While "Star Wars" has several reference points, including old sci-fi movie serials like "Flash Gordon," the novel "Dune" (spice, anyone?), and World War II dogfights (check out 1955 film "The Dam Busters" for proto-Death Star destruction action), Japan has had an outsized influence on the galaxy far, far away.
Here then are five ways Japan has influenced "Star Wars." We’ve tried to keep spoilers to a minimum, but there may be some reveals.
1. The films of Akira Kurosawa
t’s no secret that George Lucas was a big fan of Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa. So much has been said about the connection between Kurosawa’s "The Hidden Fortress" and "Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope."
We’ve talked about it before, so we won’t go into too much detail here. But the parallels are striking: both feature a bickering pair of commoners embroiled in an adventure with a sassy young princess and a weathered general, played by Kurosawa regular Toshiro Mifune. Lucas even approached Mifune about playing Darth Vader when casting the first film.
The connections go deeper, though. Lucas (along with Francis Ford Coppola) produced Kurosawa’s 1980 film, "Kagemusha," about a warlord’s doppelgänger getting thrown into the thick of things. This story idea also made its way into "The Clone Wars," specifically in the fourth episode of the fourth season, “The Shadow Warrior” (also the English translation of the Japanese word, kagemusha), with Jar Jar Binks playing the double.
Kurosawa’s arguably most famous film is "The Seven Samurai." It was the inspiration for "The Mandalorian" episode, “Sanctuary” in the first season. Hiding from the Guild, Mando leads a group of mercenaries to repel raiders from attacking a local village, a clear parallel to the movie. Not coincidentally, this is also the premise for Zack Snyder’s upcoming "Rebel Moon," which started life as a "Star Wars" project.
2. Lone Wolf and Cub
"Lone Wolf and Cub" was a manga series that ran from 1970 to 1976. It was also made into numerous films (recut and released overseas as "Shogun Assassin") and television series. It’s the story of Ogami Itto, the former executioner for the shogun, who is forced to go on the run with his young son, Daigoro, after being framed for a crime he did not commit.
The similarities to "The Mandalorian" are numerous, with Grogu following Mando in a floating cradle. Although Daigoro does not have supernatural powers, he is sometimes brought into the fray. The scene in "The Book Of Boba Fett," where Luke offers Grogu the choice between the life of a Jedi and being with the Mandalorian, is almost shot for shot from the first "Lone Wolf and Cub" film.
3. Samurai and bushido
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