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Samurai Jack

Samurai Jack

Overview
Samurai Jack is an American animated television series created by animator Genndy Tartakovsky
Genndy Tartakovsky
Genndy Borisovich Tartakovsky is a Russian-American television animator, director and producer. His best-known creations are Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars, and Sym-Bionic Titan...

 that aired on both Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network is a name of television channels worldwide created by Turner Broadcasting which used to primarily show animated programming. The channel began broadcasting on October 1, 1992 in the United States....

 and Toonami
Toonami
Toonami was a registered trademark of Cartoon Network, used initially for action-oriented programming blocks on Cartoon Network television channels worldwide, mostly showing American cartoons and Japanese anime, originating in the United States on March 17, 1997 and ended on September 20, 2008.The...

 from 2001 to 2004. It is noted for its highly detailed, outline-free, masking
Masking (illustration)
Masking is a drawing technique invented in Japan in the mid- to late 20th century employed in comics and animation. It is the use of simplistic, iconic characters in order to assist readers or viewers in associating themselves with them as coupled with highly detailed, nearly photorealistic...

-based animation, as well as for its cinematic style and pacing. It was the first Cartoon Network original series aside from those who comprised the Cartoon Cartoons
Cartoon Cartoons
Cartoon Cartoons is a collective name for Cartoon Network original series. These cartoons were originally produced by Hanna-Barbera and Cartoon Network Studios, but over the years, studios like a.k.a. Cartoon, Kino Films, Stretch Films, Blanky Blook and Curious Pictures produced these series for...

 lineup at the time. It is shown on its sister network Boomerang
Boomerang (TV channel)
Boomerang is a 24-hour American cable television channel owned by Turner Broadcasting System, a division of Time Warner. Boomerang specializes in reruns of animated programming from Time Warner's extensive archives, including pre-1986 MGM, Hanna-Barbera, Cartoon Network, DePatie-Freleng Enterprises...

.

The plots of individual episodes range from dark and epic to light-hearted and comic, but typically follow "Jack", a time-displaced samurai
Samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

 warrior, in his singular quest to find a method of traveling back in time.
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Encyclopedia
Samurai Jack is an American animated television series created by animator Genndy Tartakovsky
Genndy Tartakovsky
Genndy Borisovich Tartakovsky is a Russian-American television animator, director and producer. His best-known creations are Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars, and Sym-Bionic Titan...

 that aired on both Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network is a name of television channels worldwide created by Turner Broadcasting which used to primarily show animated programming. The channel began broadcasting on October 1, 1992 in the United States....

 and Toonami
Toonami
Toonami was a registered trademark of Cartoon Network, used initially for action-oriented programming blocks on Cartoon Network television channels worldwide, mostly showing American cartoons and Japanese anime, originating in the United States on March 17, 1997 and ended on September 20, 2008.The...

 from 2001 to 2004. It is noted for its highly detailed, outline-free, masking
Masking (illustration)
Masking is a drawing technique invented in Japan in the mid- to late 20th century employed in comics and animation. It is the use of simplistic, iconic characters in order to assist readers or viewers in associating themselves with them as coupled with highly detailed, nearly photorealistic...

-based animation, as well as for its cinematic style and pacing. It was the first Cartoon Network original series aside from those who comprised the Cartoon Cartoons
Cartoon Cartoons
Cartoon Cartoons is a collective name for Cartoon Network original series. These cartoons were originally produced by Hanna-Barbera and Cartoon Network Studios, but over the years, studios like a.k.a. Cartoon, Kino Films, Stretch Films, Blanky Blook and Curious Pictures produced these series for...

 lineup at the time. It is shown on its sister network Boomerang
Boomerang (TV channel)
Boomerang is a 24-hour American cable television channel owned by Turner Broadcasting System, a division of Time Warner. Boomerang specializes in reruns of animated programming from Time Warner's extensive archives, including pre-1986 MGM, Hanna-Barbera, Cartoon Network, DePatie-Freleng Enterprises...

.

The plots of individual episodes range from dark and epic to light-hearted and comic, but typically follow "Jack", a time-displaced samurai
Samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

 warrior, in his singular quest to find a method of traveling back in time. Many of the battle scenes in the series are reminiscent of samurai films
Jidaigeki
is a genre of film, television, and theatre in Japan. The name means "period drama" and is usually the Edo period of Japanese history, from 1603 to 1868. Some, however, are set much earlier—Portrait of Hell, for example, is set during the late Heian period—and the early Meiji era is also a popular...

, and since Jack's robotic enemies "bleed" oil or electricity and monsters and aliens bleed slime or goo, the series is able to exhibit the action of these films while avoiding censorship for violence.

Samurai Jack is no longer available to be viewed by American residents via the Toonami Jetstream
Toonami Jetstream
Toonami Jetstream was an ad-supported online broadband service and a remake of Toonami's previous video streaming service Toonami Reactor provided by Cartoon Network and Viz Media....

 website. Production on the show was halted in 2004, but it was never officially ended. In return, Tartakovsky has announced plans to direct a theatrical film, but whether or not it will resolve the series has yet to be announced.

