Photo courtesy of Star Wars.
Star Wars is one of the most iconic franchises in all of pop culture history with its distinct styles of storytelling and world-building. With three trilogies, two stand-alone movies, a near-endless number of shows and spin-offs, and movies in the works until 2028, it is pretty safe to say that creator George Lucas and executive producer of Lucasfilm Dave Filoni have it down to a science at this point. The next on their list – “Star Wars: Visions.”
What is “Star Wars: Visions” you may ask?
“‘Star Wars: Visions’ will be a series of animated short films celebrating the Star Wars galaxy through the lens of the world’s best anime creators. This anthology collection will bring 10 fantastic visions from several of the leading Japanese anime studios, offering a fresh and diverse cultural perspective to Star Wars.” Kathleen Kennedy, the President of Lucasfilm, said on Disney Investor Day 2020 when the project was first announced.
Heading into watching the first episode of the series expectations were somewhat low, in comparison to the release of other new material. However, the first episode completely surpassed any previously set expectations.
With a striking gritty black and white animation style, Kamikaze Douga’s first episode “The Duel” incorporates stylistic points from multiple different genres. The rundown town setting with hints of traditional Japanese culture leads to a combination that feels somewhat unruly yet distinctly Star Wars. The episode reflects imagery from the Japanese Kurosawa period drama “The Hidden Forces,” one of George Lucas’s major influences on the original films. However, after the first episode that dark tone is not continued throughout the series.
The second, third and fourth episodes bring more of what was previously expected of the series: fun, upbeat, self-contained stories. Utilizing the bright hyper exaggerated animation styles of Japanese animation studios helps make the otherwise mediocre episodes somewhat more interesting. Overall, “Star Wars: Visions” episodes two, three and four are simple but effectively use the short sub 20 minute runtime to bring fun, joy and careless lightness after the intense animation-driven story of “The Duel” that kicked off the series.
The remaining episodes excluding the sixth hit on more aspects of the first episodes. With darker color palettes and more down-to-earth animation styles, these episodes continue with action-driven storylines and late episode twists.
The seventh episode “The Elder” produced by Trigger, Inc particularly stands out. From stunning character designs to thrilling action sequences, this episode is truly the pinnacle of the series. It does a lot of work introducing the audience to the Sith, the Jedi, and the way of the Force. And it does it all through action sequences, and key small moments of dialog between characters.
Overall, “Star Wars: Visions” is somewhat of an interesting entry into the Star Wars universe. With a wide range of episodes that can appeal to people of all ages, and animation styles that are as intriguing as they are aesthetically pleasing, “Star Wars: Visions” is a series to watch with its interesting concepts and spin of the Star Wars universe.