Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Welcome Back, Jack!

In the early 2000s, I faithfully watched Cartoon Network's awesome show by Genndy Tartakovsky, Samurai Jack. The show, Samurai Jack, was about a Samurai (named, not surprisingly, Jack) thrown into the future by an evil demon named Aku who, in Jack's absence, took over the world. The miserable future dystopia where Jack lands is ruled by Aku. Jack's goal was simple, get back to the past and destroy Aku, thus changing the future.

Samurai Jack ran for fifty-two episodes and was cancelled by Cartoon Network before the story was done. There was talk of a theatrical movie for a long time, but that never came together. Finally, in March, Samurai Jack returned to Cartoon Network for ten serialized episodes to finish the story.

The original show was a unique accomplishment in animation and could rightly be called a masterpiece. The animation was gorgeous and incredibly stylized. Dialogue was often minimal, the animators telling the stories through the images and sound effects alone, which gave the show a very Zen feel. Aku the demon was voiced by the late, great Mako, who was clearly having a blast with the role. And finally, there was Jack, voiced by Phil Lamarr. Ever steady, ever the hero, calmly doing everything he could to save the world. I loved it.

The new season is on Adult Swim and it's still as fantastic as ever. Mako has been replaced by Greg Baldwin who performs a great homage. The only difference in the story is that it's now geared a little more towards adults. The seven episodes that have aired so far have dealt with Jack's despair at failing to find a way back to the past, the loss of his magic sword, his thoughts of suicide, and his first killing of another human. (In the original show, he only killed Aku's robot minions.)  Samurai Jack is haunting, beautiful, hopeful, occasionally silly, often very funny, and wonderful.

I'm so glad it's back.

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