The feature film was reported to be in pre-production as of 2009.

Development


Samurai Jack was created by Genndy Tartakovsky
Genndy Tartakovsky
Genndy Borisovich Tartakovsky is a Russian-American television animator, director and producer. His best-known creations are Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars, and Sym-Bionic Titan...

 for the Cartoon Network. As a follow-up to his successful series Dexter's Laboratory
Dexter's Laboratory
Dexter's Laboratory is an American animated television series created by Genndy Tartakovsky and produced by Cartoon Network Studios . The show is about a boy named Dexter who has an enormous secret laboratory filled with an endless collection of his inventions...

, Tartakovsky intended to create a series "that is cinematic in scope and that incorporates action, humor and intricate artistry". Samurai Jack began airing on August 10, 2001 and ran for four seasons.

Cartoon Network ordered fifty-two episodes of Samurai Jack, which were aired as four seasons as a prime time member of the Cartoon Cartoon block of programming. Despite its Emmy nominations and wins the show was taken off the air before the fourth season could complete its initial run. The unaired episodes were later shown as a Toonami
Toonami
Toonami was a registered trademark of Cartoon Network, used initially for action-oriented programming blocks on Cartoon Network television channels worldwide, mostly showing American cartoons and Japanese anime, originating in the United States on March 17, 1997 and ended on September 20, 2008.The...

 special, on Toonami Jetstream (on Cartoon Network.com), and in re-runs. While airing, the series spawned a comic book and several video game
Samurai Jack: The Shadow of Aku
Samurai Jack: The Shadow of Aku is an action-adventure video game released in 2004 by Adrenium Games and Amaze Entertainment. The game is based on the Samurai Jack animated series. The game allows the player to go through various episodes in the game and end in a final battle with Aku. Other bosses...

 tie-ins. The show made a reappearance on Cartoon Network's adult swim
Adult Swim
Adult Swim is an adult-oriented Cable network that shares channel space with Cartoon Network from 9:00 pm until 6:00 am ET/PT in the United States, and broadcasts in countries such as Australia and New Zealand...

, based on results from a successful user poll, noted in bumps during programming on February 22, 2008. The first episode of the series was broadcast during the network's Toonami
Toonami
Toonami was a registered trademark of Cartoon Network, used initially for action-oriented programming blocks on Cartoon Network television channels worldwide, mostly showing American cartoons and Japanese anime, originating in the United States on March 17, 1997 and ended on September 20, 2008.The...

 block on March 29, 2008, and continued airing the episodes in order each week until the programming block went completely off the air on September 20, 2008. Samurai Jack began airing in August 2009 on Boomerang
Boomerang (TV channel)
Boomerang is a 24-hour American cable television channel owned by Turner Broadcasting System, a division of Time Warner. Boomerang specializes in reruns of animated programming from Time Warner's extensive archives, including pre-1986 MGM, Hanna-Barbera, Cartoon Network, DePatie-Freleng Enterprises...

 at 11:00 P.M (in place of Justice League Unlimited
Justice League Unlimited
Justice League Unlimited is an American animated television series that was produced by Warner Bros. Animation and aired on Cartoon Network. Featuring a wide array of superheroes from the DC Comics universe, and specifically based on the Justice League superhero team, it is a direct sequel to the...

) until June 2011 but returned in September of that same year.

There had been plans for a Samurai Jack feature film in 2002 with New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema, often simply referred to as New Line, is an American film studio. It was founded in 1967 by Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne as a film distributor, later becoming an independent film studio. It became a subsidiary of Time Warner in 1996 and was merged with larger sister studio Warner...

, but this project was cancelled after the lackluster performance of The Powerpuff Girls Movie
The Powerpuff Girls Movie
The Powerpuff Girls Movie is a 2002 American animated film based on the Cartoon Network animated television series of the same name. Produced by Cartoon Network Studios for Warner Bros. Pictures and Cartoon Network, the film debuted in the United States on July 3, 2002...

. In an interview, Tartakovsky confirmed that "Jack will come back" and that "we will finish the story, and there will be an animated film." In 2007, the then newly formed production company Frederator Films
Frederator Films
Frederator Films is an animation studio founded by Fred Seibert as part of Frederator Studios, with producers Kevin Kolde and Eric Gardner on June 25, 2007. The studio's goal is to create animated genre features...

 announced in Variety that one of their first projects will be a feature film adaptation of Samurai Jack, written and directed by Genndy Tartakovsky. As of September 2009, the film was said to be in the writing stage of pre-production, co-produced by J. J. Abrams
J. J. Abrams
Jeffrey Jacob "J. J." Abrams is an American film and television producer, screenwriter, director, actor, and composer. He wrote and produced feature films before co-creating the television series Felicity...

