The lone warrior, wandering a land not his own to save a people who fear him. It’s a classic tale, especially in cartoons, and none told it better than Samurai Jack.
And in March, we’ll finally get to see the ending. The series was strong throughout, but it didn’t exactly have an ending. It had a final episode, sure, but there was nothing “final” about it. Jack was still stuck in the future, Aku was still in charge, and precisely nothing was resolved.
The original Samurai Jack series ran from 2001-2004 on Cartoon Network. It was an early creation of Genndy Tartovsky, one of the underappreciated heroes of hand-drawn animation. He’s the guy behind The Powerpuff Girls, Sym-Bionic Titan, and the original 2003 Star Wars: Clone Wars miniseries.
It’s not clear why he never got to give Samurai Jack a proper ending, but Adult Swim is finally giving him the chance. And there’s a trailer!
A Dark New Perspective
Aside from spiffed up art, the trailer shows some key differences from the original series.
For starters, there’s the story. The final season of Samurai Jack takes place 50 years after the previous episode. Jack hasn’t aged a day, which is a source of confusion for him. Aku, meanwhile, has disappeared, but the world is still riddled with evil.
Jack seems to have entirely acclimated to his new life in a dark dystopian future. He’s wears clothing more suited to Mad Max than Shogun, and he has no compunctions about using guns. Including a gigantic minigun straight out of Predator.
Finally, there’s a good deal of actual blood in the trailer. Jack seems to be caught up battling an order of female warrior monks, and one of them demonstrates her prowess with well-placed stab to an enemy’s eye.
Later in the trailer, Jack’s strung up in a dungeon with a dagger through his side. His slow walk down a stone corridor is downright gory.
All of this has led to a TV-MA rating for the new season. It’s surprising but not unwelcome. After all, it’s been 13 real-world years since the last episode of the series. Anyone who enjoyed the series as a kid has grown up and is ready for some big-boy action.
Returning Faces and Voices
The new miniseries features veteran voice actor Phil LaMarr reprising his role as Jack. LaMarr has voiced many dozens of amazing roles over the years, and was the voice of The Green Lantern in Justice League Unlimited.
The Scotsman, one of Jack’s few allies and a fan favorite, will also return. He’s voiced by John DiMaggio, whose voice acting resume is even more impressive.
Aku, on the other hand, will necessarily be recast. The original voice of the villain was Mako, a Japanese actor. He was a legend of film, and best known to cartoon fans as the voice of Uncle Iroh in Avatar the Last Airbender.
Mako sadly passed away in 2006. Tartakovsky stated at a San Diego Comic-Con panel that Aku is now voiced by “a guy who does a pretty good imitation. I’ll be upfront about it – nobody can replace Mako.”
The final episodes of Samurai Jack air on Saturday, Marth 11 on Adult Swim. The new time slot is 11:00pm.