Zilla and the Comics Junkies

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The First of My Gushing Genndy T Posts

I love me some Genndy Tartakovsky, seems like everything he touches in the cartoon world turns to gold. He's far and away my favorite cartoon "guy" at the moment and i can only hope he has something new in the works since Clone Wars Adventures. Let's kick off this series of posts (probably coming over the next few days/weeks) by talking Samurai Jack. Anyone who enjoys comics, cartoons, samurai's, epic adventure, witty humor, excellent production/direction, etc. (!!) should def give this one a spin in the old DVD player.

Quick background for anyone not familiar: The series starts with Samurai Jack as a little kid. His homeland is taken over by an evil shape-shifting wizard named Aku. Aku captures and enslaves Jack's father (who originally defeated and trapped Aku years before). With the help of his mother, jack escapes just in time, sails to distant lands and trains under many different masters in many different styles (classic so far huh?). Eventually, Jack becomes skilled as a great samurai warrior and seeks out Aku to kill him and free his captive father using a magical sword entrusted to him by his father when he escaped. During the battle, as Aku is nearly defeated, he tricks Jack and hurls him into a portal leading into the future. Aku's future is one in which he rules all, and Jack's mission is to some how find his way back to his own time (feudal era japan) and defeat Aku once and for all. Brief and to the point but you get the picture.

Ok now my thoughts: The art in Sam Jack is def simplistic - but it works. really well. perfectly IMO. Characters have little detail (backgrounds even less) but surprisingly this takes nothing away from the fact that the visuals are just plain satisfying and give the entire toon a very unique/cool feel. i mean you really won't believe some of the action sequences. they are awesome to say the least. choreographed to perfection. the scripts are usually lighter on talking and heavier on ass-kicking action (even though the writing/dialogue is great stuff for sure). I saw an interview w/ Genndy once where he said he wanted to do a samurai story in the future for two primary reasons:

  1. So that he could still put down a ton of violence/ass whupping w/o blood squirting everywhere (since this toon really is for general audience). And you know what? The plan plays out perfectly - there's plenty of chopping of limbs, off w/ heads, and squirting machine fluids.

  2. He wanted creative liberty to write stories for Jack about anything and everything. Just watch one episode and you get an insight into just how quirky and off-the-wall Genndy's humor/imagination really are. It's so damn refreshing though - you never know really what you're going to get with each episode (besides a morally correct sam jack, aku's minions, and 75% screen time taken up with awesome scenes of sam whuppin' ass). I mean there's talking dog's that wear clothes, vikings, a great kilted scottsman, and so much else you won't even believe.

This is seriously one of the most well produced/directed cartoons i've ever seen. Genndy makes incredible use of split screens, montages, and flashbacks to really draw you into the story/action. There's tons of great japanese style meditation/introspection (and that sort of ancient japanese feel to Jack's dialogue/approach), and some genuinely humorous moments every episode. I can watch some of these over and over (and do). #1 is classic with the background story and Jack's transformation from timid youth to fearless samurai, #3 has an epic battle scene (i mean truly epic) with Aku's spider minions (and there are talking, monacle wearing dogs in it!), #7 pits Jack against 3 blind archers defending a mysterious tower concealing a wishing well... the list goes on and on. Think of this as kind of like the old Kung Fu TV series, Jack wanders around trying to find a way back to the past, but ends up stopping every-which-where along the way to help save people/animals/alien types or even entire races, villages/towns/cities, and/or the world :)

Not to mention Aku is a very, very cool bad guy.

Do yourself a huge favor and pick up season 1 (at the very least - season 2 is also out) on DVD... you'll never look back. let me know what you think (old fan or noob).


29 June, 2005 19:33, Blogger El Snoozo said...

Samurai Jack was great both in style and the way they told stories..Most cartoons have to have something happen almost all the time, but Jack actually pushed a lot of moments by using scenes that just depicted silence and visuals.

I think this is the area however where people love or hate Jack..Some people look at say " What the hell is going on?..How many times to we have to hear a waterfall of tree leaves blowing ?"

He seemed to tone down these moments for Clone Wars, but I always found so much "cool" even in those still moments.

29 June, 2005 19:56, Blogger zilla said...

i can't agree w/ you more. as a matter of fact this is one of the things i love most about sam jack's style. the music and sound effects (which i'm now realizing i forgot to mention in my original post) are often simple but also highly effective IMO. there's so much too sam jack on a level above "cartoon" - i think that's why i enjoy it so much :)

29 June, 2005 19:57, Blogger zilla said...

*to not *too (above)


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In no particular order:

Criminal, The Goon, Daredevil, Exterminators, Punisher, Hellboy/B.P.R.D (All), Powers, Godland, Usagi Yojimbo, The Walking Dead, Invincible, Conan, Ex Machina, DMZ, Desolation Jones, Fell, 100 Bullets, All-Star Superman, Ultimates 2, Loveless, and Fear Agent.

I'm recently back reading after a 15 year comics hiatus.

Zilla is not my real name.

I'm from Tejas living in VA. I'm married w/ 2 dogs. I'm an IT security consultant cranking the wheel for a big consulting firm in "real" life.

I watch the History Channel, Nat'l Geo, TLC, Mil Channel, ESPN and NFL Network, CourtTV (forensic files, etc.) and the Cartoon Network (love Genndy T's Samurai Jack and Clone Wars Adventures). My taste in movies: Gladiator, Last Samurai, Braveheart, Godfather, Tarantino (whatever), Kung-Fu (whatever), Westerns, Top Gun, Big Lebowski.

I love the outdoors and bs'ing around w/ my dogs.

In addition to being a comics junkie, i'm also a sports junkie especially when it comes to the Texas Longhorns and the Dallas Cowboys.

Blog contents copyright © 2005 Rod Wetsel