Samurai Jack returns, but what the heck is it going to look like?

Jack is back people, but I’m left wondering what this new show is going to look like when it returns to television in 2016.

There’s a massive amount of detail to take in including a difference in channel (from Cartoon Network to Adultswim), possible new characters and old returning characters all from the little 6 second teaser.

The Teaser

Only six seconds long, the teaser released by Adultswim on December 2 tells us a lot about what we can expect from the new series.

It suggests that the characters could be animated through Flash because of the smooth movement of the sword swing, but its the silhouettes that do most of the talking.

The teaser reveals that the show will be playing on Adultswim, which gives the new series a little more freedom to be adult. One of the long-standing jokes of the series is the fact that everyone is a robot. The oil that spills from their bodies was meant to be like blood, but since the show was for kids it had to be censored.

The show being on Adultswim seems to suggest that the new series will be catering to older audiences who grew up along with the show. According to this sheet, the main age demographic of [as] is about 20-years-old. I watched the series when it was still on television and I’m 24-years-old now, so I fit into the demographic.

The differences between television channels is extremely important and will help dictate the direction of the show as well as the level of violence it can depict. It means the difference between having fun stories based around fairytales and taking on more serious topics affecting people today.

“Samurai Jack”

The mystery man.

The mystery man.

So what can we tell from this guy above? Well we can see a few things in the silhouette. First off is Jack’s sword in the figure’s right hand. The weapon carried by Samurai Jack was forged from human righteousness and is one of the only weapons in the universe that can hurt Aku. The figure above is clearly holding it, but the way he wields the sword is quite a bit different.

Jack interchanges between using his sword one-handed or two-handed. However, he typically doesn’t hold his sword in such a laissez-faire kind of style. He would typically put his sword away in its scabbard or hold it across his front instead of to the side as seen here. The over-the-head slash to his right side is also a little strange, but also quite uncoordinated for Jack. His cuts are precise much like a samurai’s. This figure uses the sword like a machete.

The rest of the figure leaves a lot to the imagination. The first and most notable part is the helmet. Clearly quite tall, the helmet has design features from both Japanese and European style helmets. The flaps on the side are called Shikoro, which are clearly present in the design and featured prominently in Japanese designs. Horned helmets are more often associated with European designs; however, things like buffalo horns have been found on Japanese designs as well.

Another big part of this design is the main piece of armour being worn. The armour resembles quite closely the armour worn by Jack’s father in Season 4. That armour was made up of plate comprised of iron, leather, and sometimes bronze. The silhouette suggests that the actual armour is underneath the larger robe being worn by the figure. The upper and lower arm seems to suggest protective wear in the form of a pauldron and bracer.

Considering that the show takes place in the future the thought of Jack going back to plate armour. Even using a futuristic material, heavier plate doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense for him. Early on in the series, Jack was protecting a small settlement of talking dogs and was given a set of steel armour only to have it ripped off soon after the fight began. Jack is a quick and agile fighter, not someone who goes into battle looking to get hit. To wear heavy armour would only make him more vulnerable, but perhaps in his older age he’s slowed down.

Another small detail is seen in the centre of his body. There’s a slight raise in the design suggesting he’s wearing a belt, not unlike his future self featured in the comics.

The last big detail are the feet. Unlike Jack who always wore Geta, or those awesome wooden Japanese sandals, this figure is clearly wearing pants with the cuffs near to the ankle and boots with the curved insole. When Jack lost his sandals in one episode was forced to wear other shoes, but he was unable to. It is also shown in the comic series that followed the television show that Jack continued to wear his Geta into the future.

Aku

This, undoubtedly, is Aku.

This, undoubtedly, is Aku.

Aku is back in the new show. I don’t think there’s any doubt in that, but the relationship between Aku and the mystery figure is a little dubious. While the white on black construction seems to suggest antagonism, I can’t but see that the white figure is outlined in red.

Ok, so maybe this is a little bit of a reach, but it makes me think that the smaller figure is in fact in charge. The horned helmet makes the white figure look like a monarch not unlike Aku’s crown. It could be, perhaps, that the white figure is inhabiting Aku forcing him to do his bidding rather than try to destroy him.

That could be me reaching for details where there actually aren’t any, but it’s a theory.

The other theory is that the old hatred between Aku and Jack is still as raw as ever. The larger Aku has overwhelming power while the smaller white figure is a beacon of hope within the darkness.

The main problem for the series with Aku’s return is the fact that actor Mako Iwamatsu died in 2006. Unlike General Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender who was also played by Iwamatsu and then replaced by Shaun Toub, Aku is almost too overwhelming of a character to be replaced.

I don’t suggest going onto YouTube and looking up impressions for Aku.

It wouldn’t be a huge problem if Aku was like General Iroh who was a secondary character in Avatar. Toub was able to play the character with almost the same range of emotions through his voice, but even then he wasn’t able to do the role justice. The problem here is that from the moment Samurai Jack opens you hear Aku’s voice. He’s in almost every episode. He takes on various roles. He’s an overwhelming, ever-present voice in the series.

Finding someone with a voice similar to his is also getting a lot harder as Japanese Americans populations are dying out. Japanese like Mako have long spoken one language, but had to spend years trying to conform to the vocalizations of the people around them and succeeded. Mako’s voice is very unique to his generation.

That said it looks as if Aku will be in the new series. What form he takes and how they end up playing his character is really up in the air. He could be a secondary character now instead of the ever-present antagonist. He could also have an entirely new form giving rise to a new voice. Anything is possible for the Shape Shifting Master of Darkness.

Mysterious figure isn’t Jack

So what can we guess from our observations of the silhouettes? Well one possibility is that this isn’t Jack. There’s a good chance the this new series could take place after Jack’s time when he has passed down his sword to either his child or someone who has taken up his quest to return to the past.

The reason for this is simply the differences between the costumes. The strange helmet mixed with the heavy armour and the change of footwear doesn’t seem to be something that Jack would wear. Even when he grew older, his attire didn’t change very much.

SamuraiJack-TPBcvr

My inclination right now is to believe that the mysterious figure in the image could either be Jack’s child or someone who has taken up the quest like the peach boy from the last episode of the series. To have Jack return to the series opens a huge can of worms that could hinder a new entry in the series.

He’ll have to return to his quest of defeating Aku in the past thus retreading ground that the four seasons of the show has already looked at. How many more towns filled with robots can Jack save? How many more dragons does he have to defeat? How many more times can Aku stop him from going into the past before it starts to get very old?

Taking Jack as we know him away from the series could be a great step in keeping things fresh, but will the show be the same? It is also important to remember that Jack isn’t really Jack’s name. In fact, “Jack” is more or less a title for the wandering bane of Aku’s existence. A new Jack could arise!

Another possible theory about the characters mentioned above is that the person who now wields Jack’s sword is in fact controlling Aku. He perhaps lies at the heart of Aku’s darkness domineering him from within and uses the sword’s righteous power to control the world for the better.

The problem with this theory is that the sword can only be used by someone with good intentions as seen in Season 3 episode Jack and the Zombies.

So it could be Jack, but it also might not be Jack.

***

I am extremely excited for the new show that will release sometime in 2016.

It will be a while before we even get a little hint at the show’s direction, but with series creator Genndy Tartakovsky onboard my hopes are pretty high.

As listed above my concerns are with Aku and Jack’s return to the series. Do we want a Mako impersonator taking on Aku? Can Jack continue to draw interest even though he has his one-dimensional quest to return to the past? Do we want a new protagonist to take on this world?

It’s hard to say what to expect, but I think we can all say we’re damn happy that Jack is back.

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