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TV: Samurai Jack

Samurai Jack, the animated show on Cartoon Network, returned in March for a fifth and final season. The Emmy-award winning program has been off the air for 14 years. It follows the exploits of Samurai Jack, voiced by Yale alum and former Purple Crayon member Phil Lamarr, YC ’89, as he attempts to defeat Aku, a vicious warlord who wreaks havoc and destruction upon all he encounters.

The new season picks up 50 years after the end of the fourth season, and while Jack has not aged for reasons not made entirely clear, it is obvious he carries the burden of all of his years of battling Aku. He now sports a haggard beard with a mane of wild hair and he frequently goes shirtless to reveal a gaunt chest with protruding ribs.

The show is now markedly darker as well, a tonal shift which has landed it a TV-MA rating as well as a programming spot in Adult Swim’s lineup. It serves the fifth season well as Jack begins to confront weightier subject matter. Gone are his relentless determination and unwavering commitment to defeating Aku. Jack is now tired and vulnerable and his victories are less assured. This is evidenced by his second battle with the Daughters of Aku, in the middle of which, Jack pauses and pants heavily, completely exhausted. In this moment, we feel Jack’s fatigue, both from fighting seven highly-trained assassins born to kill him and from fighting an enemy he can never seem to get any closer to defeating.

The main continuity with the previous four seasons is the exquisite animation which garnered the show so much attention originally. Each shot marries a photographic sensibility of the placement of objects in the frame with the audacious beauty of sharp lines and deep, vibrant colors. A stronger plot only serves to imbue the animation with a meaning and weight that was lacking in the much more episodic earlier seasons.

While creator Genndy Tartakovsky should be lauded for creating a show where each frame could hang in the MoMA, there are more than a handful of creative choices which should be critically examined. Jack’s first villain, Scaramouche, with his flamboyant dress and mannerisms which include ending every sentence with “babe,” reads as somewhat tone deaf and homophobic. The portrayal of samurai seems to be rooted in a Wikipedia level understanding of the historical figure and feels appropriative at times. While this season introduces the strong, nuanced female character of Ashi, women’s bodies are often depicted as hyper-sexual, a fact made uncomfortably clear by the daughters of the Scotsman in the latest episode. The show has wandered into this territory before, most notably with the character of “Da Samurai” in the fourth season, who was nothing more than a racist caricature.

Samurai Jack is thus flawed in the many ways that most mass entertainment is flawed, and thus deserves the same critical eye. With this in mind, whether the show is still worth experiencing should be left to the discretion of the individual viewer.

57 Responses

  1. Scotman says:

    It’s a fantasy cartoon, not a historically portrait.

    They are sexy in design, because the designers wanted them to be sexy in design, because the viewers like seeing them have a sexy design.

    That’s not a flaw, that’s you projecting your views on everyone else.

  2. Sterling Archer says:

    Sorry, but I refuse to feel guilty about like Samurai Jack, because some Yalies want to virtue signal. Glad to see that expensive education isn’t going to waste. (Sarcasm).

  3. Rob says:

    I think before you slam their “creative choices” you should spend a minute or two researching their inspirations. Your review is way off base and only serves to paint a picture of you as someone ignorant of any popular cultural references that predate your own awareness. Do you even know who Sammy Davis Jr was? Have you seen The Last Dragon or any Blaxploitation films? Even the Scottman’s daughters seem to be over your head. You have a lot more history to absorb before you are qualified to critique Samurai Jack.

  4. James says:

    So, Saramouche is a parody of the “rat pack” era gangster, the show has a predominantly asian cast (who I guarantee know more about Samurai than a white yale rich kid), and muscular women aren’t sexualized and in fact are based on depictions of celtic battle maidens. This is what happens when “journalists” project their own opinions without research.

  5. Joe Bates says:

    While there is no doubt that you watched the show and I appreciate how you praised the production design and the colors which I do agree with I don’t appreciate and agree with how you found problems with Scaramouche who’s mannerisms are more theatrical than outright homophobic, Ashi who like the daughters of the Scotsman may be oversexed in appearance but have major and vital roles in the story and a connection to the main characters and honestly, I see those characters and the ones you mentioned in a positive, rather than problematic eye.

  6. Your Review Succs says:

    Looks like my friends and I, all LGBT individuals, must be homophobic for using the term “babe” as a term of affection for one another.

    Oh no, women in skirts and corsets. Look at your lovely omission of information where you fail to acknowledge that the Scottsman address as inappropriate battle gear in the episode! You’re a real piece of work, aren’t you?

    It’s almost like the girls wearing literal body suits of dead human skin are invalidated by this “inappropriate display”. If anything, this is better compared to the bikinis and constant cleavage and ass shots most of us women receive as representation in animation. As a certified female™ who’s been following up on animation longer than you’ve been writing these reviews, let me confirm that this is a marked improvement in the animation industry and was depicted tastefully. If anything, the men are far more sexually depicted than women in Samurai Jack’s case considering it’s a long standing tradition in every season for Jack’s clothes to be shredded to his fundoshi (with one episode called “Jack is Naked” depicting even less clothing) throughout the entire series.

