The Last Jedi Samurai
April 7, 2010 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Previously, we've seen Star Wars as an Icelandic saga. Now we have some original art from comic artist Steve Bialik depicting Star Wars characters as samurai from traditional Japanese Art.
posted by deanc (23 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Loved all of them (especially Palpatine and Jabba), but find myself a little disappointed by the depiction of Darth Vader in courtly dress. I want to see him in armor! Hell, his helmet was based on a kabuto as it is!
posted by penduluum at 7:52 AM on April 7, 2010

Gotta love the traditional use of wacom.
posted by cmoj at 7:56 AM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

I like these. Yoda is like a green miniature Bodhidharma. It's those intense lidless eyes, I think...
posted by The Mouthchew at 7:58 AM on April 7, 2010

I'm waiting to see the whole lineup of Star Wars characters depicted as a human centipede.
posted by brain_drain at 7:58 AM on April 7, 2010

The Japanese Star Wars mashup reminds me of reading somewhere that George Lucas had originally wanted Toshiro Mifune to play Obi Wan. That would have been neato!
posted by cazoo at 7:59 AM on April 7, 2010

Actually, Starwars was in large part based heavily on Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, which is a historical adventure set in Feudal Japan.
posted by delmoi at 8:00 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

But what's with the Darth Vader mask looking nothing like Darth Vader? I mean, every pachinko addict in the country knows what Darth Vader really looks like...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:09 AM on April 7, 2010

Calvin (writing): "In the middle ages, lords and vassals lived in a futile system."

Hobbes: That's "feudal" system.


Calvin: Just when I thought this junk was beginning to make sense.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 8:09 AM on April 7, 2010

Yeah, Lucas readily acknowledges that he borrowed heavily from Kurosawa - the idea of the movie starting out by following the least important characters, the droids, was taken directly from The Hidden Fortress. So there's kind of a link to Japan already. Apart from that, though, this is so awesome it probably ought to be illegal. I particularly like Jabba as a huge frog with Geisha Leia.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:10 AM on April 7, 2010

The Zen of Oz had some nice Japanese-style illustrations of Wizard of Oz characters, a few examples here, wish I could find more. I love it when new things are adapted to old forms.
posted by amethysts at 8:47 AM on April 7, 2010

If you draw it, they will cosplay it.
posted by permafrost at 9:08 AM on April 7, 2010

Check out these custom Star Steam Wars figures:

-Steam Wars
-The Empire Steams Back
-Steam of the Jedi
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:19 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I liked the Jedi ideograms
posted by grobstein at 9:27 AM on April 7, 2010

(Also the drawings)
posted by grobstein at 9:27 AM on April 7, 2010

FYI, here's the artist's blog, which perhaps should be the link rather than BuzzFeed since it seems like he might add more.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:36 AM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I fully expected to be disappointed in the artist's ability to distinguish between the content and style of ukiyo-e. I'm pleased to say I was wrong. Those are really good.
posted by lekvar at 11:52 AM on April 7, 2010

I am a little tired of people describing ukiyo-e as "traditional" Japanese art. A better descriptor might be "Japanese commercial art from the 18th and 19th centuries."

That does not make these any less awesome, and I say that as someone obsessed with both ukiyo-e and Star Wars.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:11 PM on April 7, 2010

TheWhiteSkull, you've got a point, in that ukiyo-e is commercial art, but it goes a bit further back than that from what I've read. It came from early Japanese Christian communities, who either used it to quickly and cheaply manufacture Christian iconography because it would be found and destroyed, or to make Shinto iconography in order to "pass." I forget which, but I believe it was the former.

Aside from that, I'm not sure I see your distinction between "commercial" and "traditional" art. I'd say that over three centuries of stylistic conventions could certainly be considered traditional. What about art that was commissioned? Subsidized by patrons? Surely that would be "commercial" art as well?
posted by lekvar at 5:18 PM on April 7, 2010

Well, ukiyo-e means "pictures of the floating world," or "pictures of the realm of illusions." This could also be interpreted as "pictures associated with the pleasure quarters," so I'm not too sure about the Christian connection. They may have developed some of the multi-block techniques, but ukiyo-e as a genre emerged in the 1670s and dealt almost entirely with the popular culture of the time- persons and imagery from the increasingly cosmopolitan urban areas and the emerging chonin (merchant) class.

With the introduction of new dyes and more sophisticated printing techniques in the 18th century, the style became pretty firmly established with a common set of themes: well-known courtesans and tea-shop girls, kabuki and kabuki actors, sumo, scenes from urban life, popular travel destinations, erotic pictures and nature imagery associated with the poetry circles of the day. While the artists involved drew on older techniques and incorporated elements from things like classical Chinese poetry, they were mass produced and usually sold to the general public. Many of the designers involved did produce one-off works such as more elaborate scroll paintings of similar subjects (the paintings in this post are actually closer to this style, and mimic paintings of kabuki actors); and in many cases would turn out limited runs for commission (calendar prints were especially popular with poetry circles). However, ukiyo-e were produced primarily for mass consumption and were emblematic of a period of social change and mobility in Japan. They were the fashion and entertainment magazines of their time.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:08 PM on April 7, 2010

They were the fashion and entertainment magazines of their time.

I always thought of them as the comic books of their day.

As to the Christian connection, those are the roots of the form, (as the book explained it) well before and far away from Edo. Edo is where it rose to popularity, but not necessarily where it originated. That said, the book I read was printed in the 70s, and modern scholarship may have put new origins to the form.

I still don't agree with your distinction between "commercial" and "traditional." Can't one become the other?
posted by lekvar at 10:29 PM on April 7, 2010

If you draw it, they will cosplay it.

Or make action figures; Sutâ wôzu: Aratanaru kibou
posted by Tenuki at 9:15 AM on April 9, 2010

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