TV

Randive: Feeling Nostalgic? Watch the new reboot of childhood classic ‘Samurai Jack’

Courtesy of Cartoon Network

Childhood nostalgia is real, often fueled by “only ‘90s kids remember” Facebook posts. But, that doesn’t fully immerse you in the feeling of being a child again. We’re all kind of childish, but returning to past-selves that could watch Cartoon Network all day long is a different story.

I would probably kill a man to get back that carefree feeling of just watching cartoons all day. But I guess I don’t have to anymore, since Cartoon Network has made a very important decision to revive some of their classics — internally squeals with childlike excitement.

If you don’t live under a rock, you’ve heard that “The Powerpuff Girls” was revived last year. As a massive PPG fan, I had a PPG backpack, I expected this news to get much more attention than it did. Well, I guess crime-fighting kindergarteners is not everyone’s forte.

But for other Cartoon Network fans, good news came just a few months after the “The PowerPuff Girls” reboot, when it announced cult favorite animated series “Samurai Jack” would return for season five, 12 years after its last episode aired. The show returned to Cartoon Network’s late-night offshoot Adult Swim on March 11, for a season five miniseries.

What I find interesting, and I appreciate the top bosses of Cartoon Network for this, is the fact that the themes of these shows are maturing with their audiences. Show creators can sense our internal conflict and decide to show that on screen. And in doing so, 20-year-old James once again sees himself as 8-year-old Jimmy as he now watches his favorite samurai tackle an intense mid-life crisis.

Our favorite feudal-era samurai is back, and he’s still fighting demons in a dystopian future. But, this time the story is much darker. According to series creator Genndy Tartakovsky, it’s been 50 years since we last saw our hero. He hasn’t aged much as a result of the time-travelling, and still roams the destroyed dystopian lands. What makes the story much more intense — if it wasn’t dark enough already — is that Jack has an internal conflict that is taking over his life.

“He’s lost his way and he’s lost hope,” Tartakovsky told Rolling Stone magazine.

I guess having a mentally tormented protagonist who struggles to fight his demons is the new cool thing to do to our favorite superheroes. Hugh Jackman’s profitable “Logan” seems to have paved the way.

And it’s not just “Samurai Jack” that has experimented with more mature themes. The start of 2017 saw shows like “A Series of Unfortunate Events” and “Riverdale” come to the small screen with a much darker storyline and mysterious backstories for their characters. Current shows on animated platforms like Disney Channel and Disney XD have also been tackling social issues through comedy. A great instance of this was recently, when Disney XD’s “Star vs. The Forces of Evil” portrayed an LGBTQ couple kissing. This goes to show that serious is the new sexy.

On the other hand, we have “The Powerpuff Girls” with unbearable hilarity, an overtly funny Mojo Jojo and Blossom and Bubbles twerking with a panda. Not dark, but very relevant to our times. I do miss the old Powerpuff Girls that managed to make very obvious sexual jokes fly over our prepubescent heads. Yes, bad ones too. It’s almost cringe-worthy trying to watch the original series now. But, I won’t ever hate on this show because PPG 4EVA. Seriously, it’s not a phase.

Since Cartoon Network has been so generous in giving us better versions of our favorite childhood animated series, I plead that they do so with more shows. Maybe “Dexter’s Laboratory” where 30-year-old Dexter still lives in his laboratory in his parents’ basement. Or maybe a “Johnny Bravo” who is now a reformed feminist. I would binge-watch the life out of those shows.

Malvika Randive is a freshman writing and rhetoric major. Her column appears weekly in Pulp. You can reach her at mnrandiv@syr.edu.

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