“Gotta get back, back to the past, Samurai Jack.” Whenever I heard these words, rapped over a deliciously swung funk-hip-hop beat, I knew I was in for a treat. I grew up watching Samurai Jack on Cartoon Network, and fell in love swiftly. The Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) show told a simple story of a Samurai (Phil LaMarr) against an evil overlord (Mako Iwamatsu for seasons 1-4, Greg Baldwin in the final season) using incredible, experimental animation techniques and uncommonly mature themes. Now you can watch the entire series — including the more grown-up fifth season made long after the original run — entirely for free, on AdultSwim.com.
“We’ve Unlocked Every Episode So Follow His Journey Again” says the header on the Adult Swim page for Samurai Jack. And his journey is one worth following, if you’ve never once seen the show or have been itching for that nostalgia drop since it first premiered on Cartoon Network in 2001. In direct dialogue with classic samurai films, Hollywood remixes like Kung Fu, and the casual, freaky, wild postmodernism burgeoning in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Samurai Jack is a breath of fresh air, an animated extension of auteur theory that delves into pure darkness, daffy digressions, and “case-of-the-week” episodes that rival the best of them. While I felt as though the 2017-produced Adult Swim season trafficked a little too much in “being adult for being adult’s sake,” it still sticks the landing in a remarkably emotional way.
Samurai Jack is now streaming for free on AdultSwim.com, and I highly recommend the watch. For more on the program, check out our review of the complete series blu-ray. Plus: Our review of the more mature season five.