“What I don’t get though is how does she know about making out but not about being naked” ~ viewer of Samurai Jack Season 5 (Genndy Tartakovsky 2017)
The adult swim tv show Samurai Jack season 5 episode 8 in it’s final confrontation with a leech creature Jack’s side kick Ashii has her clothes eaten off by leeches. The animator presents the character Ashii naked, while objects cover her genitals, breasts and arse (image above). Her posture and reply to Jack’s surprise comment of her nudity as “so” convey she has no concept of clothing probably due to being isolated from the world all her life or so it may seem. If we examine the three purposes of clothing: to give us an advantage in temperament extreme conditions, fashion and to cover our genitals we can prove if Ashii is ignorant of the purpose of clothing. To achieve this we must examine and analyse her transformation scene in episode 6.
Purpose 1: Ignorance to cultural attitudes to nudity
Ashii does have knowledge of the purpose of clothing evident in her transformation scene in episode 6 when after washing off her black “suit” she looks down at her naked body and says “uh oh”. The changes in her hairstyle and attire symbolise an evolution in the character separating herself from her previous identity as just a mindless assassin. This suit is not just charcoal painted over Ashii’s naked body as it would more likely be a mystical substance similar to the venom symbiote within the Spiderman comics. Acting as a suit formed from the dark power of Aku hence she is not naked.
Purpose 2: Practicality
Despite creating boots her outfit is not designed for practical purposes. She wears an armless dress in torrential rain meaning she does not use it to keep herself warm. However a dress will be practical in warm climates yet it does not cover her arms and legs leaving her exposed to UV rays which could develop into skin disease such as melanoma. Her quote “uh oh” can only mean one thing then.
Purpose 3: Fashion
Ashii’s realises the symbolism in clothing and fashion as stated by media theorist Marshall Mcluhan as an “extension of the skin” (1967) acting as a form of identity. This is evident in episode 6’s transformation scene when she creates a green dress, red necklace and boots out of natural materials. A skill she must of been taught during her barbaric and abusive training as a child: advanced martial arts and dress making with vegetation. Or maybe she adopted her knowledge of fashion when in the presence of Jack (image below). Her knowledge of fashion is evident through her red necklace as an accessory essentially useless besides a display of fashion and to cover up private parts. Explaining why she did not care about her nudity within a life and death situation as her will to survive obviously outweighs her need to be dressed in a fashionable outfit. Further proving Ashii is aware of the cultural appropriateness of clothes.
However it is possible the creator have just made an error it is within reason to suggest Ashii does have a knowledge of clothing however is simply more focused at the task at hand. On a side note this episode brings attention to the relationship between Samurai Jack. The simple fact that she is kissing a guy who murdered all of her sisters disturbs me slightly. Similar to issues raised in 2015’s Jurassic World (Colin Trevorrow) the velociraptors are able to thrive due to the sibling relationship. Despite her knowing of the lies she has been fed Jack killing them destroyed her only human connection she ever knew. However the smooth melody of Dean Martin’s that is ‘Everbody loves Somebody’ and the perfection which is Samurai Jack Season 5 keeps me ignorant to this show’s issue and excited for the next to come.
By Callum O’Shannessy