Samurai Jack Finale – One of the Best?

Samurai Jack has finally come to an end. After ending over a decade ago with no conclusion, many thought that we would never see the end of Jack’s journey. After coming to blows with the evil entity known only as Aku, Aku out of desperation thrust Jack into the future where Aku ruled all. The initial series showcased Jack’s role in the future as he wandered through the land in hopes of one day ending Aku and returning to his time.

When the show was revitalized, we learned that fifty years had gone by and Jack has not aged a day due to the means he got to the future. A shell of his former self and one veering on suicide, it was a Jack we did not expect. This was also the case with Aku who had gone into a apathetic depression as he destroyed all the means for Jack to travel to the past in the hopes of Jack’s dying of old age but to no avail. Now both were at a standstill in their journey. Jack, yielded the only weapon that could kill Aku but lost it in a past confrontation. Aku is holding up in his tower in fear that Jack will finally seek him out.

By the final episode, Jack had fallen in love with Ashi, the daughter of Aku. Being the daughter of Aku proved to be his downfall as she had all his powers, which included time travel. Using her abilities to transport herself and Jack to mere moments after Aku initially sent Jack to the future. Without missing a beat, Jack finally ended his enemy. What next? Jack and Ashii are to be married but of course things will not go smoothly. Since Ashi was born in the future and Aky was killed in the past, she was a walking paradox. Fading away at her and Jack’s wedding, Jack is left heartbroken.

Despondent once again, Jack is next seen wandering. This time he stumbles upon a cherry blossom tree where a lady bug lands on him. A bittersweet smile comes upon his face and the series ends with a image of Jack under the tree.

Like life, most things are bittersweet. Jack’s life has never been easy. The day he was born was the same day that Aku came to be. Spending his whole life training to be the one to defeat Aku, he almost succeeded before being sent to the future. Spending fifty years in the future making no connections (despite living an impact on the people he encounters lives) and when he finally does, she turns out to be the daughter of his arch nemesis. Their love was destined to fail but it certainly left a mark. So while he may have defeated his arch nemesis and thus created a better future, he has lost a lot. The woman he loved is gone and presumably most of the people he encountered in the future as that no longer exists. Being in the future tainted Jack as he was forced to take other living beings’ lives. Let’s not forget that Jack while being in his 20’s, he is mentally somewhere in his 70’s. He has lived a lifetime.

But the ending was good as it showed that there was still hope in the world. The cherry blossom reminded Jack of Ashi and how it symbolized her change from cold blooded killer to a caring person. Showing that while he has lost a lot in his very long life, this is still a better future than what we came back from. That there is still hope in the world and that the sacrifices and loss were not for nothing. It was a beautiful finale to a great animated series.

Flashback Friday: Young Justice – Season One

When Young Justice was first announced, I was optimistic. The showrunner of the show was Greg Weisman who was behind some of my favorite animated series such as Gargoyles and The Spectacular Spider-Man. The show was announced as one that focused on the teenage superheroes of the DC Universe, the “sidekicks”. But this was not the Teen Titans but its own beast. So while it was different and not what one would expect, I was still intrigued as I had full trust in Weisman.

The first promo image showed the initial lineup of the team and it consisted of Robin, Superboy, Aqualad, Miss Martian, Kid Flash and Artemis. This showed this DC Univere was going to be different as it was a mish mash of characters. Robin (Dick Grayson) and Kid Flash (Wally West) have always been peers with one another so that was nothing new. Superboy (Conner Kent) and Miss Martian were two superheroes who debuted much later compared to these two. Artemis was a brand new character based on a mix of some older ones. Aqualad (Kaldurham) was an interesting case as his comics counterpart debuted a few months before the show but since the show had some delays, it was supposed to be the other way around. Also he was portrayed as being black compared to Garth who was usually Aqualad and actually on the show as a friend.

Weisman was always one who was never one to shy away from adult themes despite the shows he worked on being cartoons. This did not change with this show either. The young superheroes struggled with things that teenagers dealt with all coupled with being a superhero. They dealt with issues such as sex, issues with their parents (or parental figures), identity and inadequacy. The fact that the initial kickoff of the show is teenage rebellion because they feel they are being slighted is not lost. Though the show dealt with the teens, it also showed how their adult counterparts dealt with them. One particular moment showed when Batman was called out on having a young partner. All that he could do is solemnly admit that he wanted Robin to be nothing like him. The flipside of this was Robin thought Batman did want him to be like him.

The series did have a big superhero conspiracy at the heart of its first season. The Justice League had become such a threat that a group of supervillains dubbed “The Light” formed just to carry out its big plans. The Justice League became aware of this and wanted the teens to act as its unofficial black ops team to do things that they were too big to handle themselves. This was ultimately a twist as you would expect a show about teens to be more “fun” but they were frequently put in harms way. The Light was another example of mature themes as they were basically an Illuminati type of group who dealt in things such as cloning, drugs, black magic, kidnapping and the gamut continued. The fact that the conspiracy wasn’t even tied up and continued to the next one showed that there are no happy endings. The fact that Batman calls a hero’s fight “the good fight” says it all. One can never defeat evil but we can do out best. 

What started off as a good series quickly developed into a great one. By the end of the first season, I could not wait to see what was up ahead for the young heroes. Weisman and company created an intricate series that could be appreciated by casual and more hardcore fans. This show will definitely go on to rank among highly on any sort of list about DC Comics’ heroes.

Standout episodes:

  • Downtime
  • Targets
  • Homefront
  • Revelation
  • Failsafe
  • Misplaced
  • Agendas
  • Usual Suspects
  • Auld Acquaintance