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Watching the Premiere of Samurai Jack

As I write this page and attempt to dig into my memories of the premiere of Samurai Jack at 7 P.M. on Friday, 10 August 2001, I realize that, as of November 2020, it has been nearly two decades since this show first aired on Cartoon Network, and, sadly, because so much time has passed, I cannot remember with absolute certainty whether or not I actually did, in fact, watch the premiere itself. I am pretty sure that I did, and if I didn't, at the very least I watched a rerun soon afterwards; regardless, I can still remember quite clearly my experience of watching the beginning of the series for the first time.

Notably, the series premiere was split into three half-hour episodes, which (along with the general tone of the series) signaled to me back then that this was going to be a serious and ambitious show, rather unlike the other cartoons that were airing on the network at the time (with the notable exception, of course, of the material that was airing on Toonami). My favorite section of the first part of the premiere, which fascinated me all those years ago, is the sequence (starting at the 6:18 mark of the video) that shows Jack traveling the world and living amongst different cultures as he grows up, all the while learning the necessary skills for being a warrior. His first battle with Aku, which starts at the 20:32 mark, I also remember for Aku's shape-shifting abilities, which as a young kid I found to be very cool. The second episode was the least memorable for me, but I can still recall that the futuristic nightclub (which is first shown beginning at the 7:15 mark of the second video), with the dancing alien girls, managed to stick out to me when I first saw it.

It was definitely the third episode, though, that I remember the best, no doubt due to Jack's massive battle with Aku's beetle drones in the second half, which begins at the 8:30 mark of the video. The battle is over 12 minutes of intense animation, and when I first viewed it back them, I can remember feeling that the entire thing was like a marathon. (Even today, it is this battle which I remember more than all others from Samurai Jack.) It seemed at first that the number of beetle drones was limitless, and I can recall watching with much attention at how Jack used every method available—from the traps prepared beforehand to the arrows and spears he constructed to even the strength of his alien horse—to thin out their numbers as much as possible before finally exhausting all other options and having to fight them using only his sword. I can also remember being confused, and even a bit unsettled, when I first witnessed the section of the fight that is in slow motion (which starts at the 18:03 mark and ends at the 20:00 mark), with oil now suddenly spurting out from the beetle drones whenever they were cut, and Jack getting covered in it; as I kid back then I could not understand the reason behind this sudden change of pace, or why the animators had decided now to draw the oil, which had not been present when Jack had sliced open the beetle drones earlier on in the battle.

By the conclusion of the battle, I was very much amazed by Jack's skill, stamina, and perseverance—he had pretty much single-handedly defeated an enormous army of Aku's without suffering any serious injuries, and I was convinced that Jack was unbeatable (even Aku, in the first episode, had conceded defeat before Jack prior to sending him into the future). I was greatly entertained by these three episodes, and easily decided that Samurai Jack was a new show on Cartoon Network that was worth my time to watch.

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This page last modified on 29 March 2021.