 Bad Robot Productions
Bad Robot Productions
Bad Robot Productions is an American film and television production company owned by J. J. Abrams. It is responsible for the television series Alias, Lost, What About Brian, Fringe, Six Degrees, Undercovers, Person of Interest and the feature length films Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol , ...

 alongside Fred Seibert
Fred Seibert
Frederick "Fred" Seibert is a television and film producer and entertainment entrepreneur who owns Frederator Studios, and who has held leading positions with MTV Networks, Hanna-Barbera, and Next New Networks; he owns Frederator Studios...

 of Frederator Films
Frederator Films
Frederator Films is an animation studio founded by Fred Seibert as part of Frederator Studios, with producers Kevin Kolde and Eric Gardner on June 25, 2007. The studio's goal is to create animated genre features...

 and distributed by Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film production and distribution company, located at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Founded in 1912 and currently owned by media conglomerate Viacom, it is America's oldest existing film studio; it is also the last major film studio still...

.

Plot


This quotation begins each episode of Samurai Jack, which tells the story of a young prince (Jack) from Feudal Japan whose father's empire was destroyed by the demon Aku. As a child, the prince escapes destruction and travels the world training his mind and his body for years until he reaches adulthood, becoming a legendary samurai. After taking his father's magic katana, he challenges Aku to a duel and defeats the demon. However, before the prince can deal the killing blow, Aku creates a time portal and sends his opponent into the distant future, anticipating that he would be able to amass sufficient power to deal with the Samurai later. The protagonist arrives in a dystopia
Dystopia
A dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian, as characterized in books like Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four...

n, futuristic Earth ruled by Aku and filled with his robot minions and a large number of alien immigrant races of various appearances. The first people he encounters in the future call him "Jack" as a form of slang, which he adopts as his name (his true given name is never mentioned in the series).

Standard episodes follow Jack's search for a way to travel back to his own time, where he hopes to stop Aku before these events come to pass. The cartoon depicts Jack's quest to find a time portal, while constantly facing obstacles set by Aku in a classic battle of Good versus Evil
Conflict between good and evil
The conflict between good and evil is one of the precepts of the Zoroastrian faith, first enshrined by Zarathustra over 3000 years ago. It is also one of the most common conventional themes in literature, and is sometimes considered to be a universal part of the human condition...

. Typically each time Jack believes he has reached the end of his quest, something causes him to dramatically miss his chance. In one attempt Jack locates a stable portal to the past, but the guardian of the portal defeats him after a long but noticeably mismatched battle. The guardian is about to crush him when the portal starts to flicker and glow, apparently giving the guardian a message; the guardian has a giant pterodactyl take the unconscious Jack away. After Jack leaves, the guardian states that it is not yet time for him to return to the past, and an image of what is implied to be an older Jack is then seen in the portal; indicating that Jack is predestined
Predestination
Predestination, in theology is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God. John Calvin interpreted biblical predestination to mean that God willed eternal damnation for some people and salvation for others...

 to succeed, but it will take many years for him to do so.

Setting


Samurai Jack takes place in a world where science and technology have developed far beyond what is available our current time, and in some ways resembles magic on its own. However, despite scientific advances, the future is decidedly dystopian—for example, in one episode the mafia profits greatly from the sale of simple water. Aliens, bounty hunter
Bounty hunter
A bounty hunter captures fugitives for a monetary reward . Other names, mainly used in the United States, include bail enforcement agent and fugitive recovery agent.-Laws in the U.S.:...

s, and robots are plentiful, and always ready for a fight. The leader of this world is Aku.

While the setting is distinctly futuristic and technological, several instances of mythology and supernatural events do occur. Mythologies, like Valhalla
Valhalla
In Norse mythology, Valhalla is a majestic, enormous hall located in Asgard, ruled over by the god Odin. Chosen by Odin, half of those that die in combat travel to Valhalla upon death, led by valkyries, while the other half go to the goddess Freyja's field Fólkvangr...

, and even supernatural forces, such as demonic enemies, make regular appearances, yet do not seem to stand out amongst the technologically advanced inhabitants. Aku himself is obviously supernatural, as is Jack's sword.

Stories take place in a variety of locations. Ranging from beautiful wilderness to futuristic or even dystopian cities, there is often a stark contrast made between the industrial world and the natural world. Regardless of the setting, the simple, minimalistic art style employed resembles ukiyo-e paintings
Ukiyo-e
' is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs of landscapes, tales from history, the theatre, and pleasure quarters...

.

Samurai Jack


Samurai Jack (voiced by Phil LaMarr
Phil LaMarr
Phillip "Phil" LaMarr is an American actor, comedian and voice actor. One of the original cast members on the sketch comedy series MADtv, he is also known for his small, but memorable role as Marvin in Pulp Fiction...

