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Many years ago in an upcoming network, Genndy Tartakovsky, master of story telling, unleashed an unspeakable masterpiece upon Cartoon Network called Samurai Jack. Running for four seasons, the show was a commercial and critical success on every level. But, a foolish decision by Cartoon Network, led to Genndy leaving the fourth season with Jack's fate ultimately unknown, the samurai still stuck in the future. Before Genndy could finally get a fifth and final season greenlit for 2017, Samurai Jack had to be content with reruns before it was eventually forced off the air. Now, finding a new home on Toonami on Adult Swim, Genndy seeks to revisit the past, and complete the story that is Samurai Jack. Yup, that's right, with the fifth and final season of the show having just wrapped up two days prior, it's time to hop on the bandwagon and provide my own commentary on this season fans waited over a decade for.

I will be mostly using my ratings system for episodes from my other journals exploring seasons of cartoons. But, I am going to be unvieling a new ranking system, in accordance with what I have seen on the Cartoon Reviewers group. In addition to Good, Bad, Meh, Excellent, and Terrible episodes, there will also be Great, Okay, and Awful episodes. You can see my earliest journals to learn how the rankings from Good through Terrible work, but allow me to explain how Great, Okay, and Awful work.

Great Episode: An episode that has nothing majorily wrong with it, but has something that ultimately holds it back and keeps it from reaching the highest of heights.

Okay Episode: An episode that's either hard to talk about, or just one that really doesn't do much either way to stand out. It's slightly above Meh though, as Okay implies that the episode at least did something right and perhaps just needed a little more polishing, whereas Meh suggests the episode needed a lot of reworking.

Awful: An episode that's even worse than Terrible, an episode that either shouldn't have existed, or you're left scratching your head wondering how anyone could've thought it was ever acceptable in its current state. Terrible at least implies there might be something redeemable with the episode, it's just buried beneath all the things it does wrong. Awful has very little (if anything) going for it.

And now that we've gotten that cleared up, the usual disclaimer about my opinions comes into play. It's okay if you disagree with my opinion, just be sure to respect it. Now get ready, because it's time to get back to the past with Samurai Jack!

XCII: All ten episodes of Season 5 opened up with a new intro, a monologue by Jack himself that goes as follows: "Fifty years have passed since I arrived, but... I do not age. Time, has lost its effect on me. (Jack sighs, as a vision of Aku appears and starts to laugh) Yet... the suffering continues. Aku's grasp chokes the past, present, and future. Hope... is lost. Gotta get back! Back to the past! Samurai Jack." This opening alone established a more somber and depressing tone for the season, and to drive home the point when we see Jack for the first time, he is no longer dressed in his white robe or wielding his trademark sword. He wears thick armor, and uses futuristic weapons to fight robots. And he also has something of a Jesus esque beard (a metaphor for the phrase "Grow the beard" which refers to a show beginning to mature and grow out of its initial limitations). This episode largely establishes the new world Jack is a part of, and how troubled he is on a mental level, as he sees a vision of his father in a fire, and sees visions of his family in everyday objects. But the big revelation in this episode, comes from Jack confronting the robotic assassin known as Scaramouche (voiced by Tom Kenny), the assassin discovering that Jack has lost his sword, the one thing that can destroy Aku! Fortunately, Jack is able to defeat Scaramouche before he has a chance to tell Aku (breaking the assassin's smart phone when he reveals he has Aku on speed dial). But if you thought Scaramouche was gone forever, well you thought wrong baby. Meanwhile, the episode also focuses on a religious cult known as the Daughters of Aku. The chief priestess raises seven daughters to be assassins, for the sole purpose of killing Samurai Jack. And when they come of age, she sends them out to fulfill their mission. For the first episode of the new season, it was surprising to see just what changed, as well as what stayed the same (Genndy still wanted the show to be watchable for all ages, hence the TV-14 rating, it was mostly for more serious action and violence, plus real blood). But the biggest twists were yet to come! This is a Great Episode, it's fine as it is, but it was largely just to establish the new Jack and the new world, rather than fling us headlong into action! The pieces of the puzzle about what had happened to Jack would slowly fall into place over the course of the season.

XCIII: This episode began not with Jack, but with Aku, now voiced by Greg Baldwin (the understudy of Mako Iwamatsu, who died in 2006, two years after Samurai Jack first went off the air.) and you can tell Aku sounds different. It's not that Greg Baldwin isn't trying, because I'm sure he is, and to his credit the writing for Aku is flawless as always. But suffice it to say, Greg got a lot better at voicing Aku as time went on. Anyway, Aku reveals that the time travel has stopped Jack's aging process, hence why he has not aged in fifty years. Not originally knowing this, Aku destroyed all the time portals, but now he is bored of trying to fight Jack, and even has to go to therapy with himself. When we get to Jack, we find him ambushed by the Daughters of Aku, and when he finds a moment to rest, he is confronted by a pyschological manifestation of his old self, and a looming ghost samurai that is waiting for Jack to give up. Despite having lost most of his equipment, Jack makes a frantic attempt to escape the Daughters of Aku in a temple, and the rest of the episode is spent on a very dramatic chase (an insane game of "Cat and Mouse"), which ends with an unexpected development. In the narrow passageways of the temple, Jack is attacked by one of the daughters, and trades blows with her. Suddenly, Jack catches the girl off guard and accidentally slits her neck, killing her (though not before he is stabbed in the chest and starts to bleed)! Worth mentioning is that up to this point, Jack has never killed another human being (the entire reason why he fought robots in the old seasons was because Cartoon Network censorship did not want violence against humans, the future setting was the perfect handwave for why a samurai would be fighting robots). Jack flees from the temple and falls into the river, hoping to lose the surviving Daughters of Aku. The development at the end would've been enough to make this an Excellent Episode, but everything else easily justified it. This was the kind of stuff Samurai Jack was praised for in the old days, less focus on dialogue and more focus on action, letting the visuals tell the story.

XCIV: Following up on the development of Jack killing his first human, we see how his pysche has become warped. Now looking much more fiendish and sinister, the manifestation urges Jack to give into the temptation and kill the other daughters. However, we are then treated to a flashback showing young Jack on a trip with his father the emperor, and he recalls how his father had to kill a bunch of assassins that wanted to kill the royal family. During the fight, Jack watched through the window of a carriage, and his face ended up splashed with blood when his father slayed one of the assassins! Afterward, Jack's father cleaned him up, and told Jack a powerful message about how the actions you take are a manifestation of who you are, and that everyone has a choice to be good or bad (basically saying that sometimes it is okay to kill in self defense). In a snow covered forest, Jack attempts to reason with the six surviving daughters, but they do not head his warnings, and one by one they are struck down and killed, except for one (though you can tell Jack is fed up with how much the surviving daughter rants on and on). And the episode ends with the branch Jack is standing on, breaking, and sending him falling into what seems like an abyss! There is one thing about this episode though, that I have to deduct a few points for. I'm not one to be squeamish at the sight of blood, at least in cartoons, and even seeing characters covered in it doesn't automatically make me sick. But we get an entire scene of Jack pulling the embedded blade out of his abdomen, and they make sure to go into excruciting detail, showing how painful the whole thing is for Jack. And I have to ask, was that really necessary? I know it wasn't trying to be funny, but that doesn't mean it needed to seen, I think we could already tell just how much the pain bothered Jack, seeing how much blood he lost and how much he was staggering and sweating. So, because of that scene, I have to hold this episode to the level of a Great Episode.

XCV: Originally, this episode was going to air on April 1. But at the last minute, Toonami decided to play an April Fools joke on everyone, and aired the first episode of Season 3 of Rick and Morty on the 11:30 PM timeslot instead. Fortunately, this episode was worth waiting an extra week for (and hey, that first episode of Season 3 of Rick and Morty was amazing). As it turns out, that wasn't an abyss Jack fell into, it was just the forest floor covered in mist. And the surviving daughter (named Ashi, who is voiced by Tara Strong) is alive as well. Jack refuses to kill her out of sympathy for her upbringing, even though Ashi wants nothing to do with him. Suddenly, the two end swallowed by a gigantic beast! Inside the creature, Jack attempts to reason with Ashi, trying to get her to realize the truth about Aku, but even when he saves Ashi from being eaten, she remains ungrateful (she even says and I quote "I would rather have been that creature's excreetment than be with you!"). Jack tries his best to patience, but eventually he becomes fed up with everything Ashi says about Aku, and lashes out, telling her just what he thinks of her misguided views! Surprisingly, Jack still protects Ashi from danger, and we are treated to some impressive visuals when they reach the beast's stomach, but find a way out. When they eventually escape, Ashi still tries to kill Jack, only to reconsider when she sees Jack spare a ladybug, and reflects on how when she was younger, she discovered a ladybug, only for her mother to regard it as a distraction and kill it in front of Ashi. A few people have mentioned how this episode was similar to "Jack and the Farting Dragon" in concept, but I think the inclusion of Ashi alone made the concept different enough to feel unique here. So I have no problems declaring this an Excellent Episode.

XCVI: You know you're in for a treat when the episode opens up with the Scotsman, now elderly and wheelchair bond (though that hasn't stopped him from raising a family of daughters), leads an army to assault Aku's tower, which gives Greg Baldwin a much needed chance to improve on his Aku voice (in particular he sounds surprisingly similar to Mako when he delivers the line "I'm sorry, old man. I think you're lost."). Ultimately, the Scotsman ends up killed, but he lives on as a ghost and tells his daughters to find Samurai Jack. As for Jack, he shows Ashi multiple pieces of proof of the evil that is Aku, in particular how Aku destroys all that is beautiful. But when Ashi asks Jack what can be done about it, Jack replies that there is nothing that can be done, thus cementing that Jack has lost all hope of ever defeating Aku and coming home. Arriving in a town, Jack and Ashi discover a factory, where a bunch of fury children are being turned into brainwashed fighting machines. Working together, Jack and Ashi are able to free the children and shut down the factory, but Jack is horrified when he sees the children be electrocuted and believes that they are all dead. The shadowy samurai figure from earlier (known as The Omen), arrives to lead Jack away to commit the ancient ritual of seppuku (which is what samurai were expected to do if they failed their master. They were also expected to commit suicide if their master was defeated in battle by another master, as it was considered honorable to follow their master into death, rather than serve another master), while Ashi discovers the children are actually alive, but Jack is not around to see this. There's no question about it, this is an Excellent Episode.

XCVII: A fanservice/clip show episode, but one with a very real purpose behind it, and done well at that. Ashi searches for Jack, and as she does she meets up with all the people that he has helped and inspired (including the jump good monkeys, the funky samurai, and the rave children, there's even a surprise cameo from Demungo). The recaps are handled well, giving you enough information if you never saw the appropriate episodes, but not spoiling the entire story, while throwing in some clever little details that long time fans will surely notice and appreciate. Oh, but there's some advancement in the story too, as we learn more about Ashi's past. Turns out that suit she's been wearing all this time, really wasn't a suit. Her entire flesh was turned ash black, because as an infant her own mother shoved her into a pit of ashes, which completely seared her! Now finally having seen the light, Ashi purifies herself, returning her flesh to its original color. Surprisingly, it's only when she's done this that she realizes she's naked (fortunately there's a modesty camera trick so we don't see her nakedness on full display), and hastily clothes herself. Upon meeting Jack, she tries to stop him from committing seppuku, fighting against The Omen, and eventually inspiring Jack to regain his confidence and raise up and defeat The Omen. Oh, and we can't forget the funny subplot with Scaramouche! That's right baby, you can't keep a good bot down, even if he's just a talking head. Scaramouche tries to find a way to notify Aku that Jack has lost his sword, and he delivers this gem of a line: "Whoa, what a freak! Looked like a talking penis." How could this be anything but an Excellent Episode?

