Sunday, April 14, 2013

Samurai Jack

"They call me Jack."

If you've followed this blog at all, you've probably picked up on the fact that I am suspect of all things modern, especially those that are directed at children. Keep this in mind when I tell you that the cartoon Samurai Jack is one of the greatest cartoons of all time.

Yes, you heard me correctly, something that appeared on Cartoon Network is actually worth watching. Samurai Jack only ran 4 seasons (52 episodes), so there's not so much that it will take too terribly long to get caught up. This cartoon will most likely be enjoyed by all who can really go in for an old fashioned hero with a magic sword.

Jack fights Aku.
Jack is sent to the future by the evil shape shifter, Aku. Jack is continually trying to "get back to the past to undo the future which is Aku." (Aku is evil, but not super scary.) On Jack's quest to restore "truth and righteousness" he meets some interesting characters, including talking dogs, a red-headed Scotsman (with a machine gun peg leg, bagpipes, and a sword with ancient runes), and Aku himself (in the shape of someone else- beware of trickery!).

When Aku destroyed his village when he was just a boy, making his parents slaves, Jack is left with nothing: no home, no parents or friends. Throughout, Jack is the picture of nobility and honor, caring more about those who are cast down or oppressed by Aku, than his greatest personal desire: getting back to the past. In one episode, he is mere moments away from the time portal that will fulfill his wish of traveling back to the past to undo the evil, but those who have helped him thus far are fighting to the death with the drones of Aku. They tell him go ahead, he has time to make it! But, of course, he doesn't. He saves their bacon, and in the process, gives up his chance.
Young Jack with his father.

One of my favorite episodes is a flashback to Jack's boyhood. The scene is some bullies, they take his ball, he's sad, and his father tells him,
Dry your tears my son, for nothing worth having is easily attained. Sometimes you must fight for what is yours and for what you believe in.
Jack is non-confrontational and is able to get the ball back using his cleverness, but his father's words ring true in every episode.

Samurai Jack and the Scotsman.

This cartoon was my eldest daughter's favorite when she was younger, and she actually dressed up as "a Lady Samurai Jack" for a fall costume party when all the other girls came as Disney princesses. I couldn't have been prouder! My son was also obsessed for a while, brandishing a sword and wearing flip-flops whenever he could. I guess it's time to introduce my youngest daughter to this quiet, dark haired man.

Jack tells one adversary,
[You have] trained to use the darkness of the shadow. I know your art as well, but I have been trained to use the light.

Unlike most cartoons, this one inspires heroism and the desire to do good to others. Is this an exaggeration?  I'd say not.

You may also like:
Robin of Sherwood
Sticks in my craw... (Boss)
The little prince and the fox

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