My favorite episode of the fantastic new Star Wars Visions anthology series is – by far – “The Ninth Jedi.”
Created by Production IG and directed by Kenji Kamiyama, the story is set sometime in the future of the galaxy, long after the Skywalker Saga – making it unexplored territory. Though this episode isn’t considered canon, there isn’t anything that would contradict it either. It’s addressing the question of what happens after what we’ve already seen of the Jedi, and so the episode begins with a mysterious figure known as the Margrave calling a group of Jedi together. Lightsabers have disappeared in the galaxy, but the Margrave supposedly has them. Meanwhile, a lightsaber-smith on the planet below the temple finishes crafting these sabers, but is apprehended before he can deliver them. So the task falls to his daughter, who flees on a speeder bike and must fight her pursuers, ultimately delivering the sabers safe to the Jedi on the Temple.
But it turns out they aren’t Jedi at all. These lightsabers are crafted to change colors depending on who is wielding them, and all but one of the Jedi in the temple are revealed to be Sith. Only then does the Margrave, a Jedi named Juro, reveal himself, springing into action and fighting off the Sith, killing them one-by-one. Ultimately, all that is left are Juro, Kara (the lightsaber-smith’s daughter who is herself good with a lightsaber and adept in the Force), a young Jedi boy, and another Jedi who had fought with the Sith but was pulled back to the light by Juro – who knew the Sith had intercepted his message and killed the Jedi. Together they set off, with Juro telling Kara they will help rescue her father and will re-build the Jedi Order.
This is the most developed of all the stories included in Visions. At 23 minutes it’s also the longest story, due to the fact that it actually began as two stories (one with the Margrave and one with the lightsaber-smith) that were merged into one. It worked out incredibly well that way, and the story felt like it really had time to breathe. Characters were developed, the context was highlighted, and the action was stunning. The music too was great, composed by Kazuma Jinnoouchi and recored with a full orchestra at the Muza Kawasaki Symphony Hall. The way the episode managed to genuinely surprise – leaving you uncertain about the Margrave and his droid, and then the shock of the lightsabers turning red – was exceptional filmmaking, and the whole idea of lightsabers that can change color is terrific and was utilized superbly. The speeder chase and the lightsaber fights were excellently done, and they even mixed in a bit of humor too with the pilot droid.
All things considered, this was some top-notch Star Wars storytelling. And the episode ended with more stories still to be told: Kara’s father needs to be rescued, and the Jedi need to be re-built. In light of that, I’m really hoping that we get to see more stories told in the future. I really hope that “The Ninth Jedi” actually serves as a pilot for a new series. I would love if Visions continues moving forward, but I also really want a series (even if it’s a limited series) to further these tales. “The Ninth Jedi” has so many possibilities and intriguing threads that could be developed.
And it sounds like – maybe – there’s a chance of that actually happening.
In the “Filmmaker Focus” behind-the-scenes look at the episode, the founder of Production IG, Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, said this:
“I think this film managed to give the audience catharsis. But still, what we really want to see is the future. I would love to see the next chapter in this story by Mr. Kamiyama. That’s for the audience to decide.”
I hope the audience reaction to this episode in particular is great, because I really want to see it be just the start of more stories to come. The whole Visions series is great, but “The Ninth Jedi” towers above them all, both in terms of the quality of the episode and the potential to develop more stories to come. I really hope it happens.