It’s easy to forget at times just how important the name Castlevania used to be.
Dear Adult Swim/Toonami:
Bringing back Samurai Jack turned out to be a pretty fantastic idea. It was an even better idea to allow this to happen by bringing in Genndy Tartakovsky instead of simply taking the rights of the show (owned by Cartoon Network) and hand them to some kind of mercenary with no real understanding of what the show is or what made it interesting in the first place. I think we can all agree that it was a success all around. Critics loved it, fans loved it (except for that one or two things here and there) and the ratings were pretty terrific. I believe I speak for plenty when I say that this is a new standard for what it means to successfully re-boot a long dormant series (Yes, I know calling it a re-boot is a bit inaccurate given that it’s a continuation of the series that Mr. Tartakovsky had always intended to deliver one way or another, but that’s a bit beside the point). It managed to stay faithful to the original series while expanding our understanding of it in exciting, unexpected ways. You have my gratitude, as well as that of many, many fans because of this.
It’s only been a week, yet I’m still processing the fact that Samurai Jack is over. That his big comeback has left us as soon as it arrived, and in its wake, it left something spectacular: a revival of a beloved TV show that remains true to the spirit of the original while updating it in all the right ways. Outside of the recent comeback for Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Netflix, I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like this, but even then, the evolution of Samurai Jack is one less of superficial style (all in all, it’s the same), but rather a narrative one. In recent memory, when you see a franchise get a new life, you expect it to draw inspiration and some basic building blocks from its predecessors, but other than that, it feels like a totally different creation. Sometimes that new direction is for its benefit, such as what Marvel Studios has been doing with its movie adaptations. Other times, you end up with something like the live-action Transformers movies. Still, this comparison feels inaccurate. Samurai Jack 2017 isn’t just a revival or a re-adaptation, it’s a continuation of the show’s original continuity with the intention of wrapping up a story that was left open-ended. Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve reviewed each episode, covering the in-the-moment developments as they were presented to us. I feel like I’ve covered plenty of ground regarding the show’s evolution and sense of theming, but now that it’s all said and done, we can see how far we came and take a look at the season as a whole so we can appreciate what made this conclusion of Jack’s story such a success. But first, we must take a look at what came before…
This is it. The final battle. It all comes down to this.
So now that Jack is back to “classic” Jack as of last episode, having wrapped up his arc about re-discovering himself and coming to terms with his past mistakes, one has to wonder how the rest of the season is gonna play out. Will it be the more traditional structure of the original, episodic run or will we still get to see new developments for Jack before he reaches his final showdown with Aku? Turns out the answer is a bit of Column A and a bit of Column B. This week’s episode might be the most straightforward one we’ve had all season, and the most reminiscent of the first four seasons: the story is driven primarily by action and set-pieces as Jack and Ashi fight a new enemy along their journey to defeat Aku. Even so, it manages to throw in elements that tie into both heroes’ overarching story…
… and oh man is it a doozy.
Where we last left our heroes, Jack was ready to stop running away from his problems and get his shit together, starting with finding his sword. With Ashi in tow, he sets out to restart his mission to save the world. But first, a journey of self-discovery and introspection. Trust me, it’s not as boring as it sounds.
In previous reviews, I’ve brought up the significance of episodes of Samurai Jack that don’t feature Jack as the protagonist. This has resulted in some very unique stories, even some of the best the series has ever seen. What we have here is yet another such episode, but one that probably won’t carry as much memorability…at least the same kind.
Short Version: Well, this turned out better than the last time Jack was travelling alone with a woman…
Last week, Samurai Jack came face-to-face with the unthinkable, possibly the most dangerous opponent he’s ever encountered. An enemy so vile, so powerful, so unpredictable that it pushed him to his very limits, and even then, he was defeated. In fact, Jack never stood a chance. No contest. It might just be the most brutal loss he’s ever had.