Japanese Darth Vader Showdown: New Samurai vs. Old Samurai (GALLERY)
Japanese Darth Vader is a Full-Circle Character Realization...of a Sort
It’s far from coincidence that George Lucas and the original Star Wars team’s Darth Vader character so easily transforms into a stylized Japanese warrior. Not only do Lucas’ first three films take heavy thematic and plot inspiration from Japanese post-war cinema, Darth Vader's character design was also significantly influenced by traditional samurai battle gear and armor.
To illustrate, do a quick Google Image search for the Zunari Kabuto helmet style. This form was popular during Japan’s Edo Period for both ceremonial and practical applications. The style includes a wide range of Vader-esque variants that would please even the most discerning of the cybernetically enhanced Sith.
Seriously, just look at these and you'll see it’s much easier to pick out the ones that don’t remind us of Luke’s father:
Of course these designs were hip hundreds of years before Darth Vader’s 1977 debut, so taking the dark lord’s globally iconic visage and going all retro with it is 1. hardly a reach, and 2. wholly badass.
Bear in mind that these are highly stylized by individual artists and intended to be non-canonic, alternative versions of the character, so do adjust your purist nerd rage accordingly and let us know in the comments which one would get your Galactic Credits!
New Samurai Darth Vader by Square Enix
Figure Description via Tokyo Otaku Mode:
“Can you sense a disturbance in the force? The dark lord himself, Darth Vader, has appeared, only he looks a little different. This special Variant Play Arts Kai edition follows the series’ usual pattern and gives Lord Vader a Japanese makeover! Accordingly, he has more body-sculpted armor and a muscular appearance with a long flowing cape and a samurai-inspired helmet. Of course, Vader also comes with his red lightsaber plus effects parts to display it in motion and a left hand demonstrating his Force ability. The Force is truly strong in this one. Take this reimagined Japanese-style villain home to your very own Death Star today!”
- Maker: Square Enix
- Height: 305 mm (12 in)
- Included: Figure Lightsaber, Lightsaber Effects, Left hand with Force Effect, Five Interchangeable Hand Types
- Release Date: May 2015 (available for pre-order now)
- Price: $129.99
- Tokyo Otaku Mode Product Link: Star Wars Variant Play Arts Kai Darth Vader
Classical Samurai Darth Vader by Bandai
Figure Description via Tamashi Nations (translated):
“The Samurai General Darth Vader is something the world's never seen before! Based on a figure originally designed by, Junichi Taniguchi, the Samurai General Darth Vader has now been refined and adorned with traditional Japanese samurai armor by Takayuki Takeya. This new version includes the logo of the Galactic Empire from the Star Wars universe displayed prominently on the helmet, and the lightsaber is constructed in the style of a Japanese katana sword (set includes both a full-length lightsaber and a bladeless one for the holster. Several hand and wrist parts allow Darth Vader to control the force with samurai style!”
- Maker: Bandai Japan
- Height: 180 mm (7 in)
- Included: Katana Lightsaber, Bladeless Lightsaber, Three Interchangeable Hand Types
- Release Date: December 2014
- Price: $99.99
- Tamashi Nations Product Link: Star Wars Movie Realization Samurai Darth Vader
IMAGES: Bandai, Square Enix