In 2011, Paul Michael Johnson, a.k.a. OtaKing77077, had an idea for a short film that combined two passions: Star Wars and hyper-stylized 80's anime. That idea became TIE Fighter, a seven-and-a-half-minute animation that looks straight out of Aeon Flux or Cowboy Bebop—but with stormtroopers and rebel factions vying for the fate of the galaxy.
If the short looks familiar, you may have seen this sequence from TIE Fighter that went viral back in 2012, while Johnson was getting input on the film from some friends on a 4chan board, according to Slashfilm. The original version was silent, but someone quickly embedded "Born to Lose" by Sleigh Bells under the lightning-fast footage, someone else added in their own sound effects, and others remixed and reposted the video all over the web. Needless to say, a completed version from the original artist has been highly anitcipated. Today, after four long years, it's finally here.
Part of what makes TIE Fighter so entertaining is that Johnson injects what he calls the "crazy detail and shading of classic 80s anime," into the George Lucas' universe—but he also adds entirely new dimensions which don't include stormtroopers' faceless presences or accuracy issues. We see people beneath suits of armor, and anime tropes abound, including super dynamic perspective changes, cameras zooming through walls, ridiculous stunts, and picturesque explosions.
TIE Fighter isn't only a fun taste of the Star Wars universe for those excited for The Force Awakens, either. It's also a reminder of how brutal, efficient, and powerful the Empire can be, when they're not bungling every interaction with protagonists. Watch the full film above, and check out shots of some of our favorite moments below:
Check out more of Paul Michael Johnson's videos on YouTube.