“Whip it out!” – Scaramouche, 2017
by Matthew Whitaker
After a twelve-year hiatus, Samurai Jack is back with the show’s fifth season, now airing on Adult Swim. Samurai Jack is an animated series which premiered on Cartoon Network in 2001, and received critical acclaim during its original run. The show tells the story of Jack, a samurai who was flung into the future by Aku, the shape-shifting Master of Darkness, and seeks to return to the past to save the world from Aku’s evil. Samurai Jack abruptly ended after its fourth season in 2004 without concluding the series’ story. On March 11th, the fifth season of Samurai Jack began airing on Adult Swim.
The fifth season of Samurai Jack is a continuation of the series, not a reboot like The Powerpuff Girls’ 2016 series. Despite this, the fifth season contains many changes from the previous four seasons, the most notable being the more mature themes of the fifth season. Samurai Jack has grown with its audience, many of whom were children during the previous seasons. While the previous seasons presented simple issues like “good versus evil”, the fifth season handles much more serious moral dilemmas, especially Jack’s strict aversion to killing non-robot beings. Fans of the original series will certainly enjoy the fifth season, as it retains all of what made the original series excellent, like its superb ability to set a scene and beautiful animation. New elements keep the series fresh for returning fans, like the fifth season’s focus on a single story and the Daughters of Aku. Those who did not watch the previous seasons of Samurai Jack will enjoy the fifth season just as much as returning fans. Aside from the first three episodes of the first season which set the premise of Samurai Jack, anyone can jump in at the beginning of the fifth season and truly enjoy it.
Samurai Jack handles its transition from the style of the previous seasons to that of the fifth season astoundingly well. The first three episodes of the fifth season execute this transition. In the first episode, the style is very similar to a typical episode of the previous seasons. A typical episode would usually involve Jack facing robotic opponents in a one-off story unrelated to other episodes. The fifth season’s first episode follows this format, while planting the seeds of the season’s main story. In the episode, Jack battles Scaramouche, a robotic musical assassin who is quite similar to the villains Jack faced in previous seasons. Scaramouche is a robot, thus Jack has no problem brutally destroying him. Also in the first episode, the Daughters of Aku are introduced. They are a group of women raised from birth with the mission of killing Jack. They play an important role in the second and third episode, where they hunt Jack, forcing him to kill one of them at the end of the second episode. This becomes a moral dilemma for Jack, as he has always refused to kill living people. The second and third episodes handle more complex issues than the previous seasons, like Jack being forced to take a life. The fifth season of Samurai Jack shows how the series has matured while retaining what made the previous seasons a joy to watch.
Now that six of its ten episodes have aired, it is clear that Samurai Jack’s fifth season is the continuation fans have wanted for the past eleven years. Everything about the fifth season is outstanding. For both previous and new fans alike, Samurai Jack’s fifth season is well-worth watching. As the final season of Samurai Jack, the fifth season will certainly serve as an excellent climax to the beloved series.