XCVIII: Having finally regained his confidence, Jack spends this episode searching for his sword, and we finally see just how it was that he lost it. He found the last remaining time portal at the top of a mountain, but Aku being the troll that he is, yanked Jack back out of it when Jack jumped through it, and then destroyed the portal, delighting in how much he ticked Jack off as a result. Not willing to fight Jack when he is seething with anger, Aku sics a trio of monsters transformed from goats, and upon staining his sword with the blood of innocents, Jack was horrified, and dropped his sword, causing it to fall down into the chasm left by the destruction of the last time portal. Returning to that very mountain top, Jack soon realizes the sword was lost to him not because he dropped it into that pit, but because he had corrupted its purity with the blood of innocents, due to his own anger. So Jack meditates and goes on a journey of spiritual balance, while Ashi fends off an army sent to kill Jack. But both stories have unexpected developments, Ashi is confronted by her own mother, the high priestess, ultimately managing to kill her by hurling an arrow that goes straight through the high prisetess' heart! And Jack learns that the path to the sword eludes him, because he himself is not balanced, he must vanquish his own anger (who claims the monk's claim is "Fortune cookie nonsense!"). Upon doing so, Jack meets Ra (the Egyptian sun good), Rama (a popular deity in Hinduism and Budhism, who seems to represent night), and Odin (the Nordic god who guides lost sailors to their final resting place), who give him his sword again, and with it his old clothes and look. With his sword firmly in his possession again, Jack realizes it's time to confront Aku and end the madness once and for all, thus setting up for the final act of this season. Once again, this is an Excellent Episode, Season 5 is on a roll!

XCVIX: Let me start by saying that I don't hate JackxAshi, or find it creepy/disturbing. People who complain about it forget that Jack himself has not aged in 50 years, so most likely he's in his 30's, possibly pushing 40. Ashi is at least 18, but is likely in her 20's, so the age difference isn't that big. I'm fine with the idea of Ashi gradually becoming a love interest for Jack, seeing as Jack deserves some happiness after all the suffering he has been through in his life. This episode is more or less cementing the ship, as Jack and Ashi take shelter from a raging dessert sandstorm in what turns out to be a space prison of some sort. Unfortunately, one of the prisoners escaped and the prison was evacuated. There's a device that can stop the monster (which is a lot like the titular creature from Alien), but it must be primed in a certain way, and the instructions on how to do so cut off before they can explain how to prime the device. Ultimately, the device is activated, the monster is destroyed, and it's a happy ending for all. But then there's a very abrupt mood whiplash, as Jack and Ashi suddenly start kissing each other, and the episode just ends there. That sudden romantic scene causes this episode to be dropped down to the level of a Great Episode, I don't hate the ship, I just think the kissing scene came out of nowhere, as if the writers were thinking "The episode's going to end! Quick, make them kiss so we can solidify the ship!".

C: Picking up right where the previous episode left off, Jack and Ashi break off the kiss and awkwardly laugh and make small talk. We get a fan service scene of Jack bathing, before Ashi gives him his cleaned robe (which he gave to her last episode when she had to take off her own clothes, fortunately Jack had a modesty loincloth to wear so his private parts weren't on display). Then, that night, Jack shares the story of his past with Ashi, of what his world was like before Aku arrived (and we learn that Jack was only eight years old when Aku first appeared). However, Jack decides that he can't risk something happening to Ashi, and slips away by the time she wakes up the next morning, making his way towards The Guardian's time portal (and it's implied that Aku killed The Guardian off screen). Meanwhile, Scaramouche finally makes it back to Aku and tells him that Samurai Jack has lost his sword, getting his body back as a reward. But when Aku learns that Scaramouche is behind the times, he destroys him for good. However, if you thought Jack and Aku's final showdown was going to be straightforward, you thought wrong! As it turns out, the Daughters of Aku was a literal thing, Aku appeared before them and filled a cup with his esence. Apparently, the high priestess drank it, and then gave birth to her seven daughters all at once, meaning Ashi is Aku's biological daughter. Exploiting this and Jack's affections for her, Aku makes Ashi fight Jack, and eventually transform into a demon like him. Ashi pleads with Jack to kill her, but Jack can't bring himself to do so and lays down his sword. Aku then picks it up and stands triumphant, while Jack hangs his head in defeat. There's no way this could be anything but an Excellent Episode, even if the twist with Ashi is kind of ripping off Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

CI: For the final episode of Samurai Jack, Genndy went all out! From the very beginning you can tell he's determined to show how far we've come since the beginning, as he actually uses the old intro in universe. Aku broadcasts his capture of Samurai Jack live, and ponders how to best put an end to their rivalry forever. Unwilling to let this happen, all of the people Jack has helped over the years, rise up and storm Aku's fortress to free Jack, willing to lay down their very lives for him. Ultimately, Jack is freed with some help from the Scotsman and his magical ghost pipes. Then he sets to work on trying to free Ashi from Aku's control, encouraging her to fight it off. But nothing seems to work, and Jack's allies are slaughtered by Aku with very little effort. It isn't until Jack confesses his feelings for Ashi, that she is able to break free of Aku's control, using his powers against him. She gives Jack his sword, and then teleports him and herself back to the past, more specifically to when Jack nearly defeated Aku. Out of respect for Mako, they reuse the audio from the pilot, rather than have Greg dub the lines over (he also didn't dub over the lines for the old intro, which probably explains why the new intro was created). But you can tell when it switches to Greg's Aku, once Jack returns to the past and manages to slay Aku, sealing him back into the sword forever! Now back in his own time, Jack prepares to marry Ashi (who gets all prettied up), but sadly victory comes at a high price. With Aku destroyed, Ashi realizes that she can no longer exist, as Aku was her biological father. And she fades away at Jack's side, just before the alter. Heartbroken, Jack wanders into a misty wood, but perks up upon seeing a ladybug (which reminds him of Ashi and for me at least I think is to imply that Ashi's spirit was reincarnated into that ladybug). Jack lets it go, as he stands beneath a blooming sakura tree, and the mists clear up. This finale was pretty good and very much worth the long wait, but there are a few minors hiccups that kind of hurt it. The first is that Jack never gets a chance to say goodbye to any of his allies, not even the Scotsman. Second, it's very clear when they're using the old audio with Mako, and when it switches to the new audio with Greg. And third and final, Ashi getting the "Redemption equals death" treatment raises some questions about the time travel (if she dies in the past because she was never born in the future, then wouldn't Jack no longer exist in the past since without Ashi he would never travel back to the past, and if he didn't exist in the past, wouldn't Aku be free since Jack was not around to defeat him?). But they are only enough to drop this episode to the level of a Great Episode!

Season 5 of Samurai Jack was more than worth waiting all those years for, it was the perfect mix of old and new, introducing Jack to some new fans, but also respecting and even growing up with the old fans who waited so patiently for this. At a time when Cartoon Network seems intent on burying its past with terrible reboots of Teen Titans, The Powerpuff Girls, and now even Ben 10, Season 5 of Samurai Jack on Toonami could've easily fallen into the same trap. But instead, we got the almost flawless masterpiece that proved good things come to those who wait. It's a shame that Mako Iwamatsu died before this season could be greenlit, but just like with Uncle Iroh in Avatar: The Last Airbender, Greg Baldwin did his teacher proud by stepping into the role in his place. Everyone else voiced their roles to perfection, and the animation and direction were as spot on as they had been in Seasons 1-4. If you missed any of the episodes of this final season though, you're in luck, because this Saturday at 11, and going until Sunday at 4 AM, Toonami will be airing all ten episodes back to back in a marathon. Now we just need to wait for the announcement of the DVD set (hopefully before the end of the year).

And there you have it, come back next week when we take a look at the Top Ten Deaths in Animation. And this time, anime will be included in addition to Western Animation!
With today marking the official release of Injustice 2 for the PS4 and X-Box One, it's only fitting that we talk about the original, the critically acclaimed masterpiece that was Injustice: Gods Among Us, the game that let DC fans finally answer that nagging question "Who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman?", and turned Aquaman from the butt of many jokes, into a super hero almost without equal. 

Just like my previous journals on video games, we'll be taking a look at the following criteria to determine if the game is good or bad: Story, Gameplay, Graphics, Music, and Replayability. I have played this game quite a bit, so I might be a bit biased towards it. And if for some reason you haven't played this game at all or at least seen the story for it, there WILL be some spoilers! So if that's a gamebreaker for you, please click elsewhere and do not continue reading.

Story: The game's story received a great deal of praise upon release, and worth mentioning is that the game had a series of tie in comic books to fill in the gaps of the story mode. But we're not going to talk about the comics here, since while I think they started off good, before long they went too far with trying to explain why DLC characters weren't around anymore, and ended up turning Regime Superman into a villain sue. Anyway, the story is split into 12 chapters, with a brief interlude towards the end. The story has a couple of quick time event games, but for the most part you follow the story as you fight the fights. We open up in a parallel universe, where Metropolis has been completely destroyed and millions are dead. As it turns out, The Joker detonated a nuclear bomb in the heart of Metropolis, and he did so by tricking Superman into thinking he was fighting Doomsday when in fact he was fighting Lois Lane and their unborn son. Furious at this, Superman kills The Joker despite Batman's protests! Meanwhile in the Regular Earth timeline, it's just another day for the Justice League, as they battle all sorts of super villains, Sinestro, Black Adam, Doomsday, Bane, and even Lex Luthor. But as it turns out, all these super villains are a distraction, even Lex Luthor's assault on the Watch Tower. The real threat is The Joker, who has recieved a nuclear bomb from Lex, and plans to use it to blow up Metropolis. Suddenly, as The Flash is rushing to the scene to take the detonator away from The Joker, The Joker, Batman, and all the other superheroes in route to Metropolis are all wisked away. They soon discover it's a parallel Earth where Superman is a tyrant and rules Earth with an iron fist, claiming he wants to "protect" mankind. He is aided by several former superheroes and super villains, while the only major source of resistance is The Insurgency, run by that universe's Batman and Lex Luthor (who has never committed a crime). Insurgency Batman needed the Regular Earth Timeline's Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman, in order to unlock a kyrptonite weapon that would leave Superman powerless. Unfortunately, the weapon is damaged during a surprise attack on the Bat Cave from Insurgency Black Adam and a few Insurgency Superheroes. Regime Superman becomes furious when the Watch Tower is blown up, and Insurgency Lex Luthor betrays him, causing Superman to kill him. Regime Superman decides to flatten both Metropolis and Gotham City to serve as an example of what happens to those who defy him, which prompts Regime Flash to defect and tell the Insurgency what he knows. After some convincing from Regular Earth Batman, Insurgency Batman agrees to bring in normal Earth Superman, and the final battle sees the two Supermans battle it out on the Fortress of Solitude, with Regular Earth Superman winning. Everyone goes back to their proper timeline, and the followers of the Regime are rounded up to face trial, with Regular Earth Superman admitting that under similar circumstances, he'd probably have done what Regime Superman ended up doing, serving as a cautionary tale about "he who fights monsters". I could ellaborate on every chapter of the story, but we'd be here all day if I did that. The story is as good as everyone says it is and it's definitely the highlight of the game.

