The Covid-19 pandemic has forced a lot of families to stay at home, and thankfully, networks are doing what they can to make this quarantine as enjoyable as possible. Adult Swim, for example, has made the entirety of Samurai Jack free to stream on its platform, meaning a large number of adults can now re-live a great and influential show from their childhood.
Samurai Jack has a lot of episodes to sift through, though quite a few stand out as the series' best. In no particular order, here are some that should be prioritized and can be watched on a whim when the moment strikes.
"Jack And The Blind Archers" (Season 1, Episode 7)
What Happens In The Episode: Jack goes up against three blind archers, who are believed to be impossible to pass alive. Jack presses on anyway, hoping to find a well capable of granting a wish of his deepest desire.
Why It's One Of The Best Samurai Jack Episodes: Children's shows typically have a lot of talking and dialogue, but most know by now Samurai Jack isn't the typical children's show. The episode's biggest battle has no sound at all, though it's completely necessary in order for Jack to take out the skilled blind archers he has to overcome.
"Chicken Jack" (Season 3, Episode 1)
What Happens In The Episode: Samurai Jack bumps into a wizard who becomes enraged and casts a spell on him. As the title may imply, Jack is turned into a chicken, and must live a short time as the animal until he can get turned human again.
Why It's One Of The Best Samurai Jack Episodes: Samurai Jack is so often thought of in hindsight as a show that catered to older audiences, a lot of people tend to forget the future Adult Swim series was also a kids show a lot of the time. This storyline is a perfect example of that, and a fun reminder that the cartoon series could be just as silly as it was serious from time to time.
"Jack Learns To Jump Good" (Season 2, Episode 14)
What Happens In The Episode: After falling short of getting through a time portal, Jack befriends a wild man whose insane jumping ability makes it appear as though he can fly. Jack is lead back to the man's ape family, who teach Jack how to jump just as high as the wild man.
Why It's One Of The Best Samurai Jack Episodes: One of the recurring themes of Samurai Jack that is emphasized in the Adult Swim series is the profound impact Jack has on the people he encountered. Jack teaching the blue apes how to defend themselves in exchange for his jumping ability is a great example of this and a fun episode.
"The Tale Of X-49" (Season 4, Episode 15)
What Happens In The Episode: A lone robot in Aku's army tells his story, and how he became more human throughout carrying out his master's orders. The robot believes Jack to be at the root of his problems, and tragically meets his end in a heartbreaking episode.
Why It's One Of The Best Samurai Jack Episodes: This is one of the few times in Samurai Jack where the story does not star Jack. Obviously this story took place towards the end of the series, where more mature stories frequently worked their way into the story, so might be a good one to revisit for the older crowd.
"Jack Vs. The Ninja" (Season 4, Episode 1)
What Happens In The Episode: A ninja assassin is sent by Aku to kill Jack, and finds the samurai in the midst of helping a young boy and a village from mechanical lobsters. The ninja kidnaps the boy, and engages Jack in a life or death battle.
Why It Is One Of The Best Samurai Jack Episodes: The fight sequence between Jack and the ninja is such a beautifully animated sequence with a mix of light and dark. That sequence alone is worth the hype, but this one is a personal favorite because it showcases a showdown that child me always wondered about since the show started. Of course, it's kind of biased the samurai wins, but still cool to watch.
"XCII" (Season 5, Episode 1)
What Happens In The Episode: In the revival premiere, Jack is shown in dire straits. 50 years have passed, and yet he has not aged a day. He's still in the future and has lost hope that he ever has a real chance at returning back to his time.
Why It Is One Of The Best Samurai Jack Episodes: Samurai Jack's Adult Swim run got off to an incredible start thanks to this episode, which set the tone for the rest of the run. The audience had matured with the series, and this episode showed the writers and animators understood that.
"Jack Is Naked" (Season 2, Episode 11)
What Happens In This Episode: Jack is bathing in a lake when a rabbit steals his gi. Jack then follows the rabbit down a hole, and is led on a troublesome adventure before realizing the "rabbit" was a little girl all along stealing to feed her family.
Why It Is One Of The Best Samurai Jack Episodes: Few shows were better at delivering a deep story to kids around this era than Samurai Jack. You get so caught up in the hilarity and chaos of the episode, that the motive of the girl when she is finally caught is a real gut punch. As usual, Jack is understanding and helps the child, continuing his streak of helping others even when faced with extreme adversity.
"Jack And The Scotsman" (Season 1, Episode 11)
What Happens In This Episode: Jack crosses paths with a massive Scotsman, and the two butt heads almost immediately. Eventually the two are forced to join forces when they become shackled together and surrounded by assassins.
Why It Is One Of The Best Samurai Jack Episodes: There are few side characters as memorable in Samurai Jack as The Scotsman. His first appearance is by far the best, and mandatory watching for anyone checking out Samurai Jack for the first time.
"Jack's Shoes" (Season 2, Episode 13)
What Happens In This Episode: When a biker gang runs over Jack's wooden sandals, the samurai is forced to go on the hunt for new shoes. After some searching, Jack finds a modern Japanese family who is in tune with ancient customs, and gets a copy of his old shoes made especially for him.
Why It Is One Of The Best Samurai Jack Episodes: This Samurai Jack episode is a neat filler that gave a bit of insight into traditional Japanese culture. One would think that may happen often with a Japanese main character, but obviously the whole setting being deep into the future tends to stifle that.
"Jack And The Spartans" (Season 2, Episode 12)
What Happens In This Episode: Jack joins forces with 300 Spartan warriors to take on a robot army in a war that has gone on for generations. Jack and the Spartans are successful, and the Spartan King tells of Jack's heroics on his deathbed.
Why It Is One Of The Best Samurai Jack Episodes: This may sound like a ripoff of 300, but it's worth noting this episode premiered 5 years before the feature film. Of course, it came after the comic book by Frank Miller, and thousands of years before Leonidas of Sparta, so it still stands to reason how impressive beating the movie to the punch really is. In either case, Spartans are cool, and so is seeing a Samurai fight alongside them.
"Jack Remembers The Past" (Season 2, Episode 6)
What Happens In The Episode: Jack's journey is interrupted when he comes across his childhood home. While the village is in ruins in the future, Jack is still able to remember key events from his youth that define the person he became.
Why It Is One Of The Best Samurai Jack Episodes: As mentioned earlier, it's not often Samurai Jack goes back to the character's origins. This episode is a solid origin to the story that led to Jack becoming a samurai to begin with, and the evil that plagued his land way back then.
"Cl" (Season 5, Episode 10)
What Happens In The Episode: It's the final showdown everyone has been waiting for, as Aku prepares to execute Jack on live television from his lair. The samurai is rescued thanks to the help of the many allies he's made over the years and evil is finally defeated.
What Makes It The Best Samurai Jack Episode: This is the ending Samurai Jack should've gotten way back when, albeit much better because it was allowed to conclude with a more adult tone and themes. The ending is incredible, bittersweet, and totally worth not spoiling for anyone who still has yet to see it.
Any episodes left off the list that should be included? Put them in the comments and be sure to check out Samurai Jack streaming on the Adult Swim website. As always, be sure to stick with CinemaBlend for all the latest in television and movie news.
Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.
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