A new episode of the manga “Black Jack,” one of the best-loved works by the late mangaka Osamu Tezuka (1928-89), has been created with the help of artificial intelligence.
The manga will be carried in the Shukan Shonen Champion weekly manga magazine’s 52nd issue of the year, which will be published on Wednesday by Akita Publishing Co.
The work is the fruit of a project undertaken since May by the TEZUKA2023 team, which includes Keio University Prof. Satoshi Kurihara and Makoto Tezuka, Osamu Tezuka’s son and a director of Tezuka Productions Co. In the project, AI studied text data from 200 episodes of “Black Jack” and data for 20,000 different facial images of characters in manga by Tezuka. A story plot was then conceived through dialogues between AI and humans, and new characters were designed based on images generated by AI.
However, all drawings were done by the staff at Tezuka Productions and creators outside the company, so no AI-generated images are used in the manga.
The new episode, which runs for 32 pages, tells the story of Black Jack the maverick doctor trying to solve the mystery of blood tumors growing on AI’s artificial heart, which is supposed to be faultless.
“I was surprised that the AI clearly suggested to us the theme about the sanctity of life for the new story,” Makoto Tezuka said at a press conference at Keio University on Monday. “It turned out to be a very ‘Black Jack’ work.”