    Did I mention that clothes are not sexual, and if they are, it’s only in regards to women? This kind of hypocrisy pervades your review.

    Your review, is thus, flawed in many ways that most reviews that don’t examine the entirety of the work is flawed. As your loving friend from the far left of the political spectrum, please learn how to properly review animation. All you did was compliment the “art” vaguely launch into a list of “flaws”. You need to examine the characterization, things from the previous work, and offer actual examples in other animation when comparing it to other work. You need to offer positives in the characterization, like Ashi’s depiction, and overall, from someone in the marginalized communities that you’re speaking for, actually consult someone in one of these communities.

    With this in mind, whether your review is worth reading should be left to the individual viewer, and I think it is not. If you want a real animation review with no sugar coating, just type in “Samurai Jack reviews” in Google search, select the “news” tab, and click anything but this joke of a review.

    ~Love, A Lesbian Nursing Student

  7. Baker says:

    “while Jack has not aged for reasons not made entirely clear”
    Aku said that being transported to the future disrupted his aging process. Episode 2.

    “He now sports a haggard beard with a mane of wild hair and he frequently goes shirtless to reveal a gaunt chest with protruding ribs”
    You know what this column needs? Adjectives!

    “Gone are his relentless determination”
    I beg to differ, determination is what carries him through episodes 2 and 3. “It always seems bad at first, but then I find a way.”

    “with his flamboyant dress and mannerisms which include ending every sentence with “babe,” reads as somewhat tone deaf and homophobic”
    I would argue that associating a robot incapable of sexual activity with homosexuality solely because of flamboyance is itself homophobic. Not all homosexuals are flamboyant, and the stereotype that they are should be fought against, not wielded as a tool of patronizing defense.

    “The portrayal of samurai seems to be rooted in a Wikipedia level understanding of the historical figure”
    A show with magic demons and robot ninjas is historically inaccurate? Stop the presses! Also, what aspects about the samurai were not properly expressed in the show? I’m curious, it would be nice to know (unless Mr. Kruyer himself has a Wikipedia-level understanding).

    “feels appropriative at times”
    Which times and for what reason? I don’t want to dismiss the issue of cultural appropriation, but an off-hand mention of it without elaboration is intellectually lazy. Why is appropriation only an issue “at times”?

    “women’s bodies are often depicted as hyper-sexual”
    Again, when and what makes the depictions hyper-sexual? Because of their physical fitness? I don’t think depictions of the female form should be labeled as “hyper-sexual”, especially in non-sexual situations.

    “a fact made uncomfortably clear by the daughters of the Scotsman in the latest episode”
    I find it ironic how the Scotsman mentioned this and ended up looking like a fool for being primarily concerned about his daughters’ apparel in a serious situation. Really makes you think.

    “The show has wandered into this territory before, most notably with the character of “Da Samurai” in the fourth season, who was nothing more than a racist caricature.”
    Well first of all, credit to Mr. Kruyer for finally making a claim and then supporting it with evidence. However, a case could be made that Da Samurai is a caricature OF racist depictions of “black kung-fu” men from 1970s blaxploitation films, a la Black Dynamite. That’s just my interpretation, and I would advise Mr. Kruyer not to dismiss all other interpretations of a character other than his own, even if it’s because of well-intentioned concerns for our racial climate. Nuanced discussion of race requires openness to different perspectives.

    “Samurai Jack is thus flawed in the many ways that most mass entertainment is flawed, and thus deserves the same critical eye.”
    Using “thus” twice in the same sentence was a sloppy mistake by Mr. Kruyer and an even sloppier miss by his editor. And I don’t really understand the point of this sentence, seeing as how a critical eye PRECEDES the discovery of flaws, and not the reverse (notice the placement of the two thuses).

    “With this in mind, whether the show is still worth experiencing should be left to the discretion of the individual viewer”
    Then what was the point of this column other than a murky summery and weakly supported complaints about political incorrectness, or rather, things that “seem” prejudiced or insensitive “at times”? I guess that’s why this articles lacks a title. Weak review, but sure to garner this publication attention.