Gameplay: On the surface, Injustice: Gods Among Us is like any other fighting game in existence. Pick a character, pick a stage, and then try to wittle down your opponent's health bar with punches, kicks, throws, and combos, while your opponent tries to do the same, and the first one to win two rounds, wins the match. Scratch beneath the surface, and you see how the game diversifies itself. Characters have a variety of special moves they can use, the stages themselves are interactive (meaning you can pick up and throw items in the background to damage your opponent), there are stage transitions that inflict a lot of damage, and characters come equipped with a super meter. You can use the meter for a variety of things, you can use up a sliver of it to enhance one attack, wait for it to fill up and use your character's ultimate attack (each character has a different one. For example: Batman electrocutes opponents, knees them in the face, then tags them with a homing batarang before they are run over by the Batmobile, while Superman throws his enemy up into the air, flys up, and knocks them back down to Earth), or with the right button command, you can execute a clash and wager some of the meter to either deal damage to your opponent or regain some health. Each character also has a special symbol that gives them a character power and like with the ultimate attack, each character's character power is different (For example: Batman can summon miniature bat drones to either attack his enemies or spin them as a protective shield, and Superman can enhance his normal attacks and combos for a short amount of time). Worth mentioning is that the PS3 and X-Box 360 versions had four characters and a couple of costumes available as DLC, but the Gold Edition for the PS4 and X-Box One has all of that unlocked for you from the beginning. In addition to the story and exhibiton modes, you have S.T.A.R Labs, which is a one player mission mode in which you take control of a specific character and most complete challenges to advance to the next stage. Sometimes they are fights or fight tutorials, other times they are minigames like deflect so many projectiles, or dodge the lasers. There's also some online play, and some unlockable stuff (a few alternative costumes require certain conditions to be unlocked, for example you need hero cards to unlock the Regime/Insurgency timeline costumes for all the characters, and you get hero cards by leveling up, which is done from the experience you earn in fights). The character roster includes many of the iconic DC superheroes and super villains, including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Joker, and Lex Luthor, plus a few more obscure characters like Shazam/Captain Marvel, Black Adam, Solomon Grundy, and some of the Teen Titans (Cyborg appears as a member of The Justice League since this game uses the New 52 continuity's membership, and in the New 52 continuity, Cyborg is a member of The Justice League instead of the Teen Titans). So there's plenty of motivation to experiment and try different characters and gameplay options.

Graphics: It seems like the graphics are more or less the same even if you buy the Gold Edition for the PS4 or X-Box One, they look good but I don't know if they run at 1080p. They get the job done and look pretty good, but they probably won't pop up and catch your eye. There's detail to be sure, but the graphics are definitely not something you'll be taking much notice of.

Music: I haven't noticed any really catchy tunes from the stage levels, or the score used in the story mode. The music isn't bad, but like the graphics you probably won't be taking notice of it when you're playing the game. It gets the job done, but it's nothing to write home about.

Replayability: The story mode will keep you occupied for a couple of hours, especially if you're new to the game. The regular single player mode will also likely take up some of your time. The S.T.A.R Labs and hero card customization may interest you a little if you're playing solo, but multiplayer is definitely going to be the thing that brings you back to this game. Either grab a friend or go online, and pit yourself against a human player for a worthwhile experience. For bonus points, pick your favorite hero or villain and have your friend/sibling/whoever you gave that second controller to pick their's, then battle it out in whatever stage catches your eye. There's some trophies to hunt for if you're that kind of player, most of which can be gotten after a little while. It's like any other fighting game really, if you like the characters and gameplay style, you'll find reasons to come back and play this with friends, family, or just fellow gamers.

And there you have it, hopefully you've all either already played this game or have at least checked out the story mode for it, it's definitely worthy of all the praise it's gotten over the years, and the sequel to it that was released today already looks promising. Come back next week when we'll take a look at Season 5 of Samurai Jack (assuming of course that the final episode airs on Toonami this Saturday).
With Mother's Day peeking around the corner (and today itself being Mother's Day in Mexico), I think it's only fair we take a look at the top ten mothers in animation. Mothers are a very powerful type of character, they can serve as motivation for a character to overcome adversity, an obstacle for a protagonist or antagonist to overcome, a powerful and wise mentor, a source of embarrassment or great fear for protagonists and antagonists alike, or even just simply a guiding hand or someone who sets a plot into motion. And today, we're gonna look at the ten best mothers ever brought to life through animation.

Let's lay down the ground rules, shall we? They are as follows:
1. Only official mother characters can qualify, though adoption can be counted. Characters who act motherly towards other characters or are seen as mother figures, but are not officially mothers through either birth or adoption, will not be counted (so no characters like Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender)
2. Step mothers and god mothers, as well as grandmothers, will not be included. They are in a different league compared to normal mothers.
3. We will only be looking at mother characters from Western Animation, Anime mothers are in a league of their own.
4. Pictures of the characters will be used, but I do not own or endorse them, and therefore they are protected under "Fair Use".

Now then, let's begin.

10. Mrs. Jumbo (Dumbo):  Back before Disney had a reputation for killing off the mother (or father, or both parents), Mrs. Jumbo was a surprising early example of what mothers in animation could accomplish. Protective and loving of her son, Dumbo, despite his big ears, Mrs. Jumbo doesn't take kindly to anyone making fun of her son. Be it her fellow elephants, or even a human being. But when she takes action against the snot nosed human who made fun of her son, Mrs. Jumbo ends up locked away by the Ring Master, unable to perform in the circus anymore and unable to see her only son, except for the occasions where he is able to visit her with help from Timothy. It isn't until Dumbo proves himself as a flying elephant, that his mother is freed, and she and her son are reunited and live happily ever after. 

9. Sharon Kimble Marsh (South Park):  The mother of Shelly and Stanly "Stan", as well as the wife of Randy, Sharon is noticeable for, much like her son, being the more stable figure in her family, the voice of reason. A bit tempermental, and like all the parents of South Park prone to overreacting to a situation, Sharon never the less cares about her family, and tries her best to provide for them. Most noticeably, of the main cast's mothers, she seems to be the most clean and straightward (Cartman's Mother is soft spoken and supposedly has slept around with a lot of people, Kyle's Mother tends to be the first to blow up about a crisis and bend others to her will, and Kenny's Mother is poor and a smoker, and sometimes that gets her into trouble).

8. Mrs. Dinkley (Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated):  Early on, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated established itself as a darker and more serious take on the Scooby-Doo franchise, and one of its biggest establishing acts, was the revelation of the gang's parents and how much they disapproved of their kids getting involved in mysteries. Mrs. Dinkley, however, grew out of that a little, as time went on. Though fascinated with monsters and the super natural, she never the less evolved to become a supporting member of the group, even helping them to uncover the secret the original Mystery Incorporated was trying to find. She was also the most supportive of the gang, even if at times she sided with the other parents when it came to keeping the kids out of the mysteries.

7. Ma Meerkat (The Lion King 1 1/2):  Supportive but overprotective, Ma Meerkat tries her hardest to help her son fit in with the rest of the Meerkats and find a way to satisfy his curiousity and desire to go into the outside world. Frustrated and frightened when she learns her son went off into the outside world on a metaphor from Rafeki, she is nevertheless impressed when she finds out how well her son has managed on his own. She rallies to help her son help Simba fight off Scar and the Hyneas to save Pride Rock, and surprisingly like all the meerkats, she's actually quite capable of holding her own if need be. If her voice sounds familiar to you, well that's because her voice actress is none other than Julie Kavner, the voice of Marge Simpson. She wasn't always planned for the role though, rough drafts and deleted scenes reveal that a different voice was intended to be used (it can be heard in the deleted scene involving Timon's father, who was cut from the movie). Julie delivers a fine performance, even if it's easy to hear her Marge Simpson voice slip through the cracks.

6. Sarabi (The Lion King):  Simba's mother and Mufasa's beautiful wife (not to mention Scar's sister in law), Sarabi has a limited role in Simba's childhood from what is shown. She is good friends with Nala's mother and does her best to keep Simba clean with daily groomings. She is quite insistent that when the lion cubs go off to what they say is the watering hole, Zazu accompany them. After the death of Mufasa, Sarabi is not seen again until Simba's return to Pride Rock as an adult, where we learn that she is in charge of the lions and lionesses that hunt for food, and she informs Scar that there is no food left and they must leave Pride Rock if they are to survive. In the Broadway play adaptation, Scar apparently desires for Sarabi to become his queen, and this is the subject of a brief musical number in which he tries to make advances towards Sarabi, but she rejects him.

5. Mrs. Cup Cake (My Little Pony Friendship is Magic):  One of the few mother characters shown in the show over the years (it's taken until now for Rainbow Dash and Applejack's parents to be shown, seven seasons in, and if Lauren Faust had gotten her way, none of the main character's parents would have exisited in any way, shape, or form), Mrs. Cake is the proud mother of twin toddlers, Pound and Pumpkin Cake, a pegasus and a unicorn. Despite not always having all the answers and on more than a few occasions being caught off guard or taken by surprise, Mrs. Cake tends to be the more frequently seen between herself and her husband, who run Sugarcube Corner. Perhaps most noticeably, Mrs. Cake and her husband have pet names for each other, at least in "Baby Cakes", where they call each other "Sugar Plum" and "Honey Bun" respectively. Another interesting little fact, Lauren Faust mentioned that The Cakes love Pinkie Pie like a daughter, though this has hasn't been mentioned in the show. Pinkie lives with them, but it's not known what sort of relationship they have. Mrs. Cake boasts one of the more uniquely used models for characters, though her voice actress, Tabitha St. Germain, voices a slew of other characters, so at times her Mrs. Cake voice ends up recycled. Oddly enough, Mrs. Cake's gasp in one episode was just a recycled clip of Pinkie Pie's gasp, which doesn't make sense when you consider Pinkie Pie is voiced by Andrea Libman and not Tabitha St. Germain.

4. Kala (Disney's Tarzan):  Kala is the ape who finds the orphaned baby Tarzan, and having recently lost her own son to a leopardess named Sabor (who also killed Tarzan's parents), she decides to take the human child in and raise her as if he were her own son. This is despite how much her husband, Kerchack, disapproves, claiming "He won't replace the one we've lost.". Kala is the focus of the song "You'll Be In My Heart", though she also sees Tarzan just before the start of "Son of Man", when she learns how Tarzan wants Kerchack to accept him, and vows to become the best ape ever. Even when Tarzan grows up and meets his own kind, he never forgets about Kala, who never stops being a mother to him.

3. Littlefoot's Mother (The Land Before Time):  You thought Bambi's Mom's death was sad? You ain't seen anything yet! Littlefoot's Mother is there from the day he is hatched, and raises him as best she can. She doesn't hesitate to come to her son's rescue when the vicious T-Rex known as Sharpteeth tries to kill her son. And she manages to fend off the predator, saving her son's life. Alas, it is at the cost of her own life, as she is mortally wounded, and her own son is there with her as she dies. Poor Littlefoot is unable to do anything, even as his mother reassures him that everything will be okay. Later on in the movie, Littlefoot sees what he thinks is his mother, but is saddened when it turns out to only be his own shadow.