) is the son of the Japanese Emperor who ruled the area where Aku originally appeared on Earth, and is banished to the future by Aku during their first battle, where he is left in every episode to search for a way home. He was born on the day that his father defeated Aku and he seems to be the only mortal (aside from his father) to be a match to Aku.

As a boy, after his father was captured by Aku, Jack traveled around the world to prepare both physically and mentally for his confrontation with Aku. He studied under various scholars, such as Egyptian thinkers, and mastered each art of combat from the cultures he met, training with African Zulu warriors, Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

 sailors, Robin Hood
Robin Hood
Robin Hood was a heroic outlaw in English folklore. A highly skilled archer and swordsman, he is known for "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor", assisted by a group of fellow outlaws known as his "Merry Men". Traditionally, Robin Hood and his men are depicted wearing Lincoln green clothes....

, Mongolian warriors, Shaolin monks, Greek Olympic contestants, Spartans, Russian Cossacks, and several others. The only time Young Jack has spoken is in Episode XXXI.

Later, after being sent into the future, he is taught the ability to jump hundreds of feet into the air by a species of blue gorilla and a jungle man, thus allowing him to reach vast areas he previously could not reach while also giving the impression that he can fly. Jack's magic sword was forged by the gods Odin
Odin
Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon "Wōden" and the Old High German "Wotan", the name is descended from Proto-Germanic "*Wodanaz" or "*Wōđanaz"....

, Ra
Ra
Ra is the ancient Egyptian sun god. By the Fifth Dynasty he had become a major deity in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the mid-day sun...

, and Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 through three mortal avatars. The sword was forged from the righteous energy within Jack's father; it is able to cut through all but the most magically-protected targets. On the other hand, it is unable to harm beings that are pure of heart, as seen in Episode XXX where Aku steals the sword and attempts to kill Jack with it, but fails even to cut him.

Jack strongly exhibits the characteristics of a stoic hero. He is unfailingly polite and humble despite the completely alien nature of the futuristic world and never scoffs at or disparages the customs of the people he encounters (as unpleasant as they seem to him at times). Despite his almost hopeless situation, he does not bewail his destiny, instead exhibiting a strong amor fati
Amor fati
Amor fati is a Latin phrase loosely translating to "love of fate" or "love of one's fate". It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one's life, including suffering and loss, as good...

. Jack consistently shows an uncommon moral strength of character by helping the poor and defenseless along the way, in one instance even helping talking dogs that worked for Aku, in another, releasing the souls of a family in a haunted mansion. Occasionally, he faces great physical pain, or has to forget his own goals in order to help someone in need.

His real name has never been revealed (however, his way of replying his name when asked may be a homage to Violence Jack
Violence Jack
is a Japanese manga written and illustrated by Go Nagai in 1973. It has had several serializations and one-shot stories which have run in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s...

 who shares a similar response as well as name). In the second episode however, he began using the name Jack when three teenage aliens, after witnessing Jack survive a huge fall by jumping onto cars, referred to him as Jack while praising him when he landed - in this case, more of a generic term, à la "dude" or "guy." Later, when asked to identify himself, he replied "They call me Jack."

Aku


Aku (voiced by Mako
Mako (actor)
, born , was an Oscar- and Tony-nominated Japanese actor. Many of his acting roles credited him simply as Mako, omitting his surname. -Early life:...

) is Samurai Jack's arch nemesis. His name means "evil" in Japanese. He is similar to Akuma, the evil demon with burning eyes from Japanese mythology (which may also be another source for his name). He is an extremely powerful demon wizard whose primary ability is shape-shifting like the god of evil Amatsu-Mikaboshi
Amatsu-Mikaboshi
In Japanese mythology, Amatsu-Mikaboshi , also called Ame-no-Kagaseo , is a god of evil and of the stars, specifically the pole star...

, though he possesses many other powers. He requires no food, water, or air and is capable of interstellar travel. He also has the ability to spy on Jack and others from a large sphere he can summon at will in his tower. A significant aspect of the series is that Aku is immortal, and Jack's samurai sword is the only weapon capable of harming and finally defeating him; even the slightest physical contact with the sword's blade causes Aku severe pain, and wounds inflicted by it take much longer to heal. Because of this, Aku does not like to fight Jack himself (only doing so when Jack is incapacitated or without the sword), preferring to let his minions do it for him. Aku is also vulnerable to varying degrees to other forms of magical or divine attacks (such as the powers and artifacts of gods).

Aku constantly antagonizes Jack, often attacking him while he is weak, and other times defending himself from Jack's own gambits. The two seem doomed never to defeat each other, for though Jack has bested Aku on numerous occasions, Aku merely transforms into a small creature and escapes, usually calling out a taunt over his shoulder as he flees, a fact that he himself is aware of and even makes a reference to in one episode.