  8. Isaac says:

    Dear writer. I believe you are mistaking. See first of all scaramouche is a robot a being that has no Gender or sex. And has shown no interest in men. As for being a negative interpretation of gay men this is also incorrect. He is a musician. Also based on a famous musician that is what they are referencing. I would appreciate it if you would research your facts. Second I do not believe women are over Sexualized you do realize samuria jack ends up in his underwear after almost every battle revealing his well tonedone body. Yet I do not hear you speaking of how he is over Sexualized. This is a double standard and a frankly obtuse one as neither is oversexualized more than the other. As for da samuria. He was less of a racist character and more of a call back to the funky 80’s I mean look at those pants. He even returns in a recent episode as an old wizened bartender and doesn’t seem the least bit racist to me. As for how they treat the concept of a samuria again you are mistaking. They have always taken great pains to have jack follow bushido code even touching the slight detail of how he cleans his sword before sheathing it. Even the subtle way they handlet sepukku and the importance of honor is respectful. They have clearly taken the greatest care. Is it realistic no its an action cartoon. But it is not in reality incarcerate. Oh and once more I must call back to how samuria jack was trained by an African tribe that once again treated them as respected equals and warriors. Thank you for your time

  9. Aria says:

    The criticisms come off as I’ll informed criticisms not based in an understanding of the subject matter. The samurai depictions are direct Akira Kurosawa nods in terms of composure as well as battle ascetic with Jack in loincloth being a direct nod to the Hidden fortress. This opening Salvo of “appropriation and from wikipedia” demonstrates the authors inability to understand the subject matter at hand and thus misattribution the inspiration. This is made all too clear when the author of this article demonstrates that they don’t understand the inspiration for “SAMURAI” despite the 1970s test style being a blatant and neon lit finger pointing to “blaxploitation” movies of the time.

    I find this review to be demonstrative of the authors inability to critique or understand the subject matter in queation. Instead of understanding what the character elements are referring to (the robot Scharamouche should have given it away), the author instead assumes a bias, or negative intention. As such, this review, while attempting to critically praise a groundbreaking and timeless story, instead is caught up in the amateurish posturing reminiscent of a high school student who wishes to be a film critic but instead spent all his time studying post modernism as though it were all he needed to know in order to study a movie.

    With that, I ask that an actual film student please do a review. It pains me to see this article, demonstrative of the inability to understand this art form, so grossly fail at the simple task of understanding the subject matter and so eager to instead play an ideological card. It demonstrates the writers inability to put forth a true examination of the subject matter, and relies instead on using false claims of appropriation and homophobia to carry the veracity of their argument.

    Failure. Just a simple failure. I expected more from the Herald.

  10. Drew says:

    Scaramouche is a rift on Sammy Davis Jr.’s persona, hardly homophobic. You should not make complaints about cultural-appropriation [or insensitivities] if you are not willing to make the effort to learn where the cultural homages originate in the first place.

  11. Mike says:

    Being a gay man myself, I find nothing homophobic about “babe”.
    I think you people need a revised sense of humor, besides the show at this stage is not for kids.

  12. Dee says:

    Scaramouche is supposed to be an homage to Sammy Davis Jr. Im not quite sure how you see The Scotsman’s daughter’s as being hypersexualized, I suppose we will have to agree to disagree.

  13. Greagreagreaga says:

    What’s that? A college kid got his first taste of thinking about social issues and is trying them out? Oh this should be fun.

    “Jack’s first villain, Scaramouche, with his flamboyant dress and mannerisms which include ending every sentence with “babe,” reads as somewhat tone deaf and homophobic”

    That character doesn’t read as gay. That character is a combo of Sammy Davis, Jr, beatniks, and disco-era/post-disco folks who were all overly-obsessed with music and talked that way. If you’re going to try to pull that crap, at least find a character who is even supposed to be gay or showing gay qualities.

    “The portrayal of samurai seems to be rooted in a Wikipedia level understanding of the historical figure and feels appropriative at times.”

    You mean the fictional world that he comes from filled with magic and ruled by an ancient demon, with the art completely stylized towards the ukiyo-e style of painting, which itself is an exaggeration of life (thus telling the viewer that we’re watching something exaggerated), stars a samurai which is exaggerated to the point of being idealized. And you don’t understand how all of that goes together. Alternate world, the style of art, and what we’re being presented. Take Film 102 and get back to us on that one.

    “While this season introduces the strong, nuanced female character of Ashi, women’s bodies are often depicted as hyper-sexual…”

    Again, stylized. Literally every character in the show is stylized. Men and women can be several times the size of each other. Very few are ever scantly-clad, and most of that has actually been Jack when his gi or other clothing is damaged (or in one case, stolen). The only woman I can think of who was ever sexualized was the bounty hunter who was using her sexuality to lure people into letting her get close and then capture/kill them.

    “…a fact made uncomfortably clear by the daughters of the Scotsman in the latest episode.”

    Because…..they weren’t 100% clothed head to toe and there was a joke of an overprotective father being an overprotective father? So….if a woman isn’t in a burka, she’s being sexualized and we need to stone the person who caused this atrocity?

    “The show has wandered into this territory before, most notably with the character of “Da Samurai” in the fourth season, who was nothing more than a racist caricature.”

    Once again, you don’t understand references. That was referencing 70’s blaxploitation movies, some of which were obsessed with martial arts. See Film 102.

  14. Daniel Banks says:

    Scaramouche is a play on Sammy Davis Jr. Nothing indicates that he’s homosexual at all.

  15. T. Baggins says:

    What a vapid assessment of a wonderful show. Imgur has this information now: prepare your Inbox.

