(ARTICLE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON OCTOBER 7, 2021)
A couple of weeks ago, Star Wars became an anime. Not the whole saga, mind you, but a collection of nine episodes created by nine anime companies out of Asia. All nine episodes bring a fresh perspective to what makes Star Wars. These new takes on the galaxy far, far away offer varied stories that excite and encourage a good portion of the Star Wars fanbase.
The episodes all vary in time length, but they all run from 11 to about 20 minutes apiece. Formulas like this made the stories shorter and that did hamper some of them. Such as the episode, “Lop and Och,” which saw a good story, but suffered pacing issues.
In this episode there was a clear story progression, but there was a distinct lack of character development in the short. “Lop and Och” would feel more complete if the one episode was branched out into a traditional 27 episode show. A few of the others suffer from this as well but do not take away from them nearly as much as “Lop and Och.”
The least impressive episode is “TO-B1.” There is an Astro Boy feel to the episode, but the premise feels overused in other anime. The familiar trope where a master dies and passes on his power falls flat here.
“The Elder,” “Tatooine Rhapsody,” and “The Twins’’ are all good episodes and gave viewers feelings of excitement and wonder. Some wished that these studios would get deals to make more of these anime styled Star Wars shorts. These three are good, but the last three that have not been mentioned yet are where Star Wars anime is supposed to be.
The first one and the first episode to start fans off on their anime journey is called, “The Duel.” Using the classic wanderer trope to the fullest potential, “The Duel” excels in every way. Bandits have come to a town where the wanderer is resting. These bandits make demands and through a series of events the wanderer is facing the bandit leader, who brandishes a unique type of lightsaber.
The lightsaber, the weapon of most force users in Star Wars, is in the configuration of an umbrella. A duel then takes place between the two saber-wielding warriors. This duel is epic in every sense of the word. Non-stop action leads to a climactic finish. The end reveal about the wanderer was a great twist and one that gives credence to many fan-made versions of the Expanded Universe content from before the Disney acquisition.
The Village bride takes a timeless trope and runs with it full bore. The resulting episode is one of excitement, loss and a wonderful story. The Jedi make their presence felt, in a small way throughout the episode, but towards the end of the episode the Jedi is front and center and ready for combat. The interpretations of the Jedi, even in the other episodes, is unique. Whereas in the movies and American cartoons, most Jedi are stoic and reverent of their connection to the light. The Jedi in these episodes do not have the stoicism that would be expected of Jedi anywhere else.
“The Ninth Jedi,” is a fantastic piece of animated work. The daughter of a saber smith is the main and is force sensitive but untrained. It is a delight to see this story unfold as a group of Jedi are summoned to receive lightsabers, which in this episode, are a lost artifact to time. “The Ninth Jedi” is the best episode out of the nine episodes by leaps and bounds.
That is not to say all of them are not great, they are, but “The Ninth Jedi” is the best one of the nine episodes.