The episode "The Birth of Evil" reveals Aku's origin. Long ago in the vastness of space, a great formless evil appeared. Before the darkness could do harm to the universe, it was set upon by the kings of three religions: Odin
Odin
Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon "Wōden" and the Old High German "Wotan", the name is descended from Proto-Germanic "*Wodanaz" or "*Wōđanaz"....

, the one-eyed king of Asgard
Asgard
In Norse religion, Asgard is one of the Nine Worlds and is the country or capital city of the Norse Gods surrounded by an incomplete wall attributed to a Hrimthurs riding the stallion Svadilfari, according to Gylfaginning. Valhalla is located within Asgard...

 and the Norse Gods; Ra
Ra
Ra is the ancient Egyptian sun god. By the Fifth Dynasty he had become a major deity in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the mid-day sun...

, the sun god and king of the Gods of Egypt; and Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

, the seventh avatar of Vishnu, the supreme being in Hindu mythology. So fierce was their attack on the shadow, that it was completely destroyed, save for a small fragment that was flung aside in the heat of battle. For ages the fragment drifted through the cosmos and eventually fell to Earth, and caused the impact event that wiped out the dinosaurs when it landed. The land around its impact site eventually formed into the islands of Japan, where it slowly grew and spread like poison over the course of eons, creating an ever-spreading forest of black spikes and toxic tar that devoured any who entered. Eventually the forest grew so large that the Emperor of the land (Jack's father), decided to kill the evil at its source. Armed with a magic oil given to him by Buddhist monks, the Lord and his cavalry rode into the heart of the forest, the Lord himself the only one to survive. Once at the black lake at the forest's center, the Samurai Lord doused an arrow into the oil he was given, lit it with a green flame, and shot it into the lake. Instead of destroying the evil however, the magic arrow gave it both a will and consciousness, thus the demon wizard Aku was born. Aku proved to be unstoppable, so with the help of the three gods, Jack's father forged a sword capable of harming him. With it, he was able to defeat Aku and somehow turn the demon into a black tree. This imprisonment lasted less than a decade however, as a solar eclipse released Aku upon the world once more.

While he is usually presented as a serious and threatening foe (as well as being pure evil), Aku is also a source of comedy due to his outrageous design and sometimes wise-guy behavior, supported by Mako's over-the-top voice acting. Aku's shifts in personality between serious and chaotic suggest that his mind changes form just as his body does.

Secondary characters


When Jack arrives in the future, he finds that Aku has conquered the world and rules the populace with an iron fist
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

. Jack finds that there are still warriors in this age, and occasionally meets both those fighting for and those siding against the side of good. Samurai Jacks universe is populated by a diverse cast of characters who often appear for single episodes with only two notable exceptions.
  • The Scotsman
Like Jack himself, he is only known as the "Scotsman" (voiced by John DiMaggio
John DiMaggio
John William DiMaggio is an American voice actor. A native of North Plainfield, New Jersey, he is known for his gruff, deep voice and New Jersey accent, which he uses to voice mainly villains and anti-heroes.-Filmography:...

) rather than a real name, and he is one of only two characters to appear in four episodes - "Jack and the Scotsman", "Jack and the Scotsman II", and "The Scotsman saves Jack" (which consists of two consecutive episodes). In "Jack and the Scotsman", he first meets Jack and then makes fun of Jack by calling him various names and insults (such as calling him "a sissy in a nightgown"). He even derides Jack's sword, calling it a butter knife, though Jack has impressed him by the end of the episode. In "Jack and the Scotsman II", he gets Jack to help him rescue his dainty, beautiful wife from a demon (this is an understatement by the Scotsman as she is, ironically, larger and more terrifying than the Scotsman himself, and stronger than Jack and the Scotsman combined). He often goes on long winded tangents about how beautiful his wife is, often painting her as a figure of beauty (although he does however make a crack about her weight in "The Scotsman Saves Jack"). By time of the episode "The Scotsman Saves Jack", he calls by Samurai Jack, instead of 'friend' or 'stranger' like he did in previous episodes. When he meets him in a tavern in "Jack and The Scotsman II" he asks "Remember me?". The Scotsman even saves Jack when Jack loses his memory due to the Sirens (whose songs have no effect on the Scotsman who is the only one immune to it, as he compares their singing to "someone stepping on a lot o' cats". In a running gag with The Scotsman, he compares their singing to his wife's, which, according to him, is beyond perfection.)

His notable features include his legs; one of them is normal, if disproportionately small, and the other is a fully functional machine gun, which he wields in combat along with several explosives contained in his kilt. He also carries a shield on his back (which he rarely uses), and uses a 6 feet (1.8 m) Scottish Claymore
Claymore
The term claymore refers to the Scottish variant of the late medieval longsword, two-handed swords with a cross hilt, of which the guards were in use during the 15th and 16th centuries.-Terminology:...

