Google Play Synopsis:
It’s been 50 years since we saw Samurai Jack and time has not been kind to him. Aku has destroyed every time portal and Jack has stopped aging, a side effect of time travel. It seems he is cursed to just roam the land for all eternity. His past haunts him as well as a cult of assassins dedicated to killing him for Aku’s glory. Samurai Jack is created, executive produced and directed by Genndy Tartakovsky.
(Might contain spoilers if you have not seen the previous seasons but I keep them from minimum to none)
This is the first thing that shows up when starting the season. In this first ever cartoon review, I will be talking about this classic Cartoon Network cartoon series and talk about the high and low points of this short season. The season started at March 11 and ended at May 20th (even it wasn’t for the April Fools Day prank on Saturday, this show would have ended on May 13th). In a Interview from the creator of Samurai Jack, Genndy Tartakovsky, the team behind the show from season 1-4 was burned out and they couldn’t produce the fifth season years ago. This season was planned to be a movie but instead, it was converted to a small and limited season consisting of 10 episodes. Just like the video says, you don’t have to start from the last episode of season 4 or watch the entire episodes to understand fully what’s going on this one. This season was made especially for classic and news of Samurai Jack with a darker atmosphere.
Previously mentioned, the story in this season takes place 50 years after the events of the previous Samurai Jack seasons. After losing the time portals and not being able to age, Jack wanders through the lands in quest to find his way back home. Along the way, a mysterious cult of women dedicated to the evil Aku raises daughter assassins and attempts to train them to kill Jack and please Aku. Jack not only has to deal with new, powerful foes but he has to fight his own sanity and guilt in which urges him to give up on everything.
I remember watching this cartoon as a kid years ago. I will admit, I did miss some episodes and I haven’t seen it 100% and I was afraid of having to know stuff I missed out. Fortunately, this season doesn’t heavily rely the viewer to know everything about Samurai Jack to understand the story. Yes, even though it does refer back to certain things from the seasons but it is only on past characters and you don’t have to stress on who is who and how much information do you need to know to enjoy this season. The season does focus on new characters however and it helps make the show easy to follow. In comparison to the previous season, this one is really short with 10 episodes while others have like 13. The story’s pacing can be consistent while other say that some episodes can be fast paced especially on the last episode. There are times where the show gets interrupted with intentional skips such as having an intense fight and then jumping into a quiet,peaceful scene. It can work like a double edge sword if you get caught in the moment and then get interrupted or it may help viewers relax from the intense atmosphere. The show even includes silly moments just like the classic show. We might get an episode where Aku is actually funny or Jack tries to ease the tension with situations with something off-topic.
The characters in the show are back along with new ones as well. Key characters like Jack and Aku are back and some minor characters (like the Scotsman) also join in the series. The voice of Jack, Phil LaMarr returns and does a perfect job on Jack. Unfortunately, the voice of Aku, Mako Iwamatsu, doesn’t return because he died in 2006 (he als voiced Iroh from Avatar: The last Airbender and Splinter from the movie TMNT); instead, the new voice of Aku is Greg Baldwin who actually does a great job. Other voice actors join in the season and perform well with new characters. Tara Strong (voice of Timmy from Fairy OddParents) voices Ashi of the seven Daughters of Aku, Tom Kenny (voice of SpongeBob in SpongeBob SquarePants) is the voice of the flamboyant robot assassin Scaramouche and much more join the team and they all do good.
Laughs and Giggles:
In the world of Samurai Jack, this show is filled with many odd characters and it’s not surprising. The show does an excellent job on introducing new characters as well as re-introducing the old characters. Some of the new characters can be likable such as Scaramouche who is well know for talking with a silly accent and adding the word “babe” in every sentence. Ashi in the show reveals much more about her character and learns about the world after seeing Jack save people from Aku’s grasp. In of the episodes, Tartakovsky also references from old cartoons such from The Jetsons and Popeye the Sailor (fun fact: He was going to direct a Popeye movie for Sony but it was cancelled). Overall, the new characters are a great add on to the story and the return of old characters are pure fanservice to classic fans.
Content/Controversy: Yale vs Audience vs Modern Viewers
If you didn’t know, Season 5 of Samurai Jack was premiered NOT in Cartoon Network but instead in Adult Swim, well known place for adult shows like Family Guy or Toonami anime on Saturdays. When we first heard about the show coming back in Adult Swims, fans speculated that the show was going to be much darker and violent based on the information and the promotional art for Samurai Jack. Now with this show being finished, let’s talk about what is the commotion and does it bother you.
Yes, the show did get dark and the presence of blood did appear in the first couple of episodes. I won’t go into details on violence but I will say that Jack is well-known for fighting robots for 50 years and hardly killed humans, imagine him facing a situation where he must decide whether to take a life or give up his own. The dark atmosphere happens immediately in the first episode where Jack is haunted by the fact he is trapped in the future for a long time and he is driven mad by guilt for not saving his family and village. His inner psyche shows up time to time and tries to convince him to give up the quest and rest for eternity. Next, let’s talk about the major issue: the controversy!
One of the controversy this show has is having the misconception that this cartoon is homophobic. Reason being is because the bad guy assassin Scaramouche is a robot android in which talks and acts flamboyant and he does say babe, even to Jack or Aku. According to a report from Yale, students stated that the show targets and insult homosexuals even though com mentors stated that Scaramouche is based on a representation of Sammy Davis JR. who was also who are well-known for being flamboyant and being a singer (the commentor was Brad says). Also mentioned, Yale students also mentioned that new women in the show are “hypersexualized” for their appearance while others say that the girls are just attractive and not being used for anything for sex and they defy common women misconceptions like having a skinny body; the daughters of the Scotsman are strong-muscled women and not skinny (commented by Jeremy Fisher). Also, the women do get hurt but these women (Scotsman daughters or Aku daughters) can fight and not helpless women. Last but not least, some people may not like the violent tones of the show. Samurai Jack is well-known for violence and some people didn’t like the blood used for this show.
There is another controversy I want to bring up but I will probably save it for next time if I do a spoiler review. There is another one but it’s only a little moment in which of characters said something that broke the internet… the p word.
Conclusion – End of Journey
Was this worth the wait and worth watching? In opinion, yes! Samurai Jack is a great example of a Cartoon Network return and it never lost it’s roots. This season made for classic and new fans in a older audience. The actors reprise in their original roles and the tone of the show fits bests for a show that was made for violence. This show was fast paced and short but it did have a conclusion for a long series. I did wish however that we got more spotlight with side characters like it would be nice if we got see more of the Scotsman. Would I recommend Samurai Jack? Personally, yes if you enjoyed the show from the past and you want to experience it in a higher rating. I would not recommend it if you don’t like violence, blood, or be part of a controversial moment. If you seen the show, comment down below on what was your opinion on Samurai Jack season 5. I want to thank Genndy Tartakovsky,for creating this series and finishing the show. Thank you for making Saturdays exciting for everyone!
Yale article here: