Back in December of 2015, I wrote an article about Samurai Jack returning for a fifth season, as part of Toonami. Now it has finally started airing, and it was worth the wait.I have not finished watching the season yet. But I wanted to write about my initial thoughts on the season. The new season works to wrap up the prior seasons, so that we finally have the conclusion we have been waiting for. The Toonami block is the right place for this season. It is darker than the original. Even though Jack has been trapped in the future, he does not age. He has lost his sword, as well as his mind. Jack is also faced with a new problem, and it may tie into him losing his sword.
Up until season five, Jack has destroyed/killed a large number of machines. But he has never killed a human. This changes when the “Daughters of Aku” are sent to kill him. After fighting with them, he swings with a weapon, cutting one of the daughters’ throat. When her mask falls off, Jack realizes that he has killed another human. Jack manages to escape the daughters, but not without severe injury. While Jack is recovering, he thinks back to a time when he saw his father kill a group of attacking assassins. His father gives the assassins a chance, saying “you have chosen this path. Life works in strange ways. Your choices have clearly led you here, as have mine. I will give you a new choice: leave here now and live, or stay and face your destiny.” When the daughters find Jack, he gives them the same choice. Of course, the daughters refuse to leave, and a fight begins.
Before, I mentioned that there is at least one important reason why Jack had to lose his sword. Of course it makes defeating Aku more difficult, but he is the “final boss” anyway. The more immediate problem is the sword was a divine creation which cannot kill an innocent. It could be argued that the daughters of Aku are innocent. They were simply raised to believe that Jack must die. Therefore, fans could have argued that the sword should have been more or less useless against the daughters. Of course, the loss of the sword also fits in with the high degree of despair that Jack faces in general.
Voice of Aku
Besides the darker nature of the show, there is one other difference between Season 5 and past seasons. Aku has a new voice actor. Sadly the original voice actor, Mako Iwamatsu, passed away in 2006. The voice actor for the new season is Greg Baldwin, who also replaced Iwamatsu in a number of other roles, including Iroh on Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Supporting the Show
As I mentioned in “Toonami Lives,” original content is going to be necessary for Toonami to thrive. Ratings during the live broadcast, if high enough, will help a lot. However, content creators are also looking for long term support of their brands. This means purchasing related content, BDs, etc. Amazon does have every season, including season five, of Samurai Jack available for purchase in digital format, and will likely have a BD format available after the show is done airing. These sales are critical, and so one of the best ways to support original content from Toonami is to purchase the episodes and/or the BD, if/when it comes out.
Overall, I have liked the final season of Samurai Jack so far, and am hoping for more original content from Toonami. Such material is already in the works, as it has been announced that Toonami is working in collaboration with Production I.G. to produce a new season of FLCL. Honestly, I am a bit concerned, as the show was so great, that they will have to be very diligent just to match the quality of work of the original season.