Worth the Watch? Samurai Jack: Season 5 Episode 2

When I turned off the NCAA tournament to watch the latest episode of Samurai Jack, I honestly thought I might regret it. After watching it however, I can safely say that I made the best decision of that entire day.

While the premiere and therefore first episode of season five was great for introducing us to the world and giving us a glimpse at what Jack has gone through over the last 50 years, nothing could have prepared me for what the follow up was.

It might seem like I am exaggerating this episode a little bit, and to be fair I might be. But in my opinion, this is the single best episode of Samurai Jack to date.

Take into account when I say this however that I have not rewatched the original four season in upwards of two years so I am going off of memory and it is still a close call between this and a few other classics. But I stand by what I said.

If you are not caught up or for some reason have either not been watching the newest season or seen the original, then stop reading now and go do so, because this next portion will delve into spoiler territory. You have been warned.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

In the last episode, the writers slowly got us used to the new voice of Aku by making use of the villain of the episode calling him on a cell phone like device.

Many people took this to mean we would not actually see Aku for many more episodes until the buildup was over and there was a grand reveal, probably in some sort of menacing or evil fashion. What we got, in my opinion, was a much truer to style reintroduction.

How do we meet the conqueror of the world and lord of all evil? Well by seeing him wake up, don his iconic flaming eyebrows and go through a morning routine of stretches of course.

This introduction to Aku makes things perfectly clear that despite the much darker and meaningful tone of the final season, things have not changed so drastically as to make our favorite demon lord lose his comedic side.

We see him stretch and talk with a few groups wishing to pay him tribute, which while cool, defeats part of the significance for the back story of the Daughters of Aku from episode one. Part of the reason they are born and trained so thoroughly is due to their mother and apparent matriarch of their cult wanting Aku to come back to the world.

Hopefully we get a little more details about where exactly Aku is located and maybe some information about why he is there.

The second group of people who visit Aku are three scientists who show him a giant version of the beetledrones from the previous episode. They state it will finally rid Aku of the Samurai.

To my surprise, Aku talks about how he does not care for the defeat of Jack anymore and that he actually finds it amusing to see him run around with all of the issues going on in his head. This was a route I was not thinking we would see.

At this point it is still assumed that Aku knows not of Jack’s sword being lost, which I am hoping we see more about soon, so that makes this train of thought come as even more of a surprise. He tells them to keep trying anyways and slinks back down to his domain.

I took him seriously until he started talking in a slightly higher tone, and the next scene when he is talking to himself as a shrink made me laugh. It also gave us some insight into the events that led to the current timeline.

Aku said he destroyed all of the time gates in hopes that by doing so Jack would just die of old age over time. Instead he found out Jack does not age and he is distraught over that fact, but refuses to do anything about it.

Thus, ends our time with the main villain and we enter a scene with a single white wolf. I immediately thought we would see Jack hunting the beast, but soon found it was instead a simultaneous use of imagery for the fate about to befall our hero.

After the wolf runs into the shadowed tiger and its companions we see Jack riding his motorcycle and choosing paths on a fork in the road. He stops suddenly in a clearing and is attacked by the giant drone we saw previously.

We get a brief flash over to the Wolf before Jack uses his trusty spear to one-shot the large mechanical beast. As he is riding off again however his bike is destroyed by what appears to have been a steel trip wire and he is assaulted by unknown assailants.

A brief assault shows how helpless Jack is against these attackers and he is soon left in but a shell of his armor and trying to mow them down with a gun. It doesn’t work and he is forced to hide.

This scene where he confronts what appears to be the Jack of long ago is deep and very well written. It shows how truly at war he is with himself and touches on the idea of Jack walking to his own death with honor.

He manages to ignore his inner musings and makes a break for a temple, which is shown through a sequence that is amazingly done. His assailants are revealed to be the Daughters of Aku and we now truly see how much trouble Jack is in.

We see Jack outwit the sisters before he himself is outwitted and pushed to the brink. With one last ditch effort, he hides in a coffin with only a nearly broken sword as protection.

His position gets compromised and he begins to fight in what appears to be a hopeless battle against seven enemies. He once more manages to escape and faces down one of the sisters alone.

At this point I realized that no words had been said since the conclusion of the inner dialogue and I was speechless. Through nothing but music, sound effects and animation this episode hooked me more than I have been for an episode of anything in years.

The fight concludes with Jack slashing the sister’s throat and realizing that his attackers are actually human. There is blood on the blade when he drops it and looks at what he has done.

He does not have time to dwell on that as he has been stabbed by a dagger in the torso and the others are gaining on him. He grabs the vibrating sword he took from his opponent in the last episode and uses it to escape.

