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The Cat's Cradle: 'Lop & Ochō' is a great Star Wars story

Star Wars: Visions marks a new entry into the Star Wars canon, with some out of continuity forays in the Galaxy far, far away. There are several stand outs among the episodes listed: “The Duel” and “The Ninth Jedi” being some the best Star Wars content. However, the best story in the collection is “Lop & Ochō.”

“Lop & Ochō“ is the eighth story in the collection and has stellar animation provided by “Geno Studio.” Telling the story of a young alien who is adopted into the local clan of the planet, it chronicles the eventual schism within the family -- as well as their ties to the Jedi. 

Adapting imagery from Japanese history and anime, the short stands out among the other stories on visuals alone. Stories of family conflicts have become a staple of the Star Wars franchise. In light of this, “Lop & Ochō” explores the more complex themes of colonialism and ecology. 

Colonialism has been baked into the Star Wars formula from the initial trilogy. Return of the Jedi ends with the rebels working with the ewoks to take down the invading threat of the Empire. It is reminiscent of scenes of an early Vietnam, as the Vietnamese fought French Colonials for independence. 

In “Lop & Ochō“, Ochō and Yasaburō debate the benefits and costs of the occupation of the world. Though there are promises of protection, technology and stability, the world is subject to oppression; specifically, the freedoms of the indigenous people and enslaved aliens used for labor.

Lop (the anthropomorphic rabbit) is a Lepi, a race of aliens who are enslaved by the Empire for the purpose of labor. The episode opens with Lop on the run from the imperials. She crosses through the markets, before running into her adoptive father Yasaburō. From there, she is freed and adopted into the family. 

From the days of Columbus, slavery has been a part of Colonization. In the Americas specifically, slaves were brought to Brazil, Cuba and the United States due to the near extinction of Indigenous people. This practice was known as the Atlantic Slave Trade, and it resulted in the forced migration of an entire group of people.

Through the speculative lens of Star Wars this relationship of colonialism, labor and enslavement is explored. Though not with a deep history, the role of Lop’s heritage as being an alien plays into the story’s discussion of colonialism. Lop’s position as ‘other’ and acceptance within the community shows the many facets of the Empire that the films don’t explore. They are not only conquerers, but they are often enslavers, forcing migrations of aliens reminiscent of Earth’s history. 

Star Wars, aside from stories of Space Knights, is also about ecology. Specifically, one’s connection to the force as one’s connection to the larger world around them. This has come up in past Star Wars media like The Last Jedi and “Jedi Fallen Order,” with each property exploring trauma and healing through nature. 

“Lop & Ochō“ explores a similar theme as the presence of the Empire slowly pollutes their world. Along with this pollution, comes the schism of the family. It shows the way that colonial interference corrupts and transforms the local populations. Through Lop’s efforts to combat the Empire, she is attempting to fix the natural balance of the world. A world without an occupying force. 

“Lop & Ochō“ is not some critics’ top choice of Visions collection. However, the themes of environmentalism and ecology push the episode further, in regard to meaning. Though an animated short for a 1970s sci-fi property, the story explores topics in new ways. During this Fall Break, take a moment and watch some Star Wars: Visions.

Benjamin Ervin is a senior studying English literature and writing at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Benjamin know by emailing him  

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