Genndy Tartakovsky talks about Samurai Jack Season 5

After over a decade, the wait for the final season of Samurai Jack is just two weeks away. The fifth season will see Jack older, but not aged, and questioning himself, and his quest, after failing to defeat the evil shape-shifting demon, Aku.

Not long ago, we were lucky enough to be invited to talk with Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky, the voice of Samurai Jack Phil LaMarr and production designer Scott Wills. Before the roundtable interview, Tartakovsky talked to us about how the animation has changed since the beginning, and their collaboration with the Korean team of animators, all the while showing us a few different pieces of concept art from the upcoming season. “We have a rule: no green grass, no blue skies.” he added, “Everything has to be special. Everything has to have a point of view.”

Tartakovsky talked about his love and his passion for animation, and when his imagination was captured by the early animated classic, The Jungle Book. “Computers have a lot of handcraft to it, too, but it’s still funneled through this very expensive and high tech ‘pencil.’ Where, with the art that we do, and The Jungle Book stuff, our drawings, Scott’s paintings, it’s directly on screen. And it’s a big difference because I think that it’s what people have forgotten about 2D animation, that it’s more artistic because it’s somebody’s stylization. It’s their point of view on this idea. ” He added, “I used to love the old Warner Bros. cartoons, because every animator drew Bugs Bunny different. They all looked similar, especially when we were kids, but now I can go that’s this guys scene or this guys scene, and I love that.”

You can watch the full video below:

Afterwards, we had a chance to sit down and chat with Genndy Tartakovsky, Phil LaMarr and Scott Wills about the upcoming season. The questions began with what led to the return of Samurai Jack. Genndy mentioned that after Hotel Castlevania 2, he was looking for other work, and was a bit burnt out. “In 12 years, we’ve tried five different studios to develop the movie [Samurai Jack] and was never really going anywhere. The last one was at Sony and it wasn’t going anywhere, and they just released it. I was waiting to get the next project going and then I thought I’d put it out there and see if there is a bite from Cartoon Network and see if they are interested in doing it.” He goes on, “So I sent a little email to  Rob Sorcher (Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer at Cartoon Network) and Rob said ‘this is a great idea, let me pass it off to [Mike] Lazzo (senior executive vice president in charge of Adult Swim) because Cartoon Network ends at 8 o’ clock now.’ And so, he sent it to Lazzo, Mike calls me the next day, we talked and what’s interesting is not one time did anyone ask me what the story is, which is great. Within two weeks, we had a deal.”

One question that has always been on my mind since the announcement was if Genndy ever have an ending in mind for the series, and if so, has it changed since the series ended. Genndy stated that he’s had the ending in mind since 2008-2009. In terms of where we find Jack when the season starts, Genndy replied, “For me, the best thing about it is that we get to dive into Jack a lot more, where before it was a lot simpler. We didn’t go into the huge weight his mission is and now it’s all about that. It’s 50 years, he hasn’t succeeded, so if your soul mission is to do this one thing, you can’t do it and you can’t find a way to do it, where are you going and so figuring that out was exciting for me.” Phil Lamarr added,”Yea, I would say the same. Getting to cover new grounds with a character that I really do love- that I really have a strong affection for and getting to do more with it- you know, is so amazing. It’s funny you [Genndy] mention about going deeper with it because before, I was playing the hero. The almost invulnerable hero! He was to the point where you go into a comic book shop and would be like who would win in a fight? It’s pretty much always Jack!” He jokingly added, “He would cut Iron Man’s armor completely off, you know because of his training and things didn’t affect him. The one thing he can’t fight is time and to play how that is affecting him, even with all his training and the amazing heart that he has got, how does it change him. That’s been the fun for me.”

There are some other great questions asked about the series *warning* there is a bit of a spoiler ahead and both Phil Lamarr and Genndy talk about how things can be different but similar especially with Samurai Jack which has a darker story to it compared to the original story. You can see the full interview below.

Samurai Jack season 5 airs starting March 11th on Adult Swim.

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