Series Review: Samurai Jack – Season 5 (2017)

I know, I know, it’s a bit weird that I’m giving you a review of the fifth season of a show without having given you reviews of the other seasons. Well, truth be told, I just didn’t feel like going back and reviewing each and every season of this show, mainly because I’m sure that all of them would look almost identical. But long story short, “Samurai Jack” season 1 – 4, they’re great and you should watch them. Sounds good? Awesome, let’s get into the review.

Ladies and gentlemen, he’s got to get back, back to the past… “Samurai Jack”!

I guess I should at least give some backstory for the overall series so anyone that hasn’t watched it has some idea what this is all about. Long ago in a distant land, a shapeshifting master of darkness named Aku unleashed an unspeakable evil, but then a Samurai warrior wielding a magic sword stepped forth to oppose him. However, before the final blow could be struck, Aku tore open a portal in time and flung the Samurai into the future, where Aku’s evil is law. So now the Samurai seeks to return to the past and undo the future that is Aku. Or to simplify, evil demon fucks shit up, Samurai fights demon, demon throws Samurai into the future, Samurai tries to find a way to go back in time. We good? Good. Now onto season 5.
Set 50 years after the original run, we follow the Samurai (Phil LaMarr) who wanders around helping various people/creatures out. However, it’s not as easy as it used to be. For one, he has lost his magic sword which is the only thing that could destroy Aku (Greg Baldwin). He also feels a lot of guilt because he hasn’t been able to travel back in time to save his family/land, which weighs heavy on his mind. And a new threat has arrived in the form of the seven daughters of Aku, a group of young women who have only goal in mind… KILL THE SAMURAI! there are a lot of moving parts here, which can turn out poorly. So how does this fifth and final season of “Samurai Jack” handle it? Pretty fucking well to be honest. The other seasons were very episodic, never really having any seasonal arc, instead just focusing on individual adventures in each episode. So this season having an overarching plot feels quite refreshing. The plot here brings us not only a fun sci-fi/fantasy adventure, but also an interesting and dramatic story about mortality and hope. There’s a good amount of really solid drama, and I’d say that it wraps the series up in a satisfactory way.

The characters here are fun, colorful, unique, and very interesting. Jack (the Samurai) has always been an interesting character, showing that he’s a good-hearted and heroic man who has shown great determination, not only in his quest to find a portal back home, but also in the situations when he’s helped characters out. And adding the guilt he feels in this season over his “failure” makes him even more compelling, and Phil LaMarr is great in the role. Aku is one of the most interesting villains from any show ever. Not only is her a big and scary master of darkness, but he’s also funny. They give the villain an actual personality that I find entertaining, compared to a lot of generically evil baddies out there. In the original run he was voiced by Mako (R.I.P.) but he unfortunately passed away about 10 years ago. So instead we have Greg Baldwin filling in for him, and I think he does a great job. Then we also get a lot of great supporting characters/performances in here from people like Tara Strong, John DiMaggio, Grey DeLisle, Tom Kenny, and even Keegan-Michael Key in one episode.

The score for the season was composed by Tyler Bates and it was pretty damn good. You can tell that he’s taken inspiration from a lot of different styles when creating the various pieces heard throughout the show. And the score is tense, exciting, dramatic, emotional, fun, and just overall fit the show very well.

The show was created by Genndy Tartakovsky and what he created here is fantastic. An animated series taking influences from all kinds of places. From the cinematic style seen in movies, to minimalist art pieces, this show takes a lot of elements from various things and creates a very unique style. And since this is an animated series, let’s talk about the animation. It is absolutely gorgeous. The lack of outlines on characters gives the show a very fluid look despite having a lot of sharp edges. But there are some truly stunning images in this season, my jaw was dropped several times throughout. One thing I also want to mention is that there’s blood in this season. In the first four, there was some violence, but no real blood (damn you, PG!). But here, since it aired on Adult Swim, there’s blood… a good amount of it. It worked in this series, I just thought it would be worth mentioning considering it’s… family-friendly origins. Also, this show is really funny, plenty of funny comedy here, and none of it feels out of place.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating (wow!). On Metacritic it has a score of 94/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,5/10 and is ranked #207 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

“Samurai Jack” season 5 is a great return for this beloved cartoon and it’s a perfect way to properly wrap up the show. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic animation. Time for my final score. *Sheaths sword*. My final score for “Samurai Jack” season 5 is a 9,88/10. This of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Samurai Jack” season 5 is now completed.

As someone that grew up with the series, it makes me happy that it finally got a proper ending… though it’s also a little sad.

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