ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Star Wars: Ronin: A Visions Novel’ Is A Samurai-Style Star Wars Story

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Star Wars Ronin A Visions Novel - But Why Tho

Star Wars: Ronin: A Visions Novel is a novel written by Emma Mieko Candon that takes place within the world of the Star Wars: Visions short “The Duel.” The mysterious Ronin—a former Sith—and his trusty droid B5-56 travel from planet to planet, hunting down his fellow Sith and taking the kyber crystals in their lightsabers. Driven by a voice in his head, the Ronin travels to the planet Rei’izu—where the Sith uprising took place—and is accompanied by a collection of unlikely companions. They face threats including Jedi warriors and the might of the Empire.

“The Duel” was one of my favorite shorts in all of Visions, not only because it served as a homage to the films of Akira Kurosawa, the filmmaker whose work has had a major influence on the Star Wars universe, but because it took from the perspective of a Sith. While Sith Lords such as Darth Vader and Darth Maul have been compelling characters in their own right, the Ronin is a far different figure. He’s haunted by his past actions and even though he’s unsure if he can truly achieve redemption, he continues his travels across the galaxy. Candon begins to peel back the layers of Ronin’s past with each chapter, revealing a man forged by loss and rage. Given his demeanor and design in “The Duel,” I can’t help but imagine the late Toshiro Mifune playing the Ronin in another life.

In addition to the Ronin, Candon fills the book with characters that perfectly fit into this world. During his travels, the Ronin finds passage aboard a ship called the Poor Crow, whose pilot Ekiya distrusts him—to say nothing of the elderly passenger Chie, who has more than a little knowledge about battling Force users. It’s the mysterious Traveler that stands out the most. Garbed in a fox mask and gifted with an odd sense of humor, as well as a talent for storytelling, they accompanies the Ronin and has knowledge that a mere storyteller shouldn’t be privy to. Like the Ronin, their past is slowly revealed over the course of the novel and it not only ties into the overarching story, it hits with the emotional weight of a freight train.

Candon also brings more elements of Japanese culture to Ronin, especially in characters’ choices of clothing and how the starships are designed. Characters eat dishes including miso soup and bowls of rice with pickled vegetables; the interior of a Star Destroyer has rooms that resemble a tatami room; kimonos are common garb. Even the lightsabers wielded by the Ronin and other Jedi resemble katanas more than the traditional form in the main Star Wars films. But the biggest switch-up has to be the fact that the Jedi are working for the Empire. This is a nod to Samurai warriors serving under Japan’s emperor in jidaigeki stories, yet it’s still shocking to see Jedi—usually considered the “good guys” in Star Wars—working for the Empire. And yet it lends more dimension to this take on the Sith. They rebel less out of evil and more out of wanting to forge their own path in life. Candon doesn’t shy away from interrogating the Jedi’s method of taking children away from their homes at a young age and how that influences the Sith rebellion.

Ronin expands upon the world of “The Duel,” crafting a Star Wars tale that’s heavily influenced by Japanese culture. Viewers of Visions will definitely want to add this novel to their collection, as it’ll continue to scratch the itch for Star Wars anime content-at least until another season of Visions is greenlit.

Star Wars: Ronin: A Visions Novel will be available to purchase on October 12, 2021 wherever books are sold.


Star Wars: Ronin: A Visions Novel
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TL;DR

Ronin expands upon the world of “The Duel,” crafting a Star Wars tale that’s heavily influenced by Japanese culture. Viewers of Visions will definitely want to add this novel to their collection, as it’ll continue to scratch the itch for Star Wars anime content-at least until another season of Visions is greenlit.