  16. Larry says:

    I take it that nobody on the staff is old enough to know who Sammy Davis Jr was.

  17. J. Kelly says:

    Can you stop getting offended by non-issues and either enjoy the show or just watch something else? You’d expect an article from YALE to be serious and review plot points, pacing, character development…etc but it’s just childish whining. Grow up before watching an adult’s show next time honey.

  18. Zoey Allans says:

    This is a nice attempt at a review, but I have to challenge your thinking, here. I’m going to begin by addressing the way you’ve established your thoughts, and then address individual points.

    “Samurai Jack is thus flawed in the many ways that most mass entertainment is flawed, and thus deserves the same critical eye.” Whether a piece of media is flawed or not should have no bearing on whether it’s deserving of a critical eye. All media deserves a critical eye. That’s why you have this job. If you limit your criticism and critique purely to what you disagree with, you will only serve to stifle yourself as a reviewer and as a writer. It is equally important, possibly more so, to critique that which you DO agree with. In doing so, you also challenge your own assumptions and may discover your reasoning is flawed. This can allow you to not only improve yourself but improve your arguments, as well as serve as a check to the slippery slope of extremism. An example of this, from my own opinions, would be: “Samurai Jack’s artwork is beautiful and evocative of early century Japanese woodcut prints, but the lack of lines can lead to confusion in busier scenes, and the animation suffers in many action sequences due to the clash between a harder style and a tight budget.” (http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/10/14881920/samurai-jack-season-five-genndy-tartakovsky-cartoon-network-adult-swim)

    Onto your examples of offensive content, in list form to make this simple:

    – Scaramouch is loosely based off of Sammy Davis Jr., a popular singer and actor of the 1950s, who was known for comedy and “scatting,” a type of singing based in nonsensical words. Is the character flamboyant? Yes. Is he a gay caricature? Only if you have a terrible opinion of homosexuals and didn’t do your research.

    – The show’s portrayal of ‘samurai’ has nothing indicating a lack of research into the subject. The only elements of samurai culture not present are the honor killings and corruption that ran rampant in clans. Seeing as our character is supposed to be a hero that embodies the bushido spirit, I’d say they’re doing a damn fine job. And yes, a bunch of Americans got together and appropriated samurai culture for their cartoon. And it’s been wholly respectful and accurate in the context of a cartoon. You’re testing the waters for outrage where there should be none.

    – The daughters of the Scotsman are towering, muscular women who, if anything, are admonished by their father for not wearing enough. It was a blatant turning of the stereotypical “warrior-babe” on its head. If your issue is that they had large breasts, then I don’t know what to tell you. Large girls have large breasts. And they all do, because they’re all seven-foot-tall bear-women and the Scotsman was faithful to his wife so they all have the same two parents.

    – Ashi is probably the only truly sexualized character in the season, and it’s done briefly and tastefully, with more of a tone of a beautiful rebirth from nature than anything involving fanservice. That said, I’m willing to concede some scenes were definitely placed to put emphasis on her figure.

    – The Sam-ooh-rai is not a racist caricature. He’s a caricature of funk culture, which was immensely popular during the same time martial arts movies and kung fu theatre were at their height in the U.S. It is entirely legitimate to pair the two together as they were enjoyed by the same generation- incidentally, the generation much of the show’s writers and directors herald from. On the whole, Samurai Jack has been incredibly diverse and considerate in its portrayals of all sorts of cultures. Jack himself went through a training montage of almost every major civilization in existence in an earlier episode. However, you see a black person with an attitude and assume stereotyping. That says more about your own bias than the creators’.

    Samurai Jack himself is played by a black man. Is that Japanese appropriation by afro-culture? (Answer: No.)

    I am wholly disappointed by this review and this current culture of searching for “problematic elements” to garner views and support. I understand we live in trying times and social justice has become more of a youth fad than an actual movement, but I expect better from Yale. Do your research next time, and for all that is good in the world try to have a couple more paragraphs that are longer than two sentences in future reviews. This reads more like a neutral-toned Facebook rant than a legitimate critique.

  19. Keegan says:

    Who is to say flamboyant people – or gays – shouldn’t be villains?! What could possibly be homophobic about a gay villain? Black, female villains permeate pop media. I think it’s pretty regressive to declare gay villainy as ‘homophobia,’ to reserve mischief and evil for only cisgendered villains. That’s ridiculous.

    Secondly, Samurai Jack has never been about an accurate portrayal of the feudal samurai. This isn’t Shogun – I mean come on, the first episode of the first season takes place centuries in the future and sports talking dogs and gigantic robotic killer beetles. Not to mention the time-traveling demon lord or the fact that samurai jack trained with temporally disparate warrior cultures from all across history and the globe. Have you only noticed the realism gap now? Just now, fifteen years later?

