Three single issues of the Black Jack manga are "sealed" and two "semi-sealed" – these are issues which were not collected with the rest, because their contents were considered too sensitive, or because complaints were filed by people suffering from the illnesses depicted in them.
The sealed issues, #28 "Finger", #41 "Vegetable," and #58 "Seat of Pleasure," have not been reprinted since the original serialization, not even in Japan, and are excluded from all collected editions; they cannot be obtained in any form except the original monthly Weekly Shonen Champion anthologies in which they first appeared. They are unlikely to appear in any upcoming western release.
The two semi-sealed issues have been reprinted only in very rare editions and are excluded from all collections. One, #209, "Falling Object," is included in this rare special issue. The other, #171, "The Wall," is printed as a special insert inside the Black Jack anthology special shown below, the rest of which contains fun Black Jack stories by recent manga artists inspired by Tezuka, but no original Black Jack; be careful when you shop for this volume, the paper quality is poor, the volume fragile, and it is frequently sold with the insert removed, since many more people want the insert than want the rest of the volume:
The infamous "Volume 26":
These sealed and semi-sealed issues, as well as three other censored issues which are included in vol 17 of the Akita edition, were reprinted illegally by a Japanese Tezuka fan in a pirated volume called "Black Jack 26". It was printed with a professional-seeming cover to make it match the original 25-volume Shounen Champion edition. The man who made the edition copied from his own personal collection of the original serialized issues, and offered the illegal volume for 100,000 yen per copy (about $1,000). He sold two copies before he was caught by the police and fined 300,000 yen by the Tokyo court in March 2003. The cover to his pirated volume is shown at right.
Because these issues have no summaries on Tezuka World, summaries are provided here, but it should be kept in mind that these issues were excluded from the collections due to political pressure and to Osamu Tezuka's own preference.
SEALED ISSUE SUMMARIES:
#41 "Vegetable" have been sealed because of its opinion on the vegetable state and also a reference to lobotomy. A young boy’s mother falls unconscious is an accident, and doctors declare her dead because she shows no brain waves. Black Jack suggests that maybe her brain is still alive and her son agrees. He performs a surgery that connects the mother and son’s brain nerves together using an electrode, so that he may be able to communicate with her. During the surgery, the boy (whether in a dream, illusion or reality it’s uncertain) sees his mother, who confirms that she is still alive and conscious inside, and asks the boy to become a doctor and cure her. When the boy wakes up, he vows to become a doctor and someday save his mother. The point Tezuka was clearly trying to make was that humans shouldn’t be judged and treated like machines-that brain waves are not the only sign of a person’s state of being. However, there were political pressures about this work; that it might give readers the "wrong idea (i.e. people may still be conscious in the vegetable state)" about the vegetable state and brain death. Another target of criticism was that electricity was used to connect the brains, which is reminiscent of lobotomy, the ethically controversial surgical operation in which some of the nerves in the brain are cut in order to treat severe mental illness.
#58 "Seat of Pleasure" was sealed because it dealt almost directly with lobotomy. A doctor boasts to Black Jack about a machine that controls the brain and mind. He believes it can cure mental illness. A rich family’s son is suffering from depression, never smiling or going to school and playing only with his pet lizard. The doctor convinces the mother that his machine, if planted in her son’s brain, will cure her son’s depression and make him a bright, normal boy. Upon this the mother agrees to the surgery. After the boy wakes up, he does wear a smile, but a cold, unfeeling one, and throws his lizard to the floor. His mother only thinks that he has become “normal,” and piles on textbooks for him to study. But the boy stabs the doctor, escapes the hospital, and ties his mother up. When Black Jack hears that the boy’s family is rich, he agrees to perform the surgery of removing the machine from the boy before it destroys the brain. The operation succeeds, and Black Jack leaves a prescription for the mother: don’t force the boy into studying, don’t lock him up, and let him enjoy his hobbies. Although the plot points to the limits of medical science and criticizes lobotomy, it was sealed for dealing with lobotomy.
