Get Hype for 'Samurai Jack' with the 10 Best Episodes
Season 5 is coming to Adult Swim this year, so we're looking at some of the best from the original 2001 series.
Even though Jack still hasn’t gotten “back to the past”, Adult Swim is bringing him back to cultural relevancy. All of the original series’ creators, artists, and voice actors will lending their talents for the completion of the series, so let’s get totally stoked for this upcoming, darker season. It remains to be seen whether Jack will finally get home after all of these years.
We’re taking a look back at these gems that really encapsulate the themes, art, direction, and action that we’ve come to love about one of our favorite samurai shows.
‘Jack and the Scotsman’
One staple of the series, outside of Aku always sending his minions to kill Jack, was the samurai’s encounters with the people of this dystopian world. There were people he’d save, people he’d fight, and people he’d fight alongside. Veteran voice actor John DiMaggio contributes one of the only recurring characters that Jack runs into with this brash warrior with a kitty skull belt. He was popular with viewers, so they brought him back again. While it’s doubtful he’ll turn up in the new season, it’s still worth the watch for their vastly different fighting styles and personalities.
‘Jack Learns to Jump Good’
We always see Jack kicking ass, so it’s very rare when the man of few words can’t do something. In this story, Jack helps a tribe of monkeys (plus one man raised by monkeys) face Aku’s minions and, in return, they teach him a new skill.
‘Jack vs. Mad Jack’
Light v. dark, Spiderman v. Venom, good v. evil, Link v. Dark Link. This episode plays with the noble hero against his darker dual counterpart that has been used so many times before. And in this one, his evil twin causes as much havoc as all of the other opposite villains, but this one turns into a very internally revealing episode for Jack, which makes it a memorable one.
‘Jack and the Ultra Bots’
This one will cozy you up to the idea of a darker Samurai Jack for the new season. The violence and action, while it won’t devolve into Game of Thrones-level violence, will probably be on par with this episode. In Samurai Jack, the creators got around the blood issue on a kid’s television program by making Jack’s enemies robots and the “blood” was oil. This episode really pushes that concept, and we see a massacre with robot heads on spikes, strewn limbs, and puddles of oil underneath them all. And with the art and directing on-point, as usual, it makes for a very disturbing episode.
‘Jack and the Spartans’
This one is a tribute to Frank Miller’s 300 before Gerard Butler was kicking people into giant holes. This episode finds a lot of inspiration to the comic, so if you’re a fan, definitely check this one out. And if you’re not, still do anyway because you get to see
‘Jack and Haunted House’
In the show’s later seasons, there was a lot of experimentation of art style and tone and this was one of those episodes. It takes the lore from a haunted house and switches up the art style to a stark contrasting white background with scratchy, inky black silhouettes. This one really shows off the range that the people behind the show have, bringing in both the action of the show and a newer element of horror as Jack explores the ruined home.
‘Jack vs. Demongo, The Soul Collector’
Demongo is a strange, but terrifying villain that really showcases Jack’s mortality as only a few episodes can do. Jack seems invincible, but in this one, his magic sword isn’t much use to him against Demongo. He can animate all of the enemies that he has defeated in the past and can keep bringing them to life even after they are defeated, so its an endless and tireless match between Jack and Aku’s favorite minion. Jack needs to find another way to beat him and its all the more satisfying by the end.
‘Samurai vs. Ninja’
This one is another visually stunning piece that pits Jack against a shinobi. The episode’s characters use darkness and light to their advantage in their fight, leaving this episode as a beautiful choreographed fight between two equally powered warriors in a dichromatic setting.
‘Jack vs. Aku’
You have to appreciate a show that can make fun of itself and that’s what this episode does. After four seasons of Jack and Aku facing off against one another, the creators realize that it can become a little stale, and they address that when Aku comes to Jack and says he’s had enough of that same thing: Jack swinging his sword, Aku flying away and screaming that hell be back, and coming back a week later for the same. We get an equal measure of the action that Samurai Jack is famous for, plus the comedy of the series, which is sometimes overlooked.
And, of course, we get plenty of Aku, which is a gift in and of itself. So make sure to appreciate this one because while the series will have a soundalike voice actor for Aku, Mako brought such life to his character and he will definitely be missed.
‘Tale of X9’
Our favorite time-travelling hero doesn’t actually appear in this episode until much later, instead focusing on the life of the robot called X9. Through the story, events play out like a stylistic noir film with X9 playing the role of an assassin tasked with taking Jack down. The silence of this episode, only broken by X9’s narrations, makes this episode even more memorable and tragic.
‘Jack and the Three Blind Archers’
This one is usually on everyone’s list of favorites. Jack tracks down a well that could potentially get him back to the past, but he has to get by three Anubis-looking archers. These archers are blind, but have honed their senses completely to be able to take out an entire robot army right in the beginning of the episode. Jack needs to switch up his fighting style in order to get past them. This one has stellar art direction and for Jack’s character, it shows that he’s definitely capable of improvising.