    As for supersexualized female bodies – unfortunately, this has been a staple of animated artstyle for decades. I don’t think samurai jack is at any more fault than pretty much *any* other adult animated series. In fact, I think I’d rather praise Samurai Jack for onboarding a powerful and interesting female lead, center to the plot, capable of both challenging SAVING Jack.

  20. Brandon Robinson says:

    I’m sorry but the writer is incorrect about Scaramouche being a homosexual stereotype. The character’s voice and mannerisms are based on the jazz singer/actor Sammy Davis Jr. Many characters in shows like samurai jack are based on influenced by people and media in popular culture.

  21. Yale do yourself a favor- and fire this guy. looking him up he has only two reviews for you so far, and if he is representing the views of all of Yale, then you are looking at a huge backlash with his attack on Samurai Jack.
    “Scaramouche, with his flamboyant dress and mannerisms which include ending every sentence with ‘babe,’ reads as somewhat tone deaf and homophobic,” It’s only that way if you choose to project your own ideas of gay men onto the character. Which he obviously has done, making me question if he himself is homophobic.

    “rooted in a Wikipedia level understanding of the historical figure,” and that it even “feels appropriated” at times.” Again, objecting your views on a show that has never claimed to be historically accurate at all. It has robot monsters in it….Are you kidding me?
    as for Appropriation- Don’t. Just don’t. You are jumping onto a topic you have no say in, no right to have a say in, and a topic that Ruined the success of Ghost in the Shell with false claims. And when the Write of the Original works, and the fans attempted to correct these claims, they were ignored.
    As for other sources of these claims, that is a view you are welcome to have, but I pity you for having such a two dimensional
    view of the world. ” character of Ashi, women’s bodies are often depicted as hyper-sexual, a fact made uncomfortably clear by the daughters of the Scotsman in the latest episode.” These are the same outcries heard from the religious right, and alt right. If a woman had drawn the cartoon, this wouldn’t even be an arguement, you are clinging to anything that may seem like a problem and making issues where there should not be. As for the Character “Da Samurai” If anything, this was Genndy attempting to indeed show your “Culture Appropriation” in a character. It was meant to teach humility as Jack taught him to be, That Honor doesnt come from flashy techniques and looking the part- but from your actions, and your heart. but no- Sam doesn’t see this.

    While Reviewer Sam Krueyer should be thanked for expressing his opinion, his opinion is thus flawed, in the many ways that most young students reviews are flawed, and thus deserves the same critical eye, to better them as students and people. With this in mind, maybe Sam Krueyer should focus on learning from Roger Ebert and Pauline Kael- over Daniel Keem.

  22. Jeff Foster says:

    Saying that a character can’t be/ act a certain way because of an arbitrary characteristic is bigotry btw, just fyi.

  23. Andrew Albee says:

    After reading this article I can’t help but feel that you are looking a little too closely at the material to find something wrong with the new season of Samurai Jack. While I can concede that the main female character Ashi could be considered maybe a little over sexualized with unrealistic body proportions, I can’t help but feel the rest of your arguments against the show are grasping at straws. Scaramouche acts in a colorful and maybe “flamboyant” manner, no where does he ever come out as saying be is gay. His character seemed to me to Echo that of Sammy Davis Jr, Elton John, or Price. Which while one of them most notably was homosexual, not all of them were but they all acted in a “flamboyant” style none the less. If you were going to argue that it was homophobic by making a “obviously homosexual” the villain, that would be a wrong assumption as well. Looking back at the past villains of the show, they have always been colorfully created and unique to help provide some concontrast to Jack’ quite and often blank demenur. And for this situation a character who uses musical instruments and even the sound of his voice as a weapon, his character fits perfectly with a jazzy, beat box style villian. As for the cultural appropriation, again that is something that I feel you are reading to much into something that isn’t there. Samurai jack was never sent out to be a show completely and historically accutate to the life of a samurai. While he was dubbed the name Jack I’m the show, it is a nickname that he recieved in the future travel bease of thr foreigness to the new people he encountered. It is not any type of whitewashing, it is a common practice used around the world by people who travel or move (not as a way to hide there heritage but as a way to make communication and personal connections easier. As for the Sah-Moo-Rai issue, in the newest episode (as of 4/25/2017) episode six, they actually bring back his character and discuss how his character portrayed himself in such a way as to show off how cool and “badass” he was as a samurai, but that in meeting Jack he encountered one who actually walked according to the bushido code, but not for the looks, but as a way of life. Upon realizing that he dropped the act because he understood what he thought was merely a name and a style of dress had much deeper meaning and significance. If anything I feel that really plays well to show how people may misview or misslabel things as something they are not. In conclusion, while I do agree that we should hold up a criticle eye to the show to sew why we would or would not enjoy it, I think it should be said that we also should be careful not to read too much into something that may not be there. All in all though, as a fan of the show love the critique of this acticle (besides the issues above), and I wish no ill intentions or aggression twords the writer or this paper, just wanted to make my opinion on the other side of the matter known in hopefully as cLear and well worded as possible.