2. Kanga (Winnie The Pooh):  Roo's mother (when you combined them together you get Kangaroo, very clever), Kanga has appeared in every single adaptation and work involving Winnie The Pooh, be it the original "Storybook Classics", The New Adventures series, the various direct to video movies in the 90's and 2000's, and even the 2011 reboot film. An interesting and seldom seen fact, is that she's the only one who can make Tigger blush (it's whenever she calls him dear), and she has no quarrels letting Roo hang out with Tigger, Pooh, and the others. Also worth mentioning is that when Kanga first appeared in the Hundred Acre Wood, everyone was frightened of her, because they saw Roo jump into her pouch, and not knowing about how kangaroos care for their young, they thought she had eaten Roo. Kanga may not do anything particularly special, but she doesn't have to, she stands out for just being good at what she is, a mother. She doesn't have to risk her life or die, and she can be kind or stern when necessary, and of course she isn't immune from being swept up in the Hundred Acre Wood resident's fantasies and concerns. So, who could top a mother like Kanga for the number one spot? Well, before we find out, let's look at some honorable mentions, and even a dishonorable mention.

Honorable Mention 1 - Katara's Mother (Avatar: The Last Airbender):  Only seen briefly in a flashback in the episode "The Southern Raiders", Katara's (and Soka's) mother lived in her little village near the South Pole, along with the rest of the Water Benders in that isolated colony (the Water Benders at the North Pole did not maintain contact with their South Pole members). One faithful day, the Fire Nation came to the village, looking for Water Benders to round up. Young Katara was unfortunate enough to stumble upon a Fire Nation solider intergating her mother for information about the last of the Water Benders, and in order to protect her daughter, Katara's mom lied and told the soldier she was the last remaining Water Bender. Rather than be taken into custody, however, Katara's mom was killed by the solider, leaving only her necklace behind. Though she went to great lengths to hide it, her mom's death weighed heavily on Katara, though she ultimately realized that revenge was not the answer. Katara's Mother is on the honorable mentions list, since she was only seen in a brief flashback. It was an effective one though.

Honorable Mention 2 - Bambi's Mom (Bambi):  Ah yes, the original tearjerker that more or less started a trend Disney is still famous (or maybe infamous) for doing to this day, killing off one or both parents of the main character. We all know iconic her death scene is, and of course when you think of Bambi's Mom, her death is the first thing that probably springs to your mind. I mean yeah, we saw her before then, saw her caring for her young son on her own. And while her death isn't seen on-screen (they are in a snow covered forest with fresh snow falling, they are fleeing from a hunter and Bambi's Mom tells him to run. Bambi does so, and a gun-shot is heard, then Bambi's father appears and simply tells him "Your mother can't be with you anymore.", and that is that), it's still a tearjerker. Heck, it's such a heartbreaking scene that Animaniacs had an episode devoted to this with Slappy the Squirrel and her nephew Skippy. The writer of that episode has even admitted it was her way of addressing the childhood trauma she experienced watching that scene for the first time. However, The Nostalgia Critic pointed out in his "Top 11 Cartoon Deaths" that there's a bit of mood whiplash that follows the death of Bambi's Mom. Shortly after her death, they just cut to Spring with cheerful music, and everyone's all happy. Yes, Bambi was developed during World War II (it released in 1942 at a time when the war was still going badly for the Allies despite some crucial victories in the Pacific and North Africa), so they could only do so much, but in retrospect it probably would've helped if they'd maybe devoted a scene or two to Bambi coping with the death of his mother, before cutting to Spring. At least that way we could've gotten some closure.

Dishonorable Mention - Spoiled "Milk" Rich (My Little Pony Friendship is Magic):  Not all mothers need to be nice and caring to be effective, a mean and nasty mother can work just as effectively in shaping a character. The problem with Spoiled Rich is, they go way too far with her, she is quite frankly a "Hate Sink" a character made to have no redeeming or likeable traits, a character created solely to be hated and despised. She basically consists of the same personality traits her daughter had prior to her reformation, except without any hints that fueled speculation and led at least some fans to consider that perhaps Diamond Tiara could be nice. I mean heck, Spoiled Rich is voiced by Chantel Strand, who also voices Diamond Tiara, though she does seem to do a good enough job of distinguishing Mother from Daughter. Spoiled is a verbally (and possibly physically) abusive parent, always seen as condescending and stuck up, often shouting at her daughter or anyone who she doesn't like. But when her daughter sees through her nastiness and isn't phased by her words, Spoiled folds, despite publicly heckling her daughter within earshot of at least one figure of authority. In real life, most abusive parents wouldn't be that stupid, and they certainly wouldn't just fold the first time their child stood up to them. More likely they would just double down, telling the child off for disobeying their parent, especially since kids are usually taught to respect their elders and that their parents have their best interests at heart. "Where The Apple Lies" did kind of make Spoiled a bit more believeable, as even the nastiest of people in real life at least try to pretend they can be nice. A better example of a bad parent serving as motivation for a character would be The High Priestess of the Daughters of Aku cult from Season 5 of Samurai Jack, but there's speculation her character's story isn't done yet, and until we know for sure I didn't want to put her on the list. So, now that we have the honorable (and dishonorable) mentions out of the way, it's time to see who the number one Mother in Animation is!

1. Mrs. Brisby (The Secret of NIMH):  While I haven't seen the film she appears in its enterity, I've read about it and even seen The Nostalgia Critic talk about her character. Mrs. Brisby risks her very life on multiple occasions to save her son, who is sick with pneumonia. The Secret of NIMH is a very dark film, but one that has a very uplifting hero's journey. Mrs. Brisby is perhaps one of the strongest protagonists in any kind of film, because she puts herself in danger to protect others, even when she is afraid to do. She displays true courage, true bravery, and ultimately she is rewarded, as she not only saves the life of her son, but also helps a group of highly advanced rats to find a better life. True courage comes not from doing the right thing and doing heroic deeds without ever being afraid, it comes from doing what's right even when you're afraid to do it. Likewise, true bravery is not ever being afraid of anything and putting yourself in danger whenever possible (like say running into a burning building without fire fighting equipment to save someone's life, you're likely to get yourself injured or killed), but being afraid and doing the right thing anyway (as Mufasa famously put it "Being brave, doesn't mean you go looking for trouble."). The Secret of NIMH was a critical but not commercial success that was ahead of its time and proved Don Bluth was a genius at telling stories that could rival that of Disney, and Mrs. Brisby is a huge part of that. Don Bluth's approach to story telling for children has always involved having darker stories with lots of sad elements and high stakes, but he's always had his characters earn their happy ending. And there's no denying Mrs. Brisby, with her tremendous display of bravery, more than earns her happy ending! And with everything she goes through, all the perils she faces, all the trails she overcomes, all just for the sake of healing her sick son, Mrs. Brisby easily takes the top spot on this list. She is the kind of mother who would move mountains to help those she cares about.

And there you have it, come back next week when we celebrate the launch of Injustice: Gods Among Us 2 with a look back at the first Injustice: Gods Among Us released in 2013.
The final shows in the DC Animated Universe, Justice League and its followup Justice League Unlimited closed out the franchise in high style. Toting good writing, splendid voice acting (including fan favorites such as George Newbern as Superman, Susan Elisenberg as Wonder Woman, and Phill LaMarr as John Stuart), solid animation, and stories that were enjoyable for young and old alike (though Justice League Unlimited was noticeably more serious and more open about stuff like death), these two shows have retained dedicated fans even years after they have wrapped up. But which episodes were truly the best? Which ones truly stood out among the many solid entries these shows had to offer? Well today, we're gonna be taking a look at the ten best episodes of the two shows. Two and three parters will be included (since Justice League was almost entirely multi-parters), and of course if you haven't seen these shows in their enterity (you can find them on Netflix) there WILL be spoilers! Not to mention, the episodes listed here are the result of my personal opinion, so please respect it. Now then, if everyone's ready, it's time to suit up and save the day!

10. Hereafter (Justice League: Season 2, Episodes 19-20): If you were a DC comics fan in the 90's, chances are you at least heard about the 1994 comic that has since attracted infamy "The Death of Superman". Ultimately known today as a ratings trap (Superman didn't stay dead for long and his death was part of what became known as the Dark Age of Comics), this episode is somewhat like that. A bunch of supervillains gather together with the purpose of destroying Superman, among them is Toyman (voiced by Corey Burton and not Bud Cort, but Bud would reprise the role for Toyman's next and final appearance in the DC Animated Universe), who appears to vaporize Superman with an experimental weapon. The entire Justice League is devastated by this, though Batman refuses to believe Superman is truly gone for good. Martian Manhunter delivers a powerful euology at Superman's funeral, and then sometime later, Lobo shows up and nominates himself as Superman's replacement. But it turns out that Superman isn't actually dead, he was sent into the future. And it's there that he discovers the entire world has been wiped out, with the exception of one man, Vandal Savage. Realizing what his actions have caused, Vandal sends Superman back in time to save the world. This episode makes good on its emotion, when Wonder Woman goes after Toyman and says she's gonna punch a hole in his head, you can really feel the anger she's just barely surpressing. And you even get a sense that Batman is trying desperately to believe Superman isn't dead, because while he'll never admit it, he's torn up at the thought of losing someone close to him just like his parents.

9. In Blackest Night (Justice League: Season 1, Episodes 4-5): Though it featured the titular league, Justice League was noticeable for a few oddities in its lineup. The Martin Manhunter was on the team, but not Aquaman, who was usually among the core members of the league. As for Green Lantern and The Flash, the most popular incarnations of them to serve on the league were Hal Jordan, and Billy Blurr. But in this animated cartoon, we had John Stuart and Wally West. What I like about John Stuart is that while he's a black superhero, they never go out of their way to exploit that fact or make it known. He's treated like anyone else, which really helps to sell on the integration angle. This one of two two parters I had on VHS as a kid, and it always stood out to me. You know how in most court cases in fictional works, a person says they're innocent and that someone framed them? Well, what if a person actually believed they were guilty of the crime they were accused of, and didn't know they'd been framed? That's exactly what happens to John Stuart here, who surrenders to the Manhunters (the predecessors to the Green Lanterns) for trial on a distant planet, believing himself to be guilty of exterminating an entire planet. The Flash steps in to defend him despite John's protests, while the rest of the league uncovers a plot to frame John Stuart and exterminate the Green Lanterns. When the truth is exposed, John delivers a powerful rendention of the Green Lantern motto that always gives me chills: "In brightest day, in blackest night. No evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil's might. Beware my power, Green Lantern's light!". Phill LaMarr proved early on that he was an excellent choice for John Stuart of the Green Lanterns, and he would continue to go on to impress as the DC Animated Universe went on.

8. This Little Piggy (Justice League Unlimited: Season 1, Episode 5): Early on, Justice League Unlimited was all about showcasing many of the newer superheroes, though in this case the superhero is actually not really one, but the famous magician Zatana voiced by Jennifer Hale. Batman enlists the help of Zatana to save Wonder Woman, who is turned into a pig by a centuries old enchantress. The highlight is not only seeing elements of Greek Mythology, including Medusa herself, but also Batman doing something you probably never would've guessed. He sings, quite well in fact. This episode also adds a ton of shipping fuel to the Batman/Wonder Woman ship that was teased slightly back in Justice League. It's definitely better than the many works that seem to pair up Superman/Wonder Woman for some odd reason.

