I can called this episode essence of essence of "Samurai Jack". There's no one word, it's tough, moving, deep, even more compact than usually by parting into four smaller parts ("Spring", "Summer", "Autumn", "Winter"). So why not 10? There's only one reason. It's "Winter". I've never seen better mute cartoon. Try to imagine that brood of warriors live in caves with only one purpose, made a sword with whom they can defeat Jack, when they done it they all fight who will go to wait for samurai. The one who win goes outside, he might wait years, it's not said. Jack at last appears and crashes his sword by one cut. End. In this moment I said "Oh, my God". It's masterpiece in all aspects, graphic, plot, music (just few simple sounds, but any, ANY of them comes from the characters) with whom remaining parts, although very good, cannot measure. But if I had to choose one from them I would mention "Spring", which show us quite unexpected story of Jack and some lady.
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I love this episode, it's so beautifully orchestrated and is more artistically themed than most of the other ones in the series, and is kind of like the "Fantasia" of Samurai Jack! In its own way I think it gets right to the heart of what made the show so great, the imagery, the action, the atmosphere, and it's all exceptionally done and is mostly done without words and is melodious in nature and that's what makes this a real favourite of mine. The first segment, "Summer", sees Jack in a burning arid desert where he is assailed by phantoms of the heat haze that could or couldn't be metaphor's of his own exhaustion as he struggles through the desolate scorching landscape. In any case he dispels these heat demons by finding his inner calm, and I liked the end of it where Jack ignores what he thinks is another mirage until he falls right into it! It's good but I find it the weakest of the four stories. I like how well they convey the pressure of the heat the best. Also how Jack conquers his foes was just how he beat his inner aggression in "Jack vs Mad Jack." Next comes "Fall", which has a horrid little goblin mad scientist concocting a deadly poison out of the very essence of Autumn that will destroy the samurai instantly should he drink it. But the cruel little monster winds up taking his own bad medicine and disintegrating after giving himself away in his eagerness to see Jack drink from the tainted well. I love the eerie stillness of the atmosphere and the strange slow buildup of it with the windmill as the creature runs back and forth and gathers up his ingredients. And it captures the look and feel of Autumn very well with the wind blowing and browns of the tree leaves. Very subtle and effective and near silent, which sure can't be said about the excellent next part, "Winter", which is a lot more focused on the driving action and industry of a tribal and vicious-looking but not evil race that's bent on creating a mighty sword of ice and battling among each other to choose who will be the one to wield it against the legendary samurai, which as you eventually see, all their effort is for nought as it shatters in mere moments against Jack's mystical blade, and I can't help feeling bad for the warrior as he drops his broken sword into the snow and falls to his knees, beaten, unworthy... It's quite a visually poignant and poetic piece of animation, I really love that part. "Spring" comes last which is my favourite part, because it's mesmerising and beautifully animated with Jack almost falling forever into the soothing embrace of a Spring goddess. She's so awesome and calming as she tries to entrap him with a promise of peace from endless battles and hardship, but it is an eternal rest, and he's actually giving in to her until he gets flashes of the evil one he's destined to destroy and she grows wrathful after he tries one too many times to leave, but then vanishes before he's able to strike her down. And I like how at the end as he's leaving she's watching from afar but she looks strangely pleased that he didn't fall victim to her charms. Maybe she was a test and not a villainess. Lord help me, I don't think I'd be able to resist her spell... Utterly fantastic sequence, it has such phenomenal ambiance to it. And it's a brilliant episode overall really that plays into the spirit of each season in ways you might not be expecting, and there's a lot of rich artistic animation that's poured into this one in particular that's fun to discover again and again. Magnificent, much like the series itself, I never wanted it to end.
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