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Temporary Exhibitions
  • TOMM the 7th Exhibition: Black Jack Exhibition

  • Publication of Tezuka Osamu's most famous work, "Black Jack," began in the "Weekly Shonen Champion" magazine in serial form in 1973 in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the start of his career as a cartoonist. The serial cartoon was published until 1978, and the number of episodes published exceeded 240. After its serial publication, "Black Jack" came out in book form, with 20 million copies sold to date.

    Looking back upon the time when this cartoon was being published, Tezuka Osamu once remarked, "The period when "Black Jack" was published in serial form in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of my career as a cartoonist was a miserable period plagued by severe environmental problems and the Vietnam War. Because we were living in such a time, I wanted to emphasize the value of life through this work."

    This remark is entirely true of present circumstances in the world as well. Even after the end of the Cold War, ethnic conflicts have broken out around the world, and more wars are occurring now than during the Cold-War period. Meanwhile, speaking of the natural environment, the ozone layer is being depleted on a global scale, and deforestation and desertification are advancing in the various parts of the world. Medical circles are troubled with AIDS and other world epidemics, all indicating that the world is becoming an increasingly miserable place. In such an age, the hero Black Jack is worried, and he is always pondering the purpose of medicine and the goal that doctors are working for. It seems to him that all of humankind is moving toward destruction while, for their part, individual doctors must save the lives of individual patients suffering in front of them, and this contradiction eats away at him. Out of recognition that the cause of problems that afflict modern society lies with human beings, Black Jack sincerely commits himself to the lives of individuals. He tries to save life to the best of his abilities. Even if the individual he saves may eventually push the "red button" to unleash a nuclear bomb, he cannot abandon the life of the suffering individual. Bothered by such contradictions and in order to justify his troubled self, he refuses to receive a medical license from the state, and charges huge fees for treatment.

    Having a sincere humane heart, he is troubled with huge, hard-to-pinpoint contradictions and is fighting with them alone. Many of the readers may view Black Jack as a hero of the modern times, who is different from Atom, Leo, and other heroes that advocate lofty ideals. The reason for "Black Jack's" continued popularity 17 years after its serial publication ended is probably that people today identify with Black Jack, who is troubled with problems with which they themselves are currently faced.

    At this exhibition, a miniature of Black Jack's house is on display at the entrance of the museum. Nobody knows where in the world his house is actually located. After passing by the miniature house, the visitors find a reproduction of Black Jack's private room in the gallery. In addition, manuscripts, color panel presentations, and other objects are exhibited, enabling the visitors to fully enjoy the attraction of "Black Jack" from various angles.




    A. Black Jack's thought and philosophy

    At first glance, Black Jack's philosophy and behavior are very much related to money. He says, "Medicine is different from other fields. Why is it wrong for a doctor to receive a large amount of money when he/she performs an operation on a patient with the latter's life at stake?" Does Black Jack really act for the sake of money? He also says, "Nonetheless, I will heal the sick so that I myself can live." As these quotes indicate, many of his remarks relate to commitment to life and the amount of fees paid by patients in order to live. At this exhibition, a collection of Black Jack's remarks quoted from "Black Jack" suggestive of his thought is displayed on panels arranged in the gallery to clarify his behavioral principles. And the five best episodes of "Black Jack," chosen by the head of the materials division of Tezuka Productions from among more than 240 episodes, are also on display with Tezuka Osamu's handwritten manuscripts attached. Thus, this exhibition enables the visitor to get a glimpse of Black Jack's thought and philosophy through the stories of "Black Jack".


    Manuscripts on display and explanations


    "Black Mirror Image," published in the January 16, 1975 issue of the "Weekly Shonen Champion" magazine


    "What I wanted to depict was not medical knowledge or techniques involved in operations. The job of doctors is not to prolong the lives of patients. What is important is to encourage patients to use their remaining, limited lifetime meaningfully" (excerpts from a lecture Tezuka Osamu gave at the Nara Medical University campus festival).

    In this episode, Tezuka Osamu dealt with measures for prolonging the lives of patients, a major theme of Black Jack. This is also an episode in which the other "black" doctor Kiriko, nicknamed an "incarnate Death," appears for the first time.