7. Patriot Act (Justice League Unlimited: Season 3, Episode 7): This episode's title is a bit too on the nose given the subject matter it tackles. There was a real life piece of legislature entitled The Patriot Act, and it was pushed through the Republican controlled Congress and signed into law by George W. Bush, in the aftermath of 9/11, it was sold on the fear of terrorists detonating dirty bombs in America, at a time when Bush was riding his post 9/11 high and people were slow to overcome their fear and question the government's actions. The act allowed the government to listen in on people's phone conversations (fortunately only land lines), and to my knowledge it was never repealed, even after the Democrats won back control of Congress in 2006, and Obama became president in 2008. The reason I bring this up, is because this episode sees General Wade-Elling (voiced by J.K. Simmons) from Project Cadmus, who believes the Justice League to be a threat, and that Amanda Waller is in league with them and is wrong to think they can be controlled. He steals a special formula that turns him into a superpowered monster, and he takes on a few of the lesser known Justice League members, before he ultimately realizes he's become what he's rallied against, though he claims that one day people will see he was right. Basically this an episode that asks the controversial question of whether it's okay to scarifice freedom for security, and if there's a limit to the paranoia you can have before you start becoming that which you seek to destroy. Considering this entire topic plagued the second season of Justice League Unlimited, I can imagine some people weren't too thrilled to see it be brought back up again here. But it's nowhere near as uncomfortable or painful to watch, especially since it's just one individual rather than an entire organization who is just worried that they can't control Superman (nevermind the fact that Superman and the Justice League specifically exist to be independent of world governments and not be political tools).

6. Flash and Substance (Justice League Unlimited: Season 3, Episode 5): Season 3 of Justice League Unlimited revolved around Lex Luthor and Gorilla Grodd, and their schemes and clashes for control over a collection of DC supervillains, but it had a few filler episodes here and there. This and the one immediately below it were some of them. This episode explores The Flash (Wally West)'s character, as he recieves help from Batman and Orion, the latter of which tries to understand Flash's methods, as he battles against four of his greatest enemies, Captain Cold, Captain Boomerang, Mirror Master, and The Trickster (voiced by Mark Hamill who has since reprised the role in The Flash on The CW), the same day as Central City is unvieling a new museum in The Flash's honor and holding a Flash Appreciation Day. You'd imagine that all this fame would go to The Flash's head, especially considering how he's bragged about being the fastest man alive. But this episode shows what has been made clear throughout the DC Animated Universe, The Flash is very much The League's heart, perhaps even moreso than Batman. What really helps sell this scene, is his conversation with The Trickster at a pub. He doesn't need to act all intimidating and threatening, and neither does he have to beat the guy senseless. He just sits down and has a nice talk with him, convincing him to take his meds and go back to the hospital to get help, then he promises that if The Trickster does so, he'll come and play soft darts with him. Orion mentions at the end how he thinks The Flash acts like a fool to hide a warrior's pain, but for me I think it's just The Flash being an all around nice guy. Sure, he's a bit of a goofball and proud of his speed, but he has a good heart, and always strives to do the right thing no matter what. He's what keeps the league from becoming judge and jury of the whole world.

5. Starcrossed (Justice League: Season 2, Episodes 24-26): The three part finale of Justice League, this three parter is packed full of surprises. It turns out that this entire time, Hawkgirl has been a spy for her own people, the Thanagarians, and has bethrothed to Thanagarian commander Hro Talak (a play on words for the real name of Hawkman), despite her blossoming romance with John Stuart. The Thanagarians come to Earth, offering to protect it from an invasion by the Gordanians, but their proposed shield is soon revealed as a ruse, Batman discovers that the Gordanians aren't invading Earth, the Thangarians are using Earth as a jump point to send an armada to attack the Gordanians and save their home planet from a Gordanian assault. But in the process, Earth will be destroyed! Hawkgirl finds herself torn between her loyalties to her home planet and people, and the friends she's made on Earth. Ultimately, she chooses to protect Earth, branding herself a traitor to the Thanagarian people and forcing them to leave. But not before the original watchtower is destroyed. And even then, Hawkgirl isn't out of the fire just yet, the Justice League debates whether or not to expel Hawkgirl for her actions and lies, and John Stuart finds himself unable to vote due to still holding onto feelings. Alfred Pennyworth gets a good few lines in here ("And I thought Batman was the detective." "I've asked Master Bruce to kindly refrain from leaving trash on the lawn.") including his entire speech to Hawkgirl as she awaits word of the league's vote. Before she has a chance to hear how they voted though, she announces her intent to leave, and tells John that she did indeed love him, but he deserves someone else. Fortunately, we wouldn't see the last of Hawkgirl, but there's no denying just how much this three parter went above and beyond with the feels. Hawkgirl was truly in a no win situation, danged if she and danged if she didn't.

4. The Terror Beyond (Justice League: Season 2, Episodes 15-16): Hawkgirl seemed to suffer the most out of any of the heroes on the Justice League in this cartoon, you already saw what happened with her home planet and people, but before that she also had to go through this. Doctor Fate and Aquaman spring Solomon Grundy (voiced by Mark Hamill) from jail, hoping to use him to fate an ancient evil, in exchange for helping Grundy find his soul. There's a great deal of action and mythology here, and Aquaman is utilized quite well here (I find him to be kind of a jerk for the most part in Justice League, even considering what he goes through. It's the opposite problem of what he had up to this point, being known mostly as a joke hero with cheesy powers, it wouldn't really be until Injustice: Gods Among Us that Aquaman would be established as a force to be reckoned with). But the real highlight is seeing Grundy scarifice himself to save Hawkgirl. The day is saved and the evil is defeated, but Grundy is left fatally wounded. Hawkgirl is the one who stumbles across him, and despite her athiest beliefs, she tells Grundy that she thinks his soul is waiting for him, and Grundy's final line is "Then.... Grundy gets his reward.". Hawkgirl tries to bury Grundy in accordance with Earth customs, and Aquaman gives this powerful line to comfort her: "It's fate, Hawkgirl. You're not supposed to understand it. You're supposed to believe in it.". But if you thought you'd seen the last of Solomon Grundy, you thought wrong!

3. Wake the Dead (Justice League Unlimited: Season 1, Episode 11): Fun fact: Solomon Grundy is actually based on an old nursery rhyme. It goes as follows: "Solomon Grundy. Born on a Monday. Christened on Tuesday. Married on Wednesday. Took ill on Thursday. Got worse on Friday. Died on Saturday. Buried on Sunday. That was the end of Solomon Grundy.", and in most works Grundy is depicted as an undead zombie. This plays a little into this episode, when a group of college students accidentally release Grundy from his burial place with chaos magic, making him more powerful than ever before. Even Superman isn't strong enough to stop him. That's when Doctor Fate, Aquaman, and Hawkgirl show up (Hawkgirl has been living with them since leaving the league), and as it turns out, Hawkgirl is the only one who can stop Grundy, as her mace can cancel out the magic used to revive him. Hawkgirl flies down to confront Grundy, and we can see how much she's torn up at the fact that she will be killing him, even if it means his soul will once again know peace. When the deed is done, Hawkgirl is prepared to leave, but Superman reveals that she never technically left the league, there was a tie in the votes and he cast the tie breaker to let Hawkgirl stay. He invites her to rejoin the league, as he believes everyone deserves a second chance. Worth mentioning is that Hawkgirl no longer has her mask.

2. Destroyer (Justice League Unlimited: Season 3, Episode 13): The grand finale of the DC Animated Universe, this episode sees all the major heroes and villains team up to fight Darkseid and Apokolips, after Lex Luthor unintentionally brought him back in the episode prior, due to his obsession to bring back Brainiac. Even the Martin Manhunter, who took a leave of absence several episodes prior, returns, now having better understood humanity. But Darkseid himself proves almost impossible to defeat, even when Batman, Superman, and Lex Luthor take him on all at once. In the end, Lex Luthor obtains the secret to the universe, and with it he is able to sacrifice himself to stop Darkseid, seemingly forever. And the rest of the villains get a fifteen second head start, before the Justice League chases after them, Wonder Woman delivering the last spoken line in the entire DC Animated Universe, and the episode ending with a close up of Batman as he comes rushing into the camera. But the real highlight, and what has led many to consider George Newbern the best voice of Superman, is the famous "World of Cardboard" speech that Superman gives to Darkseid. Words cannot do it justice, go look up the actual clip and you'll understand how famous it is. So, what could top an episode as amazing as this?! Well, before we find out, let's look at some honorable mentions.

Honorable Mention 1 - Legends (Justice League: Season 1, Episodes 16-17): A tribute to Gardner Fox, a Gold Age writer who created both the Justice Society and the Justice League of America, this two parter sees the entire Justice League be teleported into the comic book world of the Justice Guild, who battle supervillains and always save the day. But it soon turns out to be nothing more than an illusion, the actual Justice Guild was killed in a nuclear war, and only one member, a little boy, survived. This two parter ends on quite the downer ending, which is really heartbreaking considering who this two parter is dedicated to (Gardner Fox died in 1986 on Christmas Eve).

Honorable Mention 2 - Wildcards (Justice League: Season 2, Episodes 21-22): The final appearance of The Joker and Harley Quinn in the DC Animated Universe, this two parter also serves as a hidden crossover with Teen Titans. That's because the Royal Flush Gang that is featured so prominently here, shares the same voice actors/actresses as the Titans (10 is voiced by Khary Payton who also voices Cyborg, Jack is voiced by Greg Cipes who also voices Beast Boy, Queen is voiced by Tara Strong who also voices Raven, King is voiced by Scott Menville who also voices Robin (Dick Grayson), and Ace is voiced by Hayden Welch who also voices Starfire), and the designs of them are apparently moddled after the voice actors. This two parter also confirms the relationship between Hawkgirl and John Stuart, when she uses her mace's electrical powers as a makeshift defibralator to shock John's heart back into action when a blast shuts it off. It's cram full of action, as The Joker buys some airtime and announces that he's hidden bombs all over the Las Vegas strip that will go off in twenty four hours if the league doesn't find and defuse them all. But it turns out he anticipated this, as his real strategy was to get people to watch their t.v.s and be hypnotized by Ace's pyschic powers. Mark Hamill remains in top form as The Joker here, delivering every line with sadistic pleasure and that voice that contains just a hint of creepy. And if you thought you'd seen the last of Ace after this two parter, well join me a bit later on.

Honorable Mention 3 - Comfort and Joy (Justice League: Season 2, Episode 23): The only stand alone episode of Justice League, this episode is basically the Christmas episode for the series. With Batman on Watch Tower duty and Wonder Woman not being mentioned at all, the rest of the Justice League heroes decide to take a break for the holiday and spend it with those they love. The Flash spends it with some children in an orphange, where he gets them a very special toy that is all but sold out, and helps one of his villains realize the importance of giving to others. Hawkgirl and Green Lantern spend it showing each other how they do things on their respective home worlds and get into a snowball fight, and Superman invites Martin Manhunter to spend the holiday at the Kent family farm, something that the Martin has a hard time doing at first as he can't help but feel like an outcast. It's always nice to see our heroes taking a well deserved break to enjoy a holiday.

Honorable Mention 4 - For The Man Who Has Everything (Justice League Unlimited: Season 1, Episode 2): This episode's title and story are actually an adaptation of a famous comic by Alan Moore for Superman Annual #11 back in 1985. Batman and Wonder Woman visit Superman in his Fortress of Solitude to celebrate his birthday, but find him possesed by a flower that shows the heart's greatest desire, and it turns out to be a gift from an alien named Mongul. For Superman, his greatest desire is a world in which Krypton was never destroyed, he is married to Lois Lane and has a family, and is adored as the greatest man in the world. But he slowly begins to realize the world he's in isn't real, and he is sadly forced to confront this reality, as the illusion crumbles via explosion. The plant then posses Batman, who's greatest desire is to see his dad attack the man who would kill both him and his wife (interestingly, Joe Chill, the name of the crook, is voiced by Kevin Conroy. Fans have pointed out that this may have been to hint at how Bruce Wayne is viewing his Batman persona, how he feels that Batman is why he can never be happy). Wonder Woman manages to wrestle away control of the plant and destroy it, and Superman very nearly kills Mongul for what the plant did. It's a powerful story of how what we want may be out of reach, no matter how much we wish otherwise.

