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I have been a fan of Samurai Jack ever since I first saw an episode on Cartoon Network many years ago. However, after I began to contemplate the personal conception about Japanophila I began to consider if Samurai Jack could be categorized as a commodity culture associated with Japan. Samurai Jack first premiered on Cartoon Network on August 10th, 2001. The story begins with the resurrection of the antagonist, Aku. The voice of Aku is played by the famous Japanese actor Mako who earned an Oscar nomination in 1967. Aku is a shape shifting demon whose only goal is world domination. This seems rather typically in an action cartoon however, I think Aku differentiates himself from typical “bad guys” characters because of his appearance. Aku’s facial characteristics somewhat resemble ancient Japanese demons, especially the demon which was called Oni.
The complexities of the Samurai Jack character are illustrated during the premiere episode. During the first scene Jack’s father, the emperor of a Japan-like country explains the epic story of how a magical sword had cast the evil Aku back to the shadows. After Aku returned however Jack’s father could not reach the sword and he is captured and enslaved by Aku. Jack, who is saved by his mother, travels throughout the world to become the greatest warrior in the world. According to an interview conducted with the show’s creator Genndy Tarkakovsky, he tried to stay true to the “way of the warrior” for Jack’s character. After considering this statement I connected the theoretical framework presented in Chapter Five of Christine M.E. Guth’s book Longfellow’s Tattoos entitled Domesticating Japan with Jack. He always speaks of honor and righteousness and is a master swordsman. His qualities are made to embody traditional Japan which is collected and domesticated for an American audience. Similar to the desire to acquire ancient Japanese lacquer, ceramics and bronzes Jack is being collected as a metonym for the way Americans want to perceive the Samurai


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jfknudson21 — Last modified Mar 30 2011 8:01 p.m.


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