animation

Wacha! ‘Samurai Jack’ is back and it’s more brutal and beautiful than ever

The cult animated series returns for a fifth season with an expanded storyline and the same visual brilliance.

After a long and arduous wait of over 12 years, the cult animated series Samurai Jack is back. The cartoon series that ran from 2001 to 2004 tells the story of a samurai who has been flung into a dystopian future by Aku, the shape-shifting dark lord. Aided by his trusty magic sword, which is the only weapon that can put an end to his arch-enemy, the samurai (voiced by Phil LaMarr) spent four seasons roaming post-apocalyptic lands, fighting evil, and looking for a way back home to kill Aku (voiced originally by Mako Iwamatsu and now, Greg Baldwin) before the time portal was opened.

Even when it was first aired, the four-time Emmy winner was like nothing on television. Created by master animator Genndy Tartakovsky, who is also behind Dexter’s Lab, Powerpuff Girls, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the Hotel Transylvania franchise, Samurai Jack was known for its captivating artistry, intense and intricate action, intelligent comedy, unhurried narrative, and minimal dialogue. Low angle shots, long silences, close-ups, slow motion – the show was a visual masterpiece and years ahead of its sugar rush-happy contemporaries.

Play
Samurai Jack: 3 showdowns with Aku.

Tartakovsky has acknowledged Akira Kurosawa’s movies and Frank Miller’s comics as inspirations. While Samurai Jack was never really aimed at a young audience, it had to keep the blood, gore, brutality to a minimum since it was on Cartoon Network. All of this has changed after the show’s return on Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s night-time programming block for grown-ups.

At the beginning of season five, 50 years have passed since we last saw Jack. As a side-effect of time travel, he has stopped aging. Aku, the Shogun of Sorrow, is still alive and still rules the world.

Samurai Jack has evolved from one man’s journey back in time to a more complicated and troubled study of Jack’s psyche. He can’t kill Aku and can’t return home either – the years of searching for a way to defeat Aku have come to nothing, and this realisation is taking a toll on him. Stuck in this purgatory, he is no longer the stone faced do-gooder. He is conflicted, tired and haunted by the souls and ghosts of his ancestors. His trusty sword has been replaced with bigger and meaner guns. He has visions of the past and apparitions that berate him for forgetting his purpose.

Aku too has changed. The shape-shifting master of darkness was always a bit of a comic relief. His evil machinations were carried out by robot drones and mechanical bugs and beetles. Now, he has a cult of assassins, the seven daughters of Aku who have been bred to defeat the samurai. Clearly, the show has earned its place in the more grown-up space of Adult Swim.

Play
Samurai Jack season five trailer.

Jack’s purpose was always to find a time portal – Will.I.Am’s opening track for the show Gotta get back, back to the past, Samurai Jack, is still catchy. But episodes from the initial run were self-contained and ended with Jack helping the victims of Aku’s evil reign survive another day. The new season is more connected in terms of storyline, and has opened itself up to a more intricate and detailed flow of characters and themes.

Samurai Jack was intended to end with a movie, but when that didn’t seem to be working out, Tartakovsky reached out to Cartoon Network for a limited series to bring an end to Jack’s story. While the new storyline has become more mature, this is still Samurai Jack. The show is still a tour de force. The sequences in the new episodes are breathtaking, be a high-speed action fight sequence or a slow chase inside an ancient temple in the woods. Through the darkness, the show retains a measure of its comedic genius too, thanks to Aku.

With newer technology, the process of filmmaking was amped up, but the show remains calmer than anything else out there. Samurai Jack is still a stylised 2D animated show that takes it slow and makes a long-lasting impact.

Play
Samurai Jack season five sneak peek.
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The pioneering technologies that will govern the future of television

Home entertainment systems are set to get even more immersive.

Immersive experience is the core idea that ties together the next generation of cinematic technologies. Cutting edge technologies are now getting integrated into today’s home entertainment systems and challenging the limits of cinematic immersion previously achievable in a home setting. Here’s what you should know about the next generation of TVs that will grace your home.

OLED Technology – the new visual innovation in TVs

From the humble, grainy pictures of cathode ray tube TVs to the relatively clarity of LED and LCD displays, TVs have come a long way in improving picture quality over the years. The logical next step in this evolution is OLED displays, a technology that some of the best smartphones have adopted. While LED and LCD TVs make use of a backlight to illuminate their pixels, in OLED displays the pixels themselves emit light. To showcase darkest shades in a scene, the relevant OLED pixels simply don’t light up, creating a shade darker than has ever been possible on backlighted display. This pixel-by-pixel control of brightness across the screen produces an incomparable contrast, making each colour and shade stand out clearly. OLED displays show a contrast ratio considerably higher than that of LED and LCD displays. An OLED display would realise its full potential when supplemented with HDR, which is crucial for highlighting rich gradient and more visual details. The OLED-HDR combo is particularly advantageous as video content is increasingly being produced in the HDR format.

Dolby Atmos – the sound system for an immersive experience

A home entertainment system equipped with a great acoustic system can really augment your viewing experience far beyond what you’re used to. An exciting new development in acoustics is the Dolby Atmos technology, which can direct sound in 3D space. With dialogue, music and background score moving all around and even above you, you’ll feel like you’re inside the action! The clarity and depth of Dolby Atmos lends a sense of richness to even the quieter scenes.

The complete package

OLED technology provides an additional aesthetic benefit. As the backlight is done away with completely, the TV gets even more sleek, so you can immerse yourself even more completely in an intense scene.

LG OLED TV 4K is the perfect example of how the marriage of these technologies can catapult your cinematic experience to another level. It brings the latest visual innovations together to the screen – OLED, 4K and Active HDR with Dolby Vision. Be assured of intense highlights, vivid colours and deeper blacks. It also comes with Dolby Atmos and object-based sound for a smoother 360° surround sound experience.

The LG OLED TV’s smart webOS lets you fully personalise your TV by letting you save your most watched channels and content apps. Missed a detail? Use the Magic Zoom feature to zoom in on the tiniest details of your favourite programs. You can now watch TV shows and movies shot in 4K resolution (Narcos, Mad Max: Fury Road, House of cards and more!) as they were meant to be watched, in all their detailed, heart-thumping glory. And as 4K resolution and Dolby Atmos increasingly become the preferred standard in filmmaking, TVs like LG OLED TV that support these technologies are becoming the future cinephiles can look forward to. Watch the video below for a glimpse of the grandeur of LG OLED TV.

Play

To know more about what makes LG OLED TV the “King Of TV”, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of LG and not by the Scroll editorial team.