  24. Sammy Davis says:

    Scaramouche’s speech and attitude are, beyond a shadow of a doubt, completely based on Sammy Davis Jr. Any “queer coding” you perceive is completely of your own creation, and displays your stereotyping, not theirs.

  25. Steve says:

    Who cares its a cartoon. Women in other countries are mutilated for simple mistakes. People are starving everywhere in the world. Africa is being taken over by terrorists. This is happening and the god damn Yale Herald is worried about a damn cartoon.

  26. TheVoiceofReason says:

    What a ridiculous review that leaves anyone with half of an ounce of common sense wondering if it’s actually a critique of the show or if it’s just a desperate cry for attention by the author in an attempt to show how ‘accepting’ and ‘tolerant’ they are, as opposed to anything genuine or substantive.

  27. Dudewat says:

    I don’t really think Da Samurai is that racist considering that The Scotsman and Jack were already national stereotypes themselves

  28. mark says:

    Hello Kruyer. I don’t usually write replies like this, so forgive me if it’s not in the proper format. I will not refer to you as Mr. or Ms. for fear of offending you. For further correspondence, please tell me how you would like to be addressed.

    In this review, you have two small paragraphs reviewing the overall plot, one larger paragraph that essentially reviews what is going on in the series so far (by the way, it’s TV-14, not MA), and you’re largest paragraph, which judging by the way it is written is the one you were most passionate about, was essentially finding reasons to be offended by a simplistic show that revolves around telling a simple story very well, with well developed characters. It’s not a samurai documentary, it’s not about the lives of gay people (It was a robot for Chrissake! How can you get so offended over a ROBOT?), and it’s not trying to portray “realistic women” or whatever you wanted it to do instead of portraying the daughters of Aku the way they were. It has no political agenda, and is merely trying to tell a story. These are not real people, they are cartoon characters. Are you going to complain about the misrepresentation of the furry blue aliens from episode 5? Or the various other races from episode 6?

    I only have to ask, do you look at media only to get offended? Do you not watch them to be entertained? Or is that how you gain entertainment?I cannot understand how this absolutely sub par level of writing and critique is able to be displayed on a website belonging to one of the finest learning institutions in the country. I am part angry and part disappointed to know that even Ivy league schools such as Yale have stooped to this level of meaningless drivel, to not critique the execution or story arc of the work based on the rules set within the story or the animation methods used, but rather the reviewers own personal issues projected onto the work.

    I truly do hope that this site will yield higher quality reviews in the future, based on reasonable guidelines and not to bring personal political beliefs into everything one of it’s reviewers touches.

  29. Alan Jackson says:

    Waaaaah everything offends me, I’m bored, and I don’t have the originality to write anything of real merit.

  30. Microwave Grapes says:

    if you reached any farther you would have dislocated your shoulder this is just embarrassing coming from YALE students

  31. Gianmarco says:

    Athletes regardless of gender tend to be incredibly fit. Soldiers and warriors are athletes. Da Samurai exists in every urban center. This show remarkably updates the original, however, a show for adults based on a show for children will always be shackled to some extent on what came before.

    Sometimes those of us with excellent education and high intelligence convince ourselves that we can relate to other cultures and perspectives. Unfortunately, a person who approaches a culture or perspective as an academic will only be able to experience that culture or perspective as an academic. To transcend that limitation you might need to do something difficult for us well educated folks; try to authentically experience Samurai Jack as the individuals you imagined when you wrote this article.

    I feel like either you reached for items to criticize in an attempt to offer a balanced opinion or you genuinely are tone deaf and out of touch.

    Irony at its finest. That said, spend 2 years training heavily in martial arts. Ask yourself if anyone could be unfit after 2 years of that? In the hood do kids from the streets enjoy their interpretation of Japanese culture? You could almost argue that it’s a new subculture within the hood.

  32. Timothy Michael Aguero II says:

    You know the robot villain is kinda based on Sammy Davis Jr. right? Also flamboyancy does equal homosexual in nature, i mean look at Austin Powers so calling the character homophobic feels like your reaching a bit. Also the samurai’s portrayal being non-historical base could be seen as truth but thats not the point of the show, to accurately portray samurai. The show does not accurately portray many other cultures either, because the show is stylized action cartoon that only has time to do surface level reading of the many set pieces and characters the show goes through and relies on pop cultures being able to identify based on known tropes, ie viking helmets with horns, all scottish warriors wearing kilts and having red hair, etc… Honestly to me it feels like your purposely trying to find a reason to nit pick this show.

  33. T. Baggins415 says:

    Loving the recreational outrage guys. I’ll be sure to never eat Sushi, Dim Sum or Pad Thai again so as not to offend people like you with my cultural appropriation of Asian foods. I guess you morons have no idea who Sammy Davis Jr. is as that who Scaramouche is obviously based on but you’re all probably to young and ignorant to even know who that is. Jesus Christ, you idiots look for anything to be offended at even in amazing Emmy worthy entertainment. Die alone.

