"The Duel" is an animated short film and episode of the web television series Star Wars: Visions. Produced by Kamikaze Douga, the short premiered on Disney+ on September 22, 2021. It focuses on the Jedi and Sith, but with an alternate history pulled from Japanese lore that fuses Star Wars with feudal Japan.
The wandering Ronin
The episode opens on the forested planet Genbara. The Ronin overlooks a forested valley with his astromech droid B5-56. Later, Ronin and B5 visit a tea house at an unidentified village. After sipping on a cup of tea, he pays the Sullustan shopkeeper, who remarks that it must be lonesome traveling the countryside by himself, causing B5 to object. He tells B5 that he is lucky to have such a generous master.
The bandit raid
An armored Troop Transport Tank drives into the village. Several armed bandits exit the tank, firing blasters and forcing the villagers to take shelter. The Sullustan shopkeeper explains that these are bandits who have set up camp at the abandoned outpost on the other side of the mountain. He says that they are last remnants of the Sith rebellion and they take what they want. The bandits, some of whom spot stormtrooper helmets, round up the villagers in the square. The Sullustan shopkeeper advises the Ronin and his droid to take shelter.
One of the bandits demands that the villagers deliver their goods as taxes. His lieutenant states that this is a direct order and demands to know who is the chief. A child identifies himself as the village chief and tells the bandits they have taken enough. The bandit leader asks if he really is the chief or if his father has run away. Another bandit mocks the boy's father as a coward. The boy's father is laying asleep nearby.
Defending the village
The Bandit leader asks the boy how he is going to stop them, telling him that he knows he can. Meanwhile, the Sullustan shopkeeper tries to tell B5 to stay inside. Suddenly, several of the bandits are shot by an unknown sniper. The boy chief tells his people to run for cover while the guards handle them. As the bandits take up position, an RA-7 protocol droid guns down several bandits. He is aided by other sentries who attack the bandits from the roofs and towers of the village.
The Dug guard, who is riding a modified probe droid also joins the fray, cutting down several bandits. Ronin watches the fighting from afar. A veiled female figure emerges from the top of the Troop Transport Tank. The village guards including a Trandoshan and the RA-7 protocol droid demand that she surrenders. The female figure replies that she won't be sparing their lives before unleashing her red lightsaber spinning weapon, prompting the RA-7 droid to recognize that she is a Sith.
The Bandit leader
The Sith Bandit Leader exchanges fire with the guards. B5-56 is damaged by shrapnel. The Sullustan shopkeeper asks the Ronin what they will do. The Ronin asks the shopkeeper if he can repair him, telling him that the droid needs to be fully operational by the time this pot boils. The shopkeeper obliges. Meanwhile, the Trandoshan urges his fellow guards on as the Bandit leader descends on them with her lightsabers.
The Trandoshan commander warns his fellow guards not to engage in close combat but the Sith bandit leader uses the Force to drag him close to her. More bandits emerge from the tank and open fire. The Sith bandit leader mocks the Trandoshan commander for defying her. In his last moments, the Trandoshan commander urges his fellow guards to flee before he is impaled with multiple lightsabers. The RA-7 droid opens fire on the Sith bandit leader but she takes him down as well.
Sith versus Sith
The Ronin walks through the blaster fire to confront the Sith bandit leader, who recognizes that he is not one of the villagers. When she asks who he is, the Ronin replies that he is just a simple wanderer. While the Sullustan works on B5, the Sith bandit leader removes one of her lightsabers from her weapon and charges at the Ronin. However, the Ronin uses the Force to hold back her blade, prompting her to deduce that he is a Jedi. She remarks that it has been a long time since she has killed a Jedi.
She charges at the Ronin a second time but he draws a red lightsaber. Ronin also hurls a droid chassis at her but she deflects it with her blade. The bandit leader denounces the Ronin as a coward. Ronin replies that he is unfortunately not a Jedi. The bandit leader removes her veil, revealing her curly afro hair. As the two engage in a lightsaber duel, one of the bandits shoots down a guard tower. The Tusken Raider guard manages to escape and fights a bandit with his Gaderffii stick. However, he is violently gunned down.