Honorable Mention 5 - Double Date (Justice League Unlimited: Season 2, Episode 6): Obsessed with revenge against the crime boss Steven Mandragora, to the point where she tries to murder him, Huntress is kicked out of the Justice League. But she finds a sympathetic partner in a faceless man called the Question (voiced perfectly by Jeffry Combs), who agrees to aid her in exchange for information on his many conspiracy theories. But they must contend with Green Arrow and Black Canary (Green Arrow's girlfriend), who have been assigned to protect Mandragora, even though they're not too thrilled with some of his comments towards them. As it turns out, Huntress resents Mandragora, because he killed her parents while she was hidden away in a closest as a young girl and was forced to watch (you know, for kids). And in a surprising twist, Mandragora is revealed to be working to secure the release of his son from another crime boss, so that they could escape and live in hiding together, and the Question knew this. Huntress realizes that revenge is not the answer, especially when doing so would make her as bad as the man she wants dead, though that doesn't stop her from injuring Mandragora. That does it for the honorable mentions, and now it's time to find out what the number one episode of Justice League/Justice League Unlimited is!

1. Epilogue (Justice League Unlimited: Season 2, Episode 13): The originally planned grand finale of the DC Animated Universe, the intent of this episode was to show how everything had come full circle. Don't let the intro fool you though, this is a Batman Beyond episode in practically all but name. The only reason it's not airing as the final episode of Batman Beyond, is because by this point Batman Beyond had wrapped up and had been wrapped up for several years. They weren't about to air another episode of it and make people think there was more on the way. Basically, this episode touches on some leftover plot points left by Batman Beyond's conclusion a few years back. Terry McGinnis learns that he is actually a clone of Bruce Wayne, created from a project headed by Amanda Waller to continue Bruce Wayne's work when he was no longer around. She recounts her experiences working with the Justice League, and how she came to realize the importance of needing a Bruce Wayne to be Batman. Frustrated by this discovery, Terry McGinnis refuses to join the new Justice League, and even breaks up with his girlfriend out of fear that his enemies would use her to get to him. But Amanda Waller manages to convince Terry that he is still himself (by this point Terry is now a young man, and Bruce is really getting old), in spite of his origins and his similar lifestyle. The episode even ends on a similar note to how the first episode of Batman The Animated Series began, even bringing back the theme and giving it a futuristic rock undertone. But the real highlight of this episode, is the flashback to Batman's battle with the new Royal Flush Gang, and the death of Ace. Tasked with making sure Ace's pyschic backlash upon her death from a cerebral hemorage doesn't kill everyone in ranger, Batman is tasked with getting close to Ace (exploiting her trust of him) to use a special device to kill her. But as it turns out, Batman never intended to kill Ace, and she knew this too. Ace tells Batman how she knows she's dying and that she's scared of the fact, after recounting how she was cheated out of her childhood at Project Cadmus. And she asks Batman if he'll stay with her, to which he agrees. This act of compassion is enough to keep Ace from killing everyone with a pyschic backlash, and as Amanda Waller puts it "He sat there with her until her time came". It really helps to remember that Batman is still human, and he knows what it's like to be robbed of your childhood. Where everyone else saw a powerful weapon just waiting to explode and kill everyone, he saw a scared little girl afraid to die and who just needed a comforting hand. Someone to be there for her until the end, someone she trusted. And that was what convinced Amanda Waller that the world needed another Bruce Wayne, someone who could be compassionate and understand the plight of others. There's also a touching moment when Terry acknowledges Bruce as his father, before he leaves to suit up. For all the reasons I've mentioned, this episode easily takes the number one spot.

And there you have it, come back next week when we'll celebrate Mother's Day with a look at the Top Ten Mothers in Animation.
Riddle me this, Batman fans, who is the best person to either voice or potray The Riddler in his countless appearances over the years? Well, that's what you're probably here to find out. In order to celebrate the return of Gotham to the airwaves today for the final eight episodes of Season 3, and with the focus appearing to be on Edward Nigma becoming The Riddler, we'll be looking at my top ten picks for Riddler Performances. Just like with my Joker and Batman lists, this one is not official by any means, and I will be using images from the Internet that should be protected under "Fair Use". Now, let's begin.

10. Rob Paulsen (Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes):  Rob is no stranger to comedic roles, as his work as 80's Rapahel, Yako of the Warner Siblings, and 2012 Donatello will attest. That isn't to say he doesn't have more serious roles on his roster, because he does. But he's definitely a voice actor better known for his comedic roles. The Riddler is probably not the kind of role you'd think Rob would be suited for, and the voice cast of Lego Batman 2 was hit or miss, but Rob was one of the better stand out voices for the game. Opting for something of a Jim Carrey impression, and to his credit it works well. Not a bad performance, but not necessarily the kind of performance suited to even a Lego Riddler.

9. John Michael Higgins (Batman: The Brave and The Bold):  A serviceable performance for a Silver Age Riddler, in a show that was all about paying homeage to the Silver Age and returning to that time frame. A fairly obscure voice actor with only a small handful of roles under his belt, John's performance as Riddler hits all the right notes for the show he's in, and is definitely leagues above the Silver Age voice actors of the 60's and 70's. One episode his Riddler appears in, sees the super villain as host of a game show probably not unlike those old quiz shows that used to air on T.V. (the only surviving one nowadays is Jeopardy, now there's an idea for a comic, the Riddler appearing on Jeopardy to challenge Batman and Robin to a special edition of the gameshow).

8. Roger Craig Smith (Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham):  A year after stepping in to voice the caped crusader himself in Batman: Arkham Origins, Roger lent his voice to one of Batman's rouges, in this case The Riddler. Rather than opting for a Jim Carrey impersonation like Rob Paulsen, Roger decided to use his natural voice and make the role his own. And while Lego Batman 3 had a voice cast that was also hit and miss, Roger Craig Smith was one of the recasts that worked out for the better. Between this and his voicing of Eggman inside the body of Sonic, I think Roger has a real knack for voicing villain characters. I wouldn't necessarily mind him landing a noticeable villain role in a project. Maybe like Ryan Drummond, he could voice Metal Sonic if the character returns to the franchise anytime in the forseeable future?

7. Robert Englund (The Batman):  Best known as Freddy Kreuger, who may be second only to Jason when it comes to horror film serial killers, Robert voiced The Riddler in the character's first significant appearance in the 21st century. Prior to that, The Riddler had been absent from potrayals outside of comics since The New Batman Adventures wrapped up in 1999. Robert's Riddler proves to be a surprisingly good performance, and proof that The Batman had some pretty good voice talent even if it may not have been as iconic as that of the DC Animated Universe's voice cast. Featuring a Riddler who looks more like some British rock star, Robert's take seems to contain a hidden hint of sinister, which is probably helped by what may be his best quote as The Riddler: "No more questions, Batman! Now we put a period, at the end of your life."

6. Jim Carrey (Batman Forever):  Though not his best performance, and perhaps a little too over the top for The Riddler, there's no denying Jim Carrey had a presence that lent itself to his performance as The Riddler. Batman Forever is very much a guilty pleasure for me, not just because of Jim's performance though, although that is certainly a factor. For what it's worth, Jim has a really cool costume, and his Riddler actually has a pretty good scheme going. Hiding his insanity and using his Edward Nigma persona to sell special television boxes that drain intelliegence from everyone using them. The Riddler has always struck me as the kind of guy who thinks he's smarter than anyone else, it doesn't seem entirely unreasonable to assume he might try to ensure it by stealing knowledge. Besides, there's a certain charm to his Riddler, especially with lines like "Was that over the top? I can never tell.", and "Riddle me this, riddle me that. Who's afraid of a big old bat?"

5. Frank Gorshin R.I.P (Batman and Robin (60's show)):  The original Silver Age Riddler, Gorshin was actually one of two actors who played the villain, but of the two he is the more iconic and memorable among fans. When people think of a Silver Age Riddler, they think of the Gorshin laughs and the many instances of "Riddle Me This, Batman!" tossed out so well by him. Interestingly, Gorshin was a voice actor late into his life. He was one of a few voice actors briefly recruited by Warner Brothers to voice some Looney Tunes characters in the 90's following Mel Blanc's death, and his final voice acting role was as another Batman villain, Professor Hugo Strange in the first season of The Batman. Sadly, Frank died in 2005 (The Batman came out in 2004 and ran for four seasons), and was succeeded in subsequent appearances by Richard Green.

4. Wally Wingert (Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, Batman: Arkham Origins, Batman: Arkham Knight, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader):  One of the only consistent casting choices to carry on through all four Batman Arkham games, and also the only one to subsequently reprise the role for Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader, Wally Wingert is for many people, the definitive Riddler. I will say that he has the mannerisms and voice down pretty well, and it helps that he is a big fan of the 60's Batman show, so he knew how to impersonate Frank Gorshin. Wally got off to a great start in Arkham Asylum, for although we didn't see The Riddler directly for most of the game, the voice clips and interview tapes we obtained showed how obessed he was with proving Batman was a criminal just like everyone else. He continued to do good in Arkham City, where he challenges Batman to solve his riddles and find the missing G.C.P.D officers he has kidnapped and hidden in the massive correctional complex. But his Riddler starts to slide downhill fast with Arkham Origins, and part of it has to do with the writing. Technically not The Riddler yet, Edward Nigma manages to obtain files on every elected official and civil servant in Gotham City, showing just how corrupt and crooked they are. But rather than release the information to the public, he decides to use the information to blackmail the corrupted officials, and yet he claims to be morally superior to Batman who despite his violent ways, is trying to clean up the system without going above the law. And oh boy did they mess up on The Riddler in Arkham Knight, almost every gameover screen and quote you can get with him makes him sound insanely sadistic. The problem is, The Riddler is narassictic, but not outright sadistic. He would never go so far as to strap an explosive collar onto Catwoman that will explode if she picks the wrong key, or say that he doesn't care someone is dead because of him, let alone saying that killing someone is because he wanted to prove a point. That's what The Joker would be doing and saying, maybe even The Penguin or Two Face, but certainly not The Riddler. Wally did manage to kind of redeem himself with Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader, but it's really distracting how they got all these new voice actors to mimic the 60's villians performances, but Wally Wingert got to keep his role. He does a good Gorshin impression, but at the same time he's really recognizable. Even Jeff Bergman could at least do an impression of Cesar Romero without making it clear it was him. I'm kind of hoping they'll recast the role for the sequel, or at least maybe try to edit Wally's voice to make him less recognizable. Wally started off good and he's improving, but the bad writing of The Riddler in later Arkham games really hurts his overall performance.

3. Weird Al Yankovic (Riddler):  Yes, that's right, Weird Al voiced a Batman villain. And yes, Riddler is the name of the short. I can't find much information about it, or where you can find it. Weird Al plays The Riddler well enough for the short. He's having fun with the role, which is always a plus, and he can immerse himself in with little trouble. But his Riddler is perhaps a little too obessed with the riddles, and a little too silly. I'm pretty sure Weird Al could voice The Riddler in a bigger role if he got the chance, and while he'd probably be better suited to a Silver Age Riddler, I think he could do a more serious Riddler (or a more serious Joker for that matter) well if he had to. He has proven to be able to play against type casting once or twice.

