going back and remaking a few things~

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time, sit down with myself and explain that things were going to be okay, that everybody loses ground sometimes and it doesn’t mean anything. It’s the way life works. This is hard to understand in the moment. You get to thinking about the girl who rejected you, the job you got fired from, the test you failed, and you lose sight of the big picture — the fact that life has a beautiful way of remaking itself every few weeks.
Samurai Jack episode XCII

Alright, I just finished watching the highly anticipated return of Genndy Tartakovsky’s “Samurai Jack”, and as a lifelong fan of the original run I couldn’t have been more thrilled for my favorite show to get its highly deserved continuation. Not a reboot, not a remake, not fan canon, the original team and cast(aside from the ineffable Mako as Aku, may he rest easy)all getting back together to see their vision to its long awaited conclusion. So, with all that said, what did I think of episode XCII?

I thought it was awesome.

That said, there are a few things that temper my excitement.

First we’ll go over the great things about this entry into the new season, and rest assured there are lots of things to love both for newcomers and diehards like myself. The show is as beautiful as ever, even with a transition from entirely hand drawn to use of digital imagery, you wouldn’t mistake the visuals for anything else. It looks and feels just like Samurai Jack, with more obvious polish and attention to the fluidity of movement, but the spirit of the animation is alive and well.

Next, the sound design, pitch perfect and just familiar enough to give tingles of nostalgia. Particularly the sound of crunching metal as Jack carves his way through the beetle robots, cant get more classic than that. Furthermore, the musical soundtracks are refreshingly updated while still keeping faithful themes from the original, each one appropriately crafted for the scene its used in.

Phil LaMarr reprises his role as the titular Samurai Jack, naturally, and he doesn’t miss a single step. He does quite a good job of making Jack sound like little has changed over the course of fifty years, yet everything has changed, there’s an edge of exhaustion and desperation to his cadence. Also, just as an aside before continuing, they got Greg Baldwin to be the new voice of Aku. GREG BALDWIN. The voice of Frank Fontaine from the first Bioshock game! Even though he only had one and a half lines in this first episode, I have upmost confidence that he’ll make a fine replacement.

Perhaps most importantly, the two key elements of what made Samurai Jack so unique and beloved are present and accounted for, moments of silence and great action sequences. Very little exposition is used in this episode, which I think is both a wise move and possibly idiosyncratic, which I’ll address later on. There isn’t even a post roll opening, it just hard starts with Samurai Jack saving some helpless villagers from killer robots, then riding away on his motorcycle. Then Jack gives us a little set up, all of which we already heard from the trailers, essentially telling the audience Jack has been trapped in the future for fifty years yet isn’t getting any older.

Now, as much as this episode may look and sound like old school Jack, there are some important changes I feel should be addressed. Firstly, despite the lack of exposition, this episode doesn’t feel like a stand alone story. One of the hallmarks of Samurai Jack was that each and every episode felt like a complete narrative, even episodes that had a direct continuation, this means it’s feasibly possible to watch the entire show out of order and not be totally lost or feel like you’re missing out on something. In XCII, it’s very clear they're designing the story to flow in a more traditional progression, the rising action and ending to this episode is basically set up for episode XCIII when its released. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with this per say, as it allows the creators to instill a gradual build up of tension and anticipation for each new installment, all the way up to the finale. However, the fact remains that this style of storytelling isn’t what Samurai Jack was known for, renowned for. Every episode of the original run was self contained, they could be thought of as a series of vignettes that loosely tied together, it was more of an odyssey than anything else. For this new season I feel like they’re moving away from that in order to create a more congruent and complete story, which I am not against by any means, but I must point out that if so these last ten episodes will stand in stark contrast to the rest of the series when it comes to narrative pacing.

Secondly, in keeping with the theme of changing style, the focus in this episode is not at all like the older seasons. In Samurai Jack, the attention was almost exclusively on Jack, with a few notable rare exceptions when Jack wasn’t the main character of the episode. These instances were few and far between however, and the point I’m trying to make is that regardless of who the episode is about, the story was told from a point of view exclusive to them. The focus didn’t cut away to another group of characters doing something else somewhere else, each episode had a protagonist and stuck with them, with only occasional quick shots of antagonistic forces in between scenes. In XCII we have two points of attention, Samurai Jack roaming the countryside, and the Daughters of Aku undergoing their training. The focus is divided pretty much evenly between them, we see these young girls  literally from birth up through their adolescence and grueling combat conditioning, serving as contrast to Jack’s harrowing guilt induced hallucinations. Again, this structure is closer to traditional narrative storytelling, but it’s apart from the style of how Samurai Jack was done. To reiterate, this method of structuring the new episodes isn’t inferior to the older series, but not having exclusive focus on one protagonist will lessen the sense of immersion Samurai Jack was praised for achieving.

In conclusion, based on this first episode I think the new season is going to have great strengths to it, classic elements and newer concepts are combined to create a nostalgically thrilling experience. Jack is weathered, tormented and broken by decades of ceaseless fighting and failures, yet still just as capable and tenacious as he always was. The world is still vibrant and bleakly gorgeous, filled with striking and colorful characters encountered by our hero, I especially enjoyed the comedic musical bounty hunter Jack fights using a range of techniques. As excited as I am personally for the new season and hype matched if not exceeded by my fellow Samurai Jack fans, I feel its important to recognize that this isn’t the same as the Jack we all remember, things have changed and we aren’t getting an exact recreation of the original series. This isn’t to say that the new season is doomed and just because it’s different it can’t be good, at the end of the day its still Samurai Jack, despite anything that may have changed we can all take faith in one simple fact:

Jack is back.

If you’re a Samurai Jack fan yourself, lemme know what you thought of the new episode, I’d love to hear other peoples takes and predictions for how the new season is going to go. Thanks for reading. :)

-Tycho

Coping Mechanisms

Nozomi’s always hated endings. She’s never known quite what to do with them; once things end, there’s no getting it back. Move after move, greetings and goodbyes always trailing one another, her life’s been a long string of endings and she’s learned how to ignore them. Say hello, smile, endure, then leave- rinse and repeat. No need to admire the scenery or the people; she wasn’t going to see them again in her life after a few months anyway.

Things can’t end if they never started in the first place, right? She can’t cry over leaving people she won’t miss. There’s no home to leave or have to remake- just her, and her books, and the streetlights passing overhead on the long drives across the country at night, each one lasting only a second and forgotten for the next.

And now she stands in the dark stairwell, her trembling hand on the door to the roof. She stands, at the end of her school year, her trembling heart refusing to move on.

Keep reading

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time, sit down with myself and explain that things were going to be okay, that everybody loses ground sometimes and it doesn’t mean anything. It’s the way life works. This is hard to understand in the moment. You get to thinking about the girl who rejected you, the job you got fired from, the test you failed, and you lose sight of the big picture — the fact that life has a beautiful way of remaking itself every few weeks.