In anticipation of the new video game, Samurai Jack Battle Through Time, Adult Swim recently announced that all episodes of Samurai Jack would be streaming online for free. Jack is a samurai who has been transported into a post-apocalyptic future ruled by his arch-nemesis, the shape-shifting demon Aku. The show follows Jack’s adventures as he slays robots and searches for a time portal to return home.
After rewatching some original episodes, it’s evident that networks don’t make cartoons like Samurai Jack anymore. From its minimalist designs, cinematic pacing, evocative music, and brutal action, Samurai Jack stands above and beyond many contemporary cartoons.
Artists who worked on Samurai Jack have brought their signature style to other fantastic shows. Genndy Tartakovsky would use his directorial eye to the mech vs kaiju genre in Sym-Bionic Titan. Dan Krall brought his painterly aesthetic to Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated. Paul Rudish humanized Mickey Mouse and created a contemporary classic. Andy Suriano kicked action cartoons into high-gear with Rise of The TMNT. Oh, and let’s not forget, the “pinnacle of mature animation” with Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal.
Samurai Jack was, and continues to be, a show ahead of its time. When it first premiered, it brought a cinematic scope unseen in TV animation. When Samurai Jack returned for its fifth season, it brought a level of sensual artistry and narrative complexity unseen at Adult Swim. Samurai Jack‘s art style impacted a whole generation of artists and animators (including myself). Its influence can be seen in the French Animation movement, and now it’s come full circle seeing as Primal is animated by a French studio.
The series deserves its place in animation history alongside breakout cartoons like the Avatar: The Last Airbender and Batman: The Animated Series. It’s a show that broke boundaries and enabled more mature stories to be told in Western animation. Whether you supported the show from the beginning or are a new fan, we can all agree that we’re lucky to have a work of art like Samurai Jack.
You can watch all five seasons of Samurai Jackright now on the Adult Swim website.