2. Cory Michael Smith (Gotham):  Though he has yet to take up the mantle of Riddler, Cory potrays Edward Nigma in Gotham and has done so very well. He already demonstrated back in Season 2 that he could play The Riddler nicely, and it helps that we get to see his Ed slowly transition and be consumed by his inner demons. But I think the writers of Gotham have gone a teensie bit overboard with the hardships he'd had to endure. The girl he loves gets involved in an abusive relationship, so he kills the abuser and tries to cover it up. When he confesses this fact to Ms. Krinkle, he accidentally kills her, and then kills a random civillian just for passing by when he's burying Ms. Krinkle's body. He proceeds to frame Jim Gordon for the murder of a police officer and have him carted off to Blackgate, then is exposed and sent to Arkham, before Oswald frees him from jail to become his campaign manager. Only for Oswald to kill a librarian Edward falls for, because he has fallen in love with Edward too, and wants him all to himself, leading to Edward discovering the truth and after backstabbing those who have an axe to grind against Oswald (including his former right hand man Butch), he is the one to put a bullet in Oswald and seemingly kill him. Hasn't the poor guy suffered enough already? Was it really necessary to have all that stuff with Oswald?

1. John Glover (Batman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures):  I think what helps John's Riddler is stand out, is that he's much more subtle, both with his crimes, and with his riddles and persona. He still has that inflated sense of intelligence, but like most villains from the DC Animated Universe, he's given a backstory explaining his turn to crime. Kicked out of a gaming company and robbed of his chances to see a profit from said game, Edward Nigma decides to become The Riddler and get some revenge. It's unfortunate that his Riddler didn't appear too often, because John Glover could voice him very well. I don't much care for the redesign his Riddler got in The New Batman Adventures though, it's just a painfully obvious knock off of The Riddler costume from Batman Forever just with a hat. Really, the only redesign that was even worse than that, was The Joker's, which made him look like the forgotten fourth Warner sibling. It's a shame that John has only gotten a few small roles since his Riddler days, I for one would like to see him do more.

And there you have it. Come back next week when we'll look at the Top Ten Episodes of Justice League/Justice League Unlimited.
Many years ago in an upcoming network, Genndy Tartakovsky, master of story telling, unleashed an unspeakable masterpiece upon Cartoon Network called Samurai Jack. Running for four seasons, the show was a commercial and critical success on every level. But, a foolish decision by Cartoon Network, led to Genndy leaving the fourth season with Jack's fate ultimately unknown, the samurai still stuck in the future. Before Genndy could finally get a fifth and final season greenlit for 2017, Samurai Jack had to be content with reruns before it was eventually forced off the air. Now, finding a new home on Toonami on Adult Swim, Genndy seeks to revisit the past, and complete the story that is Samurai Jack. Yup, that's right, with the fifth and final season of the show having just wrapped up two days prior, it's time to hop on the bandwagon and provide my own commentary on this season fans waited over a decade for.

I will be mostly using my ratings system for episodes from my other journals exploring seasons of cartoons. But, I am going to be unvieling a new ranking system, in accordance with what I have seen on the Cartoon Reviewers group. In addition to Good, Bad, Meh, Excellent, and Terrible episodes, there will also be Great, Okay, and Awful episodes. You can see my earliest journals to learn how the rankings from Good through Terrible work, but allow me to explain how Great, Okay, and Awful work.

Great Episode: An episode that has nothing majorily wrong with it, but has something that ultimately holds it back and keeps it from reaching the highest of heights.

Okay Episode: An episode that's either hard to talk about, or just one that really doesn't do much either way to stand out. It's slightly above Meh though, as Okay implies that the episode at least did something right and perhaps just needed a little more polishing, whereas Meh suggests the episode needed a lot of reworking.

Awful: An episode that's even worse than Terrible, an episode that either shouldn't have existed, or you're left scratching your head wondering how anyone could've thought it was ever acceptable in its current state. Terrible at least implies there might be something redeemable with the episode, it's just buried beneath all the things it does wrong. Awful has very little (if anything) going for it.

And now that we've gotten that cleared up, the usual disclaimer about my opinions comes into play. It's okay if you disagree with my opinion, just be sure to respect it. Now get ready, because it's time to get back to the past with Samurai Jack!

XCII: All ten episodes of Season 5 opened up with a new intro, a monologue by Jack himself that goes as follows: "Fifty years have passed since I arrived, but... I do not age. Time, has lost its effect on me. (Jack sighs, as a vision of Aku appears and starts to laugh) Yet... the suffering continues. Aku's grasp chokes the past, present, and future. Hope... is lost. Gotta get back! Back to the past! Samurai Jack." This opening alone established a more somber and depressing tone for the season, and to drive home the point when we see Jack for the first time, he is no longer dressed in his white robe or wielding his trademark sword. He wears thick armor, and uses futuristic weapons to fight robots. And he also has something of a Jesus esque beard (a metaphor for the phrase "Grow the beard" which refers to a show beginning to mature and grow out of its initial limitations). This episode largely establishes the new world Jack is a part of, and how troubled he is on a mental level, as he sees a vision of his father in a fire, and sees visions of his family in everyday objects. But the big revelation in this episode, comes from Jack confronting the robotic assassin known as Scaramouche (voiced by Tom Kenny), the assassin discovering that Jack has lost his sword, the one thing that can destroy Aku! Fortunately, Jack is able to defeat Scaramouche before he has a chance to tell Aku (breaking the assassin's smart phone when he reveals he has Aku on speed dial). But if you thought Scaramouche was gone forever, well you thought wrong baby. Meanwhile, the episode also focuses on a religious cult known as the Daughters of Aku. The chief priestess raises seven daughters to be assassins, for the sole purpose of killing Samurai Jack. And when they come of age, she sends them out to fulfill their mission. For the first episode of the new season, it was surprising to see just what changed, as well as what stayed the same (Genndy still wanted the show to be watchable for all ages, hence the TV-14 rating, it was mostly for more serious action and violence, plus real blood). But the biggest twists were yet to come! This is a Great Episode, it's fine as it is, but it was largely just to establish the new Jack and the new world, rather than fling us headlong into action! The pieces of the puzzle about what had happened to Jack would slowly fall into place over the course of the season.

XCIII: This episode began not with Jack, but with Aku, now voiced by Greg Baldwin (the understudy of Mako Iwamatsu, who died in 2006, two years after Samurai Jack first went off the air.) and you can tell Aku sounds different. It's not that Greg Baldwin isn't trying, because I'm sure he is, and to his credit the writing for Aku is flawless as always. But suffice it to say, Greg got a lot better at voicing Aku as time went on. Anyway, Aku reveals that the time travel has stopped Jack's aging process, hence why he has not aged in fifty years. Not originally knowing this, Aku destroyed all the time portals, but now he is bored of trying to fight Jack, and even has to go to therapy with himself. When we get to Jack, we find him ambushed by the Daughters of Aku, and when he finds a moment to rest, he is confronted by a pyschological manifestation of his old self, and a looming ghost samurai that is waiting for Jack to give up. Despite having lost most of his equipment, Jack makes a frantic attempt to escape the Daughters of Aku in a temple, and the rest of the episode is spent on a very dramatic chase (an insane game of "Cat and Mouse"), which ends with an unexpected development. In the narrow passageways of the temple, Jack is attacked by one of the daughters, and trades blows with her. Suddenly, Jack catches the girl off guard and accidentally slits her neck, killing her (though not before he is stabbed in the chest and starts to bleed)! Worth mentioning is that up to this point, Jack has never killed another human being (the entire reason why he fought robots in the old seasons was because Cartoon Network censorship did not want violence against humans, the future setting was the perfect handwave for why a samurai would be fighting robots). Jack flees from the temple and falls into the river, hoping to lose the surviving Daughters of Aku. The development at the end would've been enough to make this an Excellent Episode, but everything else easily justified it. This was the kind of stuff Samurai Jack was praised for in the old days, less focus on dialogue and more focus on action, letting the visuals tell the story.

XCIV: Following up on the development of Jack killing his first human, we see how his pysche has become warped. Now looking much more fiendish and sinister, the manifestation urges Jack to give into the temptation and kill the other daughters. However, we are then treated to a flashback showing young Jack on a trip with his father the emperor, and he recalls how his father had to kill a bunch of assassins that wanted to kill the royal family. During the fight, Jack watched through the window of a carriage, and his face ended up splashed with blood when his father slayed one of the assassins! Afterward, Jack's father cleaned him up, and told Jack a powerful message about how the actions you take are a manifestation of who you are, and that everyone has a choice to be good or bad (basically saying that sometimes it is okay to kill in self defense). In a snow covered forest, Jack attempts to reason with the six surviving daughters, but they do not head his warnings, and one by one they are struck down and killed, except for one (though you can tell Jack is fed up with how much the surviving daughter rants on and on). And the episode ends with the branch Jack is standing on, breaking, and sending him falling into what seems like an abyss! There is one thing about this episode though, that I have to deduct a few points for. I'm not one to be squeamish at the sight of blood, at least in cartoons, and even seeing characters covered in it doesn't automatically make me sick. But we get an entire scene of Jack pulling the embedded blade out of his abdomen, and they make sure to go into excruciting detail, showing how painful the whole thing is for Jack. And I have to ask, was that really necessary? I know it wasn't trying to be funny, but that doesn't mean it needed to seen, I think we could already tell just how much the pain bothered Jack, seeing how much blood he lost and how much he was staggering and sweating. So, because of that scene, I have to hold this episode to the level of a Great Episode.

XCV: Originally, this episode was going to air on April 1. But at the last minute, Toonami decided to play an April Fools joke on everyone, and aired the first episode of Season 3 of Rick and Morty on the 11:30 PM timeslot instead. Fortunately, this episode was worth waiting an extra week for (and hey, that first episode of Season 3 of Rick and Morty was amazing). As it turns out, that wasn't an abyss Jack fell into, it was just the forest floor covered in mist. And the surviving daughter (named Ashi, who is voiced by Tara Strong) is alive as well. Jack refuses to kill her out of sympathy for her upbringing, even though Ashi wants nothing to do with him. Suddenly, the two end swallowed by a gigantic beast! Inside the creature, Jack attempts to reason with Ashi, trying to get her to realize the truth about Aku, but even when he saves Ashi from being eaten, she remains ungrateful (she even says and I quote "I would rather have been that creature's excreetment than be with you!"). Jack tries his best to patience, but eventually he becomes fed up with everything Ashi says about Aku, and lashes out, telling her just what he thinks of her misguided views! Surprisingly, Jack still protects Ashi from danger, and we are treated to some impressive visuals when they reach the beast's stomach, but find a way out. When they eventually escape, Ashi still tries to kill Jack, only to reconsider when she sees Jack spare a ladybug, and reflects on how when she was younger, she discovered a ladybug, only for her mother to regard it as a distraction and kill it in front of Ashi. A few people have mentioned how this episode was similar to "Jack and the Farting Dragon" in concept, but I think the inclusion of Ashi alone made the concept different enough to feel unique here. So I have no problems declaring this an Excellent Episode.

