Samurai Jack—Season 1

samurai jack season 1 dvd collection review episode guide
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking series, takes time with its stories


samurai jack season 1 title card hd review episode guide

Get back to the past, Jack!

A boy is ripped from his home and trains and learns the way of the samurai to return to free his people.  Rushing into a confrontation with the mighty Aku, the samurai is flung into the far future where Aku has taken control of the planet.  Now the samurai must find a way to free the people from Aku and return to his own time to ensure that Aku’s vision of the future never succeeds…a samurai named Jack.

Samurai Jack—Season 1 is an animated action-adventure by Genndy Tartakovsky.  The season aired on Cartoon Network from August 10, 2001 to December 3, 2001.  Though distinctly numbered, a number of the episodes aired out of order.  The first three episodes aired as a film called Samurai Jack:  The Premiere Movie and the season received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Animated Program for Programming One Hour or More (“The Beginning”).

samurai jack season 1 episode 3 part iii the first fight flag

Will Jack be triumphant?

I didn’t have cable when Samurai Jack was initially aired, but I honestly didn’t think much of it.  I saw pictures, heard compliments, but I also heard compliments on tons of animated and cable exclusive shows…Samurai Jack wasn’t on my radar.  Watching Tartakovsky’s Primal, I decided to go back and watch Jack…and Samurai Jack succeeds!

The series is largely built around one-shots, but it does a great job telling a bigger story within the one-shots.  Jack travels around the planet, helping people, and trying to get himself in a position to take down Aku, but every time he gets close fate intervenes.  It is a classic set-up for a kids’ TV series because you don’t have to watch Samurai Jack in order, and you don’t have to watch every episode…but it helps.

The future is also a strange combination of classic future tropes and a post-apocalyptic nightmare.  Aku has kept the Earth under his thumb for so long, it feels like the planet is a hodgepodge of sci-fi fantasy (even some cyberpunk) and primal horrors.  Tartakovsky admitted he borrowed some ideas from Frank Miller’s Ronin series, but I can say I enjoyed it more than Ronin.

samurai jack season 1 episode 1 part i the beginning facing aku

…or will Aku destroy him?

The animation is slick and the editing is amazing.  While a lot of TV shows are loud and in your face, Samurai Jack takes its time.  There are large chunks of time where the series doesn’t have much dialogue and it is image driven.  The imagery is smart and some of the compositions of the fights and episodes are better than big screen movies.  Samurai Jack will not disappoint animation fans.

Samurai Jack—Season 1 is a great start.  It is compelling and fun and both adults and children can watch it and be entertained.  The series is a good balance of story and art and smarter than many animated TV shows out there.  For those who are jaded toward cartoons and feel that cartoons can offer nothing new, check out Samurai Jack.

Samurai Jack—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

samurai jack season 1 episode 1 part i the beginning aku

“Part I: The Beginning”

1.1       Part I:  The Beginning Airdate:  08/10/01

Smuggled out of his lad by his family, a prince finds training all over the world.  Returning to his kingdom the samurai prince finds the kingdom under the rule of Aku, but the samurai and his mystical katana might not be enough to fight Aku’s forces.

samurai jack season 1 episode 2 part ii the samurai called jack

“Part II: The Samurai Called Jack”

1.2       Part II:  The Samurai Called Jack Airdate:  08/10/01

Flung into the future by Aku, the samurai finds himself nicknamed Jack and learns Aku’s power has grown to encompass the world.  Recruited by dog archaeologists, Jack agrees to defend their people from Aku’s forces.

samurai jack season 1 episode 3 part iii the first fight vs beetle drones

“Part III: The First Fight”

1.3       Park III:  The First Fight Airdate:  08/10/01

Aku has sent beetle drones to quash the dog rebellion, but he isn’t counting on Jack’s return.

samurai jack season 1 episode 4 part iv jack the woolies and the chritchellites

“Part IV: Jack, the Woolies and the Chritchellites”

1.4       Part IV:  Jack, the Woolies and the Chritchellites Airdate:  08/13/01

Jack encounters an alien race called the Chritchellites and learns that the Chritchellites have enslaved a race called the Woolies.  Teaming with Woolies, Jack fights for the Woolies’ freedom.

samurai jack season 1 episode 5 part v jack in space

“Part V: Jack in Space”

1.5       Part V:  Jack in Space Airdate:  08/27/01

A group of scientists trying to escape Earth and Aku’s reign team with Jack to get off the planet…and Jack finds he might have a means to return to his own time.

samurai jack season 1 episode 6 part vi jack and the warrior woman ikra

“Part VI: Jack and the Warrior Woman”

1.6       Part VI:  Jack and the Warrior Woman Airdate:  11/19/01

Jack learns of a jewel that has the power to send him back in time and finds him teamed with a warrior named Ikra to retrieve it…but Ikra might be hiding her own secret.

samurai jack season 1 episode 7 part vii jack and the blind archers

“Part VII: Jack and the Blind Archers”

1.7       Part VII:  Jack and the Three Blind Archers Airdate:  08/20/01

Tales of a well that grants wishes has Jack in a dangerous duel with three blind archers…and having to tap deep into his samurai training.

samurai jack season 1 episode 8 part viii jack vs mad jack

“Part VIII: Jack vs. Mad Jack”

1.8       Part VIII:  Jack vs. Mad Jack Airdate:  10/15/01

Aku has put a bounty on Jack’s head, but the biggest danger to Jack could be himself.

samurai jack season 1 episode 9 part ix jack under the sea triceraquins

“Part IX: Jack Under the Sea”

1.9       Part IX:  Jack Under the Sea Airdate: 09/03/01

Jack learns of an underwater city named Oceanus that might have a time machine that could send him back, but the Triceraquins who live there might be hiding something.

samurai jack season 1 episode 10 part x jack and the lava monster viking

“Part X: Jack and the Lava Monster”

1.10     Part X:  Jack and the Lava Monster Airdate:  10/12/01

Led into a trap, Jack finds himself battling the Ancient King…a Viking monster who desires to reach Valhalla.

samurai jack season 1 episode 11 part xi jack and the scotsman

“Part XI: Jack and the Scotsman”

1.11     Part XI:  Jack and the Scotsman Airdate:  10/29/01

While crossing a massive bridge, Jack encounters a Scotsman who has his own beef with Aku…and they both have men coming for them.

samurai jack season 1 episode 12 part xii jack and the gangsters

“Part XII: Jack and the Gangsters”

1.12     Part XII:  Jack and the Gangsters Airdate:  11/26/01

Jack learns that he could get close to Aku by aligning himself a group of gangsters out to steal the Jewel of Neptune, but Jack’s perfect plan might backfire.

samurai jack season 1 episode 13 part xiii akus fairy tales

“Part XIII: Aku’s Fairy Tales”

1.13     Part XIII:  Aku’s Fairy Tales Airdate:  12/03/01

Aku discovers he’s losing popularity war to Jack and sets out to win the hearts of the children by telling them stories of his great power

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response