Series: Samurai Jack Seasons 1&2
Initially this was only suppose to be a review of Season 2 of the Cartoon Network series SAMURAI JACK. However when I started watching the first DVD, of that 2 disc set, it became clear that I was going to need to get Season 1 also. Not because the show required that I have seen the first series to be able to follow the second, far from it, this is an extremely easy show to pick up. No, it was because I enjoyed the first few episodes of season 2 so much that I simply wanted to see the first season as well.
After a quick jaunt to JB Hi-Fi i settled in for a marathon viewing of both, 2 disc sets, in one go. I failed, and it ended up taking me a few of days to get through. But I can honestly say that I think that this is probably one of my favorite animated series EVER and I can’t wait to get my hands on the third and fourth seasons… whenever they are released here in Australia.
Each episode of Samurai Jack begins with a monologue by Jack’s nemesis: “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!”
The episodes which follow can take many forms, and be set in numerous environments. The dystopian future that Jack (voiced by Phil LaMarr) finds himself in contains an endless number of strange creatures, robots and aliens. His exploration of this world, in search of a means to travel back to the past and prevent this future from eventuating, takes him to all manner of places; from fairy-tale, sub-terraninan villages, to BLADE RUNNEResque futuristic cities.
With the exception of Aku — and the odd flashback appearance by Jack’s family — there are no other regularly appearing characters. In the two seasons I’ve seen, only one character makes a return appearance, a Scotsman (voiced by the voice of Bender, John DiMaggio) with whom Jack shares a warrior kinship of sorts. Jack truly is a masterless Samurai, on a quest which takes him across a strange land.
Given that this series was created by Genndy Tartakovsky, who also created Dexter’s Laboratory, you’d be forgiven for expecting this to be a far more humorous show. While there are moments that will raise a chortle, this show isn’t a thigh slapper. Instead it entertains on a completely different level, there’s a mix of action and adventure here that is often attempted in animation, but seldom achieved. What’s more there’s something…erm… cerebral about the way the show is structured. Whole episodes can pass with only a few lines of dialogue, and yet the message, character development and plot advancement is often quite clear.
I’ll admit that the first few episodes of the first season (also released on DVD as the introductory movie) are probably some of the weakest, so I’m glad that I started watching this show in something of a jumbled fashion, but now that I’ve caught up with the Samurai Jack content to have been released on DVD here, I’m hanging out for more.
If you’re looking for edgy, confronting humor then move on to the Adult Swim section of the store, because this isn’t that. Samurai Jack is a fun, intelligent, artistic series, that I found completely spellbinding. [season1] [season2]