"Episode XXXVII: The Birth of Evil, Part 1" (also known as "The Birth of Aku, Part 1") is the thirty-seventh episode in the third season of Samurai Jack. This two part episode tells the story of how Aku came to exist, and battled against Jack's father.
In the depths of space, a giant black mass of emptiness appears and threatens to consume the entire universe. In response, three ancient Gods emerge from a nearby star: Odin (King of the Norse Gods), Ra (the Sun God of what would become Ancient Egypt) and Rama (an avatar of Vishnu, one of the three supreme deities of Hinduism). They pursue the mass and engage it in a fierce battle, using their divine weapons to burn away the darkness. Eventually, the three Gods succeed in destroying the mass. However, one fragment survives and drifts away into the cosmos.
After an unknown period of time, the fragment eventually finds its way to Earth. The fragment crash-lands on Earth in what would later become the island of Japan, causing an impact which brings about the extinction of the dinosaurs. In the wake of this impact, the mass has settled into its crater to become a giant pool of black, tar-like liquid. After absorbing the few surviving dinosaurs, it sprouts several jagged, tree-like spikes as the ground around it cracks, as if the substance within the pool is trying to spread.
Time passes. Soon, many people and animals fall victim to this deadly pit as it continues expanding. By the time Japan's monarchy is established, the "forest" of spikes is encroaching upon civilization, impaling homes and buildings very close to the Imperial palace. Seeing the damage being wrought on his lands, the current Emperor decides he must destroy the threat at its core. Despite the desperate pleas from his distraught, pregnant wife, the Emperor tells her that while she is the most important thing to him, the people of the land are also his family; if he doesn't act, the entire land will perish.
After receiving an elixir of poison believed to be the key to putting an end to the tar pool once and for all, the Emperor, along with a unit of elite cavalry, rides into the forest toward the center where the heart of the pool lies. Before long, spikes start to erupt from the ground as if the forest has come alive, killing all of the Emperor's men, but he determinedly rides on to the center of the forest.
With the black pool before him continuing to slowly expand, the Emperor takes an arrow and laces it with the poison. Uttering a mystical chant, he fires the arrow into the sky, where it catches fire from the sun before landing directly into the center of the pit. At first, the plan seems to have worked, as the spikes start to retreat back into the pool. However, it's soon revealed that his plan has backfired completely: instead of destroying the pool of blackness, the elixir gave it life. The Emperor's horse flees in terror as a truly colossal spike erupts from the pool, quickly mutating into a massive creature with giant horns, flaming eyebrows, giant teeth, and a body made from a black void of emptiness. Aku (Japanese for "Evil") has entered our world.
After a moment to accustom himself to his new form, Aku notices the Emperor on the ground and thanks his would-be creator for releasing him. Furiously yelling that his intention was to destroy him, the Emperor tries to kill Aku, but his efforts are in vain; the monster absorbs his arrows into his body, and an attempt to slash Aku with his sword only serves to melt his own weapon. Aku thunderously declares that he is immune to mortal weapons before punishing the Emperor for his defiance; the remaining sludge in the pit drags him into itself before sprouting a giant tree that has bound the Emperor to its trunk. With his opponent subdued, Aku descends on the Emperor's homeland, leaving the distraught ruler to helplessly watch the destruction as the monster he inadvertently created begins to destroy his palace.
To be continued...
- Storyboards by
- Casting by
- Collette Sunderman
- After Aku is given life, he is shown with his mouth closed as his eyes opened, but when the camera zooms in on his face, his eyes are shut and his mouth is opened.
- When Aku attacks the city, he is shown shooting fire from his hands, but after the camera focuses on the Emperor trying to break free from his binds, Aku is shown shooting fire from his eyes.
- This episode revealed Aku's origins, as well as how he first met the Emperor (Jack's father).
- This is the second episode where Jack doesn't physically appear, since he wasn’t born yet.
- This is the first episode to have a title card.
- This is the Empress' first speaking role.
- This episode won the 2004 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program.