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  • Writer's pictureAaron Fonseca

How "The Ninth Jedi" from Star Wars Visions Sets up a Great Star Wars Anime

It's common knowledge that Star Wars has heavy Japanese influences, namely lightsaber duels that echo samurai sword fights. When Star Wars Visions premiered in September 2021 on Disney+, it received critical acclaim and positively brought together the Star Wars and anime fan bases. The animated anthology series consisted of nine original self-contained animated short films set in and/or inspired by the galaxy far, far away.


The shorts were produced by seven anime studios, including the renowned Studio Trigger. The success of the first season lead to a second season, which premiered in May of this year. The first season's fourth episode, entitled "The Ninth Jedi," produced by Production I.G., focused around a call received by masterless Jedi across the galaxy and a mysterious rendezvous point; the secret reforging of lightsabers that have been long forgotten; rumors about the founding of a new Jedi Order; and, in typical Star Wars fashion, the rise of new Acolytes of the Sith.


Setting Up a New Mythos for Star Wars

"The Ninth Jedi" and its compelling narrative intriguingly places itself generations ahead of the familiar timeline -- a strategic move that liberates the story from the confinements of canonical Star Wars lore and the often rigid expectations of passionate fans. The franchise has suffered a lot due to the divisiveness that has permeated the fan base. The excitement about anything relating to Star Wars slowly dissipated over time, only to be brought back with the return of The Clone Wars animated series and The Mandalorian, but those are also tied to the Skywalker Saga in one shape or form. This time shift in "The Ninth Jedi" allows for a refreshing new start for the franchise, eliminating the need to uphold traditional story arcs or character continuities while still preserving the core essence of what makes Star Wars globally beloved.


"The Ninth Jedi" is arguably crafted as a pilot episode. It lays the groundwork for an innovative mythos that revolves around the eternal theme of the Jedi, yet it also provides ample room for fresh character development, plot twists and world-building. Within this framework, this potential new series has the opportunity to unfold in unexpected ways, fostering an environment that is as tantalizing to longtime Star Wars fan as it is to first-time viewers, ultimately proving the resilience and adaptability of the franchise in the face of evolving narrative strategies.


Closing the Chapter on the Skywalker Saga

Nothing pulls in an audience deeper into the galaxy far, far away like the characters that inhabit it. Think of Luke, Leia, Han, C-3PO, Yoda, Finn, Poe and the closest to a rogue Jedi Ahsoka, all of which became favorites. Fans kept coming back to Star Wars in order to see what came next for each of these characters. The greatest power of "The Ninth Jedi" comes from its ensemble cast. It introduces a myriad of characters and through them, sets the tone and promise for what could potentially come if this was in fact a pilot episode for a brand-new series.

Unlike most of what has come before in the Star Wars universe,"The Ninth Jedi" cuts off ties with the Skywalkers; rather than focusing on just one blood-related family, the episode ends with the building of a new family bound by the Force. Kara, arguably the protagonist of the piece -- as by the end of the episode, she is dubbed the ninth Jedi -- has a strange and untapped connection to the Force. Then there's Ethan, who is still very green but has a lot of heart and thirst to learn. Homen, a humanoid, is tempted by the dark side during the episode but ultimately realizes where his truth lies. Finally, Juro Margrave is a Jedi Master who calls them all to him in order to rebuild the Jedi Order. Each of these characters comes with endless possibilities of not just future storytelling but also a potential archive of backstories that could add even further layers to the story moving forward.


Uniting all the Right Star Wars Elements

What "The Ninth Jedi" does so flawlessly in the span of a 20-minute episode is the unification of all the good elements or motifs that make the storytelling in Star Wars so intriguing to its fan base. The episode wastes no time in establishing the political status of the galaxy generations after the Skywalker saga. There are no lightsabers, Jedi in hiding, impending war, or a ruler of a planet wanting to rebuild the Jedi Order to bring peace to the galaxy. Even so, "The Ninth Jedi" gives off Prequel Trilogy vibes in its visuals and symphonic score. The unlikely band of heroes being forced together to forge a new Jedi Order and fight off a new threat with the rise of new Sith Acolytes gives off the same "band-of-brothers-and-sisters" energy that was very present in Rogue One.

All the elements or building blocks that are essential to telling a Star Wars story are used in "The Ninth Jedi" in a fresh way. Unlike the attempt made by the Sequel Trilogy, here it is done with the confidence that a Star Wars story does not need the Skywalkers to be good and can expand beyond already established characters, mythos and lore.


Liberating Star Wars From Hollywood's Current State


With the justified SAG/AFTRA and WGA strike moving forward, Lucasfilms may need a saving grace to not lose the Star Wars fan base like it has done in the past. It's clearer with each passing day that the strike is not going anywhere any time soon, so outsourcing Star Wars storytelling to Production I.G. so the studio can continue telling this particular new story in this medium might be exactly what the doctor ordered. Not only would this allow for a brand-new voice to tell Star Wars stories, but it could also open up the franchise to brand-new audiences that may become fans due to it being the anime medium.


"The Ninth Jedi" is a ground-breaking animated short that offers a fresh perspective on the Star Wars universe. It can grant the franchise much-needed liberation from what is considered canon, making space for new stories, characters and mythos. If it were a pilot for a new anime series, it could bring Star Wars back to the forefront of pop culture. By embracing new storytelling techniques and expanding beyond the Skywalker saga, Lucasfilm can create new and exciting stories that will appeal to both longtime fans and newcomers to the galaxy, far, far away.



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