For one night only, the nostalgic, animated tv show Samurai Jack found its way on the big screen in select theaters. Being a long-time fan myself, I had the privilege of viewing the first three episodes of the first season that were fully remastered. Including a special interview with creator Genndy Tartakovsky, who had also been part of household television greats like Dexter’s Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls, it was a great way to re-live the legacy of our favorite samurai one last time after it finally concluded with its fifth season earlier this year.
Airing on Cartoon Network in 2001, Samurai Jack went to have four seasons before going on a twelve-year hiatus. After the conclusion of other projects and the urging of fans to give Jack a “proper” ending, Tartakovsky and most of the original cast members came back with a newer and “darker” storyline than what we were used to seeing in previous seasons. Equipped with beautiful animation, an intense soundtrack, and a new home on television network Adult Swim, Samurai Jack was able to execute new ideas and concepts in its final, fifth season not previously found during its running time on kid-friendly Cartoon Network.
Compared to the broken and defeated Jack we were re-introduced to in the first episode of the fifth season, we are reminded of Jack’s origins, how he got his eponymous nickname, and the overall heroic and humble character he was known for in the first three episodes of the remastered version. The lighthearted comedy and nostalgic elements of the first season stands in stark contrast to the serious and dark undertones of the fifth. However, the one thing that can be agreed upon is that Jack is back, and no matter what shape he returns in, he still has those butt-kicking moves we all expect and love.
In the interview at the end with creator Genndy Tartakovsky, he explains that after Dexter’s Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls, he was feeling “quite burnt out” due to the excessive dialogue that goes into producing each episode. After divulging his dreams as a child where he would be trapped in a dystopian world, going on adventures with his childhood crush while defeating bad guys, he came up with the basis of what would be Samurai Jack. After pitching the idea to his boss over dinner, Tartakovsky wanted to create a show that didn’t quite fit the norm of what one would watch on Cartoon Network while at the same time did not rely heavily on dialogue. He, then, goes on to describe the importance of music and how it brought each episode to life, incorporating that element into the work as well.
From there, viewers were literally introduced to a “man of few words,” and were thrown into a show where the soundtrack and visuals narrated the story. Although Tartakovsky confesses that Samurai Jack struggled due to its difficulty of finding its “niche” with audiences, it still went on to be successful with nominations and wins from Primetime Emmys to Annie Awards, which specifically recognizes accomplishments in animation.
Being able to re-watch one of my childhood favorites on the big screen, after it was finally given the ending it deserved, gives a certain contentment that can only be discovered after years of waiting and loyalty.
However, just because it’s over doesn’t mean that one cannot go back to the past. Fans can relive the stunning masterpiece of Samurai Jack over again by purchasing the first four seasons that have been fully remastered, the exclusive Blu-ray edition of the fifth season, and even the soundtrack of the show. With the complete series, getting back, back to the past of Samurai Jack has never been easier!