Rewatch: Samurai Jack

Long ago in a distant land, Aku, the shapeshifting master of darkness, unleashed an unspeakable evil. But, a samurai warrior wielding a magic sword stepped forth to oppose him. Before the final blow was struck, Aku tore open a portal in time and flung the samurai into the future, where his evil is law. Now, the samurai seeks to return to the past and undo the future that is Aku. He’s gotta get back, back to the past, he’s Samurai Jack.

Samurai Jack is a 2001 children’s animated series lead by Genndy Tartakovsky, starring Phil LaMarr as the titular Samurai Jack and Mako as Aku. The series ran for 5 seasons, though there was a 12-year gap between seasons 4 and 5, more on that later. To call it strictly a “children’s animated series” though is a bit of a disservice. Like with Batman: The Animated Series, some episodes definitely have a time-filler feel, but other episodes feature moments that can only be described as art.

Stranded in the future, Jack (taking the name the locals call him) immediately sets out to find time portals or magic to send him back to the past and prevent the future that Aku currently rules over. The show focusses on his journey as a whole. He’s always walking towards the next rumored solution to his problem, encountering new challenges, friends, and people to rescue along the way. Though Aku appears a few times each season, Jack spends most his time dealing with robotic minions of varying statures in Aku’s employ. With that said, Aku is perhaps one of the best villains in children’s animation, largely thanks to Mako’s unique voice and comedic timing. It’s truly a treat whenever he shows up.

Samurai Jack was canceled without a resolution after 4 seasons. The lack of resolution was intentional. The final episode is just another “someone needs help” episode, Aku isn’t even mentioned. Tartakovsky intended the viewer to simply understand that Jack will continue his journey. 12 years later, the show returned for a final season. Rather than being episodic and kid-friendly like the past 4 seasons, it had an overall arc and was darker and more geared towards the audience that grew up on the show. Sadly, Mako passed away in 2006, and Greg Baldwin took over as Aku. Regardless, the final season is an excellent end to Jack’s story.

Samurai Jack is an incredibly diverse adventure, it’s art much of the time, and it’s simply fun. It’s well worth watching. Since the first 4 seasons are very episodic, it’s safe to check out episodes XXXV or XL if you want just a taste first, and I’ve posted a few GIFs if you need an even smaller taste. You can stream Samurai Jack on HBO Max, or buy the whole series on Apple TV for $84.99, so maybe just get HBO Max for a month and stream it.

The Definitive “Leviathan of the Ancient Deep” Recording

leviathan album artAfter 8 long years of work, the magic of modern recording and digital techniques have helped Sarah to produce the definitive recording of her Leviathan of the Ancient Deep Concerto! The 25-minute piece was Sarah’s Master’s thesis under Claremont Graduate University’s composition program, and even though 8 whole years have passed, it’s still her favorite. The Leviathan Concerto features a vibrant six-string electric violin lead, backed by synthesizer, electronic wind instrument, and a full orchestra. You can hear a sample on the announcement post.

This definitive recording is available for a limited time, and exclusively for her Backstage Members, but don’t worry, the cost of membership is only $12/year. That’s right, for roughly the price of one album a year, you’ll get this recording and every other new album she produces!

Soul of the Machine: Now Available

Sarah’s first professionally produced album, Soul of the Machine, was released last week! This was indeed one heck of a ride with professional orchestras and chamber groups all over the world recording some of her best compositions under the watchful gaze and mastering of Navona Records.

The album comes with full copies of the scores so you can follow along with the music, and can be purchased on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Classics Online. If you’re a fan of streaming music services, you can listen to the album on Spotify and Rdio too.

And, if you’re in the area on September 3rd at 6 PM, stop by Brave New World Comics for the official launch party!

MacManX on Music

It’s a new year, which means that it’s time for new things!

As part of my own “Eat Your Own Dog Food” initiative and WordPress.com’s Daily Post initiative, I have dusted the 3-year-old cobwebs off of my own WordPress.com blog to launch MacManX on Music, where I will be blogging at least once a week on the music that keeps me focused whenever I’m on duty as a Happiness Engineer.

Stay tuned to MacManX on Music for the first “official” post, which could appear as early as tomorrow!