  34. Mike S. says:

    You clearly cannot comprehend anything outside your own personal bubble. You have made up these accusations due to your clear hatred for creative expression that does not fit your social stature. I laugh at people like you. Genndy Tartakovsky is a genius in the world of animation from Dexter’s Laboratory to Hotel Transylvania. He is allowed to do as he pleases, he has worked in the industry long before you were even a sperm in your dad’s ballsack. He has earned the right to do what he wishes. People like beautiful Women, People like action, people like compelling storytelling. Also just because a character has “Certain Traits” does not mean that they are gay or should be gay. I know straight people who talk like that and it’s either a lisp or an accent.

    Get your head out of your ass or just shut up.

  35. Jack says:

    Isn’t the projection of a sexual alignment onto flamboyant mannerisms a stereotype of said community? There are a many gay people that do not act flamboyantly and call everyone “babe,” and might they take offense to said stereotype? The “Superstore” episode “Wedding Day Sale” addresses this issue very well, as it seems to be a grey area of many people assuming what a gay person likes, how they act, and how they appear.

    The show has never called itself historically accurate, which may be given away by the title of the show: Samurai Jack. Not Samurai Kaito, or Samurai Touma. There is a very clear western influence on the show, one similar to the influence on the Avatar series’. There is no clear issue with the representation of the samurai. What is, however, historically accurate, is the clothing he wears in the original series. With that clothing being replaced with merely rags or whatever Jack picks up, there is little that implies a stereotype or misrepresentation of an old regime, aside from the name of the character. What we see is someone in touch with nature and in control of his body fighting those working against him. At this point, you could call the show “Nomad vs The World” and it would not change the show in any way.

    The “sexualization” of female characters in this show is perhaps picked up from the reactions seen on the internet, you know, the place that will fetishize anything and everything. The art style itself is based on hard edges and unrefined shapes that denote the character’s personality and alignment. If you want to study Ashi, for example, her history is shown to be that of child abuse, torture, and conditioning to be a weapon that fights the samurai. It is highly probable that a specific body shape was forced upon her within her training, considering her black “bodysuit” is actually charred-black skin from a training ritual. You also have to realize that in most Asian countries, people are shamed out of having bodies considered skinny in the west, resulting in even an skinnier population. It sounds like your body argument is more against a foreign culture than a pop show.

    As for “Da Samurai,” though the character is arguably a stereotype of a black breakdancer from the 90s, there is clearly no hate nor agenda being pushed by the character, who introduces a new aspect to the show as well as providing diversity in the form of music and animation. Had Da Samurai been a gangbanger from Harlem, there would definitely have been more issues, but that’s when you run over to “The Boondocks” (another Adult Swim show) and point fingers about stereotyping. Is stereotyping a good thing? It can be. If you’re looking to portray a character as something specific, stereotyping is necessary. You can’t draw a stick figure with an arrow pointing to it saying “Italian.” Give the stick figure a mustache and a pizza, and suddenly everyone can identify.

    To summarize, Samurai Jack is in the midst of airing perhaps its strongest season yet, but the only complaints require the audience to directly assign stereotypes, as opposed to seeing them stand out. When you have to actually look deep into the show for potential offense to a social group of your choosing (female, Asian, disabled, those that enjoy a particular film genre, etc.), you have to wonder if it really is making “glaring, critical mistakes” in the show. Considering the show preaches the message of getting in touch with nature, helping your peers, and seeing goodness in all, I highly doubt any of these “creative choices” were implemented with mal-intent, and were definitely very carefully thought out to best represent the character and what they stand for.

  36. You're an idiot says:

    Don’t watch the show if you thinks it’s so bad. You’re just a triggered social justice warrior who goes boinkers on the slightest bit of teasing. Samurai Jack is an amazing show, quit hitching about it.

  37. Nicholas Quinton says:

    Can you please stop looking for “problems” where there aren’t any problems? There isn’t anything wrong with any of the depictions in Samurai Jack, please for the love of humanity stop with this nonsense.

  38. Jack Strider says:

    Wow. You can’t just enjoy a series without getting on a high horse. Just sit down and learn to live a little. SMDH

  39. Joeseph Steele says:

    It’s like you’ve never seen the actual show but rather just the memes and trailers. You’re the only one who cares that Scaramouche sounds like a gay person. You’re the only one who feels that women are hypersexualized in media, and somehow Scottish women aren’t sexualized so that’s oppression, or something.

    The problem with your school and status is that you can’t relate in any way to the common folk. All you see is oppression this and sexism that, but step away from that and you’ll see a good show that’s within the top tier of animation within a decade.
    Get off your high horse and don’t be so critical of everything. Maybe then you’ll enjoy life.

  40. Shad Ellay says:

    Please, stop letting your professors infect you with their neo-progressive ideologies. It’s a cartoon. It isn’t hurting anyone. Not every piece of media needs some form of hyper-nuanced commentary on identity politics. These people aren’t racist, homophobic, or sexist, they’re just dudes making a TV show about a Samurai that fights robots.

