What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this stylish cartoon has quite a lot of animated violence. Although the hero is ultimately wielding his sword to fight evil -- which usually takes the form of bloodless enemies like robots -- he's nevertheless using violent methods to do so.
What's the story?
In feudal Japan, a young prince's father is killed by a demon named Aku. The prince escapes and spends his life training as a samurai. Eventually, he challenges the demon -- but before he can deal the killing blow, the demon opens a time portal and flings his opponent into it. The prince arrives in a frightening, dystopian future Earth ruled by Aku and his
robot servants. The first people the samurai meets refer to him slangily as
"Jack," which he adopts as his name; his real name is never revealed. Each of the show's episodes concern Jack's search for a way back to his own time so he can prevent a future controlled by Aku.
Is it any good?
Epsiodes range in tone from grim and violent to lighthearted and farcical. Many scenes are virtually wordless, giving them a cinematic feel. This is a beautifully drawn, animated, and edited cartoon; in many scenes, creator Genndy Tartakovsky uses a style reminiscent of 17th-century Japanese painting called "ukiyo-e," giving the series a sense of grandeur not normally seen in children's programming.
Though the show mostly has Jack (voiced by Phil LaMarr) battling bloodless machines, robots, and aliens, the show is still quite violent for a kids' cartoon, making it too intense for the youngest viewers. But older kids, teens, and probably a lot of parents will really enjoy the show's pacing and style.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about why Jack behaves the way he does. Are his moves just "cool," or do they have a purpose? Is it ever OK to use violent methods against people (or, in this case, other creatures) who have wronged you? Families can also discus how people of various cultures are portrayed on TV and in the movies, with the focus here on Asian culture and how it relates to martial arts stories. Is Jack's attitude an accurate reflection of actual samurai code? In what ways?