Tezuka Osamu's Black Jack, "Shrinking"

I like several novel authors. My first favorite author is probably Teduka, Osamu. I still love him. The list grows by adding Hoshi, Shinichi, Agatha Christie, Hermann Hesse, and so forth. My first favorite article of Tezuka was Atom as most of the (boy's) Tezuka fans did. But my favorite is Black Jack. I try to summarize one story, it is still quite vivid in my memory. I first read this story when I was 13 - 15 years old. I re-read it at least several times since Black Jack is composed of many short episodes. The title should be "ちぢむ (SHRINKING)" or it might be "縮む(Shrinking)". (It is not so convenient to translate this to English, since English does not have a system to say the exact same word in several ways. So I just simulate it with capital letters.)

Black Jack is a genius surgeon, but he does not have the license. In short, his medical activity is illegal. His skill is top level in the world, but, the fee is also out-of-law expensive.

In the story "Shrinking," his master Dr. Togakushi invited Black Jack (B.J.) to a village in Africa. B.J. saw a lot of dead animals because of famine and drought. He saw also bodies in the hospital.

Dr. Togakushi showed a stuffed specimen to B.J.

Togakushi: B.J. How do you see this stuffed specimen?

B.J.: It's a wild cat, I think.

T: How is this?

B: A human dried head? I heard some people do this, but it is impressive. A head can be such small.

T: These are neither dried head nor wild cat. These are real person's head. And this is a stuffed matured Lion.

B.: What?

T: I first thought this is a some kind of abnormality of growth. But this is a new disease around this region .

Dr. Togakushi asked B.J to help to find this new disease's cure. But B.J. said, "I am a surgeon, not a researcher. If you pay me 30 million yen*, I could help you." B.J. knew Dr. Togakushi can not pay such money, means he rejected Togakushi's request. But, Dr. Togakushi said to leaving B.J.,

T: B.J. This disease infects through the air. I have already infected. The incubation period is around a month. If you have already infected, it's too late. I call you because I believe you can find a cure."

(Is Togakushi too desperate? It is a bit too much I think now.)

Dr. Togakushi and B.J. can not find any problem of the body. The cells of the body just shrink and there is no other problem. X-ray, microscopic investigation, ..., they can not find any. But it is sure there is infection. When the body becomes 1/3 of the original, that individual dies. Dr. Togakushi also shrinks a few centimeters in this week. B.J. investigate all the bides he found. But, nothing is found. The assistant of the hospital ran away.

B.J. did a operation that puts growth hormone in Dr. Togakushi's thyroid gland as a counter remedy. But, the result was negative. Dr. Togakushi becomes almost half tall, he sometimes becomes unconscious. When he gained conscious, he told B.J.,

T: B.J., do you realize this disease happens always very heavy famine place? This might be related with the reason of disease.

B.J.: I could not find any... Everything is normal. But just the body shrinks. Why this happens at heavy famine place... The air, the water, all are normal.

T: This might be a warning from the god.

B.J.: What? Dr. Togakushi, this is a disease!

T: If you don't like to say the warning from the god, I could say this is nature. When there is no food, small animals like mice bear only small children. Then most of them don't grow or die until the nature can provide enough food. This is a mechanism of the nature to keep the balance with avoiding catastrophe. I just thought this is a warning, when the famine is hard, the body should be small to survive. Then, Dr. Togakushi lost the conscious.

B.J.: I can not accept this is a mechanism of the nature. There must be something. Give me a hint! A hint! If someone gave me a hint, Iwill give you 30 million yen, no I will give you 100 million yen!

B.J. goes to investigate other villages. He saw all the people died, all the body are small at a village.

B.J.: A human village is annihilated. But why, some animal herds survive, even some of them are dead. This is air infection. Why animal herds survive?

Then, he encountered a strange scene.

B.J.: Zebras eat a miniaturized dead body... Zebra does not eat meat... Maybe, ... they know here is antibody in the dead body from instinct? Yes! Serotherapy!

B.J. made Serotherapy from the dead body of Zebra. He reported to Dr. Togakushi. But Togakushi is almost dead.

B.J.: I made it, Dr. Togakushi.

T: B.J., I have no chance. When I dead, make serotherapy from my body and cure the people.

B.J.: Dr. Togakushi, this could cure you also. Give me a chance! I don't want to lose here.

But Dr. Togakushi was dead. B.J. took his small body and stood under the beautiful African night.

B.J.: Hey god, or whatever... You are crucial.

B.J. walked with looking at the starts.

B.J.: Doctors cure the disease.Then human population exploded.

B.J. whispered.

B.J.: That causes famine and destruction of the environment.

B.J.: Then, why we doctors exist?!

The End.

My work related with a bit of science. I sometimes remind this story. This time I explained what I am doing at work to my family. My sister said, "What can I believe if CG can make this images?"Our technology can fake realistic images. You can make fake war movie, and fake the people. A few years ago, I was afraid a country made a fake mass destruction weapon scene, and convince the world to make a war.

This story was published 70s. Tezuka published this kind of story every week, and this is only one of the episodes out of (maybe) 200 for a children magazine. Because these are published for children, most of Tezuka's stories seems to be not translated to foreign countries. I am a bit disappointed of that. But Japanese classics are also not translated, even Natume Souseki or Akutagawa Ryunosuke.

If you never heard Tezuka Osamu or Black Jack, I recommended it. If you are not interested in it because of this summary, that is my fault. I hope you forget this article and try Tezuka's story.

* This story is written 1970th, 30 milion yen is enough to buy amiddle class house in Japan at that time.

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