Samurai Jack (2001–2017)

TV Series   |  TV-14   |    |  Animation, Action, Adventure


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Samurai Jack (2001) Poster

A samurai sent through time fights to return home and save the world.


8.5/10
44,946


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  • Phil LaMarr in Samurai Jack (2001)

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20 October 2017 | benjaminburt
8
| Gets better further in
Samurai Jack is definitely a classic cartoon, but it has some serious flaws that I think many people are just turning a blind eye to. The first two seasons especially have some very egregious problems, specifically with the animation.

In the first two seasons, the animation is especially choppy and stilted. The animators decided to go style-over-substance in many of these early episodes, using changing frame rates, slow-mo, and other stylistic choices hoping to mask the long portions of reaction-shots, very choppy and non-fluid motion, and almost uncanny movements (or lack thereof) by the characters. That is to say nothing of the character design. I think many are ascribing the geometric body shapes and odd proportions undeserved artistic merit, not to mention the uninspired designs for a myriad of villains and aliens. Not to say that the show is artistically bankrupt, but sometimes it seems obvious that it's not trying as hard as it could.

The episodic structure is a little grating at times, with some continuity ignored. Some of my least favorite episodes are Jack vs. Mad Jack; Jack, the Woolies, and the Critchellites; Jack Learns to Jump Good; and especially Jack vs. the Five Hunters. They all have some problem that I've mentioned here.

So, how could I give all these gripes about a show and still rate it an 8 out of 10? In the third season, the animation gets a significant upgrade, and that also improves the action. I think it was some of those early season 3 episodes where I could really catch the vision of what the creators were trying to do with the show. As I said before, the show is far from artistically bankrupt, and some of the show's best episodes are also from those first two seasons: Jack and the Three Blind Archers; Jack and the Scotsman; Aku's Fairy Tales, among others. The show also had some great comedy. Mako's voice acting (which was probably around 60% of all the voice acting in the show) was tremendous, and the soundtrack was truly superb. I think the show really does hold up as a classic, but there are some errors that are overlooked. Also, season 5 is a beast unto itself, very different from its original run, but inheriting its predecessor's quality.

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