The last two things we see before the credits are a bloodied Jack floating down the river in a pool of his own blood, and an equally bloodied white wolf lying dead in the clearing from earlier around the dead bodies of the tigers.

Once more I am left with a hole in my heart where the next episode is bound to fit and waiting with baited breath for it. This series is shaping up to be one of my all-time favorites.

Does Samurai Jack Season 5 live up to its hype?

Samurai Jack Season 5 aired on March 11, 2017. Cale breaks down whether it lives up to the hype or not.

Thanks to Adult Swim having the foresight that this would be a big night for them, I watched the premiere of Samurai Jack Season 5 online along with upwards of 30,000 other people.

As I said in my previous article on the subject, the fourth season of Samurai Jack finished airing on September 25, 2004 before being cancelled. This left fans distraught and worried that they would never truly see the Samurai from the past accomplish his goals.

After series creator Genndy Tartakovsky announced the fifth and final season would air on Adult Swim in 2016, pushed back into 2017 after production slowed, fans rejoiced and began hyping the series up.

Many people looked at the outcry of joy, support and hope with a critical eye and said that even with many of the same people working on it, 13-years of hiatus will deteriorate the product.

Well I am here to say that the revival of Samurai Jack blew my expectations away. Other than the budget getting a boost, which shows in how beautiful the episode looked, and the show now airing on an adult network, so the creators no longer need to censor violence, the show is as strong as ever.

I watched the episode two times, back to back, and time seemed to fly because I was so enamored with it. It took me back to when I was a little kid, staying up late to watch it with my little brother and dad.

The art style looks more polished and less constricted by both the technology at the time and the vision of the creator. 13-years has given some of the characters a reimagining, but the feel of the show as a whole is identical to previous seasons.

The signature backgrounds and stylized characters are back and look better than ever. The cuts during action still draw you in and odd framing choices point you to areas that might have gone unnoticed to the average eyes.

On the note of drawing attention to something, Jack is seriously messed up after those 50-years have passed. I won’t delve into spoilers since this is an experience I want everyone to have for themselves, but let’s just say there is a large case of PTSD in store for the near future.

There are things shown, talked about and foreshadowed that I cannot wait to see more of in the future. As soon as I turned off the stream I was already anxious for the second episode.

The blood is minimal, but shows that coupled with the already darker tone, this season might get really personal for our favorite time-traveler.

Starting with next week’s episode I will break down each new one, but for the first week I hope you go and enjoy the final chapter of a cartoon classic.

RWBY Review

In all honesty, I had a much better time with Rooster Teeth’s RWBY than I thought I would. While the animation up to the newest volume, Volume 4, was jarring and bugged me to an extent, I got over it to have a good weekend of binging it.

Previously, I had tried watching the first episode of the series multiple times and failed to get over the weird animation, despite loving the music and the voice acting being up to standard. It wasn’t until I made a deal with a friend of mine that I would finish the job.

Over the past week, mainly the weekend, I was dragged through all four volumes of the pseudo-anime and after the first pair of episodes the things that stopped me from finishing them seemed to fade away. I started enjoying some of the quirky animation.

Now for the record, I will by no means call the animation of Volumes 1-3 good, Volume 4 is another story entirely and is another post in and of itself. The CG style does give the characters a certain charm in the way their movements aren’t perfect or sometimes go off model, but in comparison to what I think it could have been in a traditional 2D animated style, it holds back the story and characters.

The biggest compliment I can give this show is that when it works it works as well as any show I have binged. I am sure if I was watching it on a one episode per week basis the story and characters would have had a much bigger impact on me. As it stands I will keep up with the fifth volume when that does come out, but I am in no rush to watch the show from the start again.

The two other things I enjoyed the most about the show are the characters and the soundtrack. Each character in the show is unique, from the titular Ruby Rose to the lovable klutz Jaune Arc, they all have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to personality. The voice actors, in most cases, are great picks for their roles despite most of them having done no professional work before this project.

Soundtrack wise, composer Jeff Williams did a wonderful job making an atmospheric and emotional OST that I enjoy listening to when I need to unwind or am reading. There are a few tracks that feel a little out of place at times, but for the most part it was spot on and at its best moments I had goosebumps from how well it worked.

My main complaints have already been aired out a little, namely the animation and how it affected my intake of the early portion of the story. Once you get past that however, the show becomes a very enjoyable experience.

My time watching RWBY was a pleasant surprise and I am happy to give the Rooster Teeth product a solid 7/10. I highly recommend giving it a watch, especially with how accessible it is.