#28 "Finger" is different from the above sealed works. It was not excluded due to any political reasons, but because it was completely re-drawn by Tezuka as #227 "Print Proof" in the later issues. Black Jack meets his old childhood friend, Makube Rokuro. Makube was born with an extra sixth finger (which he explains is where the “Roku” in his name comes from, although a different kanji is used) and Kuroo (young Black Jack) was still on a wheelchair after the accident, and the two ostracized boys took comfort in each other’s presence and studied hard in school. As a result, Kuroo enters medical school and Makube gets to study in America. He asks Kuroo to remove his sixth finger, a surgery that Kuroo performs successfully. But after seven years, Makube has become a mob boss on the run, and asks Black Jack to switch his fingers to that of one of his thug’s, so that the police won’t recognize his fingerprints. When Black Jack successfully ends the transplant operation and leaves, Makube tries to kill him with a bomb, and also kills off the man whom he had switched fingers with, in order to terminate all evidence. The police capture Makube, but they cannot prove that he is Makube because his fingerprints are different. Then, a parcel sent by Black Jack arrives; in it is the sixth finger that he had amputated from Makube seven years ago. The finger matches Makube’s prints and he is sentenced to death. This story was later transformed into #227 "Print Proof," with a drastically different theme about friendship. Critics and fans often refer to this change as a reflection of Tezuka’s personal life. It is well known that by the time Tezuka had begun Black Jack, his Mushi Production was bankrupt and as a result Tezuka himself was suffering from a great deal of personal distrust. Perhaps it is not so surprising that #28 "Finger," an early Black Jack issue, was about a friendship that becomes twisted and shattered by the years and Makube’s fall into evil. On the other hand, #227"Print Proof" depicts a friendship that remains unchanged, no matter what happens. It is speculated as a sign that Tezuka had overcome the bitterness he had suffered before, and came to trust humanity once more. For more informatoin about Makube Rokuro, see the Vampires series page, or our analytical essay on Rock Holmes, coming soon.
#171"The Wall" is included in Black Jack Special, an anthology of Black Jack comics by twenty-three different artists, among them Tezuka Makoto, Tezuka Osamu’s eldest son and currently the director of the Black Jack TV series on Nihon TV and the new Black Jack Movie TWO DARK DOCTORS. It is speculated that perhaps the mentioning of a specific condition, Polyarteritis nodosa, was the reason for its exclusion in any of the Japanese collections.
A junior high school boy is terminally ill from Polyarteritis nodosa, but he is determined to keep on living as usual. He keeps his condition a secret from his friends at school, and applies for the high school entrance exam. The boy tells his teacher of his encounter with Black Jack on the beach when he was distressed and ready to give up living. Black Jack shows him the ruins of a living quarter from the primitive times when there were no doctors, to make the boy understand that just because doctors can’t cure him, doesn’t mean that the boy shouldn’t give up living. “Sometimes I come here and think…that people can live without doctors.” He advises the boy to never think of dying but to live until the very last moment, and strips and shows his scarred and patched body to prove that he’s been through death, too. Thanks to this encouragement, the boy struggles every day despite his worsening condition, and takes the high school entrance exam in bed, passes the exam, and attends high school. He passes away quietly during class. The boy’s junior high school teacher sees Black Jack in the streets and informs him of the boy’s death, and that he seemed content when he died. Upon which Black Jack replies, "Don’t be ridiculous. How can anybody be content when he’s dead?"
#209 "Falling Object" is included in the Special Limited Edition of Black Jack, Vol.22, “A Doctor’s Duty.” It is a sequel to #208 "Black Jack Syndrome." Tezuka reportedly added this sequel because he thought that the solution to the malady wasn’t "romantic" enough. After Doctor Kuma’s death, Black Jack performs surgery on the infected villagers, but fails to save all seventeen of them. Rumba, Kuma's daughter, gives Black Jack her ancestor's sword that kills demons, so that he will terminate the malady, although the sword is inappropriate for surgery. She assists Black Jack in the search for a cure. Black Jack sends the yam samples to the University of Cairo for a detailed analysis. The results come back, and Black Jack is surprised to find that some of the yams have been subject to radiation contamination. Black Jack and Rumba investigate the yam fields, and discover the remains of a nuclear reactor satellite that had crash-landed. A secret agent from a government tries to kill Black Jack and Rumba to cover up the secret, but Rumba sacrifices her life and kills the agent with her ancestor's sword.