    "Grandma," published in the September 8, 1975 issue of the "Weekly Shonen Champion" magazine


    This episode depicts Black Jack's considerably deep love of his mother. In a different episode, he says to a son who treated his mother as a nuisance and eventually did her serious harm, "Even if my mother carried a price tag of 10 billion yen, I would consider the price low." This remark is an indication of Black Jack's anger at the son's indifference to the life of his mother.


    "Lost Money," published in the November 22, 1976 issue of the "Weekly Shonen Champion" magazine


    Black Jack cures intractable diseases one after another using his outstanding surgical techniques, and charges outrageous treatment fees, which sometimes amount to several hundred million yen. In this episode, the fee 30 million yen. A poor salaried worker prepares this amount of money by selling his house and all his household effects. The fee proposed by Black Jack, however, is based on his own standard that takes into consideration not the compensation for the surgical operation requiring high-level techniques, but the serious wishes of the patient or his/her family members to live or prolong his/her life.


    "The Robin and the Boy," published in the January 10, 1977 issue of the "Weekly Shonen Champion" magazine


    Folklore has it that animals return the favor of the careful attention of humans. In this episode, the relationship between a boy and a robin arises from such careful attention. Through this episode, however, Tezuka Osamu does not attempt to simply depict the repayment by the robin of a favor, but tries to emphasize that the robin's sincere feeling toward the boy is common to all the earth's living creatures.


    "Star, Magnitude Six," published in the August 29, 1977 issue of the "Weekly Shonen Champion" magazine


    In "Black Jack," Tezuka Osamu often depicted the desires of human beings. Among these, he played up the desire for social status and honor of doctors and patients at hospitals as well as those around them. In this episode, two doctors who are driven by such desire and Dr. Shiitake, who has no such desire at all, appear together. The unselfish Dr. Shiitake is always kept at a distance, but a certain event leads to the recognition of his true value as a human being. In this episode, Tezuka Osamu poses the question of what the ideal doctor is.



    B. Black Jack's private room

    Where on earth did Black Jack live? You may imagine a variety of possibilities, but based on the original story of "Black Jack," this exhibition faithfully reproduces his house and private room. It also exhibits the mantle he always wears, as well as the content of the bag he always carries and explains the names and uses of basic medical instruments.


    Black Jack's mantle


    The mantle he wears through all seasons serves as a bulletproof jacket for protecting himself from ruffians and also as a bag to carry surgical knives and other medical instruments.



    Surgical knives


    Depending on the type of incision, several different types of surgical knives are used. Surgical knives used by Black Jack are hand-made. In former times, such knives were used repeatedly by sharpening them every time they were used, but today they are all thrown away after use.





    Forceps are used chiefly to stop bleeding (hemostat). The large forceps on display are called "towel forceps," used to pin down cloth during operations. Depending on the parts of the body, different types of forceps, large and small, are used.





    A needle is used to stitch up a wound. At the end of a needle is a hole through which a thread is passed. During the operation, needles are used with the aid of a needle assistant.




    A total of 13 kinds of medical instruments, including an extractor and scissors, are exhibited.




    C. The appeal of Black Jack's character


    Attired in a black mantle, Black Jack, with his patched and darned skin, always carries sharp surgical knives in his black bag. If such a person appeared in the real world, nobody would find him attractive at all, but would probably be frightened by him instead. Black Jack as portrayed by Tezuka Osamu, however, is an impressive hero in the minds of the readers.

    This section of the exhibition displays panels of 25 original color pictures of Black Jack, who appeared in the frontispiece of 240 episodes published in serial form, enabling visitors to enjoy the attraction of the hero.




    D. Black Jack and Pinoko


    As a great supporting role that makes "Black Jack" exciting, Pinoko is popular among the readers. She was actually a teratomatous cyst that had been confined in the abdomen of a person for 18 long years. She was sent to this world through Black Jack's operation technique. Subsequently, she plays the role of the good wife, assistant, and child of Black Jack, adding color to "Black Jack" and making the story more interesting.

