Sticking your hero`s face onto rolls of toilet paper is special form of hero-worship. I doubt Bin Laden or the royal wedding couple had it done to them. They probably should have.

Best-selling Blackjack toilet rolls at the Osamu Tezuka Museum in Takarazuka


This week, I am hero-worshipping Blackjack, a manga character created in the 1970s. You might think it`s strange to be passionate about a cartoon character, but Blackjack is more interesting than Bin Laden or Prince William, and as I discovered on Sunday at his creator`s museum, he`s even glamourous enough to have his own toilet roll.      

I have been advised to read the Blackjack manga series many times by Japanese in Tokyo, it`s a long-running classic, read by old and young alike. I recently became a fan, although I have only read one volume of the 17 published, and I confess I didn`t buy the toilet roll, I felt it would be disrespectful. 

So, who is Blackjack? Well, he looks like a badger dressed in a cloak, but he`s skilled and sophisticated in a way badgers will never manage. As of now, badgers can`t yet enter the medical profession, but Blackjack is an experienced doctor, a renowned maverick, who performs pioneering operations on desperate patients with bizarre afflictions for huge amounts of money.

Financial reward is not his only motivation.  When his favourite sushi chef loses both arms in a traffic accident, Blackjack, working for free, performs a double transplant using the arms of another accident victim, all so the chef can still make his dinner.

Blackjack does not live alone, he has a girl companion called Pinoko – a curious character. Just two foot tall, she moans a lot, has a speech impediment and seems to have four ears. You wouldn`t think of her as a fantasy mistress, but she`s liked enough to have her own branded toilet paper on sale.

I can`t really like Pinoko yet, she`s annoying and her life story is gruesome. She was surgically stitched together by Doctor Blackjack – made up from a jumble of body parts that were discovered in a large cyst growing out of her sister`s stomach. But with that challenging background perhaps I shouldn`t be too harsh on her. And she lives with my current hero, so perhaps I am just jealous.

This entry was posted in Manga, Outside Tokyo, inside Japan and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Blackjack

  1. Muzuhashi says:

    Aha! Blackjack is also recommended by Giles Murray in his rather good book 13 Secrets for Speaking Fluent Japanese. He reckons it revolutionised manga writing, and I’ve been meaning to seek it out for ages, so thanks for reminding me!

  2. tomointokyo says:

    The stories are good enough to make it worth persevering with. I bought volume one of Blackjack at Book Off for half price.

    I got Osamu`s Buddha and Tell Adolf mangas at the museum, they should still be an interesting read.

  3. Anonymous says:


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