Well hot damn, seems like the future of animation is anime! So much so that even American studios and networks want a piece of the pie. Netflix has seen their anime audience growing twice as large since 2020. The streaming service has capitalised off this success by launching a ton of anime related projects of their own. Some like Warren Ellis and Adi Shankar’s “Castlevania” have proven to be truly groundbreaking, beautifully marrying eastern artstyles and western sensibilities. It was only a matter of time before Disney got in on the action and here it is! An anime anthology series based within the Star Wars universe.
Yes indeed, Disney has come to play and they are not messing about. “Star Wars: Vision” sees Japanese anime studios putting their own creative spin on the space fantasy’s mythos. Prominent studios like Production I.G. and Science Saru have even contributed to the line-up. So, will this collaboration prove to be an epic, light-sabering igniting success? Or another cautionary tale of companies chasing fads and failing? Let’s break it down!
Unlike “Star Wars: Rebels” or “The Bad Batch”, “Visions” isn’t constrained to the established canon of the franchise’s films. Meaning that creators have a blank canvas to reimagine the world of Star Wars in whatever way they choose. So yes, you’ll hear little to no talk regarding Skywalkers which is exactly what the franchise needs at this point! To let the past die and to explore new stories and worlds set within the galaxy far, far away. Think of it as a sort of “What If…?”, except for Star Wars and with much better production quality!
The series is an anthology, which provides each studio with an opportunity to tell you a different tale with their own distinct artstyle. It is no hyperbole when we say that the episodes in the series have given us some of the best Star Wars stories we’ve seen in a long time. Episodes like “The Ninth Jedi” and “The Village Bride” are wonderful examples of the creators’ clear love for the property. “The Ninth Jedi” follows the story of a young woman rekindling the Jedi order in a galaxy ruled by the Sith. Something that we’ve never seen before outside of Bioware’s “Knights of the Old Republic” games.
While “The Village Bride” is less concerned about the high-flying antics of Force users than it is on human stories. We found its juxaposition between Japan’s naturalistic Shinto motifs with Star Wars’ spiritual view of the Force to be particularly fascinating. Never needing to rush its narrative along but rather methodically creating memorable characters living in times of conflict. Punctuated by an amazing soundtrack that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Studio Ghibli film.
By far though, our favourite episode has got to be “The Twins”. It recounts the story of two secret Dark Side twins looking to destroy both the Empire and Republic. That is until one of the pair has a change of heart. It captures all the emotional weight and scale of the original trilogy. While also recontextualising the conflict away from the Oedipal struggle to one of sibling rivalry. Also, one of them is wielding six friggin lightsabers at the same time! Eat your heart General Griveous. We would love nothing more than to see that turned into a full-scale animated series.
As fans of the series, we’ve long been frustrated with Disney’s approach of rehashing old plot threads due to their fears of isolating fans. This is especially true when it comes to their sequel trilogy. “Star Wars: Visions” is a proof of concept that fans are hungry for something new. That there are new exciting ways to recreate the magic of the old films without having to resort to cheap callbacks or cameos. This is what happens when you simply allow writers and creators to build upon what works while discading what doesn’t.
That being said, there are obviously entries in the series that don’t quite meet the high watermark of the aforementioned episodes. They’re not so much well-rounded contained animated novellas as they are fantastic visual showcases or homages to the franchise. An episode entitled “The Duel” is essentially a black-and-white Kurosawa samurai flick with thinly veiled by Star Wars aesthetics. Ultimately culminating in an intense showdown set to John William’s iconic “Duel of the Fates” soundtrack. Fans of “Samurai Champloo” will definitely get a kick out of “The Elder”. A brief episode chronicling a pair of Jedi hunting for a Sith on a rural planet that resembles the forests of Kyoto. We came for flashy blaster shootouts and lightsaber duels and we left satisfied.
Disney being Disney, not every episode in “Star Wars: Visions” is going to be as dramatically weighty or as battle heavy throughout. Episodes like “Tatooine Rhapsody” is an adorable little romp that follows a mini-Boba Fett chasing after a musical band. “To-B1” is the answer to the question of: What if Astro Boy wanted to be a Jedi? They’re not terrible per se but in an anime series chalked full of jaw-dropping spectacle, compelling stories and badass characters, they don’t quite stand out. If anything, they’re visual appetisers before digging into the main course. If you’re a completionist, then there’s some cutesy fun to be had. Those looking to skip the filler, should feel free to do so.
“Star Wars: Visions” is a solid testament to the power of creative autonomy. A thoroughly entertaining anime anthology series that sets a new standard for what fans of the franchise should expect. All brought to life by incredibly talented anime studios. If this is a sign of what’s to come, then the future of the franchise is looking bright. If Disney was trying to win over the otaku crowd with this one, then they’ve certainly done it! You can now catch “Star Wars: Visions” on Disney Hotsar today.
So what did you think of Disney’s “Star Wars: Visions”? What’s your favourite episode? Be sure to leave us a comment and give a reaction down below!
Disney's "Star Wars: Visions" Review
"Star Wars: Visions" is a solid testament to the power of creative autonomy. A thoroughly entertaining anime anthology series that sets a new standard for what fans of the franchise should expect. All brought to life by incredibly talented anime studios. If this is a sign of what's to come, then the future of the franchise is looking bright.
- Disney's "Star Wars: Visions" Review