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It’s a great time to be a Star Wars fan. This year, the franchise’s seventh film, The Force Awakens, hits theaters, and the global fan community is so excited about it there was even a cool Star Wars sculpture at this year’s Sapporo Snow Festival.

Or, is it a terrible time to be a Star Wars fan? We’re well into March, so that snow sculpture is long gone, and Episode VII doesn’t come out until December. Are there no awesome Star Wars projects that can be enjoyed right now?

Actually, there is, in the form of this amazing fan-made short film that combines Star Wars military hardware with the animation style of anime’s golden age of science fiction.

You may have seen bits and pieces before of animator Paul Johnson’s TIE Fighter short film. Johnson, who’s also known on YouTube as OtaKing77077, is finally done with his self-produced short, and the end result is gorgeous.

From the beginning, it’s pretty clear that two of Johnson’s great passions in life are Star Wars and anime from the ‘80s and early ‘90s. As the short opens, we see the familiar site of a rebel X-wing fighter, but soon the perspective changes, since Johnson is telling his story from the point of view of the Imperials.

▼ Who seem to be under the command of Mobile Suit Gundam’s Char Aznable, subbing for Darth Vader

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Johnson threw his heart and soul into the project, spending weekends for the past four years putting it all together. The result of his impressive dedication is the jaw-dropping seven-and-a-half-minute animated piece below.

In the video’s description, Johnson alludes to being a fan of the 1994 TIE Fighter PC space flight simulator, and also mentions the 1989 anime Venus Wars as one of his favorites. Sharp-eyed veteran anime fans will also spot a number of other references to/influences from Japanese animation. In addition to the Char-lookalike, missiles leave snaking trails of smoke like those from Macross, and one sequence of two squadrons of fighters charging at one another is heavily reminiscent of a scene from the same anime franchise’s Do You Remember Love? theatrical feature.

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The character designs themselves also exhibit the sharp features and shading representative of anime from the ‘80s/’90s, and the pilots’ helmets often go transparent so that we can see their expressions, a technique evocative of seminal cyberpunk series Bubblegum Crisis.

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And of course, with this much firepower being bandied about, there’s plenty of room in the video’s runtime for things going boom.

▼ Awesomely going boom

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Speaking of awesome, the soundtrack is no slouch, either.

So what’s Johnson’s goal in all this? Is he trying to grease the wheels for some upcoming crowdfunding project, with the TIE Fighter short serving as his demo reel?

Not at all. In his own words:

“Don’t support me on Patreon, because I don’t have one! And don’t donate to my Kickstarter, because I don’t have one of those either. Instead, if you enjoyed this, give someone at your workplace, uni, school or whatever a random bar of chocolate or can or Coke or something. Seriously, it’ll probably make their day.”

Will do, Paul! Can’t guarantee that Coke will still be cold, though, since we might have to watch your video four or five more times before we head out the door to deliver it.

Source, images: YouTube
[ Read in Japanese ]