the Internet Archive, it was assumed that the three sealed chapters of Black Jack have only been officially printed once. However, there was one occurrence where these chapters were illegally distributed by a collector. An illegal collection of Black Jack chapters, known as Black Jack Vol 26, was sold independently by an unknown collector sometime in 2003. The collector, who was asking ¥100,000 per copy (roughly $1,000), was quickly caught and was fined ¥300,000 by the Tokyo court.[2] However, the seller was able to sell two books before he was caught. It’s unknown where the whereabouts of these books are now.

Discovery

On January 4th, 2018, user “Sketch The Cow” would upload scans of Black Jack Chapters 28, 41, and 58 onto the Internet Archive.[6] These scans would go seemingly undiscovered for a few years, until tumblr user “media-monster” made a post detailing their discovery.[7]

As of the time of writing, it is currently unknown where "Sketch The Cow" was able to retrieve these scans. The original magazines that these were published in, Weekly Shonen Champion, are long out of print, and are highly desired collectors items. The only other place where these chapters were published was the illegal copy of Black Jack Vol 26, and even then only two copies were ever sold before the man behind them was caught.

Regardless, thanks to "Sketch The Cow", all of Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack has been discovered.

References