Samurai Jack’s Genndy Tartakovsky Powers Up Sym-Bionic Titan

Cartoon brainiac Genndy Tartakovsky revitalized American animation with anime-inspired knockouts like Samurai Jack and Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Now he’s crashing mecha convention with Sym-Bionic Titan, premiering at 8 p.m. Friday on Cartoon Network.

“For whatever reason, I have always loved the idea of kids driving giant robots,” the Russian-born but American-bred Tartakovksy told in a wide-ranging e-mail interview. “Anime always seemed to execute action better than American animation. So when I developed Samurai Jack, I wanted great action but through our point-of-view, and everything followed after that.”

Tartakovksy’s Sym-Bionic Titan is another masterful hybrid of international animation styles and substances that, like his acclaimed former series, appeals broadly across demographics. Its sci-fi story of three aliens — plucky princess Ilana, her soldier protector Lance and their level-headed cyborg Octus — hiding out in Illinois from space mutants sounds like child’s play. But once they attract intergalactic assassins to Earth, Sym-Bionic Titan instantly transforms into an adult-oriented intergalactic smackdown that levels everything from skyscrapers to military battalions in its action-packed path.

We chatted with Tartakovksy about Sym-Bionic Titan’s mecha mayhem, anime classics, demographic discrimination, working with J.J. Abrams on the Samurai Jack feature film and when Tartakovksy might finally direct his own silver-screen blockbuster.