    This exhibition highlights the attraction of Pinoko, who does her best to devote herself to Black Jack despite her disabilities, by showing scenes that best portray her character, behavior, expressions, and other features.




    E. Ranking of fees Black Jack charges

    Black Jack saves the lives of many people using his outstanding surgical techniques, but charges enormous amounts of fees to them. What is the largest amount fee he charges? And what is the smallest? This exhibition displays the ranking of fees Black Jack received in the past, in order to have all visitors--from adults to children--enjoy the exhibition. Has Black Jack ever worked without receiving any fee? Has he ever received compensation other than money? In this section, the visitors discover whether or not Black Jack is money-mad.




    Ranking of the largest amounts of fees received


    First place: 15 billion yen

    (Episode 73 "Broken into Little Pieces," May 19, 1975)


    "My life is sought along with the president's. I sell my life to the president."


    The fee charged is by far the largest, at 15 billion yen. This represents three-quarters of the president's property. Black Jack asks the president to pay this amount in cash through the Bank of Switzerland. Eventually, the president's own son kills the president by throwing a hand grenade at him. Black Jack uses parts of the president's body to perform operations on children who have been injured in the war. The president is literally broken into little pieces.


    Second place: 1.67 billion yen

    (Episode 134 " Death of a Movie Star," August 16, 1976)


    A movie actress calls on Black Jack carrying $5 million (the exchange rate prevailing at the time of publication was $1.00=\334.00) with her. She tells him that in order to make a comeback to the silver screen, even of she has to spend her entire fortune, she wants to regain her youth of 30 years ago. He refuses, explaining that it is not a matter of money, but he gives way to her tenacity of purpose and performs an operation on her. However, she is killed in a traffic accident on her way to a filming location. In this episode, Black Jack does not charge a specific amount for the operation. Conversely, the cash in the amount of $5 million indicates that her tenacious pursuit of youth takes first priority.


    Third place: 1,051,770,000 yen

    (Episode "U-18 Knew," March 10, 1976)


    "$3 million... I won't reduce it by even one cent. (the exchange rate prevailing at the time of publication was $1.00=\334.00). It comes to only 1 billion in Japanese currency. If the control computer is not repaired, 900 patients would not be cured. If it is repaired, I would deserve that money."


    Apart from this fee, Black Jack charges $150,000-160,000 for travel expenses. In this episode, the patient is not a human being but the control computer at a medical center. He views the computer as a patient, treats it sincerely, and finishes performing an operation on it successfully.


    Fourth place: 800 million yen

    (Episode "Short Finger Syndrome," January 21, 1983)


    The owner of a large ranch asks Black Jack to conduct an operation on his son, saying the he will pay a fee of up to $3 million (the exchange rate prevailing at the time of publication was $1.00=\267.00). The son, however, has a history of undergoing unsuccessful operations by world-renowned doctors. The fee is large but Black Jack might be killed if the son dies under his knife. The operation by Black Jack is a great success, however. At the same time, although the ranch owner has believed that the son is not his real son, Black Jack proves on grounds of physical features and genetic evidence that the son is indeed the ranch owner's real son.


    Fifth place: 300 million yen

    (Episode 192 "The Life of the Head Master of Flower Arrangement," November 28, 1977)


    "Here is 300 million yen. If this is not enough, I will pay more. In order to save the life of my daughter, I will not hesitate to pay even 1 billion yen."


    The head master of a flower arrangement school asks Black Jack to operate on his daughter for an incurable disease. He wishes to prolong the remaining short life of his daughter in some way or other so that she can take over the head mastership, and offers to pay such a large amount of money for that glorious moment in her daughter's life. Black Jack performs an operation on the daughter not for her glory but to prolong her life. The desire of the head master leads him to pay the largest amount of fee ever paid by a Japanese to Black Jack, placing the fee in the fifth place in the ranking.



    Ranking of the smallest amounts of fees received


    First Place: 30 yen

    (Episode 203 "Double Hold," February 20, 1978)


    "That is not a job for which I deserve compensation."


