We spoke with series creator Genndy Tartakovsky and musical director Tyler Bates about the cult show’s new season and the challenge of creating something truly unique.
After a thirteen-year hiatus, the mind-blowing animated series Samurai Jack made its return Saturday night on Adult Swim—so long to the kids’ show veneer it had to wear during its days on Cartoon Network—and unlike so many reboots, this new version feels like an improvement upon its predecessor. The beautifully animated action sequences that helped Jack win four Emmys back in the early 2000s are still here in full force, but whereas the Jack of old was a more or less unperturbed ronin, this new and final season takes us down a dark road into its hero’s tortured psyche. From the outset, we’re told that Jack has wandered for fifty years without aging, his temporal stasis a side effect of the time travel that kicked off the original series. And with all the time portals to the past supposedly destroyed, Jack believes there’s no longer a way for him to defeat the evil Aku, whose reign over the world remains unabated and complete.
Now, the cartoonish fun hasn’t been totally sapped from the show. Saturday night’s premiere featured a delightful battle between Jack and Scaramouch, a jazz-loving robo-assassin who uses a magical flute to command a rock monster. But on the whole, this final stretch of the Samurai Jack story is set to motor down a forbidding, lonesome path toward Jack’s ultimate salvation, whether that be victory over Aku or the sweet escape of death.
We spoke with series creator Genndy Tartakovsky and musical director Tyler Bates—who has also composed the scores for Guardians of the Galaxy, John Wick, and every Zack Snyder film from Dawn of the Dead through Sucker Punch—about how they created a fresh sonic aesthetic to fit the new season of Samurai Jack.