The revival of Samurai Jack brought many men back to the days of their childhood and with good reason. Thirteen years later after its sudden cancellation by Cartoon Network in 2004, these children now man finally get to see their favorite time-travelling samurai finally end his fight with the demon known as Aku.
For the casual watcher who has never watched Samurai Jack, the old opening theme summarises it quite well,
“Long ago in a distant land, I, Aku, the shape-shifting Master of Darkness, unleashed an unspeakable evil! But a foolish samurai warrior wielding a magic sword stepped forth to oppose me. Before the final blow was struck, I tore open a portal in time and flung him into the future, where my evil is law! Now the fool seeks to return to the past, and undo the future that is Aku!”
However, with the many years in between, the now-mature audience is looking for something that will go above the childish themes it once had on Cartoon Network. With it’s move to Adult Swim, it’s getting a new life as a show with actual blood and adult themes. One of them being Jack killing an actual human. It’s also set fifty years after the last episode, allowing new watchers to come in with little to no information about the show along with tackling the distressing problem of Jack’s immortality due to the mechanics of time travel.
Some may think this sudden transition to be too gritty, straying away from the original artistic value and the quiet, thoughtful tone from the original series. Samurai Jack’s creator, Genndy Tartakovsky (also the creator of Dexter’s Laboratory) took their opportunity to weave this show into a masterpiece by epicly mashing together all the adult elements (the violence and its darker tone) and all its old vibrancy into one cohesive, riveting story
With only three episodes having premiered on Adult Swim, you can already tell that this series is in for a great deal of suspense, action and thought-provoking plot lines. We first start with what makes this good show into a great show. Its art. If you could not appreciate Samurai Jack in any way, you can appreciate its art. It is plain to see that the artists have tried not to change it’s hand-drawn roots and even though they have transitioned from paper to computer, this has just amplified the colourful, vivid tone of the story which serves to symbolise the struggles of the samurai and the dystopian world which he has been stuck in.
Instead of focusing on the easy route of violence and well-drawn action (which it does have), Tartakovsky focuses on creating a character-driven story. Although Jack still has his quiet demeanour, through the use of illusions and flashbacks, we explore Jack’s past and problems with staying in this time and being away from his own. This is paired with the common theme of nature vs civilization which is what Samurai Jack is famous for. Nature tends to reveal and reflect Jack’s emotions at the time.
Unlike the episodic nature of the old series, its reincarnation has not failed to provide their audience with a riveting story. The new season promises a ‘reveal’ every episode and they have not failed in fulfilling that promise. Without revealing anything, this new narrative has not moved beyond Jack’s personal development but has foreshadowed things to come in the future.
Overall, this has left people excited for what’s to come. So far, none of their promises have gone awry in Jack’s tale. With only seven episodes in this concluding season, they have not failed in jamming each episode with great intrigue which makes the man-child wonder, how will this end?