    All members of a family worry about their debts and try to commit suicide. Black Jack gives first aid to them and saves them from the brink of death. He first charges 50 yen for the treatment he gave but reduces the charge to 30 yen because it surprised them. Furthermore, when the head of the surgery department of a hospital calls on Black Jack to charge the expenses incurred, Black Jack even leaves money enough to repay the debts with the head of the surgery department, saying the he wants him to pass the money to the family members so that they do not attempt to commit suicide again in the future.


    Second place: 100 yen

    (Episode 200 "The Changeling," January 23 and 30, 1978)


    "Well, may I ask you to pay around 100 yen because it was three years ago?"


    One night, a mother, who comes to know that the child that she had a difficult time giving birth to is able to live only for about a year due to a serious disease, secretly exchanges her own child for another. Three years later, she is blackmailed and sued by a nurse for this conduct. Black Jack is a court witness in the case. He states that he had performed an operation on the child after his/her delivery and proves by citing the scar on the abdomen of the child as evidence that the child was the real child of the mother.


    Third place: 1,000 yen

    (Episode 162 "Weak-willed Shirano," March 7, 1977)


    "A fee of 1,000 yen would be low enough."


    A man asks Black Jack to modify his face into that of the man the woman he loves longs for. Black Jack replies that the fee is 50 million yen. At the same time, he tells the man there is a plastic surgery treatment priced at 1,000 yen and conducts an operation according to the latter option. All Black Jack actually does is to wrap the face of the man with bandages instead of performing an operation on him because he thinks the man would regret the operation later. In other words, he charges 1,000 yen for the bandages he used to wrap the face of the man.


    Third place: 1,000 yen

    (Episode 120 "The Girl's Announcer," April 26, 1976)


    "I would like to say that the fee is 500,000 yen but will reduce it to 1,000 yen."


    A grandson of Dr. Yamadano, Black Jack's former teacher, brings a patient to Black Jack, who is obliged to perform an operation on the patient for only 1,000 yen. The patient had developed polyps in her vocal chords, and if she had not used her voice after the operation, she should have been cured of the polyps in two to three weeks. Her condition, however, worsened when she laughed loudly. Black Jack threatens her into not using her vocal cords for one year. She keeps her promise and is able to regain her original voice.


    Fifth place: 1,500 yen

    (Episode 196 "Cancer Hunter," January 1, 1978)


    By covering up functional defects found in the latest medical equipment, the head of the surgery department of a hospital attempts to prevent damage to his honor and pride. To that end, he suddenly decides to perform an operation on a patient he has treated using the equipment. Because the operation has turned out to be difficult, however, he asks Black Jack to conduct thee operation on the patient on his behalf. Black Jack yells at him. Black Jack tells the head of the surgery department that if the latter accepts the condition that he must disclose the defects of the equipment in public, he will perform an operation on the patient for a fee of 1,500 yen. The head of the surgery department accepts the condition and admits his mistake in public.



    List of unpaid treatments


    Episode 87 "Full Moon Disease," August 25, 1975


    "I will operate on you! Of course, free of charge."


    Black Jack performs an operation on a daughter of Dr. Honma Jotaro, his former teacher. He voluntarily offers to operate on her free of charge, though she is a stranger to him. He is deeply indebted to the former teacher, who saved his life and gave him the opportunity to become a doctor. His attitude is clearly illustrated in the remark by the chief priest of a Buddhist temple "Black Jack says that he will do anything to repay the Dr. Honma's kindness."


    Episode 105 "Memories of the Operating Room," January 5, 1976


    "I did not say that I myself would perform an operation. I am an assistant. So I will not ask you to pay an operation fee."


    The elder sister of a patient that is receiving treatment from a great doctor at a large hospital asks Black Jack to operate on the patient on behalf of the doctor. She says that the doctor is ill, but the fact is that he is full of regret for not being able to tend his wife in her last days. Black Jack attends the operation for the patient as an assistant and eliminates the doctor's worries, thus leading him to perform a successful operation on the patient.


    Episode 152 "A Promise," December 20, 1976


    "He says he will not ask a patient to pay an operation fee if his/her life cannot be saved."


