Were back with the first post SDCC coverage of the show. There are a number of panels that I will be covering and impressions of the overall show.
Samurai Jack is the beloved series created by Genndy Tartakovsky and premiered on Cartoon Network in August 2001 and ran for four seasons with 52 episodes and ended in September 2004. While the show was well received at the time but didn’t quite fit into the tone of most of the other animated shows at Cartoon Network because of it’s more adult themes and tone. In a lot of ways the show was ahead of its time and had a huge influence with its striking designs and brilliant storytelling. Over the years the series has gathered a huge cult following and Tartakovsky has been asked for years if there would ever be more episodes of the show.
The panel at SDCC finally answered some of the questions about the fifth season of the show and what direction the show will take. On hand for the panel was Tartakovsky, head writer Darrick Bachman, art director Scott Wills, storyboard artist Bryan Andrews, and character designer Craig Kellman give fans a behind-the-scenes look at the upcoming revival of hit animated action-adventure series Samurai Jack. The panel was moderated by Tom Kenny.
Tartakovsky said that of all of the work that he has done over the years people continued to ask him if there would ever be more Samurai Jack and while he always wanted to do more stories there was never time to fit it into his busy schedule. He had been developing a Popeye feature at Sony when the project fell apart and so he called up Mike Lazzo at [adult swim] and told him his ideas for a fifth season of Samurai Jack and he approved it right then and there. One of the reasons that the show has taken so long to work on was Tartakovsky wanted to get as many of the original creative team back on the show and with everyone’s busy schedule it was a real challenge.
Once the team was in place production of the show has been slow because it’s a small team that is working on the show that is slowing the process. There was no date given for the premiere of the fifth season but he did say that the show would be ten episodes and it takes place fifty years after the last episode. There are big changes in store for Jack and time has changed him.
Tartakovsky showed the opening of the first episode in animatic form and said that this was the first public showing of it. He said that it would be as if he was pitching the show to the network so he would be doing all of the sound effects and describing the story. It would be hard for me to describe it because it was all visuals but it definitely had a very Mad Max feel to it with Jack now on a motorcycle and in Samurai armor. He now has a gun and the opening truly blew everyone away. After he was finished it was met with thunderous applause and then he went on to show a finished scene that was about 2-3 minutes long that showed a cult that worshiped Aku (who was not seen) and a woman gave birth to seven girls.
Tartakovsky went on to show many designs for the new season that you will see in the pictures below that show that it has not changed anything and will pick up right where the show left off twelve years ago. He did talk about Aku and he originally planned to not have him in the fifth season due in part to the voice actor Mako Iwamatsu passing away after the original series was finished. He said that Aku was such a large part of the mythology and it just didn’t feel right without him in it. They have hired another actor (he said he could not reveal at this time) to voice him and he said that he was very close to Mako’s voice. They have been working hard with him and he said that there are times where he nails the performance and there are times where they need to work on it a bit more, but it’s coming along very nicely.
There were many questions during the Q&A of the panel the one that everyone had on their mind was Sym-Bionic Titan that unlike Samurai Jack ended on a cliffhanger and was never resolved after the 20th episode. He said that if there was interest and he had the time in his schedule that he would love to finish the story and he knows where the story goes. He also was asked about the music that played a huge part in the original series. He said that he listened to a lot of world music when working on the original run of the show and he is doing the same for the new season. He said the original composer was unavailable but the new composer that he could not name was doing a fantastic job on the show. He was asked if the Scotsman would return and he said very much so to the crowd’s delight. There was also this awesome cospaly of Samurai Jack that had the crowd going wild.
The panel ended with Tartakovsky thanking everyone for keeping the spirit of Samurai Jack alive over the years and it was the fans that have brought the show back with their asking for it. He said that it will answer the questions that everyone has and will have a definite conclusion for the overall series. There was no confirmed air date for the show but with the slow production I’m guessing that we won’t see it until at least 2017 but that is just a guess considering that we saw very little finished footage or animatic’s. Overall the show looks fantastic and the enthusiasm from the creative team and the footage makes the 12 year wait well worth it. Honestly it’s going to be THE event when it finally airs.
Below are the designs for the new season along with background designs and a few surprises that Tartakovsky was keeping close to his vest and not revealing.