So begins the introductory sequence to Samurai Jack, an animated series created by Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexters Laboratory).As a young boy, the title samurai watches as the demon Aku destroys his entire kingdom; he escapes, however, and trains with warriors from around the globe for years. He returns to his kingdom as an adult to defeat Aku, but as the opening monologue above indicates, Aku flings the samurai thousands of years into the future — where, thanks to the absence of the samurai, Aku has control over the entire world (and possibly others). Inspired by jive-talking locals to adopt the alias "Jack," the samurai wanders the world, fights the machinations of Aku (and other evildoers), and searches for a way back to his own time so he can defeat Aku for good.Genndy supposedly intended to finish off the story with a movie, but Cartoon Network ended the series after fifty-two episodes (and no Grand Finale).Fans remember the show chiefly for its outline-free art style, impressive action sequences, and long stretches of animation without dialogue. The show took numerous stylistic risks (especially in the final season), such as the episode where Jack fights a ninja entirely in light and shadow.Since the show's end, rumors have said Tartakovsky wants to make a movie to conclude the story, and even though the film supposedly entered pre-production at Frederator Studios and Bad Robot, no real news on the potential film has come to light. As it stands now, if the film will pull through, it's currently trapped in Development Hell. Tartakovsky stated that the series is not dead. Information releasedthree years ago has stated that J.J. Abrams is said to produce it, and the budget is estimated at 20 million.
Samurai Jack features examples of:
0% Approval Rating: Played straight most of the time, but subverted in that Aku seems to be aware of it, and made a rather clumsy attempt to get children to like him in the episode "Aku's Fairy Tales". The rest of the time - seeing as almost nothing can hurt him - he doesn't care. It wasn't always quite down to zero percent though, Jack's largely to blame for people thinking there could be anything besides Aku's rule.
Absurdly Sharp Blade: Most of the swords and other bladed weapons are capable of cutting through robots made of metal easily. Of course Jack's blade is supernatural in origin, able to cut through anything. In one episode, he found that his strength wasn't enough to defeat a series of Elite Mooks but all he needed was a Powered Armor arm to give his sword the needed cutting power.
Not all of them. the gauntlet ran out of power before Jack could destroy the sword-wielding leader. Only by calling upon the spirits of his ancestors for help in making his Absurdly Sharp Blade go Up to Eleven was Jack able to beat it.
Action Girl: The Scotsman's wife; she single-handedly beats an army both her husband and Jack — two of the greatest warriors ever — had trouble fighting, and starts off said fight by punching a god in the gut. Just because said god called her fat. Did I mention that she was entirely unarmed?
She is also one of few people Jack, without question, ran away from a fight with. And this was after the Scotsman gave him some friendly advice, warning him it was a battle he would never win.
Ambiguous Robots: Any time Jack slices someone/something up, it's usually mechanical, presumably to avoid explosions of gore in a children's cartoon. (And if not, it's likely to be something Made of Evil, like Aku himself or his demon minions.) Though many of his enemies are just clear-cut robots, others don't show any signs of being mechanical until we see the stumps of their dismembered limbs crackling and spewing oil.
Anachronism Stew: Jack's own time period probably counts. Feudal/Edo Japan seems to co-exist with Ancient Egypt, the Vikings, Classical Greece and even medieval England.
Art Shift: Used to great effect to make the visions Jack experiences (and the episode as a whole) in "Jack and the Haunted House" more terrifying.
Also, in "The Princess and the Bounty Hunters", when each bounty hunter tells his or her plans for defeating Jack, the animation is rendered to closely represent the art styles of each bounty hunter's homeworld: traditional Oriental brushstrokes for the Hive Mind cat hunters, a filter to give the effect of a black-and-white movie for the gentleman hunter, childish animation for the rather simple Russian bounty hunter, traditional Aborigine art for the Aborigine hunter, and blue with white outlines for Princess Mira, giving it a science-fiction feel.
Not to mention the 4th season episode "Samurai Vs Ninja" where the entire scene changes to purely silhouettes of black and white for both the fighters and the environment.
Back-to-Back Badasses: Jack and the spartan king vs the machine leader. Hard to get more badass than that.
How about Jack and the Scotsman fighting through hordes of countless demon robots and coming out (exhausted, but) pretty much unscathed?
Presumably they managed to catch her without enraging her enough to set her off on one of her destructive rampages.
Bad Future: The setting of the series; one where Aku has ruled the world for thousands of years.
Baleful Polymorph: One episode saw Jack transformed into a chicken after accidentally bumping into a foul-tempered wizard on the street. He was then swept up and placed into a cockfighting match, but proceeded to kick all kinds of (chicken-sized) robot nonetheless.
