You see the title. You know who’s name is in it. I don’t see what the fuck I gotta even give you an intro for. Samurai Jack put numbers on the board for Cartoon Network. Scratch that, run the track back — I don’t see what the fuck I gotta even give you an intro for. Samurai Jack put Cartoon Network on the map, I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t fucking care! I’m not hearing it. The finesse of the story telling, the detail of the visuals, and the adventures were taken to a point that had Samurai Jack rocking 4 Emmys (and a multitude of awards and nominations). I was fucking with it back in high school because I got to see a person of color voiced by a person of color coming for the throne in the anime/cartoon genre at the same damn time. I was there for it then and still here for it now. Let’s just talk about why Samurai Jack has his jersey in the rafters above some of the best to ever do it.
Before fighting Aku then being tossed forward in time to “The Age of Aku”, Jack traveled to multiple tribes to learn their ways of training both spiritually and physically. As a kid Jack knew what was being asked of him, he never came to any tribe pompous or over confident. He was always the empty vessel ready to be filled with whatever his teachers had in store for him. There is a sense of camaraderie here as we see him learning from different people of color taking him in. Especially when he is brought to the tribe in Africa from his teacher in the Middle East to continue his studies. The Chief tells his own son Jack is his brother now, the children bond (through rough housing of course), and every stick fighting discipline Jack learned he adapts into his arsenal of lessons.
The thing this showed nailed was the representation of different cultures, not all human, that Jack encounters. The way even in adulthood that he has respect for everyone else’s ways is truly a great lesson in being civil and staying in your fucking lane.
Jack is there to assist them. It usually takes a long time frame, weeks or months. Jack passes on the knowledge and techniques he has gained, showing others ways to channel their own strengths into fighting, or for those who can’t fight, how best to assist so as not to be in immediate danger. This is time consuming but you know what? So is fucking being oppressed. As he did in his youth, Jack tends to live with the folks he is allying with, he becomes an honorable member/ one of them/ ally MVP. Most importantly Jack helps folks to fend off their oppressors for after he has left.
This doesn’t always mean folks are helpless. Jack joined the fucking 300. Yes muh fuckas, I said The Spartan 300 army as they were trying to take down Aku’s reign in their region. Jack saw them fighting, and on instinct helped out and was down for the cause through their shared backgrounds in fighting. They were from different eras, different cultures, but were able to respect one another off of virtues, honor, and the finesse of the stab, slash repeat life they were about. Jack ain’t even stick around for hand shakes and shit.
Jack C.I.A. dove in front of Leonidas (Spartan King) to save him from an explosion. As Leonidas retells the battle on his death bed to the younger generation he knew that wasn’t the end for Jack, “Naaaaaaaaah, my boi still out there fucking up Aku’s re-election campaign. Jack too flames on the ones and twos (swords and shields), I know it ain’t have to be him for the fade.”
You gettin bodied by a father figure“
Then what happened? The fucking gods stepped in, and not just the usual western gods, I’m talkin’ Ra, Rama, and Odin. They took hammer to the Samurai Lord’s human virtue and righteousness and made a fucking sword outta that shit! They told’em “Aku won’t want it with you, we promise” and sent him back on a nimbus cloud with spreewells (when the cloud stops, the precipitation keeps spinning) while rockin’ the fresh shogun gear and Feudal Japan-era Jordans. What proceeds next was perhaps the most under-acted curb stomping in cartoon/anime/ fictional history.
The Samurai Lord was fucking taking it to Aku. My man was cross over after cross over coming to the hole literally dunking his sword through Aku! Aku takes this shit to the hand-to-hand and makes himself (literally) an army of thousands. You don’t hear me tho, I said THOUSANDS! The Lord was doing Da Lawd’s work on’em left and right then caught 20 spears in the gut, 20 in the back! My man does the “I’M TOO NICE WITH MINE” warrior shout. Then he took fucking arrows all over his goddamn body. MAD ARROWS TO THE FUCKIN BODY MY DUDE! I take a flu shot and I pass out, this cat took MAD WINDOWS CURSOR ARROWS TO THE FUCKING BODY! What he do!?!? Digs deep and does the, “NO FUCKBOY AGAINST ME SHALL PROSPER” dumb out battle cry before chucking the sword into Aku’s spine for the win. SAVAGE! SAVAGE! I’M TALKING DOWN GOES FRAZIER FUCKING SAVAGE!! MY. WARRIOR. IS. A. DAMN. ANIMAL!!!!
YOU THINK I’M MAKING THIS UP?!?! THAT I’M PUTTING 100 ON TEN?!? WATCH THAT SHIT! WATCH THIS FIGHT SCENE AND THEN TRY AND TELL ME I SHOULDN’T DELETE ALL THIS SHIT AND DEDICATE IT TO THE FUCKING SAMURAI LORD!!!
I love this adventure because we see how the child reacts to what he is sees — Innocent and child-like originally, until he is forced to see how the world truly is around him. Jack finally delivers the the child home, but the mother immediately notices the child is different and Jack apologizes and explains the situation.
“I’m afraid your son has seen many things in our travels and has now achieved sakai.
The spirit of the samurai.”
The child shouts out “MOMOTARO!” as Jack walks away into the distance. This is kind of heartbreaking because the kid is not battle-ready and now has the samurai spirit, whereas if he hadn’t ever had any contact with Jack he could have been content as a regular pedestrian and lead an easy life. However, that can never be the case now as he lead a day in the life with Jack and realized he was bout that Bushido life. Jack had a similar experience in his youth witnessing a samurai (Lone wolf and cub homage) merkin cats. It could be argued that since Jack’s signature glare stems back to this warrior, it is by witnessing this duel that Jack achieved sakai as well.
Another adversary is the Scotsman, Jack’s polar opposite. Their relationship gets off to a rocky start mostly cause the Scotsman is brash and was roasting Jack something fuckin’ nasty. However, this is one opponent that becomes an ally and helps Jack on his quest a lot of times as a recurring character.
It’s these obstacles and adversaries that made Samurai Jack such a great adventure to watch. That Jack wasn’t some unbeatable hero that would always win predictably really set this series apart. Jack could dish it out but there were so many instances were he caught hands that he was not prepared for. The fucking kicker is Jack endlessly carries on his journey trying to go back home in time to beat Aku, we (the audience) get a glimpse of when that time will come but for Jack who is unaware, it’s going to be long grueling years of slamming his head against a wall of dead ends until he finally gets to see that end he is working for.
Listen man, I’m just trying to inform y’all that Samurai Jack is the one true Jack of Trades. Don’t talk about swordsmen unless you talking Samurai Jack, I don’t wanna hear shit about allies unless we talkin’ Samurai Jack, and don’t you dare step to my vicinity talking bout putting it down for people of color with solid representation if the first words out you’re face ain’t Samurai Mutha Fucking Jack, boi!
“Won’t let the seedy city defeat me
…won’t concede til I’m graffiti”