 (sword) inscribed with Celtic runes making it unbreakable even against Jack's blade. He also has superhuman strength and endurance, evidenced when he could pick up and throw an entire tank with relative ease, headbutt a robot until it exploded, and get bitten by a pair of alligators without so much as flinching. This is apparently a genetic trait, as the other members of his family are just as powerful and, by admission of the Scotsman himself, even rowdier than he is (they even have the same disproportionately small legs). The Scotsman is heavily featured in the two-part episode "The Scotsman Saves Jack". He counters the Siren's song with his bagpipe playing, thus giving Jack back his memory and saving The Scotsman from being crushed.

The Scotsman serves as a convenient foil
Foil (literature)
In fiction, a foil is a character who contrasts with another character in order to highlight particular qualities of another character....

 for Jack, as they are nearly perfectly matched in fighting and survival skills, but very different in personality, manners, and sense of honor. While Jack is humble and polite, The Scotsman tends to be rude and brags about his skills. Yet he happily calls Jack "The Greatest warrior on the planet aside from me." Whereas Jack has mastered many martial arts and skills, The Scotsman seems to rely almost entirely on his freakish strength, brawling using his Claymore, machine-gun leg and various grenades in his kilt.

  • The Emperor (portrayed by Sab Shimono
    Sab Shimono
    Sab Shimono is an American actor who has appeared in dozens of movies and television shows in character roles.-Career:An accomplished stage actor, he has appeared on Broadway and in regional theaters including San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre and Berkeley Repertory Theatre...

     in "The Beginning", "Jack Remembers the Past" and "The Aku Infection" and Keone Young
    Keone Young
    Keone J. Young is an American character actor. His father is Chinese and his mother is Japanese.He has been prolific in his character work and has made numerous guest appearances on such varied television series as Diff'rent Strokes, The Golden Girls, Murphy Brown, Mad About You, Family Matters,...

     in "The Birth of Evil") is the Emperor of the land and Jack's father and the original wielder of Jack's sword. Like his son, the Emperor is brave, humble, and polite as well as having a striking resemblance to his son except that the Emperor has a bigger nose.

  • Demongo or "The Soul Collector" (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson
    Kevin Michael Richardson
    Kevin Michael Richardson is an American actor and voice actor who currently stars as Cleveland Brown, Jr. in The Cleveland Show...

    ) is Aku's strongest minion and is an essence collector. He is sent after Jack after he manages to stay alive after Aku's constant attempts on his life. Demongo survives a little longer than other villains (besides Aku) in the series. He is supposedly killed by Aku after failing.

Cultural references



Samurai Jack frequently features appearances from deities of varying pantheons and creatures of legend. In the episode "The Birth of Evil", Odin
Odin
Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon "Wōden" and the Old High German "Wotan", the name is descended from Proto-Germanic "*Wodanaz" or "*Wōđanaz"....

, Ra
Ra
Ra is the ancient Egyptian sun god. By the Fifth Dynasty he had become a major deity in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the mid-day sun...

, and Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 are shown to join forces to battle the dark power that would one day become Aku. Another episode references Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 and Chronos
Chronos
In Greek mythology, Chronos in pre-Socratic philosophical works is said to be the personification of time. His name in Greek means "time" and is alternatively spelled Chronus or Khronos.Chronos was imagined as an incorporeal god, serpentine in form, with three heads—those of a man, a bull, and...

 of the Greek Gods.

Samurai Jack occasionally borrows from ancient sources as well as current ones. In the episode "Jack and the Spartans", Jack fights alongside an army of three-hundred warriors who bear a likeness to Spartans, defending their home from an army of robots that would reconstruct themselves after each day's fight. The plot of this episode is based on the Battle of Thermopylae
Battle of Thermopylae
The Battle of Thermopylae was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, led by King Leonidas of Sparta, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I over the course of three days, during the second Persian invasion of Greece. It took place simultaneously with the naval battle at Artemisium, in August...

.

The show has referenced its creator's previous work as well. When Jack first meets the canine archaeologists, one of the dogs is "Big Dog" from 2 Stupid Dogs
2 Stupid Dogs
2 Stupid Dogs was an American animated television series created by Donovan Cook and produced by Hanna-Barbera and Turner Program Services that originally ran from September 5, 1993 to February 13, 1995 on TBS. The main segments of the show featured two dogs, "Big Dog" and "Little Dog". The Big Dog...

, a show on which Tartakovsky worked back in 1993.

The premise of the entire series--a solitary man from the Orient wandering in a foreign world--is adapted directly from the early-70's television drama "Kung Fu", starring David Carradine as the Shaolin monk Kwai Chang Caine. While their individual adventures do not correspond to each other, the ongoing dynamic of solitary wanderer learning, sometimes through pain and sometimes bemusedly, his new surroundings, while simultaneously teaching his own sense of ethics to those he meets, is consistent. Interestingly, at the conclusion of season 2 of Kung Fu, Kwai Chang meets a burly, somewhat crazy Scotsman who is transporting his wife in a gigantic casket--and it turns out that the wife is a stone statue.

