The comic book is a well-liked genre in Japanese popular culture, which sometimes tackles important and topical social issues. Say Hello to Black Jack is one of them, a serialised, popular comic that has sold six million copies. It follows the eye-opening adventures of Eijiro Saito, a trainee doctor working at a top university hospital. Saito struggles with the realities of clinical experience, the corruption of medical ethics and power games within the hierarchy during his two-year stint. Typical of such workers, he puts in up to 16 hours a day and earns a meagre 38,000 yen (HK$2,500) per month. In Japan, such workers commonly support themselves by doing night shifts at other hospitals. Trainees with official qualifications, no matter how inexperienced, are always in high demand to make up for a shortage of doctors. They are often the only doctors working at hospitals overnight. Like them, Saito gets exposed nightly to scenes he never could have imagined. One night, when Saito is the only doctor on the shift, a traffic-accident victim is brought in by ambulance. Saito panics when he realises he is too inexperienced to help the dying patient, so a nurse rings the chief doctor. The doctor tells Saito: 'Take a risk, because the patient will die anyway without an operation.' Saito soon learns that this hospital welcomes patients who have been injured in traffic accidents because they can bring in higher fees under the Japanese medical system. He is exposed to the least-expected situations. In one episode, he sees a baby born with Down's syndrome, but the bewildered young parents refuse surgery even though a doctor promises that the baby will survive. Another time, he watched two doctors disagree over the use of cancer drugs that carry severe side-effects. He noted that cancer patients in Japan are often not told they have the disease. Many readers have responded to the ongoing cancer episode. They share anger and frustration over the arbitrary way cancer patients and their families are treated by doctors, and over the lack of informed consent. That is, however, only one of the reasons why this comic series is so popular. They reflect the hidden realities of the Japanese medical system, doctors' mindsets and behaviour and outrageous cases of medical malpractice. Black Jack is named after a heroic doctor in legendary cartoonist Osamu Tezuka's popular comics of 40 years ago. He was a maverick loner, a surgical genius, independent and dedicated to causes. Japan badly needs more doctors with his kind of professionalism and accountability.