    A criminal at large for whom police have instituted a search asks Black Jack to operate on him at a refugee camp. Because of the lack of medical instruments, Black Jack performs a makeshift operation on the criminal and promises to conduct an operation again if the latter settles down. One year later, he informs Black Jack that he would like to undergo an operation in the building of the Paris police headquarters. He has applied for an operation though he knows that he will certainly be put to death within one year. The operation by Black Jack is successful, but he is punished with death at a later date.


    Episode 164 "The Disowned Son," March 21, 1977


    This is a story about a mother and her sons. On the 60th birthday of the mother, three of her elder sons do not come home and only the fourth does. The youngest son has aimed to become a doctor in order to cure her chronic disease. How does Black Jack, who lost his mother in his early years and was deeply attached to his mother, look at this situation? Changing into an operating gown, he remarks, "At any rate, I rarely perform an operation free of charge."


    Episode 201 "Black Jack Saves his Savior," February 5, 1978


    "I have come to help you as I promised."


    This is a story in which Black Jack returns the kindness of a Japanese working for a trading firm, who provided Black Jack's alibi in a murder case aboard. Upon return to Japan, when Black Jack finds out while watching television that the man has been seriously injured, he uses every possible means to rush to the hospital where the man was sent and saves his life by performing an operation on him as he previously promised. One aspect of Black Jack's character is to compensate others for their kindness without fail.



    List of "odd kinds of compensations"


    Episode 76 "Hydrocephalus," June 9, 1975

    "A certificate stating that operation fees will be repaid in a lifetime"


    A boy suffering from hydrocephalus directly asks Black Jack to operate on him for the disease. The boy is good at mimicking various sounds and aims at becoming a professional mimicry entertainer in the future, and he has even prepared a bond of debt, saying that he will repay operation fees even if it takes him his lifetime to do so. His mimicry successfully deceives Black Jack into coming to the hospital, and Black Jack looks at the boy's sincere attitude and undertakes to perform an operation on him after confirming that the boy will keep his promise, though Black Jack had not intended to do so at first. The boy's trust in Black Jack moved the latter.


    Episode 86 "Go Gyan's Painting," August 18, 1975

    "A completed painting"


    "Take my painting with you! You may sell it for 70 million yen!"


    On a southern island, a painter is exposed to radiation from a nuclear weapon test and wishes to depict the misery of radiation syndrome. He then asks Black Jack to prolong his life until he completes his paintings. To Black Jack, who charges 70 million for the operation, the painter says that Black Jack may sell it for 70 million yen, and negotiations between the two are concluded. Although the painter could eventually live only for one and half a years, the misery of radiation syndrome is well represented in the paintings he completed.


    Episode 110 "The Gentle Giant," February 16, 1976"Colored carp"


    "I will not hesitate to take a colored carp in compensation for the operation I perform."


    Deka, an unusual boy suffering from gigantism, has a large burden on his heart and therefore never expends his strength unnecessarily. He aims to run breeding grounds for carp in the future. One night, his car is caught in a pond and he tries to push his car out of the pond to save the carp, but he is injured as both his legs are caught in between the car and stones. Black Jack conducts an operation on him and receives the boy's cherished carp in compensation.


    Episode 111 "A Race against Time," February 23, 1976"A pinwheel"


    A child is caught under steel materials that have crumbled down from an overloaded truck. Hearing that a construction company, which owns the truck, has offered to pay any amount of money for the child's rescue, Black Jack announces its intention to successfully rescue the child. The construction company later passes the responsibility for the accident onto others and refuses to pay. When Black Jack calls on the child to see how he is doing, he receives a pinwheel the child holds out and says, "I will take this instead of 50 million yen."


    Episode 167 "The Storm of Spring," April 11, 1977


    "Doctor, let me pay at least the treatment fees. Are you kidding when you tell me to pay for your drinks for one month? That's too much."


    In order to treat a girl for leucoma, Black Jack transplants corneas into her eyes. In compensation for the operation, he proposes that he be able to drink free of charge for one month at a tavern operated by her father. The cornea that was transplanted into the girl's eyes has been provided by an eye bank. Its donor, however, was a murdered woman, and the image of the murderer is branded on the cornea.