    Please, think as an individual, not as part of a collective, while you still can.

  41. Ben says:

    Not even Samurai Jack is safe from college SJW nonsense, it would seem.

  42. Carlton says:

    You didn’t approve a single comment, did you? ;)

  43. Avery Porter says:

    How is a robot homophobic for acting a certain way and dressing a certain way? It’s not sexist to portrayed women for having features that are unique to them, and the clothing of the Scotsman’s daughter was a setup for the bit between them where he criticizes them for dressing inappropriately. The black samurai wasn’t a racist caricature, he was a comical character who looked like something out of the 80s acted like a loud idiot. There wasn’t anything racist about him, he talked like a black person, not saying all of talk like that but some do. It was obvious that he meant to be the comical idiot. Also, what you said about the portrayal of samurai isn’t true. Jack grew up in jack grew up mostly traveling the world, he was only in Japan until he was at most 12 so of course he’s not a traditional samurai. In fact he’s better because he spent most of his life traveling the world learning various skills and types of fighting.

  44. Dr. Michael O'Sullivan says:

    So you’ve never heard of the…I wanna say 70s…musical subculture of which Scaramouche is a blatantly obvious pastiche of, right down to the dress sense and vocabulary (common in 70s and 80s movies featuring the music, I’m not a music guy so can’t remember the name, associated with Black culture as portrayed in the media of the day). Because I’d argue that’s the only way I could understand making any connections between Scarmouche (named for an 1860s comedic musical character, or perhaps the song by Queen named for said character, either way highlighting the strong musical basis of the character if the flute wasn’t enough) and any kind of negative sexual tropes, homosexual or otherwise. Even then, I’d argue seeing a homosexual stereotype in someone whose vocabulary is occasionally more reminiscent of the 80s/90s stereotype of the hollywood talent agent and as pointed out whose dress sense is tied into a musical rather than LGBT subculture is a tad silly.

    • Dr. Michael O'Sullivan says:

      That’s without me delving how the samurai as portrayed in Samurai Jack is derivative of historical Japanese media like Lone Wolf and Cub or the classic Seven Samurai then “appropriation” via the power of wikipedia. Perhaps you should watch the original series, I wonder if the mini-series format is causing some of the artistry and subtlety of the piece to be lost upon you. Just a thought.

  45. How did this mess get past the proofreading stage? The quality of the writing itself is pretty bad, you can’t seem to decide how much detail to provide (Aku is merely a “vicious warlord” and no mention is made of the time travel that provides both the show’s premise and one of Jack’s major goals, but you spend half a paragraph on a single scene that when you could have left it at “Jack is now tired and vulnerable and his victories are less assured”), and you feel like it’s important to talk about cultural appropriation in a show where, somehow, Robin Hood and ancient Egyptians are contemporary with each other *and* that samurai that you’re so interested in complaining about. At the very least you could go into a little more detail about how this is problematic, but no, you needed to exhaust your word count by talking about Jack’s chest.

    This could have been a good article. Even if I disagree with some of its points, the thing that frustrates me is not that those points were made but that any one of those points could have warranted a good paragraph at the very least, and instead you simply vomited them onto the page and called it good.

  46. mantel says:

    Apparently you guys didn’t do your homework on Scaramouche, or else you also think Sammy Davis Jr. was homophobic?

  47. anon says:

    Scaramouche (the robot) is based on Scaramouche, from Italian theater. The robot’s sexuality isn’t even brought up in the show, so I don’t see how it could be a homosexual stereotype unless you think that only homosexuals can dress up colorfully.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scaramouche

    “da samurai” was a bit ridiculous though.

  48. Psyckosama says:

    Alright. How about we make this clear by the numbers.

    First, Scaramouche. He’s not homophobic. He’s a stock character. If you took the effort to do 30 seconds of wiki crawling you’d find that he’s actually based on a 16th century clown character of the Italian commedia dell’arte. Basically, a flamboyant and over confident manner called the… get this… the Scaramouche.

    As for Ashi and the Daughters. First, it cuts both ways. Jack’s been a walking shitless scene for most of the series. So where’s the bitching about the objectification of men and damage to the male body image? And besides, to do the kind of moves Ashi does, you’d need a woman gymnasts build. That kind of movement simply isn’t possible with Junk in the Trunk.

    Not that you’d care, because this is pure attention whoring clickbait BS. Probably trying to secure a place as proper schlock monger on the Mary Sue.

  49. Pissed off says:

    You guys are morons who probably didn’t even watched the show.

    Scaramouche is based on the Rat Pack singer, Sammy Davis Jr. who was flamboyant to begin with.

  50. kalo says:

    really? for only hiper-sexual characters, you have the scotman’s wife… Which is the opposite. And about the robot, i don’t think that can offend anybody, seriously. If you want to get offended, you should go watch two and a halfmen.

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