The modified probe droid guard is also gunned down and crashes into a house. While the shopkeeper repairs B5, the pot boils. The Sith bandit leader drives the Ronin towards a river. She cuts the log he is standing on in half. The two fight on top of a log in the river. During the fight, the Ron cuts off her mask. Their log approaches a waterfall ack at the village, the Dug guard is defeated while the Gran guard surrenders while the boy chief struggles against his captors.
One of the bandit chief's lieutenants inform her that they have captured the chief and that his guards have surrendered. The Sith bandit leader orders the Ronin to deactivate his lightsaber, which he obliges. Meanwhile, the pot begins boiling and its whistling can be heard throughout the village and the river. The Sith bandit leader demands that the Ronin throw down his weapon, asking if the lives of the women and children of the village matter to him.
B5 to the rescue
Ronin activates a remote and his astromech droid rolls down the hill towards the village. He attacks the bandits, taking out several of them with rockets. The Gran guard joins the fight and shoots one of his captors. B5 also takes out the bandit chief's lieutenant. She misses a rocket aimed at her. The Sith bandit leader and Ronin continue the fight. He falls off the edge of the waterfall and lands at the bottom.
The Sith bandit leader descends to the bottom of the waterfall and she confronts him inside the waterfall, which contains a hidden lair. The Sith bandit leader attacks a statue which she mistakes for the Ronin. The Ronin impales her from behind, defeating her. Amidst the chanting, the Ronin reflects on his victory.
An unusual hero
Later, the Ronin returns to the village where he is greeted by B5 and the shopkeeper. The Ronin has won the respect of the villagers. He offers the Sullustan shopkeeper the fallen bandit leader's weapon as a keepsake. The child village chief thanks the Ronin for saving his people. The Ronin shrugs it off. When the boy assumes that he is one of the Jedi Knights of legend due to his humility and asks his name, the Ronin reveals his Sith lightsaber. The villagers are shocked.
The Ronin destroys the Sith bandit leader's lightsaber and goes to place its kyber crystal into his robe, revealing he has several Sith kyber crystals, presumably from other Sith he has defeated. However, he decides to give the village chief the crystal instead and tells the boy to keep it, explaining that it will ward off evil. The Ronin and B5 continue their travels.
- "It's Star Wars and Kurosawa films, where we brought out the Kurosawa aspects even more."
- ―Takanobu Mizuno, director of "The Duel"
In interviews for Disney+'s Filmmaker Focus, director Takanobu Mizuno described the short film as bringing out the inspirations from Akira Kurosawa's films on Star Wars, with character designer Takashi Okazaki citing Yojimbo and Seven Samurai in particular. Okazaki was also personally influenced by Lone Wolf and Cub.
Kamikaze Douga founder Jumpei Mizusaki was also inspired by and paid homage to the prequel trilogy. The Ronin and Kouru's lightsaber duel on a floating log has parallels to the duel on Mustafar between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. The scene in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace where laser barriers interrupt the duel between Darth Maul and Qui-Gon Jinn, leading the impatient Maul to strike a barrier with his lightsaber, is reflected in the moment where Kouru tests the waterfall with her lightsaber.
Although produced with three-dimensional computer animation, Mizuno aimed for a hand-drawn appearance. Mizusaki described the short film as using the high-contrast black and white cinematography style of Kurosawa's monochrome era. Color was used to highlight the red glow of Sith lightsabers and kyber crystals. Additional colored items include B5-56's rocket boosters, the missiles he launched, the Ronin's communications wristband, and B5's optical sensors.
Japanese Voice Cast
English Voice Cast
|Organizations and titles||Sentient species||Vehicles and vessels||Weapons and technology||Miscellanea|
Organizations and titles
Vehicles and vessels
Weapons and technology
- "Launchpad"—Star Wars Insider 204
- "Launchpad"—Star Wars Insider 205
- Star Wars: Visions – "Filmmaker Focus – The Duel"
Notes and references