I keep getting surprised by the different takes these animation studios have on the Star Wars Legend. While up till now, there have been a direct line of inspiration from the original trilogy era, like the Duel, this episode works to make something pretty new in its setting and not allow itself to be a slave to the familiar.
The Ninth Jedi was directed by Kenji Kamiyama and produced by Production I.G. A very storied animation studio that has a ton of work behind them, including a bunch of Ghost in the Shell projects, the volleyball anime Haikyu!! and more recently Moriarty the Patriot. As well as work on more video games projects than I care to mention.
The Star Wars universe this story takes place in is another unfamiliar one. It could be during some part of the Old Republic, or maybe an alternate future where Luke Skywalker never helped saved the galaxy from the Empire. It’s a world where Jedi are extinct and the galaxy is ruled over by Sith and their Jedi Hunters.
In this story, a bunch of force sensitive are drawn to a citadel orbiting a planet on the outer rim. Brought by the promise of its ruler Margrave Juro, who has been reconstructing Lightsabers that have not been seen in generations.
I guess in this universe, making a Lightsaber ones self isn’t deemed essential to being a Jedi. Then again, if the ability to make them has been lost, it would make sense. Plus, hand-me-down Lightsabers have been a thing throughout the movies. So I shouldn’t get so hung up on it.
Meanwhile, on the planet’s surface we meet a sabersmith and his daughter Lah Kara. She is pretty strong in the force also, and we learn that these Lightsabers change their style and their colour in accordance with whoever is wielding them.
While Lah Kara seems only manifest a ghostly, translucent blade, she seems skilled enough to fight off the Jedi Hunters that show up and blow up her home. She rushes to get the Lightsabers to the citadel, only realise that nearly all of them are in fact Sith.
Thus, her Margrave Juro and the few genuine Jedi that did make it to the citadel fight off the Sith and set out to save the Jedi and bright light back to the galaxy.
By far, the thing that impressed me the most about this one is the animation. The show makes use of a very effective combination of traditional animation and computer generated assets. In particular, the chase scene on the planet between Lah Kara and the Jedi Hunters that goes through a heavily wooded forest and a frozen lake are super impressive to behold.
While I loved how this one looked, it didn’t really leave much else of an impression on me. In many ways it seemed more like a genetic Sci-Fi anime story that one inspired by Star Wars. It was very Jedi centric with no other elements of the lore really playing an effect.
I felt a little cold on this one straight after watching it and writing the bulk of this piece. But going back and scrubbing through it for images to add to this post I came to really appreciate the visuals even more. This has to be the best looking episode that isn’t going for a super stylised approach.
In terms of more… what’s the word I’m looking for… I suppose more “normal” looking anime, this is a fantastic looking example. While the story kind of fell away from me as it went, the look of all the action sequences were amazing.
Both the Speeder chase and the duel at the end are both worth watching.