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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Other Things

Not everything I do is yardwork.  I watch TV too.  Probably not what you watch though.  I watch MSNBC for the political commentary.  I watch Nationals baseball games a few times a week.

But I also watch animated TV shows.  Rick&Morty, Family Guy, Simpsons, Robot Chicken...

But I want to mention a show that seems to have returned after an absence, and has astonished me in quality.  I am speaking of 'Samurai Jack'.  The original series ran from 2001 to 2004.  I was a fan.

Samurai Jack is a warrior in an ancient time.  An evil sorcerer (Aku) rose to take over his land and laid waste to it.  Samurai Jack fought the sorcerer and was close to winning but Aku sent him into the future, assuming he would have complete control of the world by that time (and he does).

The future is dreary, dim, and forlorn.  Jack (and I'm not sure if that is a name or a description of some sort) contends with the future Aku's robots, sycophants, and assassins sent after him by Aku.

Jack is of course highly skilled and always wins.

But there is more to it.  Jack helps the downtrodden, enslaved, and twisted creatures in the future to which he has been sent.  He kills lethally but only when attacked.

The art is interesting.  It is minimal, yet very descriptive.  Every part of nature is stylistic,  trees are basic columns, lakes are flat.  But the characters move quickly.  This is in opposition to anime shows like Dragonball, where artistic effort is limited to repeated views of non-movement to save costs.

Jack decides that the only way to defeat Aku is to return to the past where Aku began and defeat him then.  There is a special sword involved, but I don't know know enough about that.  Jack does not know how to return to the past.

I assume, if there is an arc to the production, there will be some clues as to how that can occur.

The reason I am writing this is that the show suddenly returned with new episodes.  And there has been a change.  In the new series, Jack is attacked and kills a human for the first time.  I missed that, but thinking back, I understand the idea.  In the oldr episodes, he was attacked by "strange creatures" and robots.  This time, apparently he actually killed a human and he is distraught.

Then 8 identical female assassins track him, wounded.  He heals slowly with some mystical wolf.  Don't laugh, it was really rather well done.  Healed he ventures forth again.  The 8 assassins find him.

Recalling an original episode of his youth where his Emperor father is confronted by assassins and saying you have a choice to leave and live or stay and meet your fate (the Emperor kills the assassins but is killed also), Jack tells the assassins the same.  They attack with various weapons.

It is a high tree battle.  7 of the 8 are or disabled by Jack and fall into a deep fog below.  He tries to spare the last but she is unrelenting.  Eventually, he releases her into the depths below.  Then the branch he is standing on breaks and he falls too.

He falls into a tree and the branches break his fall.  Surviving, he explores the area.  7 of the assassins are utterly thoroughly dead.  One survives (Ashi).  Though injured, she tries to kill him again and again.  Sickened by the deaths, Jack surrounds her in chains and carries her out of the area like on a backpack.  She constantly screams, curses and threatens him, showing her allegiance to Aku.

We see her earlier life as a trainee to kill Jack in service to "wonderful Aku".  Jack perseveres in trying to save her through some strange situations.  Inside a huge monster and escaping, etc.

Tossed up on a small island in the middle of nowhere, Jack releases Ashi (the assassin) and sits apart in sadness.  Ashi has found her favored weapon in the mud (a hook on a chain) and is about to attack again.

But there are ladybugs on the island.  One lands on her hand.  She recalls a moment in her training when that happened.  The trainer squished the ladybug, to Ashi's dismay.  She watches the ladybug fly from her hand to Jack's hand.  He smiles at it and lets it go. That gives Ashi her first doubt about her assassination goal.  She sleeps.  When she awakes, Jack is gone.  Ashi swims to a far shore (I think).  She re-evaluates her training and goals.

Ashi decides she wants to learn more.  She seeks Jack.  On the way, she meets several strange kinds of creatures.  Each type knows Jack as a friend and one who helped them in their darkest times.  She is asked if Jack is a "friend".  At first, she is not sure.  But even the formerly meanest creatures tell her that Jack changed their lives.  She says "maybe" she is a friend of Jack.  After the last group, she says yes she is a friend of Jack.

At that point, she washes in a stream rubbing a stone (soapstone?) over her whole body (she was wearing a black bodysuit before).  It comes off completely.  It's a metaphor for changing.  She fashions clothes of leaves.  Life after death, I suppose.

She finally catches up to Jack in a graveyard of old spirits.  They have convinced Jack he has killed the innocent and he seems ready to kill himself.  She attacks the spirits but they beat her.  She tells Jack the innocents are alive (I didn't catch who they were or how she knows).

At the last minute, Jack defends her, the spirits retreat, and Jack understands that she has changed. Well, she was trying to kill him, wearing a black bodysuit, and under the command and of Aku before.  Now she is smiling, wearing green leaves, and helping.

Jack is always good at recognizing goodness and change.  They smiled at each other.

The show airs new episodes Saturday night at 11 pm ET, repeats Wednesday 10 pm.

I wouldn't mention this except it seems to be an exceptional example of actually mature animated story-telling worth watching.    There is a long-term story here, and it is worth following.

Please forgive any errors I made in describing the story so far.  I am not a professional TV show describer.


1 comment:

Megan said...

It's all yours, Mark. Not my thing at all! LOL

Sydney, Australia