XCVI: You know you're in for a treat when the episode opens up with the Scotsman, now elderly and wheelchair bond (though that hasn't stopped him from raising a family of daughters), leads an army to assault Aku's tower, which gives Greg Baldwin a much needed chance to improve on his Aku voice (in particular he sounds surprisingly similar to Mako when he delivers the line "I'm sorry, old man. I think you're lost."). Ultimately, the Scotsman ends up killed, but he lives on as a ghost and tells his daughters to find Samurai Jack. As for Jack, he shows Ashi multiple pieces of proof of the evil that is Aku, in particular how Aku destroys all that is beautiful. But when Ashi asks Jack what can be done about it, Jack replies that there is nothing that can be done, thus cementing that Jack has lost all hope of ever defeating Aku and coming home. Arriving in a town, Jack and Ashi discover a factory, where a bunch of fury children are being turned into brainwashed fighting machines. Working together, Jack and Ashi are able to free the children and shut down the factory, but Jack is horrified when he sees the children be electrocuted and believes that they are all dead. The shadowy samurai figure from earlier (known as The Omen), arrives to lead Jack away to commit the ancient ritual of seppuku (which is what samurai were expected to do if they failed their master. They were also expected to commit suicide if their master was defeated in battle by another master, as it was considered honorable to follow their master into death, rather than serve another master), while Ashi discovers the children are actually alive, but Jack is not around to see this. There's no question about it, this is an Excellent Episode.

XCVII: A fanservice/clip show episode, but one with a very real purpose behind it, and done well at that. Ashi searches for Jack, and as she does she meets up with all the people that he has helped and inspired (including the jump good monkeys, the funky samurai, and the rave children, there's even a surprise cameo from Demungo). The recaps are handled well, giving you enough information if you never saw the appropriate episodes, but not spoiling the entire story, while throwing in some clever little details that long time fans will surely notice and appreciate. Oh, but there's some advancement in the story too, as we learn more about Ashi's past. Turns out that suit she's been wearing all this time, really wasn't a suit. Her entire flesh was turned ash black, because as an infant her own mother shoved her into a pit of ashes, which completely seared her! Now finally having seen the light, Ashi purifies herself, returning her flesh to its original color. Surprisingly, it's only when she's done this that she realizes she's naked (fortunately there's a modesty camera trick so we don't see her nakedness on full display), and hastily clothes herself. Upon meeting Jack, she tries to stop him from committing seppuku, fighting against The Omen, and eventually inspiring Jack to regain his confidence and raise up and defeat The Omen. Oh, and we can't forget the funny subplot with Scaramouche! That's right baby, you can't keep a good bot down, even if he's just a talking head. Scaramouche tries to find a way to notify Aku that Jack has lost his sword, and he delivers this gem of a line: "Whoa, what a freak! Looked like a talking penis." How could this be anything but an Excellent Episode?

XCVIII: Having finally regained his confidence, Jack spends this episode searching for his sword, and we finally see just how it was that he lost it. He found the last remaining time portal at the top of a mountain, but Aku being the troll that he is, yanked Jack back out of it when Jack jumped through it, and then destroyed the portal, delighting in how much he ticked Jack off as a result. Not willing to fight Jack when he is seething with anger, Aku sics a trio of monsters transformed from goats, and upon staining his sword with the blood of innocents, Jack was horrified, and dropped his sword, causing it to fall down into the chasm left by the destruction of the last time portal. Returning to that very mountain top, Jack soon realizes the sword was lost to him not because he dropped it into that pit, but because he had corrupted its purity with the blood of innocents, due to his own anger. So Jack meditates and goes on a journey of spiritual balance, while Ashi fends off an army sent to kill Jack. But both stories have unexpected developments, Ashi is confronted by her own mother, the high priestess, ultimately managing to kill her by hurling an arrow that goes straight through the high prisetess' heart! And Jack learns that the path to the sword eludes him, because he himself is not balanced, he must vanquish his own anger (who claims the monk's claim is "Fortune cookie nonsense!"). Upon doing so, Jack meets Ra (the Egyptian sun good), Rama (a popular deity in Hinduism and Budhism, who seems to represent night), and Odin (the Nordic god who guides lost sailors to their final resting place), who give him his sword again, and with it his old clothes and look. With his sword firmly in his possession again, Jack realizes it's time to confront Aku and end the madness once and for all, thus setting up for the final act of this season. Once again, this is an Excellent Episode, Season 5 is on a roll!

XCVIX: Let me start by saying that I don't hate JackxAshi, or find it creepy/disturbing. People who complain about it forget that Jack himself has not aged in 50 years, so most likely he's in his 30's, possibly pushing 40. Ashi is at least 18, but is likely in her 20's, so the age difference isn't that big. I'm fine with the idea of Ashi gradually becoming a love interest for Jack, seeing as Jack deserves some happiness after all the suffering he has been through in his life. This episode is more or less cementing the ship, as Jack and Ashi take shelter from a raging dessert sandstorm in what turns out to be a space prison of some sort. Unfortunately, one of the prisoners escaped and the prison was evacuated. There's a device that can stop the monster (which is a lot like the titular creature from Alien), but it must be primed in a certain way, and the instructions on how to do so cut off before they can explain how to prime the device. Ultimately, the device is activated, the monster is destroyed, and it's a happy ending for all. But then there's a very abrupt mood whiplash, as Jack and Ashi suddenly start kissing each other, and the episode just ends there. That sudden romantic scene causes this episode to be dropped down to the level of a Great Episode, I don't hate the ship, I just think the kissing scene came out of nowhere, as if the writers were thinking "The episode's going to end! Quick, make them kiss so we can solidify the ship!".

C: Picking up right where the previous episode left off, Jack and Ashi break off the kiss and awkwardly laugh and make small talk. We get a fan service scene of Jack bathing, before Ashi gives him his cleaned robe (which he gave to her last episode when she had to take off her own clothes, fortunately Jack had a modesty loincloth to wear so his private parts weren't on display). Then, that night, Jack shares the story of his past with Ashi, of what his world was like before Aku arrived (and we learn that Jack was only eight years old when Aku first appeared). However, Jack decides that he can't risk something happening to Ashi, and slips away by the time she wakes up the next morning, making his way towards The Guardian's time portal (and it's implied that Aku killed The Guardian off screen). Meanwhile, Scaramouche finally makes it back to Aku and tells him that Samurai Jack has lost his sword, getting his body back as a reward. But when Aku learns that Scaramouche is behind the times, he destroys him for good. However, if you thought Jack and Aku's final showdown was going to be straightforward, you thought wrong! As it turns out, the Daughters of Aku was a literal thing, Aku appeared before them and filled a cup with his esence. Apparently, the high priestess drank it, and then gave birth to her seven daughters all at once, meaning Ashi is Aku's biological daughter. Exploiting this and Jack's affections for her, Aku makes Ashi fight Jack, and eventually transform into a demon like him. Ashi pleads with Jack to kill her, but Jack can't bring himself to do so and lays down his sword. Aku then picks it up and stands triumphant, while Jack hangs his head in defeat. There's no way this could be anything but an Excellent Episode, even if the twist with Ashi is kind of ripping off Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

CI: For the final episode of Samurai Jack, Genndy went all out! From the very beginning you can tell he's determined to show how far we've come since the beginning, as he actually uses the old intro in universe. Aku broadcasts his capture of Samurai Jack live, and ponders how to best put an end to their rivalry forever. Unwilling to let this happen, all of the people Jack has helped over the years, rise up and storm Aku's fortress to free Jack, willing to lay down their very lives for him. Ultimately, Jack is freed with some help from the Scotsman and his magical ghost pipes. Then he sets to work on trying to free Ashi from Aku's control, encouraging her to fight it off. But nothing seems to work, and Jack's allies are slaughtered by Aku with very little effort. It isn't until Jack confesses his feelings for Ashi, that she is able to break free of Aku's control, using his powers against him. She gives Jack his sword, and then teleports him and herself back to the past, more specifically to when Jack nearly defeated Aku. Out of respect for Mako, they reuse the audio from the pilot, rather than have Greg dub the lines over (he also didn't dub over the lines for the old intro, which probably explains why the new intro was created). But you can tell when it switches to Greg's Aku, once Jack returns to the past and manages to slay Aku, sealing him back into the sword forever! Now back in his own time, Jack prepares to marry Ashi (who gets all prettied up), but sadly victory comes at a high price. With Aku destroyed, Ashi realizes that she can no longer exist, as Aku was her biological father. And she fades away at Jack's side, just before the alter. Heartbroken, Jack wanders into a misty wood, but perks up upon seeing a ladybug (which reminds him of Ashi and for me at least I think is to imply that Ashi's spirit was reincarnated into that ladybug). Jack lets it go, as he stands beneath a blooming sakura tree, and the mists clear up. This finale was pretty good and very much worth the long wait, but there are a few minors hiccups that kind of hurt it. The first is that Jack never gets a chance to say goodbye to any of his allies, not even the Scotsman. Second, it's very clear when they're using the old audio with Mako, and when it switches to the new audio with Greg. And third and final, Ashi getting the "Redemption equals death" treatment raises some questions about the time travel (if she dies in the past because she was never born in the future, then wouldn't Jack no longer exist in the past since without Ashi he would never travel back to the past, and if he didn't exist in the past, wouldn't Aku be free since Jack was not around to defeat him?). But they are only enough to drop this episode to the level of a Great Episode!

Season 5 of Samurai Jack was more than worth waiting all those years for, it was the perfect mix of old and new, introducing Jack to some new fans, but also respecting and even growing up with the old fans who waited so patiently for this. At a time when Cartoon Network seems intent on burying its past with terrible reboots of Teen Titans, The Powerpuff Girls, and now even Ben 10, Season 5 of Samurai Jack on Toonami could've easily fallen into the same trap. But instead, we got the almost flawless masterpiece that proved good things come to those who wait. It's a shame that Mako Iwamatsu died before this season could be greenlit, but just like with Uncle Iroh in Avatar: The Last Airbender, Greg Baldwin did his teacher proud by stepping into the role in his place. Everyone else voiced their roles to perfection, and the animation and direction were as spot on as they had been in Seasons 1-4. If you missed any of the episodes of this final season though, you're in luck, because this Saturday at 11, and going until Sunday at 4 AM, Toonami will be airing all ten episodes back to back in a marathon. Now we just need to wait for the announcement of the DVD set (hopefully before the end of the year).

And there you have it, come back next week when we take a look at the Top Ten Deaths in Animation. And this time, anime will be included in addition to Western Animation!

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Joshua
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I'm a brony, and a fan of many things that would take too look to list here.
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:iconbaerocks:
BAErocks Featured By Owner May 12, 2017  New Deviant
I hate my life
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SPB2015 Featured By Owner May 13, 2017
Why?
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JoyofCrimeArt Featured By Owner May 1, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the comment! It means a lot! :D
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bojackmoon Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2017  New Deviant
Are looking foward to the my little pony movie?
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:iconspb2015:
SPB2015 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2017
Yes, though I am a bit concerned that Hasbro might not have the show's best interests at heart promoting it to such an extent and recruiting these celebrity voice actors I don't think anyone really knows about.
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StrangeElephant Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Since I reached 20 watchers, I have decided to open a Q & A, thank you for the support! :hug:

strangeelephant.deviantart.com…
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fefupu Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2016
Lazy Toxic-Mario still milking same old stupid "Spitfire usd as an oven" concept
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SPB2015 Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2016
I don't care if he keeps doing that sort of stuff, as long as he draws it himself. It's his anthro works that worry me, because apparently he hasn't been sketching them himself, but he claims he has.
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bobmortar Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the watch ^^
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CapistranoTheGreat Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Do you rp?
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