By Luiggi Cavanna
Back in the early two thousands, a show out of the mind of Genndy Tartakovsky hit the scene on Cartoon Network and quickly found a spot in our geeky hearts. A samurai wielding a magical sword tries to defeat an unmeasurable evil, only to be flung into a dystopian future where said evil has grown stronger. Now this samurai tries to find a way back to the past to undo this cursed future. Samurai Jack was a show heavily influenced by the pop culture of the time, from anime and kung-Fu movies too, of course, old samurai movies, this show had it all. Despite being targeted to a younger demographic, the show had an appeal to an older audience thanks to its incredible writing that won four Primetime Emmy Awards. Unfortunately, after four seasons, from 2001 to 2004, the show ended without giving us a conclusion to Jack’s story.
All started with this movie.
Fast forward to 2017 and Jack is back! And now on Adult Swim. Thirteen years later after it last aired, Samurai Jack returned with its fifth season, and with it, the promise to finally give the series a proper ending, but does it succeed in meeting expectations?
To begin I got to give props to the writers, their audience has grown up and they know this. Instead of the kid friendly cartoon of yesteryears, season five of Samurai Jack has a more mature tone. This is understandable, most of Samurai Jack fans are adults now and demand more of their entertainment, and Jack represents this change perfectly.
For us, it’s been thirteen years but for Jack, it’s been fifty. Time no longer affects him and he hasn’t aged one bit. Jack’s been wandering the land, without any hope of returning to the past because every time portal has been destroyed and he has lost his sword, which was his only means of destroying Aku.
Without the magic sword, Jack has to be creative and resort to using different types of weapons. In this moment of vulnerability, the series introduces a different kind of enemy, one that Jack hasn’t faced before, human assassins in the form of the daughters of Aku.
With humans as his enemies, Jack might have to make the decision to kill another human being, which is something that he hasn’t done before. So, here’s something I really like, perhaps thanks to the time constraints (season five doesn’t have that many episodes) Jack doesn’t have much time to deal with this decision. Matter of fact, when it happens, it just happens. Nothing too flashy, just like that, a life is gone and Jack realizes what he has done. What normally would take a few episodes of soul searching in other shows, Samurai Jack deals with the problem in one episode with a dream sequence. The time constraints have also affected the series in negative ways. There are some pacing problems with some episodes that are closer to the end and that brings us to the controversial final episode.
“Son, sometimes you have to choke a bitch”
So how do you end a series that everyone has high hopes for, how do you please everybody? Simple, you don’t, it’s impossible to please every single fan. Samurai Jack has done a great job with the story. The show dealt with lost, taking another human’s life, and Jack, as a samurai, contemplated committing seppuku (a traditional Japanese form of suicide) for failing in his mission of stopping Aku. Samurai Jack’s finale took on the monumental task of, tying loose ends, bringing old characters from past seasons back, finishing character arcs and giving us a satisfying conclusion all in a regular size episode. Many wanted the final episode to be an hour long, much like the first movie, and perhaps the final episode would’ve been better that way (others didn’t want the show to end) but the main complaint is probably the character Ashi and how the finale handled her.
This picture is from Gurren Lagann, but it relates to the topic, believe me!
Despite all the minor complaints, and half of the community going nuts, I believe that the final season of Samurai Jack was an amazing experience. Even the whole Ashi situation at the end did not bother me. Hey, it instead reminded me of Gurren Lagann and Samurai Jack is a melting pot of pop culture influences. It seemed fitting.
If you watched the first seasons of Samurai Jack, there’s no reason not to watch the final season. If you haven’t watched Jack at all, well you should, it’s a great show.
What were your thoughts about the final season of Samurai Jack, let us know. Now I return to the deepest darkest corners of my dwelling. Good-bye, for now, my friends.
See you Samurai...