“The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”
— Obi-Wan Kenobi
Portraying a chanbara saga into a galaxy far far away; Star Wars can be considered a contemporary samurai tale in outer space. All are ruled by the Force – the George Lucas’ version of the Japanese Ki (気) concept which is nothing but the “vital force” present in the universe – obviously like a samurai tale worthy of the name the Force is strictly connected with the ideas of loyalty & betrayal, and in Star Wars these are very prominent compared with other space operas. Jedi, Sith, Mandalorians, Rebels, Ewoks… like the Force even they pervade the expanded universe touching all that surrounds it.
Let’s see what you learned in your training…
Considering the two sides of the same coin, loyalty is connected with the light side, while betrayal is connected with the dark side; but sometimes even the purest character can have doubts about to whom to be loyal. For example, when in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope; Grand Moff Tarkin tells Princess Leia that he’ll destroy Alderaan if the location of the Rebel base will be not revealed, she has a moral conflict. Alderaan is a system with people, culture, history, and tradition; but Rebellion is a group that could save the whole galaxy from the evil claws of the Empire. So, we can argue that in this case; Leia’s question is legitimate.
For the Sith instead, complete loyalty can be reached only through betrayal; as we’ve seen in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith to be loyal to Darth Sidious (and unleash his true power), Anakin is forced to fight against Obi-Wan Kenobi. Also in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, we can witness the same case when Emperor Palpatine wants Luke to his side because Darth Vader no longer has any use for him, and also Vader betrays the Emperor by becoming loyal to Luke & Leia at the very end.
So, in a galaxy in which these two conditions are easily interchangeable; probably one of the few coherent characters is Lando. To him, some relationships are strong enough to withstand betrayals, while others aren’t. Lando decides that betraying Han is a small price to pay to avoid the Imperial presence in the Cloud City, and the subsequent oppression of its inhabitants. After all, both of them are scoundrels, and they know it!
Through the decades we could witness this dichotomy, and this is one of the reasons why Star Wars is still one of the greatest series of all time!
Telling hundreds of exciting stories on celluloid, paper, binary codes, and practically all the media present on the Earth; Star Wars can’t be only considered a mere series of movies; but a highly advanced system of transmediality in which social, cultural, economic, philosophical theories are converging to build an always expanding universe. We bet that at the very beginning not even George Lucas could understand entirely the importance of his creation, and he couldn’t imagine that in the Land of the Rising Sun, his opus grew in popularity like no other place in the world.
Yes, characters like Darth Vader appeared in the streets and on the trains of Japan to promote cell phones, to entertain pachinko players, and in unconventional adventures published in thousands of doujinshi. But that’s not all, Star Wars-inspired more than a generation of manga creators; series like Legend Of Galactic Heroes, and Cowboy Bebop are actual love letters to it, and we can’t forget that the most famous personalities made their appearance in Urusei Yatsura and Dr. Slump series.
It is useless to resist!
In addition, Star Wars shows everyone its link to the Japanese traditional culture in a very glorious way with the Star War: Visions anime anthology. In ten short movies, great directors like Hiroyuki Imaishi (Promare, Gurren Lagann), Masahiko Otsuka (FLCL, Kill La Kill), Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell SAC_2045, Ultraman), and many other anime superstars; gave their contributions to make the expanded Star Wars universe even more charming adding their unique pop-touch to the series.
Unforgettable from many points of view; Star Wars is truly indebted to the Japanese culture; epically filled with larger-than-death-star battles, epic storylines, galaxywide recognizable characters, and much more… this is the perfect day to check the number of our midi-chlorians; because the Force is strong with all of us!
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