Zeke and Josephine Clench (from the Western-themed Episode XXIX). It is implied they love each other, but are so obsessed with money that they regularly betray each other, especially Josephine. Zeke even has a restraining order on his wife, but he forgets it when she sweet talks him. They actually manage to capture Jack, but Josephine is unable to resist trying to cut Zeke out of the profits by shoving him off the moving train - unaware that Jack has just tied her to Zeke. They're left dangling comically in their own chains as the train disappear up the track, with Jack still aboard. Josephine then says that she didn't mean to betray Zeke...
Except for the episode where he fights the stone viking.
Jack: Surely he takes me for a fool to follow deeper into his trap. [Spiked ceiling starts to lower] Jack: A fool I be!
Or in "The Scotsman Saves Jack, Part 2." After Jack's memories are restored following his Surfer Dude amnesia:
Jack: I am forever in your debt. Scotsman: Ah, don't mention it. So, how ya been? Jack:(in surfer voice) Like totally cool. Scotsman: What?! (they laugh)
Or in "Jack vs Mad Jack", Jack delivers a deadpan line after being attacked by a cross between Chewbacca and Domo-Kun in such a manner, it's almost impossible to think how he could have said it with such a straight face.
Alien: Googooplex... (he falls unconscious) Jack:(he stands over him) Looks like there will be no money for you, crazy round man.
In "Samurai vs. Samurai", Jack completely ignores Da Samurai's bragging.
Da Samurai: Didn't you hear who I am? Jack: I believe everyone heard who you are.
Continuity Nod: Pretty rare, in this show - Jack's bear....companion thing shows up as a child's doll in a later episode.
Cowboy Episode: Episode XXIX is set on a train, where Jack is pursued by a (married) couple of bounty hunters.
"The order says a hundred feet, woman! A hundred feet!"
Crapsack World: The future Samurai Jack gets thrown into. It's ruled by Aku and there's little to no hope.
Dance Battler: DJ Salvatore from "Jack and the Rave". He actually holds his own against Jack for a good while.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Although hero and villain alike ordinarily suffered from Contractual Genre Blindness, one episode started with a hilarious subversion - Aku confronts Jack, and then explains exactly how this confrontation is going to play out. Then he suggests that they end the endless cycle with a final duel. Of course, it's a trap. Less predictably, Jack knows it's a trap. However, Aku knows Jack knows it's a trap... but he doesn't know that Jack knows that Aku knows that Jack knows that it's a trap. Or... something like that.
A Day in the Limelight: The Scotsman gets some focus in XLV and XLVI ("Scotsman Saves Jack"). X9 in "Tale of X9".
Days of Future Past: Apparently, Aku's world is one where robot Vikings exist side-by-side with cyber-bayous, hidden Spartan villages, futuristic versions of 1930s Chicago and a lot of other distorted fragments from our history.
Death Seeker: The Norse warrior cursed with immortality by Aku. As a follower of the Norse religion, he needs to die in glorious battle to join his people in the afterlife, something forever denied to him due to his immortality. Not quite immortality, but being placed in a nigh-unbreakable crystal prison, from which he cannot attack or be harmed, really makes it hard to die in combat.
Divine Intervention: Happened literally in "Birth of Evil", the origin of Aku. The sword that Jack would later use was forged by the gods Odin, Ra, and Rama, using part of the Emperor's (Jack's father's) soul, to grant him a weapon that could defeat Aku.
The Drifter: Jack. He once came across the lands he called home as a child; he was nostalgic for awhile... then moved on.
The lion-like hunters in one episode evoke the Predators.
Eye Beams: Aku seems to have a whole range of abilities stemming from those awesome peepers; thus far, abilities include force blasts, incendiary force blasts, alchemy, summoning, teleportation, transformation, necromancy, and general spellcasting. Basically, whenever Aku's feeling lazy, he'll just use his eyes.
There's also the giant sun guardian dude (presumably the Egyptian god Ra or Horus), who zaps away the three minions of Set with no trouble.
Fairy In A Bottle: In one episode we hear a legend of a fairy can grant any wish, but only one on her entire life. When Jack tries to acquire her so he can go back to the past, his hand ends up trapped in the magic sphere where she was captured and the key to open it was destroyed on the fight with the fairy's captor. Jack uses the wish to set them both free.
Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Being set in the distant future, there's the expected sci-fi fare of aliens and robots (lots and lots of robots), but the world is equally filled to the brim with zombies, elementals, demons, mystical guardians, and at least three pantheons of air. Hell, half the episodes revolve around trying to reach some magical artifact to achieve the Series Goal.
Faux Affably Evil: Aku is comedic and likable on the surface and is certainly capable of having nice, civil conversations with people, but he's a complete and utter monster who punts dogs like footballs. He would probably be the most disturbing villain in animation history if he wasn't so damn entertaining to watch.
Fire-Forged Friends: Jack and the Scotsman initially mock and fight each other, but after beating down some bounty hunters together, they become fast friends.
