I bought the Samurai Jack Season 1 and 2 DVD sets recently and have been watching some episodes. I’ve already seen them all on TV, but taking the time to watch them now is almost like a brand new experience. I’m noticing things that I’ve never seen before.

I am thoroughly convinced that Samurai Jack is the greatest cartoon ever made.

At the very least, it’s the best cartoon in the past 10 years, or the best non-comedy cartoon. But besides Jack, what else is there? I love Batman, Superman, Batman Beyond, and Justice League, but these shows are based on established material, and part of what makes Jack so great is that, while it is admittedly derivative of several movies and other cartoons, it’s an original concept. I love anime, but things the budget concerns, merchandising, and muddled plots often get in the way of some of the truly great shows. I don’t like Disney and while I can respect the talents of the individual artists that have worked there, I don’t believe they’ve ever made anything as awesome as Jack. The only thing that I can think of that would be a worthy comparison are the Looney Tunes classics, especially the brilliant “What’s Opera, Doc“. But those are comedies and Samurai Jack is not, and I think that animation should be more than just something to make people laugh.

The only fault that Samurai Jack has is that the story doesn’t really go anywhere. There is no real continuity between episodes. Each episode sees Jack face a new challenge on his way to get home, and when it ends he really isn’t any closer to reaching is goal. But even that I have a hard time seeing as a flaw, because it lets any new viewer jump in and watch any episode without missing anything, and it shows the strength and determination of Jack’s character.

At any rate, Samurai Jack is a modern classic. It wasn’t even that long ago, but I don’t think people realize that when Jack first debuted, nobody had ever seen anything like it. Not only was the visual style unique, but so was the pacing, the way the story was told. Now we take that for granted. It’s often a dark, violent, sophisticated show, and yet it’s perfectly suitable for most children. This is what North American animation should strive to be more like. And people can’t see what I’m talking about, well I’m sorry to say it, but…

You don’t know Jack.



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