Gotta get back, gotta get back
Back to the past, Samurai Jack!
That’s the mantra and theme song from Genndy Tartakovsky hit tv series Cartoon Network’s Samurai Jack. It was Samurai Jack’s original four season run from Aug. 10, 2001-Sept 25, 2004 that left an impression on fans that this was more than just a cartoon cartoon. Genndy Tartakovsky is the creator of not just Samurai Jack but also Dexter’s Laboratory, Star Wars: Clone Wars, and the hit movie series Hotel Transylvania. The step-up for Genndy to use that medium to tell a more adult Samurai Jack story in season 5 on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim is a very welcomed surprise.
Season 5, the latest installment of Samurai Jack, premiered this past March on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and fans everywhere rejoiced! We would finally have the epic conclusion to the story of our beloved time displaced hero Samurai Jack after thirteen years. For those not familiar with the story Samurai Jack centers on a Japanese prince who’s world is ravaged by the evil entity Aku. Jack, using the same magical sword his father used to subdue Aku previously, tries to do the same to save the world. But before he can strike the fatal blow Aku transports him to the future where Aku has had centuries to conquer the earth and other planets.
Throughout the first four seasons Samurai Jack battles Aku and his forces. He also be friends many allies in his fight to defeat Aku and return home to the past. Season 5 picks up 50 years into the future and Samurai Jack hasn’t aged. In another plot twist, he’s lost the only thing that could defeat Aku…his sword. This pairs nicely with Samurai Jack’s B story as well, which is Jack’s lost of purpose. Hunted by the ghost of his guilt and anger over not accomplishing his mission to stop Aku, Jack must also survive the deadly pursuit of the assassin’s the daughters of Aku.
The story has become more nuanced than just a fish out of water story. A splash of blood here and there, and the least raciest of adult situations for an Adult Swim show it can still be enjoyed by the family. But let’s really dig into what I feel is the meat of Samurai Jack. The psychology of the story. He’s alone. Like truly and utterly alone. Samurai Jack has been removed from the time and the only people he knew. I’m reminded of Captain America in a lot of ways. Two warriors from a time long forgot trapped in a distant alien future, but still sacrifice everything to save it. It’s a powerful and awe inspiring situation to behold. I mean how do you connect with or console someone who has experienced such a drastic change. Well Capt eventually got Bucky, but what about Jack? Samurai Jack gets Jack $#!+, and that to me is what’s the most poignant about his story. There’s a necessary bitterness tucked away under all the sweet action and humor animation is most known for. A pretty perfect way of the samurai story that I feel even Akira Kurosawa would be proud.
So be prepared to process some adult emotions and enjoy the final installment of Genndy Tartakovsky Samurai Jack. I for one am glad you finally came back Samurai Jack. Even if it was only to say good bye.
Like the review? Let me know what you thought of Samurai Jack season 5.