Thirteen years ago we witnessed the end of a Cartoon Network legend: “Samurai Jack.” For four seasons we watched as Jack struggled to get back to the past from the future. Each time he tried, the attempt was a dud.
Jack fought against gangsters, evil robots and even took a trip to outer space. His swift sword skills remained epic and fascinating to watch. After the last episode, fans believed that Jack would never make it home…
March 11 was not only the night for us to push our clocks forward, but it was the premiere of “Samurai Jack” on Adult Swim (Cartoon Network for adults.) Fifty years later, Samurai Jack has not returned home. Not only is he still stuck in the future, but he can’t age and he lost his signature samurai sword. He has a long beard and long black hair.
The episode, “XCII,” opened with two creatures defenseless against Aku’s metal beetles. But Jacks rolls on the scene (literally!) with a motorcycle. He defeats the beetles with a staff and guns, blasting them to smithereens.
Jack still delivers a good butt-whooping to bad guys including the musical Scaramouch (Voice of Tom Kenny), the evil Pied Piper. Even though Scaramouch had an advantage with turning inanimate objects with his magic flute into deadly weapons, Jack came out on top with small knives, breaking the flute and slicing Scaramouch in half.
So far, the season puts Jack in a battered psychological state. Every so often, he sees images of his father, who keeps asking Jack why he hasn’t returned and accuses Jack of forgetting his purpose. Jack also sees little ragged children who beg him to return, and an image of a samurai in black armor sitting on a horse (maybe a symbol for his death?)
Phil LaMarr lends his voice to Jack once again. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, LaMarr said playing Jack on Cartoon Network was his easiest role because Jack only has a few lines in each episode. Someone seeks Jack’s help, he agrees to help and the rest of the show is action. Greg Baldwin (The Legend of Korra) is the new voice of Aku, filling in for Mako (the original Aku), who passed away in 2006.
Director Genndy Tartakovsky and Adult Swim have kept Jack, despite his psychological baggage, the same hero he was 13 years ago. The violence is graphic with bloodshed, which is not a bad thing. Perfect for the now-adult fans of the show.
As new episodes appear every Saturday night, let’s keep our fingers crossed that Jack, like Odysseus from Homer’s “The Odyssey,” will defeat Aku and his seven female disciples, and return home to his loved ones.