The Return of Samurai Jack

After 13 years, the samurai wielding a magical sword is back.

He’s backSamurai Jack. Wa-cha!

13 years since Cartoon Network aired what everyone believed was the end of Samurai Jack, a 5th and final season of the beloved series will finally start airing on Saturday night (3/9/17, for posterity’s sake.) Much has been made of this triumphant return by plenty of people across the internet, and the trailers and teasers dropped by Adult Swim (where the series has shifted to for this relaunch) suggest not only the potential for a very fulfilling conclusion, but a far gritter, darker Jack than we’re used to. For once, darker might actually be better. Let me explain…

The original seasons of Samurai Jack were lauded for a variety of reasons, including its unique animation style, narrative and pacing, and that by Cartoon Network standards (even now), it was a rather dark show. However, the network still had certain restraints that handcuffed the show in certain ways: blood could not be visibly shed, language was toned down a bit, and so on. With the new season comes new ideas, and with the shift to Adult Swim, there’s new rules. Chiefly, a 50 year time skip has happened, and narratively speaking, I’d be miffed if this wasn’t the case. Considering the real-world wait for this final season was in fact over a decade, it seems like a nod to the fans of the original production that Jack has grown with us in age- but what exactly went down in the dystopia that is Aku’s world creates a whole new set of questions and intriguing possibilities. As a result, the conscious shift to an older audience really has the potential to unleash the old samurai in ways we’ve never seen before.

For the record, this isn’t just speculation. The sneak peak already showed off some of what we can expect, including the return of the beetle drones as a callback to Jack’s first major battle in the future all those years ago:

While the video alone draws most of the conclusions you’ll need to see, it’s evident that the traditional samurai, immaculately robed in white, has embraced a fusion of his past and present realities. (How he arrived there will probably be far more telling.) It’s nearly unfathomable to imagine Jack on a motorcycle back in the day, when he traveled everywhere on foot, or using modern high-tech weaponry. I suspect he took a page from his old pal the Scotsman on fusion of old and new combat styles…and who coincidentally will be showing up at some point.

There’s plenty more that can be said about Samurai Jack coming back into the lives of many with its first new episode in such a long time, but it also could serve to introduce Jack to a whole new generation that never really knew the original series. Such an idea is very exciting as a way of extolling the potential and unique medium animation offers to tell a story. As for me, I anxiously I await Greg Baldwin’s voice work as Aku, “the shapeshifting master of darkness,” as Mako’s work was iconic. Inevitably he and “the foolish samurai” will have their fated final showdown. Whether that is in the past where Jack is from, or the future where he has had most of his shared history with Aku, remains to be seen…

No matter what you think, the return of Samurai Jack is one of the decade’s more surprising stories in animation; an unexpected twist to a series long thought to be finished, and an ode to quality shows that attracted solid fanbases of many different kinds of people. It’s a ride I’m ready to take…gotta get back, back to the past, Samurai Jack! Wa-cha!

Like what you see? Eager to see Samurai Jack in action once more? Leave a comment!

Author: anibproductions

I am the founder and writer of AniB Productions, currently a blog with a focus on animated shows from both the East and the West. Love Buffalo sports, good political discussion, and an interesting conversation wherever I go.

2 thoughts on “The Return of Samurai Jack”

  1. I’ll admit I was a little skeptical about Samurai Jack coming back. One of the reasons was that I was afraid that with it’s new found rating and home on Adult Swim that it would become to. . . Tarantinoesque for lack of better word.

    Let me explain.

    If I had to compare Samurai Jack to another piece I’d actually compare it to some of Shinichiro Watanabe’s earlier works like Cowboy Bebop and to a lesser extent Samurai Champloo. They have an overarching story and recurring characters that comes up at varies times in the show, but the episodes themselves are largely self-contained and tell a complete story in and of themselves that may not even be connected at all to the main plot or themes of the story. Partially because of that Watanabe’s work’s have greater emphasis on their “style” and “genre expression” then it did on it’s characters and plot. That combined with the heavy violence and “edginess” makes him a kind of anime Quentin Tarantino.

    While Samurai Jack had these elements in it’s original run it did place a much greater emphasis on its plot and it’s TV-Rating kept it from getting to over the top in it’s violence. However when I saw it coming Adult Swim (not unlike my misgivings with Toonami) I thought they would try to push Samurai Jack into being a much edgier as miss-guided to get the sort of stereotypical Adult Swim audience of male teens and young adults who have probably watched Pulp Fiction and Scarface way too many times.

    After watching some of teasers and trailers that doesn’t really seem to be the case though. Sure there is more explicit gore now, but that doesn’t seem to out of line with what the series was before, and the story is still being told. I’m now more positive on what this final season may bring.

    Also, if this is successful and Genndy sticks around, can we see a continuation of Symbionic Titan. . .please?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d love to see another season of Sym-Bionic Titan. Criminally underrated show; it’s a shame it was canceled after only one season… I’ll agree with what you’re saying about Jack. I don’t think the new season is so much “edgy” as it is able to do a few things more explicitly now rather than worrying about TV-Y7 appropriateness in certain situations. Having seen (and greatly enjoyed) both Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, that’s an interesting analysis. I can certainly see the similarities there, though Jack is unique in that his journey is mostly alone with occasional recurring characters and allies (the Scotsman being chief among these.) At any rate, I’m very curious to see how they decide to wrap up the story of Samurai Jack…and I think Genndy will do a great job.


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