I love it when two completely separate parts of my entertainment life come together like this! Visions is a series of nine anime shorts based on Star Wars, with the creators (and we’re talking major studios and people in the anime industry) given free rein to do whatever they wanted, no need to stick to any canon or anything… and boy did they ever not! What’s it like? Given it’s a bunch of shorts how good is the hit rate? Let’s find out!
Synopsis (Well, more of a “Series Goal” but there you go…):
Star Wars: Visions is a collection of animated short films presented “through the lens of the world’s best anime creators” that offers a new, diverse perspective on Star Wars.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Blocking a lightsabre with the Force moments before it strikes your head? Risky… but “bad ass”.
To give an overall impression I think the quality was strong across all of the shorts, particularly the animation and voice work (in both languages!) but obviously with nine completely individual stories we’ll need to look at each separately…
Firstly the ones that stick out the most to me are “The Duel”, “The Twins”, “The Ninth Jedi”, “The Elder” and “Lop and Ocho”. “The Duel” is based on the old black and white Samurai films made by Akira Kurasawa, the same ones that heavily inspired the original Star Wars film. A lone Ronin-like man named… Ronin is in a village that comes under attack by weird Samurai-looking Storm Troopers and eventually Ronin steps in to defend the village, fighting what looks to be either a Sith or an Inquisitor (not that these have to fit into any established timeline!) and revealing he’s not a lone Jedi but a former Sith himself, the two clashing with red lightsabres while everything else is in black and white. It’s great stuff. Ronin wins and wanders off, as Ronin tend to do. “The Twins” is just Studio Trigger doing crazy over-the-top Studio Trigger things, and it was great! Two twins born of the dark side via some Exegol-like clone craziness are given a massive vehicle that’s essentially two star destroyers joined together by a massive canon. The male twin, Am, turns to the light side and tries to steal the kyber crystal at the heart of the vehicle but is stopped by the female twin, Karre. The two fight in increasingly overboard fashion until Am defeats his sister by doing some sort of crazy lightsabre swing while activating hyperspace. Insane, in the best possible way.
“The Ninth Jedi” is set in the far future of the Star Wars Galaxy, when Jedi and lightsabres are the thing of myth. A gathering of Force sensitive people is arranged to try and restart the Jedi Order, including a man named Zhima who has been able to forge lightsabres. As the would-be Jedi gather some Sith-like people arrive and kidnap Zhima, but his daughter Kara runs off with the sabres and even manages to fight off one of her pursuers using one. She arrives on the space station only to find all but one of the attendees are actually on the dark side, having replaced those who were supposed to arrive. Zara, the one actual light side user Ethan and Juro, the man who arranged it all, fight them off and kill them (apart from one, who returns to the light side randomly). They then all head off in a ship to find Zhima and rescue him. It was great, and the setting was fun as well.
Studio Trigger… Studio Triggers.
The Elder is nice and simple. A pair of Jedi with personalities not too dissimilar to Qui-Gon Jin and Obi-Wan Kenobi arrive on a planet, feel the darkside, find an elderly man who was once a part of the Sith before they fell apart, and duel him. The Padawan, Dan, is hurt but the Master, Tajin, manages to win, though claims had this Elder been younger he probably would’ve lost. It was good fun, and felt more Star Wars-y and less anime-y than most of the others (apart from The Elder himself, who looked light he was straight out of Ninja Scroll!). Finally Lop and Ocho felt the opposite, it was once again very anime-y and less Star Wars-y. A rabbit girl named Lop was a slave who was taken into the family of Yasaburo and his daughter Ocho, and a few years later the Empire is in firm control and Yasaburo wants to rebel against them, but Ocho believes they’re best for their planet’s stability. Eventually she joins them and casts aside Lop when she tries to stop her. Yasaburo gives Lop the family heirloom, a lightsabre, and the two end up fighting Ocho, with Yasaburo failing but Lop manages to wound her before she escaped. There was something about the animation style and setting that I really liked.
For the record “The Village Bride” was good as well, even if it didn’t stand out as much. A former Jedi re-finds herself as she watches a village attempt to sacrifice one of their own to a crazy guy who has reprogrammed an ship’s worth of battledroids, eventually fighting them all off. It was good, very nice scenery, but it didn’t grab me as much as the others. Likewise “T0-B1”, which is visually based on Astro Boy and tells the story of a robot who learns how to use a lightsabre and “become a Jedi”, eventually fighting off an Inquisitor who arrives and kills his maker / master. Loved the visuals but it was a tad slow for me. Still worth putting in the good though!
In this art style they almost look like they’re smiling!
I didn’t really enjoy “Tatooine Rhapsody”. It focuses on a Jedi padawan who escapes the purge by becoming the lead vocalist in a rock band on Tatooine, one that also has a Hutt in it. Boba Fett kidnaps the Hutt who is then primed for execution by Jabba, but they play a catchy enough song that they get a free pass. It was harmless, but I wasn’t a fan of the weird chibi artstyle…
Lastly “Akakiri” had a good end but I wasn’t all that into it for the most part. A Jedi named Tsubaki has a horrible vision about killing someone and teams up with a local Princess / old flame named Misa to track down a Sith who has taken over the castle. They team up with two local guides and eventually make their way to the fated showdown, but he fails to defeat the Sith, Masago. He then strikes down a bunch of guards only to find out one guard was Misa and her death by his hands was the same as in the vision. He agrees to become a Sith under Masago if she uses her power to revive her, which she does. The two head off together, leaving a confused Misa behind. That ending was great, but the rest of the short was a bit… bland.
It wouldn’t be Star Wars if it didn’t have a bunch of characters in “cool” helmets!
I didn’t hate any of the nine shorts, and only two of nine being in the bad is a pretty high hit rate. I really enjoyed not knowing what to expect as each episode loaded and it’s highly recommended if you have a spare 10-20 minutes and fancy a little bit of Star Wars, or a little bit of anime… or especially if you fancy a little bit of both!