Samurai Jack Is Back!

Kaid Nickl, Reporter

“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!”

If you’ve never heard this opening line before, then you’re missing out on one of the most beautifully animated shows to ever air on Cartoon Network: Samurai Jack.

Created by Genndy Tartakovsky, Samurai Jack tells the tale of the namesake hero and his quest to return to the past to defeat Aku, a towering, cunning, and shapeshifting demon.

Jack himself is a man of few words, but strong views. The prince of an ancient Japanese kingdom, he wields a magical sword that his father previously wielded to defeat and trap Aku. Realizing that Aku would eventually return, the king (Who is never mentioned by name) sends a young Jack around the world to train and prepare his mind and body for the inevitable day that Aku will return. After receiving this magical weapon, he challenges Aku to a duel and defeats him. However, before Jack can strike the finishing blow, Aku opens a portal in time that sends Jack to the future, where Aku rules a dystopian cityscape. Some of the first people (and aliens) he meets refer to him as “Jack”, a futuristic slang of someone who is a nobody. Jack never reveals his actual name but takes this name instead.

Every episode in Samurai Jack is a sight to behold. The wonderfully crafted environments explode with color and detail. As stated, Jack is a man of few words, and this translates into the show. Little or no dialogue is said during the show. The art style that is used in this animation is called “Masking”, which means objects are outline-free, making them appear more open and less harsh. Often times, there is a sharp contrast between the wilderness and industrialized areas. Characters are also a sight to see. The futuristic area that Aku sent Jack to has all kinds of immigrated aliens too unique to describe in short. One episode even has a civilization of dogs, all of which have hats and walk on two legs, in reference to Peabody And Sherman.

The plot of every episode is unique, too. One episode had Jack handcuffed on one hand to an obnoxious Irish mercenary while both are attempting to escape bounty hunters that look like western cowboy pigs. Another may have him attempting to reach the top of a lone turret in a field while dodging fire from three blind archers stationed on top. Why? Apparently, the tower will grant him one wish. This episode leads to some interesting twists and clever thinking by Jack. One of the more extreme episodes leads Jack towards helping a group of astronauts in their escape to space by fending off robots that look like insects, while in zero gravity!

Of course, no hero could be as heroic (For lack of a better term) without a proper villain, right? Well, Jack’s got you covered there. In the future that Aku dumped Jack in, there are bounty hunters around every corner. Aku himself is a handful. The “final” battle with him in the first episode has him shapeshifting into several different animals, including a scorpion, octopus, eagle, and even a “floor” of sorts! Aku has some devious tricks, too. For one, he has a whole army of man-sized robotic spiderbugs! Not to mention that in his standard form, Aku towers over anything, even buildings!

Samurai Jack is one of the most detailed and imaginative shows. It took a fresh concept with gorgeous visuals and a unique plot, and wrapped it all in an action-packed bundle! Better yet, Genndy has mentioned that Jack will return in 2016!

To see some wonderful images that are used in the show, click here: Samurai Jack Background Art