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Heavy Metal meets Star Wars in this animated TIE Fighter fan film

Animated TIE Fighter fan film a labor of love for animator Paul Johnson

There’s a lot to like about animator Paul Johnson’s new fan film TIE Fighter, which chronicles a deep-space battle between the forces of the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance, primarily from the perspective of the fighter pilots.

Set to some intense metal tracks and sans any dialogue whatsoever, the anime-style film clocks in at just over seven minutes, with much of that time devoted to fast-moving action sequences that unfold both inside the cockpits of the pilots’ ships and in outer space. Johnson takes a unique approach to telling his Star Wars tale by making a concerted effort to show the faces underneath the Stormtrooper helmets — humanizing the otherwise robot-looking Imperial forces and going so far as to make them look like, well … heroes.

“What if there was an Empire-focused short Star Wars animation, drawn with the crazy detail and shading of classic 80s anime that’s all but vanished from Japan nowadays?” wrote Johnson in his description of the video, which he posted to YouTube.

Related: Star Wars: Aftermath novel will connect Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens

According to Johnson, the film took over four years for him to draw and animate, with the music provided by Zak Rahman and sound design by Joseph Leyva.

“Don’t support me on Patreon, because I don’t have one! And don’t donate to my Kickstarter, because I don’t have one of those either,” wrote Johnson. “Instead, if you enjoyed this, give someone at your workplace, uni, school or whatever a random bar of chocolate or can of Coke or something. Seriously, it’ll probably make their day. That would totally make my day.”

That statement certainly offers some insight into Johnson’s remarkable art-for-art’s-sake motivation. So if you do check TIE Fighter out, and you like it, consider giving someone that chocolate bar.