The anime inspiration behind Sabine Wren’s hair cutting scene

Sabine Wren. Image courtesy
Sabine Wren. Image courtesy /

In Ahsoka episode 2, “Toil and Trouble,” Sabine accepts her path to continue her Jedi training. Before she departs Lothal, she ceremoniously holds her knife between her hands before slicing off her hair. It’s a scene reminiscent of her first Jedi Master Kanan Jarrus, as she mirrored his haircutting scene before his death.

Anime has always inspired the work of Star Wars Rebels and Ahsoka creator Dave Filoni. He particularly pulls from Studio Ghibli, with one prominent example being Princess Mononoke and the character San being the direct influence on the creation of Ahsoka Tano. Unsurprisingly, he uses these anime-inspired haircutting scenes in his work too.

Haircutting in anime is a very big deal, symbolizing significant character growth. Anime News Network Founder Justin Sevakis explains:

"“The meaning comes from the Edo period, when samurai would cut off their top-knot (or chonmage) as a way of stepping down from their position. The hair chopping was greatly symbolic: that top-knot was originally there to support a helmet, but eventually it became a status symbol, and cutting it off signaled the end of that era of their life. After that, they would no longer enjoy a higher social status. This happened a lot during the Meiji Restoration, since the government was now paying samurai a rank-based stipend that many couldn’t live on. Stepping away from their title was the only way they could get another job.Today, the only time this tradition comes up is with sumo wrestlers, who still wear the samurai-style top-knot, and cut it off ceremonially when a player retires.”"

This symbol of haircutting permeated anime and Western media, where TV Tropes calls it the “Important Haircut” trope. It symbolizes one era of someone’s life ending and a new beginning. While the haircut has different meanings in various cultures, Dave Filoni’s work usually pulls from anime.

Sabine’s haircutting in “Toil and Trouble” is an important moment. She’s accepted Ahsoka back into her life as her Master, takes up her Jedi training once again, and leaves Lothal to find her lost friend Ezra Bridger. Donning her Mandalorian armor and lightsaber hilt, Sabine shears off her hair and is ready to start the next phase of her character journey.

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