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Top 10 Samurai Jack Episodes

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Nick Spake

Gotta get back, back to the past. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 episodes of “Samurai Jack.”For this list, we’re taking a look at the most thrilling, atmospheric and visually stunning episodes of what is arguably Genndy Tartakovsky’s magnum opus.

Special thanks to our users GiggsGotPants for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Transcript
Gotta get back, back to the past. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 episodes of “Samurai Jack.”

For this list, we’re taking a look at the most thrilling, atmospheric and visually stunning episodes of what is arguably Genndy Tartakovsky’s magnum opus.
 

#10: “Jack and the Haunted House”

Here’s an episode with the ambiance of a classic ghost story that’s sure to overwhelm you with dread and paranoia. In pursuit of a little girl who’s lost her teddy bear, Jack is drawn to a spooky, abandoned house. The dwelling is literally haunted by bad memories, which Jackwitnesses firsthand through several shadowy flashbacks. It makes for a disorienting experience in which Jack is challenged to decipher what’s real and what’s an illusion. In the end, our hero confronts a demon to preserve a family’s future.  

#9: “Jack and the Spartans”

Ever notice how sometimes history repeats itself? In this episode of epic proportions, Jack comes to the aid of 300 Spartan warriors fighting for their land. Instead of facing Persians, though, Jack and his new allies must go up against an army of robot monsters. While the story and art style take a few cues from Frank Miller’s “300,” the episode still puts its own distinctive signature on the Battle of Thermopylae. It amounts to some of the show’s most glorious animation, most mind-blowing action sequences and a bittersweet ending.

#8: “Jack Learns to Jump Good”

Coming out at a time when overly complicated plots and excessive dialogue bogged down many other action shows, “Samurai Jack” refreshingly knew how to keep matters simple and quickly establish character motivation. Few episodes encompass this better than “JackLearns to Jump Good.” The title speaks for itself as Jack works on his jumping skills with help from a jungle man. It may not sound like much, but through the most straightforward of setups, the episode offers great comedy and several uplifting moments right out of an underdog sports movie.

#7: “Tale of X-9”

This story shifts focus from Jack to X-9, a robot with emotions who’s blackmailed into tracking down our titular hero when his dog is kidnapped. Taking a page from “Cowboy Bebop” with its neo-noir style and jazzy soundtrack, “Tale of X-9” is one of the darkest and most heartbreaking “Samurai Jack” episodes. Although X-9 is technically fighting against Jack, we can’t help but sympathize with him. As much as we want to see everything work out for everyone, the episode isn’t afraid to give us a brooding ending where nobody walks away feeling triumphant.
 

#6: “The Premiere Movie”

The premiere movie sets the samurai called Jack off on his journey as he masters his magic sword, faces Aku for the first time and is plunged into the future where his enemy reigns supreme. While much happens over these three episodes, the story never feels rushed and it takes plenty of time to let the audience settle into its environment. This stunning debut perfectly establishes the look and tone of “Samurai Jack,” mixing elements of ancient history, legendary stories, sci-fi and fantasy into one unique package.

#5: “Jack vs. Demongo, the Soul Collector”

In addition to Aku, Jack encountered numerous unforgettable foes throughout his travels. One of the most memorable would have to be Demongo, a soul collector with a demented design and a piercing voice. While plenty menacing on his own, Demongo is only made more threatening due to the fact that he can absorb the spirits of fallen warriors and take control of their essence. This leads to an immortal showdown that gives Jack a run for his money. Plus, the episode includes quite possibly Aku’s funniest reaction ever.   

#4: “Jack and the Zombies”

Like a great horror movie, this episode lures the audience in with its calming, yet eerie, sentiment. You know that certain doom is on the horizon as Jack wanders through a foggy graveyard. Then once an army of zombies ambushes him, the episode turns into a nonstop adrenaline rush. As haunting as the zombies are, Aku is the real scene-stealer here as he shows off his shape shifting abilities and sword skills. After it’s over, you just want to stop to catch your breath. There’s no rest for Jack, however.

#3: “Jack and the Scotsman”

Jack and the Scotsman couldn’t be more different. One is quiet, patient and humble. The other is booming, headstrong and full of insults. Naturally, these two don’t hit it off upon first meeting. When attacked by bounty hunters, though, the polar opposites find that they actually make a pretty good team. The Scotsman proved to be such a terrific comedic foil for Jack that one episode alone couldn’t contain him. He became one of the show’s few recurring characters, taking center stage in a couple more memorable episodes.

#2: “Samurai vs. Ninja”

“Samurai vs. Ninja” just as easily could’ve been called, “Light vs. Darkness.” The episode makes impeccable use of two opposing colors to depict Jack’s power of light combatting against a ninja’s shadowy façade. Given the most basic colors to work with, you’d think that this confrontation would be really dull and limited. Yet, it amounts to one of the most well choreographed fight sequences in the entire series with intense music, unbelievable atmosphere and striking imagery. Once again, “Samurai Jack” manages to deliver so much while working with so little.
 
Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
-    “Jack Remembers the Past”
-    “Jack vs. Mad Jack”
-    “Jack and the Rave”
-    “Jack vs. Aku”
 

#1: “The Birth of Evil”

It’s ironic that the best “Samurai Jack” episode would have next to no Jack in it. Then again, a hero is only as great as his nemesis andJack had one of the best ever in Aku. The Emmy-award winning “Birth of Evil” finally unveils Aku’s origins and his history with Jack’s father. Never before has the master of darkness appeared more intimidating, nor has the series felt more cinematic. The action keeps building and building until we arrive at a magnificent final battle, which is truly only the beginning.
 
Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite “Samurai Jack” episode? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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