Star Wars: Visions Season 1 Review
I thought that The Mandalorian brought Star Wars onto the road of redeeming itself at the divisiveness of the Sequel Trilogy. But Star Wars: Visions? Star Wars: Visions has taken the franchise to beautiful new heights the likes that it’s rarely ever been to. A collaboration between Disney and seven of the finest animation studios in Japan, this anthology series is pure art. In addition to serving as a love letter to an incredible franchise, Visions shows just what animation can do. It’s one of the best things that could’ve happened for Star Wars, and the fans agree. For the first time in years, the majority of the fans agree. It’s glorious!
Rather than review the series as a whole or do one post for each episode, I’m going to give my thoughts on each episode now. Star Wars: Visions deserves it.
The first of nine shorts, The Duel sets some pretty high expectations for what’s to follow after it. Taking place in an alternate universe heavily inspired by Medieval Japan, The Duel is about a wandering Ronin type who arrives in this village that comes under attack by bandits. And their leader happens to be a Sith. When the Seven Samurai-esque guards fail to stop the bandits, it’s up to the Ronin to stop the Sith.
George Lucas got the concept for the Jedi from cultural depictions of the Samurai. Thus, it’s fitting that the first short takes Star Wars full circle back to its Japanese influences. The fight scenes are gorgeous to look at; a perfect fusion of anime and Star Wars. As for how it ends, all I will say is that there’s a revelation about the Ronin that will make fans heads spin.
The most whimsical of all the shorts, Tatooine Rhapsody isn’t about some big, saving the Galaxy story. Instead, it’s about a group of people trying to make their way in a tough galaxy. The story’s about Star Waver, a struggling band that includes a former Jedi Padawan named Jay. Unfortunately, their bass player’s marked for death by Jabba the Hutt for unstated reasons. With Boba Fett after them, the only way out for Star Waver is to play like they’ve never played before and impress Jabba and all of Tatooine.
Like I said, this is the most light-hearted of the Star Wars: Visions shorts. Since this is still Star Wars, though, that means there are still some heavy moments. The real draw to the short is the song played at the climax (which I prefer subbed over dubbed.) It sounds like the kind of song you would use in an anime opening, and that makes it awesome.
Also, Boba Fett!
Short number three is titled “The Twins.” However, it might as well be called “What if Luke and Leia were raised as lab rats for the Empire?” It’s a story about two twins, a brother and sister named Karre and Am, who were raised to be the ultimate Dark Side weapons for the Empire. Right when they’re about to perform their master plan, though, Karre deserts the Empire, and takes the key to the plan. Thus, the two come to arms.
Firstly, it should be said that Karre and Am are clearly stand-ins for Luke and Leia. They even share the names of their actors. Karre’s named for the late Carrie Fisher, while Am gets her name from Mark Hamill. Secondly, I know that some fans may have a problem with how insane the action gets and say “that can’t happen in Star Wars.” But this is a non-canon short made by Studio Trigger. If you’ve seen their work on Kill La Kill, and their work on Gurren Lagann before they even founded the studio, then you know that this is par for the course. A lot of the stuff the characters do in their shows works because their shows run on “rule of cool.” Ergo, slicing a ship in half with lightsaber while going into hyperspace is normal for Trigger.
The Village Bride
Taking place in the time of the Empire, an unnamed, rural planet inhabited by peaceful locals finds itself under attack. Bandits who command an army of commandeered Battle Droids threaten to take the granddaughter of the village chief hostage, and on the day after her wedding, no less. But hope comes in the form of a Jedi Padawan on the run from the Empire, and…you can guess the rest.
This isn’t just one of the best shorts of Star Wars: Visions. It’s one of the best stories that Star Wars has ever done. And that includes all the movies, books, and shows! Everything about this short is perfection. The animation, the artwork, the music, and the message of never giving up hope in dark times. Everything is flawless! I found myself watching this short again and again, and I couldn’t get enough of it. This is what the Jedi are meant to be: a beacon of hope in the darkness. It’s the second best short in the series, and I want the soundtrack on Spotify or iTunes.
The Ninth Jedi
I heard that this was the best of the shorts, so I actually saved it for last. I’m glad that I did, because it lived up to the hype. Taking placing long after The Rise of Skywalker, the Galaxy remains in chaos. The Sith have risen once more, and the Jedi are nowhere to be found. That is when the leader of a far-off planet issues a call to bring the Jedi back. And at the center of it all is a young girl, the daughter of a sabersmith, who aspires to be a Jedi herself.
This, in all honesty, is what the Sequel Trilogy should’ve been like. Yes, it may or may not take place years after the Sequel Trilogy and means that the Jedi still haven’t come back, but it’s got so much heart to it. In all honesty, it tells a better story in twenty minutes than the entire Sequel Trilogy did at times. If there’s a second season of this series, I’d want to return to this story some more.
This next short can only be described as being the Star Wars equivalent to Pinocchio and Astro Boy. It’s about T0-B1, this adorable little droid raised by a kindly old Professor on a remote planet. However, instead of wanting to be a real boy, T0-B1 wants to be a Jedi like the heroes he’s heard about. Even though Droids have never been shown to be Force-Sensitive, the short says “screw it. Let’s make the little Astro Boy a Jedi,” and has him fight an Imperial Inquisitor. I have no idea if T0-B1 is Force-Sensitive, or if its his droid reflexes, but he manages to kick ass, regardless. I wouldn’t mind seeing him some more.
Much like The Duel, this short leans heavily into its Japanese influences. At least, as far as imagery goes. Taking place before the events of the Prequels, this short sees a Master and Padawan duo travel to a rural, Medieval Japan-inspired world in search of a mysterious elder. Except that elder happens to be a Dark Side user seeking to test his strength in battle. It’s not as big or epic as “The Twins” (both were made by Studio Trigger), but it plays much like a classic Samurai film. In other words, it’s good. And I was more than a little surprised when I saw what happened to the elder after the fight ended!
Lop and Ocho
The penultimate short in the series thus far, this episode is also one of the most personal stories being told, even more so than “The Twins.” It takes place on the world of Tao, a relatively backwards planet that’s been occupied and forcibly industrialized by the Empire. That’s when Lop, an alien bunny girl, escapes the Empire and gets adopted by the family of one of the planet’s leaders. They live happily for many years, but as time passes, their little family falls apart. Lop’s adoptive father vehemently opposes the Empire, while his daughter, Ocho, insists that they’re what’s best for Tao. And poor Lop is caught in the middle, trying to save her adoptive family.
The short’s use of bright and vibrant colors contrasts with how dark its ending really is; the second darkest of all the shorts, I daresay. For anyone who’s seen their loved ones travel down separate paths due to ideological differences, the ending can seem especially heartbreaking. However, it wouldn’t be Star Wars without offering a ray of hope as Lop makes it her mission to save her family. If the series continues, I’d very much like to see more of Lop.
Yet another short taking place in a Feudal Japan inspired world, this story involves a disgraced Jedi returning to his home to aid his former Princess in freeing her home from a Sith Lord. That’s all that there is to say about this story, really. To be honest, though, this story was my least favorite of the shorts. It was still good, as all the shorts were. However, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I can barely even remember most of what happened.
Star Wars: Visions is a Masterpiece
So, not all of the shorts were obviously as good as others were. However, that doesn’t change the fact that, as a whole, Star Wars: Visions is a masterpiece. It’s like a breath of fresh air in the franchise, and it’s just what it needed. This anime anthology series has given new life to a fandom that, for years, has become divided, and even toxic. Maybe there’s still hope for Star Wars yet.
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