Star Wars: Visions Brings Anime Love to a New Galaxy

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Star Wars: Visions is a masterpiece that brings together fascinating storytelling and gorgeous art into a series that fans will be left begging for more.

It’s a wonder that Lucasfilm hasn’t introduced an anime series before. How could you select just one studio to represent such stunning storytelling? Fans will be thankful that the opportunity to create Star Wars content was spread out between seven Japanese anime studios. Seeing a lightsaber in samurai form is not something I needed in my life, but here we are.

We underestimate the cultural significance of a character cutting off a braid, but Star Wars Visions weaves this into the Star Wars story in a new way. When a Padawan cuts their braid off, it signifies the end of a path of a Jedi before they start a new journey as a Master. In many anime stories, the same thing happens in the form of the character’s journey. By cutting their hair, they are also cutting ties with their past and entering into a new period of growth. We see this a few times throughout the series.

Ronin (voiced by Masaki Terasoma in Japanese and Brian Tee in the English Dub) in a scene from “STAR WARS: VISIONS” short, “THE DUEL”, exclusively on Disney+. © 2021 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

Star Wars Visions Review

The Duel Ep 1- Kamikaze Douga – The Duel brings stunning pencil line art to life in a story that reminds me of the Sith apprentice that their masters have cast out. Like Darth Maul and Asajj Ventress, their stories of redemption and revenge allow audiences to empathize with characters that look to the Dark Side. The episode is in full pencil except for colored lights on droids, buildings, gun blasters, and of course, epic lightsabers.

Tatooine Rhapsody Ep 2- Studio Colorido – A return to Tatooine, where it all started, is a fitting location to see the Hutt family again. A young Jedi that leaves his life behind to join a band offers some valuable lessons in friendship.

Am (voiced by Ryoko Shiraishi and Alison Brie in the English dub) and Karre (voiced by Junya Enoki in Japanese and Neil Patrick Harris in the English dub) duel atop Star Destroyers in a scene from “STAR WARS: VISIONS” short, “THE TWINS”, exclusively on Disney+. © 2021 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

The Twins Ep 3 and The Elder Ep 7- TRIGGER The Twins is my favorite story in the series. The story makes me wonder if this is what life would be like if Darth Vadar was given a chance to raise his children in the Dark Side from in the womb until adulthood. The Twins also provides us with a look at another Force Dyad between siblings.

The animation style from The Elder reminds me of many of the current Marvel comic runs for Star Wars.

The Elder (voiced by Kenichi Ogata in Japanese and James Hong in the English Dub) in a scene from “STAR WARS: VISIONS” short, “THE ELDER”, exclusively on Disney+. © 2021 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

The Village Bride Ep 4- Kinema Citrus The Village Bride wraps storytelling traditions and culture with nature and then blows viewers away with the cross between anime-style fighting and yielding the Force. Stories that go beyond the Jedi and feature sparks of rebellion among the characters have always made Star Wars great.

The Ninth Jedi Ep 5 – Production I.G. – Breaking from standard Jedi lightsaber building, a new era brings new ways to acquire a lightsaber in a galaxy looking to rid the Jedi from the universe. This story offers an interesting interpretation of the lightsaber and what happens in the hands of Force-sensitive ones. Just as Ahsoka Tano yields bright white sabers because the Force of The Daughter (the purest form of the Light side) runs through her, seeing how a lightsaber can change from person to person is a great way to dive deeper into lightsaber lore.

Kara (voiced by Chinatsu Akasaki in Japanese and Kimiko Glenn in the English dub) in a scene from “STAR WARS: VISIONS” short, “THE NINTH JEDI”, exclusively on Disney+. © 2021 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

T0-B1 Ep 6 and Akakiri Ep 9 – Science Saru T0-B1 is an adorable droid that little padawans are going to love to see on screen. The story offers tremendous hope when you’ve nearly given up. It instills that you can achieve your goals no matter what anyone says if you believe and continue to try.

Akakiri shares aspects of the Force that fans longed to see in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The idea that impending doom could lead to the Dark Side much like Anakin did for Padme.

Lop and Ochô Ep 8 – Geno Studio – As I mentioned before, there are deep cultural contexts to the Star Wars: Visions series. In Lop and Ochô, we get a look into the family traditions and bestowing honor on the family, be it blood or not.

The way the series immerses the viewer into the various aspects of the Force allows the creators to forge new paths for the Jedi, Sith, and Force-sensitive. Each story has powerful messages steeped in Japanese culture while still staying grounded in the Star Wars universe. My hope is that Disney continues this partnership with the anime studies to explore these characters in greater detail.

All episodes of “Star Wars: Visions” Start Streaming on Wednesday, September 22  

Seven Japanese anime studios bring their unique talent and perspective to “Star Wars: Visions”—a collection of animated short films that will stream exclusively on Disney+.

The anime studios are Kamikaze Douga, Geno Studio (Twin Engine), Studio Colorido (Twin Engine), TRIGGER, Kinema Citrus, Science Saru, and Production I.G. Each studio will use their signature animation and storytelling styles to realize their own visions of the galaxy far, far away.

As a first formal venture into anime, each “Star Wars: Visions” short bears a unique Japanese sensibility, which in many ways aligns with the tone and spirit of Star Wars storytelling. From the beginning, stories told in the Star Wars galaxy have counted Japanese mythology and the films of Akira Kurosawa among their many influences, and these new visions will further explore that cultural heritage through the unique animation style and perspective of each anime studio.

Star Wars: Visions (Filmmaker Focus) — Bonus Featurettes
Go behind the scenes to see how the seven studios who created all nine Star Wars: Visions shorts (Kamikaze Douga, Geno Studio, Studio Colorido, TRIGGER, Kinema Citrus, Science SARU, and Production I.G) brought their unique talent and perspective to “Star Wars: Visions.” The collection of bonus featurettes will stream exclusively on Disney+ alongside the animated shorts on September 22.

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Meghan Cooper is a writer, content creator, movie critic, and geek living in Atlanta, Ga. She loves movies, traveling, and lots of coffee. Member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association, Georgia Film Critics Association, and Atlanta Film Critics Circle.

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