Sunday, November 28, 2010

SHOTO LIGHTSABER: Size Matters Not

One of the most recognizable aspects of Star Wars is the lightsaber.  Whether its the image of the laser sword, or the familiar snap-hiss noise of its activation.  The lightsaber is synonymous with Star Wars.  While the original trilogy gave us Luke, Obi-Wan and Vader using what can best be described as standard lightsabers (note that Vader's hilt was over sized) .

The Expanded Universe and the Prequel Trilogy gave us more variety in lightsaber design and technology, from the movies most notably, Darth Maul's Dual-bladed lightsaber, Count Dooku's curved hilt, and Master Yoda's minaturized (arguably Shoto length) saber.

In the Expanded Universe during the Legacy of the Force novel series, we see the reintroduction of a character Lumiya, a Dark Lady of the Sith who first appeared in the Marvel Comics Star Wars #96: Duel with a Dark Lady.  Lumiya uses a unique weapon, a lightwhip.  In battling Lumiya, Luke Skywalker constructed a Shoto lightsaber to use in addition to his regular lightsaber to attempt to counteract the multi pronged attack advantage that the lightwhip gave Lumiya.



With Lumiya's return as Jacen Solo's Sith mentor Luke and his wife Mara Jade Skywalker see the need and dust off the old Shoto to face the threat from Lumiya.  Admittedly this novel series was my first introduction to the Shoto, as I am not an avid comic reader. The term Shoto is Japanese for "short sword" and it generally referred to a sword that was between one to two feet in blade length.  I thought it was pretty cool that the in universe term for the short lightsaber was taken directly from the sword fighting tradition in Japan.



In terms of Star Wars fans the Shoto is about to explode in popularity.  The reason is that in addition to the new character model for Ahsoka Tano (voiced by Ashley Eckstein), she also got a new weapon.  A shorter green Shoto lightsaber to use in conjunction with her regular lightsaber.  There are two benefits to the Shoto, not only does it provide an offensive advantage, a second means of attack.  But it also can be used like a shield to deflect an opponents attack, while pressing the offensive with your other lightsaber.

There is a very logical reason for (as I believe is rumored) Anakin to build this Shoto for his Padawan.  There are three main lightsaber wielding enemies we have currently seen in the Clone Wars Series.  Dooku, Asajj Ventress, and General Grievous, of these Ventress uses two lightsabers, and Grievous varies from one to four lightsabers.  We also are soon to see the appearance of Darth Maul's brother Savage Opress using either his brother's dual bladed lightsaber or a lightsaber of the same design. 

Anakin clearly wants to increase his Padawan's chance of survival, so giving her a Shoto and teaching her a new fighting style gives her a better chance to survive and potentially win encounters with Ventress, Grievous and Opress. 

From the perspective of a fan of the Clone Wars series, the addition of a second lightsaber, hopefully portends an increase in lightsaber fighting, and the inclusion of multiple lightsabers and different lightsaber combat styles/forms could make for some awesome visuals.

The addition of the Shoto, is also a way to further show the character growth of Ahsoka Tano as she ages and gains more experience as a Jedi and a deeper understanding of the Force.  It makes her character more nuanced and just plain cooler.  I can't wait till we see Ahsoka and her Shoto in action in the series....


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