The Content, The Quality, The Criticism: Samurai Jack The Complete Series


What is the story?

The story follows a samurai warrior who is tasked to defeat a terrible evil known as Aku. After almost defeating him Aku opens a portal through time and sends him into the future. It’s up to the samurai to defeat the entity of evil and find a way back to his own time.

 

After a thirteen year long hiatus Samurai Jack came to its conclusion earlier this year. While we were expecting a season five DVD/Blu Ray release in the future, randomly out of the blue an Amazon listing stated that a complete series of Samurai Jack on blu ray would be released in October. About a week later that was confirmed to be true. Samurai Jack seasons one through five were being released on blu ray with the original four seasons being remastered in HD. Not only that but the first three episodes of season one also known as The Premiere Movie would be shown in theaters in HD. Also the complete fifth season soundtrack would be released on itunes and the google music stores for purchase. It was a completely loaded year for Jack with Adult Swim pulling all the stops. So with that in mind I had to get my hands on the complete collection of Samurai Jack which contains all sixty two episodes of the series and a few other goodies. Before I begin I want to make it clear this isn’t a review on the entire series more or less the content you are getting with this collection. For the average person who maybe unfamiliar with Samurai Jack is it worth spending the one hundred and twelve dollar asking price?

 

The Content

The amount of items that come with the Samurai Jack collection is serviceable. It comes with a nicely designed box with Aku taking the front half and Jack taking the sides while the episode amount for each season is listed on the back.

The quality of the box is very nice it’s kinda hard to describe, but it feels sturdy in the hands and does look like it can take a beating. Inside the box are all five seasons on blu ray along with a metal art print. The blu ray covers themselves are all very beautiful. The design of them are elegant, picturing the samurai with some iconic characters from famous episodes of each season. With of course season five’s promotional art being used for the cover of its respected season.

The disc art for the blu ray are also a delight to look at. All of them have background art from the show and they are very simple and clean but pleasant to the eyes. As for the metal art itself it is cool looking and feels like a premium product. That being it is well put together and does not feel cheaply made. There are special features that are placed into each season of the box set. However, the ones for the first four seasons are just carryovers from previous DVD releases. The final season does have new content such as the Evolution of Jack which is behind the scenes talking about Samurai Jack’s past and where it is currently for season five, it’s popularity over the years, etc. The fifth season blu ray also comes with episode pitches titled pitch movies. All they are are storyboards of full episodes narrated by the creator Genndy Tartakovsky. These are neat and will appeal to those who are interested in storyboarding.

 

The Quality

When it comes to quality the first four seasons have been remastered into high definition. Although it comes with its limitation it is still in 4:3 so black borders will be around the display as for anything else the picture and quality of the video is solid. The colors pop out more compared to the washed out DVD releases. The best example for this would be season four episode XL:Samurai Versus Ninja. It looks beautiful remastered the shadows and use of color brings out the wonderful artistic direction.

As for season five it’s presented in 16:9 and still looks amazing.

The Criticism

Their isn’t a whole lot to take away from the entire package that is negative. Just minor things that I wished would have been included. To start while the metal art print is nice an art book showing the designs would be interesting to fans who want to look at the designs and see how they evolved over time. As a fan myself it’s a little disappointing not having any art booklet at all. Also in terms of including more adding in a download code for the season five soundtrack would’ve been a really nice edition since many are paying for a premium product. To be fair you do get the download code for all the seasons so it doesn’t feel like all you get are the things I mentioned previous, but still adding more to the overall package would have been nice. Another criticism I have is that the special features aren’t updated in anyway for the first four seasons anything with behind the scenes have been left untouched. Meaning that video quality is low, being in standard definition rather than high definition. While this isn’t an isolated incident with Jack as with all older movies being remastered into 4K don’t touch the special features options. Yet, it would’ve been nice to have them touched up a bit. As for season five there aren’t any commentary for any of the episodes. Yes you get behind the scenes things like the Pitch Movies and Evolution of Jack, but not having any form of commentary for any of season five is rather strange. It would’ve been nice to have one episode commentary just to get Genndy or the entire crews thoughts on returning to Samurai Jack after the thirteen year gap. It would’ve added more to the special features which aren’t barren mind you, but would’ve given the viewer or lifetime fan another option to check out.

The Verdict

Samurai Jack The Complete Series blu ray box set is a premium item that comes with hours upon hours of content and extras. While the criticism I voiced previously are issues I take with it it does not detract from the rest of the package. Although to go back to a previous statement to those who aren’t fans of Samurai Jack is it worth it to you? Well that depends, are you a fan of this type of show to begin with? One that’s more focused on visual storytelling rather than dialogue. A series that is for the most part episodically structured rather than a full on straightforward narrative being told. What I’m trying to say is your milage may vary. Considering that this isn’t like any other western animated show. Also this is a good chunk of change your spending it maybe wise just to watch a few episodes of the series through Hulu given if you have that service to begin with. If so and you enjoyed what you watched then I can say it’s well worth the hundred and twelve dollar asking price. This was clearly aimed at fans of the series those who had been watching it since it premiere back in 2001. So this is obviously an easy sell to that audience as for casuals I’d wait for a sale if one were to come up and if this peaks your interests then this is something I highly recommend.