Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Opinion: Hondo Ohnaka and Azmorigan "The Dream Team"

By Ciaran Duggan,

I can hear the piercingly loud screams now:


Just here me out for a moment. 

Dave Filoni and his crew have managed to successfully create two comedic icons for the hit animated TV series, Star Wars Rebels. The chemistry between the characters is comparable to the rapport seen between Han Solo and Lando Calrissian. The tangible tension between the characters is for all to see and that is what makes this week's Star Wars Rebels episode, "The Wynkahthu Job", in my opinion, very humorous.

Notwithstanding the notable flaws in this episode, including an irritating Ezra, the dynamics between Hondo and Azmorigan actually serve to make this episode a much better viewing. 

Anakin doesn't seem to find Hondo as funny as I do

Honda Ohnaka, voiced by Jim Cummings, has been made famous from his time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-14). Hondo's first appearance came during season one when he kidnapped the Separatist leader and Sith Lord, Count Dooku. He would soon add Jedi Knights Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker to his pirate prison cell on Florrum. Honda wasn't initially a fan favourite, but it was Cumming's performance in season five of The Clone Wars, particularly the episode "Revival" featuring the return of Darth Maul, which cemented Hondo's status as one of the funniest characters in the Star Wars Universe.

In contrast Azmorigan, voiced by James Hong, is a fresh kid on the block. Azmorigan first appeared on Star Wars Rebels back in 2014. His introduction came in the episode "Idiot's Array", made famous by Lando Calrissian's inaugural appearance on Rebels, as well as the much derided puffer pig. Azmorigan served as an antagonist to Lando and our heroes, a role which is surprisingly in line with our favourite pirate Hondo.

Azmorigan made his debut in "Idiot's Array" - The ninth episode of Star Wars Rebels
On the surface there is much to despise about Azmorigan and love about Hondo. Azmorigan's design is based on early concept art for Jabba the Hutt, so hardly a flattering image. The voice of Azmorigan  adds to this effect because it is both high pitched and extremely 'whiny'. James Wong masterfully creates this perception, which should come as no surprise. After all Wong is renowned for voicing these types of characters, most notably Chi Fu in Disney's Mulan (see below). 

James Wong voiced Chi Fu in Mulan (1998)

Hondo on the other hand is brash, witty and, in some respects, quite charming. Hondo aspires to dominate the scene and he does so with great success. His lines in reference to Kanan's blindness serves as prime example of the type of humour Hondo uses:

Hondo: (to Kanan) Now don't be blind to this amazing business opportunity...oh sorry.

Kanan: Actually I'm interested to hear what you have to offer.

Hondo: Oh wise one I knew that you would see things my way....oh sorry again

The personalities of Hondo and Azmorigan actually mix well in the episode as they develop an unlikely 'tag team' in this episode with our heroes, Zeb and Ezra. Honda and Azmorigan's interaction worked extremely well when compared with the overt tensions between Ezra and Zeb, with Ezra struggling to accept why Zeb was put in charge of the mission rather than himself. I actually found that part of the episode to be weak and very frustrating. Whereas Hondo and Azmorigan provided almost a laugh a minute, which perhaps speaks as much to my type of humour as much as the audience's. 

Hondo and Azmorigan first met in "Brothers of the Broken Horn" (S2, Ep.5)
Nevertheless, I would actually be quite happy to see Hondo and Azmorigan team up again. They provided some much needed comic relief and although many people will deem their interaction as both 'cheesy' and 'infantile' it works well in an episode which is inherently light in its tone. 

Can I see a comic book series or novel spinning out of these two? No, and would I necessarily endorse that. 

Do I want to see them work alongside each other in a future Rebels episode? Why the heck not!

Source(s): Star Wars YouTube

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