Based off the manga of the same name, Black Jack follows the cases of the titular unlicensed doctor. His skill is unmatched, but his work comes with an extremely high fee. The person who recommended it to me said it was very similar to House, and after having watched Black Jack that is true. Both solve unusual cases that no other doctor has been able to cure. They are even advertised together in Japan.
As a child, Kurō Hazama was involved in an accident with an unexploded bomb, resulting in his limbs being blown off and the loss of his mother. The shock from the incident caused part of his hair to turn white and left him with many scars, giving him his unusual appearance. The surgeon who performed his operation inspired him to become a doctor himself. However, Hazama does this without a medical licence under the moniker of “Black Jack”.
The art style is amazing with incredible attention to detail on background scenery and props. You can see there has been a lot of work put into every cel, even if it only appears for a few seconds. Unfortunately there are only 12 episodes, but each is 50 minutes long. The episodes are self contained with a focus on the symptoms and diagnostics of the patients’ conditions, with heavy usage of medical terms. Many of the conditions seem impossible initially but their cause is usually something more plausible and treatable.
There are other series which expand upon the background story, but the feel of these are entirely different. They focus more on the interactions of the characters and are more light hearted and comedic. The 2004 series is an animated adaptation of the manga’s stories, with little time focused on the diagnosis of the patient. This is due to the conditions being more obvious with the cause shown (eg: hit by a car, fireworks accident, disability, etc). Unlike the other series, Young Black Jack has more of an ongoing storyline arc which follows Hazama at medical school in the late 1960’s. The storyline is a little more serious and includes events such as the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war.
Both 2004 and Young Black Jack are very different shows to the OVA despite having the same main character. If you go in expecting more of 1993, then you will be severely disappointed. The art styles in the newer series are also very different. The 2004 series looks much more “cartooney” and off model, even unfinished at times. As it follows the storyline of the manga, the art is similar to it. The style in Young Black Jack is much more consistent and polished, but looks completely different to everything prior.