When Star Wars Visions was announced months ago I was excited about the anthology series. After the first episode, “The Duel,” I wasn’t disappointed. I don’t expect to like all the episode in this series but I’m eager to find out. The Duel is a simple story. A mysterious ronin arrives to a village attacked by bandits. Much is left unexplained regarding the backstory of any of the characters or the village. It’s not an issue. The bandits begin to round up the villagers looking for “taxes.” The leader demands to speak to the chief. However, he’s incapacitated with an unknown illness. His young son rises up in his place.
The Duel plays with our expectations several times. We’re familiar with the tropes found in this episode, so we all know the ronin will save the village. However, the village isn’t helpless. The Chief’s son raises his hand signaling an attack. Suddenly, the bandits are under attack and overwhelmed. When the resistance appears to be victorious a Sith Lord appears. Armed with an umbrella like lightsaber she quickly defeats the resistance.
A Ronin vs A Dark Lord
The mysterious ronin head into the village. The Sith discards the umbrella like tool and assaults the ronin, who “catches” the lightsaber with the force. Most Star Wars fans have been train to expect the dark side, light side binary. This assumption is shared by the Dark Lord who claims it’s “been a long time since she’s killed a Jedi.” The ronin reveals his lightsaber to be a red one. Obviously, red lightsabers are associated with the Sith. The ronin doesn’t fight fair, willing to use his environment with the force.
While the two engage in their duel, the resistance is overtaken by the bandits. The Sith Lord corners the ronin on a log. They engage in the duel while the log heads toward a waterfall. When the Sith Lord is told of the village take over the ronin sheaths his lightsaber. As I’ve mentioned previously, The Duel is playing with our expectations. When the ronin sheaths his sword when predict he’s surrendering. However, he triggers his droid that eliminates the rest of the bandits. With only the Sith left, the ronin is knocked off the waterfall. The ronin deceives the Sith by placing his lightsaber in the hand of statue. Fooled, the Sith strikes at it leaving her vulnerable to an attack from behind.
Star Wars Visions – Episode 1, “The Duel,” played with our expectations. We expect the ronin to save the village. He does. We expect him to be a Jedi. He’s not. We expect the villagers to be helpless. They weren’t. We expect the main character to win. He did. The animation from Kamikaze Douga amazing. Inspired from old samurai movies, The Duel is mostly in black and white, save for anything powered by energy; lights, guns, and lightsabers. The characters and the environment are rendered in a shaded 3D. The appeared shaded by charcoal. The contrast between the color and black & white is always visually stunning. Star Wars Visions has started off well, I hope it continues.