TV Series Review: Samurai Jack Season 5

Starring the voices of Phil Lamarr, Greg Baldwin, Tom Kenny, Kari Wahlgren, and Tara Strong

Created by Genndy Tartakovsky

Saturdays at 11P on Adult Swim

Rated TV-14-V

My Rating: ****½:5

After many years in the making, the fifth and final season of “Samurai Jack” has arrived. Genndy Tartakovsky has revived the acclaimed Cartoon Network TV series to conclude its storyline on Adult Swim, and has done so in a spectacular fashion.

The series picks up where the original series left off in its original run from 2001 to 2004. Fifty years have passed since Jack (Phil Lamarr) was flung into the distant future. In his battle against the evil being Aku (Greg Baldwin, replacing the late Mako Iwamatsu), Jack is pursued by an onslaught of enemies ranging from the robotic hitman Scaramouche (Tom Kenny) to a group of female assassins known as the “Daughters of Aku,” bred and trained for the sole purpose of killing Jack. Still, his goal remains the same: to return to the past and defeat Aku once and for all.

As a season many people have been waiting years to see, Tartakovsky has made sure to deliver a conclusion he would want to experience as much as the fans would. The season initially began life as a proposed film adaptation. As a result, the series has taken an already stellar TV show and infused it with a cinematic look and feel that is worthy of its namesake. The animation, writing and voice acting are on par with many theatrical animated films.

The show also takes advantage of its airing on Adult Swim to show material that was only hinted at in the original Cartoon Network run of the series. The opening scene of the new series has Jack dispatch a group of robotic beetles in a far more brutal fashion than in the earlier seasons, and the lines Jack has to cross in order to get back to his own time have considerably more shades of gray than in the original run. Without spoiling anything, Jack primarily having fought against machines is a major plot point when he engages the Daughters of Aku.

The only notable flaw is that the season is primarily made for fans of the original series. While it is possible to follow the revival coming in cold, it is recommended that those who haven’t seen the original run watch that first. Even so, as a revival of one of Cartoon Network’s most memorable series, it manages to deliver everything fans were waiting for.

The fifth and final season of “Samurai Jack” is easily one of the best TV series that Adult Swim has had a hand in making. Much like its namesake, it is a welcome fit for the revived Toonami with its similarities to the artistic and storytelling capabilities of anime. It is one of the rare animation revivals that can stand at peer with its predecessor as well as be a great series on its own. There has never been a better time to get back to the past with “Samurai Jack.”

Review by Steven Pryor