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Samurai Jack (S1)
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: JoBlo
Samurai Jack (S1) order
Director:
Genndy Tartakovsky

Actors:
Phil LaMarr
Mako
Jeff Bennett

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A young samurai vows to avenge his father's exile by the evil Aku ("aku" means "evil" in Japanese...natch!), training with all of the greatest teachers from all over the world, until he's ready confront the mad shape-shifter. Unfortunately for him, Aku zaps him into the future, where he must now confront all sorts of new technologies and obstacles set up by Aku, in order to return to the past and save his people.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
After seeing and loving THE LAST SAMURAI, and appreciating this TV series’ "basic" nifty animated look, I decided to give the first season of SAMURAI JACK a shot, particularly because I had never seen one episode, since I live in Canada and we suck. The first thing that this show reminded me, was the POWERPUFF GIRLS, but without the cuteness or humor. I later found out that the creator of this show, Genndy Tartakovsky, also animated, produced and directed some GIRLS' episodes. That said, I was hoping for a lot more humor and lightness in this series, which despite showing us some pretty impressive action sequences, specifically in terms of their composition and presentation (we get letterboxed, slow-motion, split-screens, etc...), didn't really entertain me all that much. It was almost as if the show was geared more toward 5-8 year olds, and unlike some other shows, wasn't able to make that leap toward the entertainment of both kids and adults.

Dialogue is also at a bare minimum here, and that didn’t help. Perhaps my expectations played into that. The first episode (the set-up) was particularly boring with almost no dialogue whatsoever, and not many catchy tunes or background music. Granted, I like the "block animated" look of the series, which also reminded me of SOUTH PARK a little, but overall, things just moved too slowly for my taste with too many set-up sequences leading to long pauses, although ultimately, fun action scenes. Some of the later episodes (there are 13 in all on the 2 discs) did improve on that front though, concentrating more on the goofier stuff and action sequences (the mafia one, in particular, was fun) All in all, a decent show but not one that I would sit and watch over and over again, a la THE FAMILY GUY or THE SIMPSONS.
THE EXTRAS
The extras are decent for an animated TV show. We get the “Making of” Samurai Jack which is a 7-minute overall look at how the show came to be, along with interviews with all the main peeps from behind the scenes, including the man behind it all, Genndy Tartakovsky. An interesting piece, but not terribly insightful. Tartakovsky also takes the time to lay down a commentary track for one of the episodes (episode VII), along with the storyboard artist for that show. The track is a non-stop listen and features some background on everything about the show, including the way they set it all up. Interesting stuff. The 2-minute “original animation test” features early animation of Samurai Jack, while another piece called “original artwork” features about 8 minutes of static animated drawings over music and storyboards. Probably more interesting for cartoon freaks, of which I am not one.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
A decent cartoon series that sorta disappointed me, only because I expected it to be more fast-paced and fun, although some of its later shows did starting getting a lot more exciting. The extras are also a decent lot, and the animation is pretty cool (if you like that sort of thing), so I guess the difference between a "buy" and a "rental" would be your interest in re-watching this type of thing in the future. In my case, I would suggest a "rental" at first, if only to see if this clicks with you.
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