Style


For Samurai Jack Tartakovsky was influenced by many different sources. The series overall was designed to look like a Japanese epic, with many individual episodes taking on their own styles. One episode could resemble a book by Dr. Seuss when the next could involve Jack fleeing from a Demonic Horde. Action in Samurai Jack borrows liberally from old martial arts and samurai films, and action films of the 1970s. Like 1963's Toei Animation
Toei Animation
Toei Animation Co., Ltd. is a Japanese animation studio owned by Toei Co., Ltd. The studio was founded in 1948 as Japan Animated Films . In 1956, Toei purchased the studio and it was reincorporated under its current name...

 studio release entitled The Little Prince and the Eight Headed Dragon (Originally Wanpaku Ouji no Orochi Taiji
Wanpaku Ouji no Orochi Taiji
is a Japanese traditional animation fantasy adventure feature film, the 6th feature produced by Tōei Animation , released in Japan on March 24, 1963...

), it uses multiple angle and split screen shots to display action from multiple angles. The plot is frequently stopped to allow for the building of tension before combat or for the sake of humor; it is also not uncommon for episodes to be almost entirely free of dialogue which results in cinematic or stylized episodes.


Tartakovsky included a cameo of a Samurai with a young child in a baby carriage in the episode "Jack Remembers the Past". This character has a strong resemblance to Ogami Itto of Lone Wolf and Cub
Lone Wolf and Cub
is a manga created by writer Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojima. First published in 1970, the story was adapted into six films starring Tomisaburo Wakayama, four plays, a television series starring Yorozuya Kinnosuke, and is widely recognized as an important and influential work.Lone Wolf and Cub...

.

Tartakovsky has also acknowledged taking some of his thematic inspiration from Frank Miller
Frank Miller (comics)
Frank Miller is an American comic book artist, writer and film director best known for his dark, film noir-style comic book stories and graphic novels Ronin, Daredevil: Born Again, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City and 300...

's comic book series Ronin, including the premise of a master-less samurai warrior thrown into a dystopic future ahead of our present in order to battle a shape-shifting Demon. Similarly, the episode "Jack and the Spartans" was specifically inspired by Miller's 300, a graphic novel retelling of The Battle of Thermopylae.

Awards and recognition

AwardYear DetailsEpisode
Emmy Award
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

s
2005 Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation
Bryan Andrews (storyboard artist)
XLIX - The Four Seasons of Death
2005 Outstanding Animated Program
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming less than One Hour)
The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program is a Creative Arts Emmy Award which is given annually to an animated series which is judged to have been the best...


(For Programming Less Than One Hour)
XLIX - The Four Seasons of Death
2004 Outstanding Animated Program
(For Programming Less Than One Hour)
XXXVII-XXXVIII - The Birth of Evil
2003 Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation
Dan Krall (layout artist)
XXXII - Jack and the Traveling Creatures
2003 Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation
Scott Wills (production designer)
XXV - Jack and the Spartans
2002 Outstanding Animated Program
(For Programming One Hour Or More)
I-III - The Beginning


In a list compiling the 25 greatest animated shows in television history, by TV Guide
TV Guide
TV Guide is a weekly American magazine with listings of TV shows.In addition to TV listings, the publication features television-related news, celebrity interviews, gossip and film reviews and crossword puzzles...

, Samurai Jack was ranked 7th, being one of two Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network is a name of television channels worldwide created by Turner Broadcasting which used to primarily show animated programming. The channel began broadcasting on October 1, 1992 in the United States....

 programs on the list. In 2004, British broadcaster Channel 4
Channel 4
Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...

 ran a poll of the one hundred greatest cartoons of all time, in which Samurai Jack achieved the 42nd position.

Succession


The distinctive style of Samurai Jack is what drew Lucasfilm to recruit Tartakovsky for the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series. Much of the signature cinematic style of Samurai Jack lives on in Clone Wars, such as lightning-fast combat, extended sequences without dialogue, explosions, epic vistas, etc.".

Samurai Jack also remains a popular subject with Cartoon Network animators and continues to show up in programs being broadcast today. The following are a few examples.
The Duck Dodgers
Duck Dodgers (TV series)
Duck Dodgers is an American animated television series, based on the classic cartoon short Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, produced by Warner Bros. Animation from 2003 to 2005. The series aired on Cartoon Network and starred Daffy Duck as the titular character...

 episode "Samurai Quack" was dedicated to spoofing the various stylistic elements and plot devices of Samurai Jack, such as only ever killing robots and the progressive ripping of clothes leading up to the final battle of the episode. Tartakovsky himself also made a cameo in that episode. The role of Aku is played by Dodgers's Happy Cat alarm clock voiced by Mako.

In one episode of Dexter's Laboratory
Dexter's Laboratory
Dexter's Laboratory is an American animated television series created by Genndy Tartakovsky and produced by Cartoon Network Studios . The show is about a boy named Dexter who has an enormous secret laboratory filled with an endless collection of his inventions...

