Young Black Jack ~ Episode 7/8 [Civil Rights Movement/Nerve Gas]
We take a turn to bring the series to America for two episodes where we take a look at the Civil Rights movement shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King. Where the time of pacifistic ideals are coming to an end, still standing up for the old way and a protest without violence was a man named Johnny. They called him Johnny the immortal, for he could be struck down multiple times and still get back up.
That’s the patient that Hazama and Maiko have these two weeks, as they try to figure out what it is that’s messing up his sense of pain. At first, Hazama thinks it’s a genetic disease that can’t be treated. However, after finding out from Johnny’s childhood friend Tiana, a doctor intern and friend of Maiko’s that Johnny used to be able to feel pain.
So that means that there may be a possibility to treat it. So Hazama swears that he will find out what it is that is keeping Johnny from feeling pain, before he returns to Japan in three days.
And there you have the plot of episode seven. It’s fairly simple, it’s generally a set up for everything that you’re going to find out in episode eight and there is a lot that you find out in episode eight. First, at the end of episode seven. You see Yabu arrive in the states with someone. We find out in episode seven that, that persons name is Tommy.
He was a solider that Yabu had met in Vietnam and brought to the states to help with his PTSD.
Tommy also happened to be in the same platoon as Johnny as they got ready to go to Vietnam, however, we learn from Tommy that Johnny never went. Despite having told Hazama that he had. Instead, Johnny was put into special op’s training, very highly classified military things. So it’s honestly no wonder that Johnny was lying about it.
Though to get the real information from Johnny, Hazama pulls a pretty nasty move on him. I have to say it was, scary…impressive, but scary. Seeing him lie to Johnny, tell him that he had contracted a rare disease in Vietnam that caused not only the loss of pain but necrosis in all of his limbs and that the only way to save his life was to amputate all of his limbs.
Props to the animation here guys, this scene wasn’t just horrifying for the acting or the things that Hazama was saying but the expressions on his face and the look in his eyes. This scene wouldn’t of been nearly as effective without the brilliant animation in it.
This set aside, we return to the CIA agent from a few episodes back. Talking to the Doctor that Hazama and Maiko were here to watch, a doctor Risenberg who is a very profound Neuroscientist was under the CIA’s watch as he was helping them do experiments on soldiers. The reason for Johnny’s inability to feel pain was the side affect of a nerve gas.
Oh alright, Risenberg was an ex-nazi scientist and…oh well uh. You know, with the CIA watching Hazama and being aware of his already multiple illegal surgeries it’s becoming a lot clearer to me why in the later series he doesn’t have a medical license.
Well, Risenberg saves Johnny from being taken out by the CIA. Tommy never recovers fully from his PTSD and Hazama is fustrated that there was someone he couldn’t help. It was an interesting two episodes to be sure, but not really for the medical drama.
I mean yes, that was all very interesting but what I’ve always found amazing about Young Black Jack is that even now in 2015 it can tackle with such grace time sensitive topics like the Vietnam war or the Civil Right’s movement without the affects of how they were jaded by time.
There is also a talk that Johnny has with Hazama in the middle of episode seven about how the creation of the television changes the way that the world sees things. I have studied in the past the affect of ‘instant news’ and the impact it had on society and the way they viewed things. Seeing them in real time, breaking news on world events. So seeing it come up in the episode was actually very interesting, he’s absolutely right about the kind of power to sway the public’s opinion that TV would have.
Coming back to the animation, I am highly impressed with how they handled animating characters of color. There were no big lips, no white hands, none of the stereotypes that you would usually find in animating a character of color. Johnny, Tiana and even the background characters in the riots were all skillfully animated by the Tenzuka team.
It was also good to be reminded that once again Hazama is a student. He can’t do everything on his own, no matter how hard he tries. He was up for a good two or three days straight researching. He collapsed on Yabu exhausted. He’s still human, and that’s what I like about this series. While yes, it does show us that he is a brilliant doctor with a strong urge to help people, it reminds us that Hazama is still a human.