A new episode of Osamu Tezuka's famous "Black Jack" manga made with the help of artificial intelligence was unveiled Monday, with the creators saying that while the work reflected the spirit of the late legendary manga artist, its ability to depict human feelings remains an issue.

"We are happy that a very Tezuka Osamu-like work has been created," said Makoto Tezuka, son of the late artist and director at Tezuka Productions Co., one of the organizers of the project, which was launched to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the medical drama about an unlicensed genius surgeon.

Makoto Tezuka (L) unveils a new episode of the "Black Jack" manga comic at a press conference in Tokyo on Nov. 20, 2023. (Kyodo)

The latest 32-page episode will be published Wednesday in the weekly comic magazine Shukan Shonen Champion and will feature a female patient who has had a transplant for what was supposed to have been a "perfect" AI-made artificial heart. The magazine ran the original Black Jack series from 1973 and 1983.

"The new episode contains the sanctity of life as a theme, and raises issues posed by advanced medical technology in modern society," Makoto Tezuka told a joint press conference alongside project team members in Tokyo.

The team used generative AI models that learned from some 200 episodes of Black Jack, another 200 short-form manga works by Osamu Tezuka who died in 1989, and 20,000 pages of his manga characters' facial image data.

Under the project, which was officially launched in May, the team input plot ideas into the AI and requested it to come up with a full story for a new Black Jack episode.

Interacting with the AI model enhanced creativity, and generated text was adjusted to better reflect the team's vision of the story in a way readers could easily understand, the team said.

Supplied image shows a scene from a new episode of the "Black Jack" manga comic created by the Tezuka2023 project. (Copyright Tezuka2023/Tezuka Productions Co.)(Kyodo)

The AI models used in the project were ChatGPT's advanced GPT-4, and Stable Diffusion, an image generator.

Meanwhile, Makoto Tezuka said, "AI is still weak in incorporating human feelings into stories, because feelings vary from person to person. Such things cannot simply be achieved through analyzing collected data."

Satoshi Kurihara, a member of the project's team and professor at Keio University's Faculty of Science and Technology, said working with AI opens up the potential for "mass producing" work of the same quality as those made by manga artists, or to an even better standard.

From next year onwards, Kurihara said he would like to work on AI technologies that could help to create more Japanese content, not just limited to manga comics, which could be exported globally.

The episode follows an earlier project in which "Paidon," a manga designed by AI in the style of Osamu Tezuka, was released in the weekly comic magazine Morning in 2020.

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