Fish People: The Triceraquins from "Jack Under the Sea".
Forged by the Gods: Jack's sword was forged by the chief deities of multiple religions using the pure spirit of his father, making it the only weapon able to kill Aku.
For Science!: X9 gives this as the reason to why his Mad Scientist creator installed an experimental emotion chip in his hardware
X9 He was.... funny like that.
The Future Is Shocking: Jack is transported into a big city in the future and the first place he goes in is a nightclub with a rave going on inside. However, Jack is more disturbed by the fact there are aliens there than anything else, so it might not count.
Gosh Dang It to Heck!: The word "damn" apparently slips by the censors in the Mondo-bot episode, according to the DVD captions. It's muttered in a robotic voice and hard to catch, which is probably why.
Honor Before Reason: One of the more prominent examples of this is in "Jack, the Monks, and the Ancient Master's Son" where he chooses to save the lives of two monks instead of entering the portal to the past and preventing thousands of years of Aku's rule.
Jerkass: Lots of characters, most notably Aku himself. It actually cost him victory at least twice (most notably when he pulled the standard "Agree not to harm someone/thing if you do X for me, then do it anyway" with the scientist who made his assassin robots, who then gave Jack the means to destroy them.)
Jive Turkey: 'Da Samurai' is an unabashed parody of this trope.
Large Ham: Aku (just listen to the opening monologue). The late voice actor Mako makes this a crowning example of Large Ham done right.
It probably helps that said monologue is actually what an opening to a traditional Japanese Kabuki piece would be like if it were translated into English.
The Scotsman. Despite the fact he is only in a few episodes, he counts.
The SAH-MUH-RHAI deservers a mention.
Same with Gordo The Cruel.
Laughably Evil: Aku, also Faux Affably Evil. He's one of the few genuinely, irredeemably evil villains who can come across as funny while simultaneously being threatening.
Light is Good: Almost entirerly played straight. Jack, the biggest paragon of virtue in the desolate future is almost always dressed in white, and can also use the light like a ninja would use the shadow.. There's also the peaceful white-furred ape tribe from Jack Learns to 'Jump Good'.
More Hero Than Thou: A variation demonstrating heroic courtesy. The last ten minutes of "Scotsman Saves Jack Part II" is devoted to Jack and the Scotsman going through a bunch of contests to see who rows off the island in a two-man rowboat. But it isn't the loser who rows. Probably not a big surprise, but Jack wins.
Mundane Made Awesome: Jack and the Scotman's thumb-wrestling match at the end of "Scotsman Saves Jack Part II".
Necromancer: Demongo the Soul Stealer, supposedly Aku's most powerful minion.
Although thanks to Never Say "Die", the words "soul" is only used once, at the very beginning, and afterwards replaced with the slightly less sinister word "essence".
Never Tell Me the Odds: When told a unit of Aku's robots have a 1 in 325 chance of hitting their target with their only shot, Jack immediately bails out to destroy the robots.
Justified from his perspective: the exact same statistician told him the odds of "defeating three Mantoids using only a sword" — a feat he pulled off perfectly — was 1 in 6923. So Jack's probably wasn't inclined to trust the "math" during that episode.
Pre Explosion Glow: In episode 23 this happens to Demongo after Jack releases the spirits trapped inside him, leaving him a burned out husk.
Really 700 Years Old: Jack and Aku have been going at it since the days of medieval Japan, after all. Meanwhile, Aku is a tiny piece of a larger Eldritch Abomination killed by the gods Odin, Ra, and Vishnu.
Samurai: Obviously, but also a very specific example. In the third episode, Jack takes on the full samurai mantle against an oncoming horde: longbow, spears, katana, and full "splint" armor, riding atop the closest thing to a warsteed available. As the episode's battle progresses, he slowly gets pared down to the essentials: a katana, the badass wielding it and lots and lots of oil.
Jack: "No. There is no escape."
Samus Is a Girl: Princess Mira. Her true gender is not revealed until she takes her helmet off.
Small Name, Big Ego: Da Samurai. His brief encounter with Jack sets him down the right path though.
Space Jews: In one episode Jack encounters an alien race with large noses who wear what look suspiciously like yamurkles, and are being mistreated in horrible conditions by cold, uncaring oppressors who believe they are naturally superior to other races. Remind you of anything?
The Unintelligible: Seems to be a staple of Genndy's, but specifically in "Jack and the Scotsman", we have the redneck boss pig, "BLA-BABADUGORBLUBURDEERBLAGOLBADU!!!" Brilliantly performed by the VA in that it almost sounds like he's actually saying something, as opposed to just speaking gibberish.
Later on though, as his mercenary army of soldiers, tanks, and walking artillery guns are approaching the heroes, "BANGBANGBANGITYBANGBANGBANG!"