Paul Johnson has spent the last four years animating an anime-inspired Star Wars short paying tribute to the PC game Tie Fighter.
If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good space battle. Heck, half the reason I adore Star Wars to the extent that I do is the fact that, in western film, you’re not going to find many better sources for explosive confrontations between gigantic starships and swarms of itty-bitty fighters. Even the climactic conflicts of Star Wars however, arguably pale in comparison to some of the battles that have taken place in the realm of anime. Freed from the confines of live-action film-making, the various practitioners of anime have created some of the most exciting and epic engagements ever imagined.
Enter Paul Johnson.
For the last four years Johnson has been single-handedly piecing together an animated short combining the battles of Star Wars with the look and feel of anime. And Thor’s beard is it glorious. A partial tribute to the Tie Fighter PC game, it follows a force of Imperial pilots and Star Destroyers as they attack and lay waste to a small fleet of Rebel ships and fighters. Actually a more complete version of a short that surfaced two years ago, the new video is about seven-and-a-half minutes in length and features music from Zakir Rahman and sound effects from Joseph Levya.
Setting aside how nuts it is that Johnson did all of the animation by himself, this video is impressive just based on how well it emulates 80s-style anime space battles and meshes them with the Star Wars universe and aesthetic. Viewing this I found myself having so many flashbacks to watching Robotech when I was younger; the movement of the ships, the fluidity of the action and its overall framing just reeks of shows like that. At the same time though, it still felt to me like grade-A authentic Star Wars. Now if only we could find a major corporation with a long history of groundbreaking animation to create something similar. Good luck finding one of those though.