Ronin. Out of Time.

Note: The following is based on the first two episodes of Samurai Jack

There’s something about a series that gets taken off the air at it’s peak.

September 25th, 2004. That was the last time Samurai Jack was on the air. Frustration, confusion and speculation justifiably ensued. It was taken off the air without ever getting a real ending…until now.

I thought this day would never come but Samurai Jack is back after more than 12 years for one last hurrah!

This season takes place 50 years later and it has taken his toll on Jack. After being stymied again and again by Aku’s trickery, Jack is a shell of what he used to be. Staying in the future has caused him to stop aging and he’s been haunted by his constant failures to return home. An Aku-worshipping cult has produced seven “Daughters of Aku” that have one purpose in life: Killing the Samurai.

This is a different show from when it was on the air. The signature minimalist, stylized art style remains intact but it looks even better. The action is just as cinematic and intense as it ever was. The audience that watched Samurai Jack during it’s original run are much older so moving the show to Adult Swim is an act of complete creative genius, it’s more violent and mature than ever and the pathos gets turned up a notch.

Phil LaMarr, who voices Jack, is as good as ever. The newer, more mature tone gives him a chance to tap into something the last 52 episodes haven’t touched on: Jack’s psyche. The standalone nature of the first four seasons didn’t allow much character development. After seeing both episodes of the new season gives a more serialized character arc. Jack’s been a broken man for the last 50 years and it shows, this is a different character.

It’s not completely dour, the show still knows how to have fun. The first episode especially had a scat-singing robot and Aku returns voiced by Greg Baldwin (who replaces Mako Iwamatsu, who sadly passed away in 2006) and he’s just as funny.

It took two episodes to quickly cement the fact that Samurai Jack, even with a 12 year absence, hasn’t lost a step. it is, quite simply, a gift. It’s so gratifying to see a payoff to fans’ patience and it’s a triumphant return for Jack.

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