first_img ‘Samurai Jack’ Returns in March, Watch the New Trailer!Rewatching Samurai Jack: Episode 12, Jack and the Gangsters Stay on target Jack is back! Over a decade after the samurai’s last adventure, Genndy Tartakovsky’s action sci-fi fantasy cult epic Samurai Jack will conclude at last. This weekend, the former Cartoon Network show debuted the premiere episode of its final, Adult Swim-exclusive season. For fans of the original, this was an intense blast of nostalgia. But all I could pay attention to were all of the new and different things about the show that already made it superior to its previous incarnation. By transitioning to Adult Swim, Samurai Jack finally makes sense.Here’s where I make a confession. I’ve never really enjoyed Samurai Jack. Having recently watched some old episodes (and editing thoughtful recaps of them), I certainly appreciate its artistry. But like Invader Zim or Ren & Stimpy or even any other “kids” show that has a primarily adult fanbase, I completely understand why the show bored me to tears as a child despite how initially eye-catching it is. Maybe I’m just not cool enough.Pacing and patience in storytelling should be celebrated, but Samurai Jack is just so slow, too slow and quiet for a younger audience. Meanwhile, the designs are very striking and distinct and angular and minimal. They make for great frames. Shape-shifting jokester shadow demon Aku is also a nifty-looking character brought to life through an amazing performance by the late, great Mako Iwamatsu. However, the animation during the fight scenes is never awesome enough to justify how long they go one for. The style works great for Tartakovsky’s comedies like Dexter’s Lab, but compare Samurai Jack to something like Avatar or The Legend of Korra and it’s not even close. This is why Samurai Jack is such a perfect cult show. It’s cool and unique enough to cultivate a hardcore fanbase, but slightly pretentious and just flawed enough for you to understand why it initially failed, even with The Scotsman or a David Alan Grier cameo.For these reasons, I was skeptical about the return of Samurai Jack. I was glad fans would finally get some closure after the show’s first abrupt, inconclusive final episode followed by years of unfilled promises for some kind of finale movie. But I assumed the new season would just be one last disappointing reminder of how the show was always cooler in theory than in actuality.However, when that first trailer dropped, my opinion began to change. Maybe it was the Carpenter Brut music, but this seemed like a trailer for the exciting, smart, modern, genre-blending, awesome action cartoon fans insisted the original always was. Now, after watching the first episode, the last season of Samurai Jack might be the first season I fully enjoy. Here’s why.First, the new Samurai Jack just looks way better while maintaining its sleek signature style thanks to advances in animation tech. Plus, since this is a prestige, limited, 10-episode miniseries, you’d hope the studio is being a little more generous with the budget. Fights are also more brutal, fitting for the older fanbase. Arrows get stabbed in eyeballs, and children get punched in the face. It’s certainly no Hotel Transylvania.Meanwhile, as the show’s overarching storyline of Jack’s quest to undo Aku’s future approaches its conclusion, the plot has also become more serialized. The first episode sets up the seven daughters of Aku as major antagonists for a grizzled and armored Jack using guns to replace his lost magic sword. No more endless, Fugitive-style narrative resets. No more episodic adventures of Jack just failing to find a solution and end the show. There’s real forward progress happening in the story at last. And while the pace is still very slow, it feels more earned thanks to the increased focus on Jack’s tortured psyche following fifty years of failing to stop Aku, aging mentally while remaining the same physically. Seeing visions of his family burning alive is surreal, poignant stuff, and it thankfully gives underappreciated voice actor Phil LaMarr some more to do besides be stoic.Samurai Jack still trades in nostalgia for the Cartoon Network show. Jack fights a scatting musical robot assassin named after an Italian stock clown character who would’ve fit in just fine in the original version, and he’s great. Plus the end credits still feature the iconic Will.I.Am theme song. But most of the great things about this new fifth season revival are only possible because it’s a 2017 Adult Swim show, not a 2001 Cartoon Network show.This isn’t to say adult updates of kids show always work or that they should always be done. For every awesome and mature Logan we get an awful, gritty, R-rated Super Friends movie. Fortunately, Samurai Jack is much closer to the former. Like a gangly teenager ending puberty as a gorgeous adult, the fantastic Adult Swim show awkwardly trapped inside the Cartoon Network show has finally broken free. By the end of this season we will presumably see Samurai Jack the character fulfill his destiny, but Samurai Jack the show has already fulfilled its destiny.Samurai Jack Seasons 1-5 are available digitally on Amazon now.last_img