Review: ‘Star Wars Visions: Ronin’ Turns a New Page for ‘Star Wars’ Storytelling 

Over the past year, the team at Lucasfilm has been putting out an exceptional amount of quality programming—from television series like The Mandalorian to the expansive universe of The High Republic, to Tales From Galaxy’s Edge, and most recently Star Wars: Visions. Visions provided audiences with a rare look at how Star Wars could be approached through an authentic Japanese lens, rather than just indulging in stories that borrowed heavily from their storytelling styles. 

Star Wars Visions: Ronin Turns a New Page for Star Wars Storytelling

Star Wars Visions: Ronin Cover
Star Wars: Visions was a collection of nine shorts created by seven legendary anime studios and the first short, “The Duel,” which was produced by Kamikaze Douga, ended up inspiring the first—but hopefully not the last—novel tie-in story for the anthology. Star Wars Visions: Ronin is Emma Mieko Candon’s debut novel, but they are certainly no stranger to the sci-fi genre as their upcoming original work The Archive Undying (which they were shopping around when they landed Ronin) is also a sci-fi novel. 

Star Wars Visions: Ronin is a truly interesting addition to the Star Wars library because it has the potential to stand solely on its own and appeal to avid sci-fi readers who may not consider themselves the biggest Star Wars fans. Oftentimes Star Wars leans heavily into the fantasy, situating it at odds with other science fiction mediums like Star Trek, yet Star Wars Visions: Ronin manages to feel like a more perfect blend of Japanese culture, science fiction, and a philosophical nature that Star Wars has never quite perfected before. 

One of the most interesting elements of Ronin is the blurred line between the Sith and the Jedi which stands in stark contrast with how the power struggle has been previously explored within the Star Wars universe. The titular character—the Ronin—is named for the Japanese phrase which means “a vagrant samurai without a master,” and within the context of Ronin, he is a former Sith that wanders the galaxy with a mission to overthrow the Jedi clans who serve the Empire.  

Star Wars Visions: Ronin - Kouru
Courtesy of Disney/Lucasfilm

The first few chapters of Ronin may feel like déjà vu if you have already watched “The Duel” (which you should do before reading) but then Candon takes off in her own direction, navigating a story alongside both the Ronin and his astromech droid B5-56 and the fierce Sith Bandit Kouru, who survives her violent clash with the Ronin. Kouru and the Ronin are both driven by the same mysterious voices that echoes through their minds, guiding and chastising them at every turn. Both characters are given thorough and ample time to grow, explore past trauma, and by the end of the novel, they forge a path forward into some really fascinating storytelling. 

Star Wars Visions: Ronin is unlike any other Star Wars story that has come before, delivering an expansive and epic slow-burn science fiction tale that goes where Star Wars has never gone before. Hopefully, it is the first in a long line of tie-in novels for the Star Wars: Visions shorts, as there are so many stories left to be told and I hope more authors of Japanese descent are given the opportunity to tell those stories. It is impressive that Candon was able to take a thirteen-minute short and create a novel filled with twists and turns and a rich lore that is distinctly its own.

Throw out your preconceived notions of Star Wars canon and surrender to a Star Wars story that is unlike any other tale told within the franchise. Candon breathes new life into a galaxy far, far away, filling it with rich mythology and gorgeous scenery, while striking right at the heart of what Star Wars always could be with its borrowed thematic elements. 

Star Wars Visions: Ronin is on shelves now.

Star Wars Visions: Ronin

$19
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Star Wars Visions: Ronin strikes right at the heart of what Star Wars always could be.

8.0/10
Managing Editor of Entertainment at Your Money Geek | Website | + posts

Maggie Lovitt is the Managing Editor of Entertainment at Your Money Geek, where she covers her favorite topics: Star Wars and pop culture nerdery. She is also a freelance writer and a contributor at Collider and Dorkside of the Force.

When she is not covering entertainment news, she can be found on one of her numerous podcasts or her YouTube channel. In her free time, she is also a novelist, screenwriter, actor, and a member of the Screen Actors Guild.