So, the final episode of Samurai Jack hit and I gotta say, it was actually pretty good. Like it says in the title, this is a spoiler discussion, you’ve been warned.
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Sure, it felt a bit rushed, but with only 10 episodes that are only 22 minutes long in length each, it’s difficult for it not to be. For those who haven’t kept up with the series, Jack forms a relationship with a female assassin named Ashi. This relationship forms into a somewhat forced romance, that leads into Ashi being revealed as Aku’s daughter.
This culminates in Jack’s defeat and capture, as he is unable to kill the corrupted Ashi. In the final episode, all those that Jack helped band together and lead an attack on Aku. Sadly, elements of this ending just ended up feeling a bit hashed together. The romantic elements felt a bit forced, and Ashi just gaining Aku’s time-travelling powers after mastering own abilities felt like it came out of nowhere.
Regardless though, it was satisfying. For a 22 minute episode, it felt evenly paced at times, and managed to do a fairly satisfying ending. I liked the final scene the most, after Jack kills Aku in the past (which inadvertently kills Ashi) he goes under a cherry blossom tree and mopes about for a bit. A ladybug lands on his finger, reminding Jack of the bond he had formed with Ashi and that even though she is gone, he can continue forward.
Jack has lost a lot, and this ending gives hope to this character that his new and much more peaceful life will have a higher meaning. I think the ending would’ve been even better if the past version of The Guardian showed up, walked up to Jack, and said “You’re the one”, before walking away and disappearing into nothingness. You gotta consider that The Guardian only existed to guard the portal that was destined for a battle-hardened Jack to use. I wish this was a part of the ending, but sadly it is not.
Regardless, while I felt the ending was rushed at times, I thought it did a lot of things right. It gave us good comedy and character development, and finally gave us that ending we’ve been clamoring for for years now. Is it perfect? Far from it, it’s got a fair bit of problems. It is still a fantastic ending though, just not what a lot of people were hoping for.
Certain things that happened in the episode felt a bit contrived and forced, and Jack’s ultimate defeat of Aku could’ve been a bit longer. Still, I stand beside the creator’s vision and willingness to finally conclude this saga. It’s been 16 years, 62 episodes, 1 animated parody, and several videogames later, but now we have a concrete conclusion to this saga.
Whether it’s a satisfying ending or not will be completely up to the viewer. I loved this ending, and I recommend season 5 as a whole to any fan of Samurai Jack new or old. If this hits DVD, I’m buying as soon as possible! I don’t love season 5 because I’m a fan, or because I’ve been waiting for this ending forever, but because I legitimately enjoy as its own product. While having disappointing elements here or there, I still think its a masterpiece of modern animation. Just… Be wary of episode 8. Having any sort of opinion on this episode is gonna get you a lot of flack on the internet.