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Disney Japan honors latest Star Wars trilogy with immersive kabuki theater production

By Josh Weiss
Star Wars kabuki

The ancient art of kabuki theater recently blended with the iconic sci-fi universe of Star Wars for an immersive production from Disney Japan.

Rumored to be happening since early November, the kabuki version of the 42-year Lucasfilm franchise took place a few days back, depicting famous characters from the current trilogy of films like C-3PO, R2-D2, BB-8, Kylo Ren, Princess Leia, and Supreme Leader Snoke.

You haven't lived until you've seen the "Throne Room" scene from The Last Jedi in the style of live Japanese theater. There's also a beautifully-coreographed iteration of Ren's battle with Luke on the salt planet of Crait.

Ichikawa Ebizo XI, a well-known kabuki actor in Japan, played Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo), the son of Han Solo and General Organa, who was trained by his uncle, Luke Skywalker, and swayed to the Dark Side by Snoke.

Take a peek at the entire performance, entitled Star Wars Kabuki-Rennosuke and the Three Light Sabers, below:

『最後のスター・ウォーズ』公開記念・市川海老蔵主演【STAR WARS 歌舞伎】LIVE配信

“[It] will depict the sagas of love and loss for the Skywalker family that stretch back more than 40 years”,” Ebizo said in a statement a few weeks back. “It will be a show that both Star Wars fans and kabuki fans will enjoy.”

Kabuki — which utilizes singing, dancing, elaborate costuming, and makeup — dates back to the 1600s.

Interestingly, George Lucas was heavily inspired by Japanese culture when writing the first Star Wars film back in the 1970s. In particular, he drew influence from Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, a 1958 movie about two poor men escorting a princess through dangerous territory. Sound familiar?

The cinematic Star Wars series returns to the big screen on Friday, Dec. 20 with The Rise of Skywalker. J.J. Abrams directed the film from a script he co-wrote with Chris Terrio (Argo, Justice League).

Going off of Google Translate, Japan's translation of the ninth episode title is "Star Wars: The Dawn of Skywalker," which is actually kind of cooler than the American one. Don't @ us!

(certain background info via The Guardian)