Reviews: Samurai Jack
A work of visual brilliance, Tartavosky style
If you are expecting massive amounts of world building, character development and and over arching plot that reaches a climactic confrontation for a grand finale, Samurai Jack isn't exactly the place to go. On it's core it's an episodic series. Why is worth watching then? Because it's GREAT at that. Samurai Jack is built upon a premise where everything is possible. A samurai wanderer unexpectedly is sent through time to the future and is trying to get back to his time to confront the evil that sent him there. All this in order to fix the sci-fi bad future he's now trapped on. This allows to such a variety of possible foes and also allies it gets crazy, and the show takes full advantage of this. It doesn't hurt that, in spite of every episode being pretty much self contained, each one is given as much polish as possible, focusing heavily on atmosphere(emphasized in the clever use of cinematography, visual design and color) and visual storytelling(where this show becomes an epitome of "show, don't tell". The episodes manage to tell a big deal of info with little to no dialogue). The action, which plays a big role in this series, is wonderfully executed as well. It borrows heavily from old samurai movies and manga/anime series too, yet has the sharpness of western animation, specially the Gendy Tartavosky's stylized character designs. It also helps matters the amounts of thinly veiled violence and subtle(and times not so much) humor that each fight carries, as the show while intense has no hesitation in poking fun of itself. That isn't to say it's all battle and laughs, as each new character has clever backstories that can manage to pull one heart's strings more than one time. Overall, Samurai jack isn't a work where you expect the story to advance. It's not in the vein of more recent cartoons like Gravity Falls or Steven Universe where the series are building something bigger than each contained episode, and has no merit from a serial perspective. But from an audiovisual stand point, even narratively speaking, it's pretty much a masterpiece. Each episode isn't a shakesperian experience but still a wild ride with it's own satisfactory deliveries. If you like cartoons and want to learn about visual language, it definitely is a must watch.