samurai jack

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“Episode CI” offers a bittersweet ending to the tale of the time-displaced samurai warrior that began on August 10, 2001. With Jack (Phil LaMarr) captured all eyes turn to Aku (Greg Baldwin) who broadcasts his victory across the entire world. The final episode brings in several faces we’ve seen over the course of the series including a personal favorite of mine in the forest creatures that once taught Jack to jump good. Rising to the call, all of those once saved by Jack attack Aku giving Jack a fighting chance. While not in any serious threat, the sheer number of Woolies, Scotsmen, Spartans, Canine Archaeologists, Archers, Triseraquins, the giant Robo Samurai, and others do provide the momentary distraction for Jack to reach the Aku-controlled Ashi (Tara Strong) who not only discovers her free will but also the fact that she shares Aku’s powers – which include the ability to create a time portal.

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The penultimate episode of Samurai Jack brings Jack (Phil LaMarr) and Aku (Greg Baldwin) face-to-face for the first time in the show’s final season. Learning from Scaramouch (Tom Kenny) that Jack is without his magical sword, Aku shows up to interrupt Jack and Ashi (Tara Strong) to destroy the samurai once and for all. The disappointment that the samurai has retrieved his sword is short-lived, however, as Aku discovers a brand-new weapon of his own to use against Jack.

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“Episode XCIX” is the first episode of the show’s final season where we see the old Jack (Phil LaMarr) back in action, and the first time Ashi (Tara Strong) sees Jack at his best. Having a strong throwback feel, the episode could have easily taken place far earlier in the show’s run. After fleeing from a group of Tiger Men assassins and taking shelter from a storm, Jack and Ashi explore a crashed alien obelisk containing a dangerous prisoner known as Lazarus-92 made up of thousands of space worms. As Jack and Ashi fight for their life the pair grow closer leading the episode’s final shot.

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Continuing the major turning point from the end of “Episode XCVII,” freed from his suicidal impulses but not from his internal demons, Jack (Phil LaMarr) will journey inward in search of himself and his missing sword leaving Ashi (Tara Strong) to prevent an army of Aku‘s (Greg Baldwin) minions and the High Priestess (Grey Griffin) from killing the samurai. By the end of the episode the samurai will find himself, find his sword, and look far more like the original character than we’ve seen this season.

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Ashi‘s (Tara Strong) search for Samurai Jack (Phil LaMarr) leads her through the show’s past as characters from several episodes are referenced, including the Three Blind Archers, the Woolies, and the Ravers – each with their own tale of Jack’s heroics, and even a bar full of Aku’s former minions. It’s a fun walk down memory lane for fans of the show, while also serving the purpose of confirming Ashi’s change of heart concerning the samurai leading the young woman to literally washing away the last vestiges of connection to Aku (Greg Baldwin). Her journey eventually leads her to a hopeless samurai prepared to commit seppuku, spurred on by the words of the mysterious Horseman.

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Spending more time with Jack (Phil LaMarr), Ashi (Tara Strong) is slowly convinced that everything she has learned about the world is wrong. But is her conversion too late? Believing he has failed in saving children abducted by Aku‘s (Greg Baldwin)minions and turned into bloodthirsty weapons, Jack’s already fragile mind is shattered. Ashi actually is able to prevent the tragedy, and for the first time use her considerable skills to save lives rather than take them, but Jack walks off into the fog with the strange rider apparently willing to accept whatever fate has in store for him. Can Ashi find him and convince Jack to pick up the fight once more?

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“Episode XCIV” offers a return to form for our hero, a flashback to his childhood, a deadly battle with the Daughters of Aku in the middle of a snowstorm, and the return of the wolf from the previous episodes who gives Jack (Phil LaMarr) the help and time he needs to heal before his enemies come knocking at his door. Highlighted by the battle between Jack and the Daughters, the preceding respite gives the shattered samurai the strength to stand against his enemies (and allows the show to further show off the new enemies). The flashback to his father’s heroism and lessons about destiny turns out to be the cherry on top reminding Jack who he as a critical juncture where giving up could have been an easy choice. Taking out each Daughter with deadly efficiency, my only complaint is the episode’s cliffhanger ending leaving the fate of both the final Daughter and Jack in doubt, forcing us to wait an entire week for more Samurai Jack.

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After defeating the latest version of the Beetle Drone, Jack (Phil LaMarr) is attacked on all sides by the the quick-moving Daughters of Aku who soon destroy the samurai’s arsenal, motorcycle, and weapons leaving Jack to hide from the group inside an abandoned temple. As we saw in the first episode of this season, this version of Jack has been worn down mentally by the constant battle with Aku’s robots of destruction. Initially taking the Daughters to be machines, Jack uses the shadows of the temple to hide until he can make his escape. However, before doing so he will make a discovery while whittling down the daughters’ number by one. Jack survives the encounter, barely, but will he survive the season?

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For 50 years Samurai Jack (Phil LaMarr) has traveled the wastelands of the future that is Aku (now voiced by Greg Baldwin). Along the way the samurai has lost his hope, his ability to age, the magical sword, and perhaps his sanity. The first new episode of Samurai Jack in more than a dozen years gives us a sobering look at our hero haunted by his failure to make his way home and destroy Aku. Opening with some trademark action, “Episode XCII” gives us the motorcycle-riding, gun-totting new version of Jack taking out a host of Beetle Drones to save a mother and her child. Despite the fact that his skills haven’t lessened, it soon becomes obvious this is not the same samurai whose quest is legend. Haunted by visions of the past and all those he cannot save, Jack seems lost. Has Aku finally won?

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SAMURAI JACK THEME SONG ACAPELLA

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