 (another cartoon created by Tartakovsky), boy-genius Dexter frequently says "Samurai Jaction" rather than "action", e.g., "Aww, no more Samurai Jaction for you!" Also in the post-2001 episodes, a Samurai Jack action figure is sometimes visible on the shelf in Dexter's bedroom. Additionally, in one of the episodes Dexter is watching a TV show resembling Samurai Jack.


Reviewers of the 3D animated feature film Kung Fu Panda
Kung Fu Panda
Kung Fu Panda is a 2008 American computer-animated action comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures...

 (DreamWorks Animation
DreamWorks Animation
DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. is an American animation studio based in Glendale, California that creates animated feature films, television program and online virtual worlds...

) have noted that the stylized 2D opening sequence is either inspired by or an homage to Samurai Jack.

The show was ranked at #43 by IGN for its Top 100 Animated Series list.

Media information


In video games, Samurai Jack: The Amulet of Time for the Game Boy Advance
Game Boy Advance
The is a 32-bit handheld video game console developed, manufactured, and marketed by Nintendo. It is the successor to the Game Boy Color. It was released in Japan on March 21, 2001; in North America on June 11, 2001; in Australia and Europe on June 22, 2001; and in the People's Republic of China...

 was in 2002 and Samurai Jack: The Shadow of Aku
Samurai Jack: The Shadow of Aku
Samurai Jack: The Shadow of Aku is an action-adventure video game released in 2004 by Adrenium Games and Amaze Entertainment. The game is based on the Samurai Jack animated series. The game allows the player to go through various episodes in the game and end in a final battle with Aku. Other bosses...

 for the GameCube and PlayStation 2
PlayStation 2
The PlayStation 2 is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Sony as part of the PlayStation series. Its development was announced in March 1999 and it was first released on March 4, 2000, in Japan...

 was released in 2004. Also, Cartoon Network Universe: FusionFall
Cartoon Network Universe: FusionFall
Cartoon Network Universe: FusionFall is a massively multiplayer online game developed by Cartoon Network and Grigon Entertainment. FusionFall uses the Unity engine as its client technology basis....

 features Samurai Jack, the Scotsman, and Demongo (voiced by Phil LaMarr, John DiMaggio and Kevin Michael Richardson respectively) as non-playable characters who will give missions to players while Aku (voiced by Greg Baldwin
Greg Baldwin
Greg Baldwin is an American actor. Raised in Spring, Texas, he currently resides in the San Fernando Valley with Melissa Baldwin, his wife of twenty-six years and their two children, Sydney and Cooper...

 due to Mako's passing in 2006) is in the game as a Nano. Jack (voiced by Keith Ferguson
Keith Ferguson
Keith James Ferguson is an American voice actor, well known as the voice of Blooregard Q. Kazoo on the Cartoon Network animated series Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends...

 instead of Phil LaMarr for unknown reasons) and the Scotsman are also playable characters, Aku is an assist, boss, and Playable character in the brawler Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion
Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion
Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion is a fighting video game developed by Papaya Studio and published by Crave Entertainment, for the Nintendo 3DS. The game was released on June 2, 2011 in North America. While, in Europe it is set to release on December 1, 2011...

 released on June 2, 2011 in North America for Nintendo 3DS, Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.

Like many other previous Cartoon Network shows, Samurai Jack DVDs were released by Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video is the home video unit of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., itself part of Time Warner. It was founded in 1978 as WCI Home Video . The company launched in the United States with twenty films on VHS and Betamax videocassettes in late 1979...

between 2003 and 2007. The DVDs include episode numbers in Roman numerals as they appear at the end of each episode but remain untitled.
DVD NameRelease DateAdditional Information
Samurai Jack: The Premiere Movie July 22, 2003 DVD containing the Premiere movie in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Also includes a never before seen bonus episode. Also on VHS. ("The Premiere" is actually just the first three episodes of Season 1, and the bonus episode is actually episode 11 of Season 1, Jack and the Scotsman)
Samurai Jack: Season One May 4, 2004 2 Disc DVD set including all 13 episodes from the show's premiere season. Includes a Making-Of, Original Animation Test, Original Artwork and Commentary on One Episode.
Samurai Jack: Season Two May 24, 2005 2 Disc DVD set including all 13 episodes of the show's second season. Includes Commentary on Episode XXV, Creator Scrapbook, and an Original Episode Pitch.
Samurai Jack: Season Three May 23, 2006 2 Disc DVD set including all 13 episodes of the show's third season. Includes Commentary on Episodes XXXVII and XXXVIII (Two-Parter), Lost Artwork, and a featurette called "Martial Arts of the Samurai".
Samurai Jack: Season Four August 28, 2007 2 Disc DVD set including all 13 episodes of the show's fourth season. Includes Genndy's Roundtable, Genndy's New Project, Deleted Scenes, and Samurai Jack Promos.

External links