Star Wars, a franchise beloved by many. Anime, a medium beloved by not as many. Put them together and what do you get? Some of the most visually stunning Star Wars content that has ever been released- Star Wars: Visions.
Star Wars: Visions is an anthology series of nine episodes created by seven top Japanese animation studios streaming on Disney+. Each episode tells an original story set in the Star Wars universe, but these stories don’t fall into the Star Wars cannon-which means they can do whatever they want, be it an umbrella lightsaber or breathing in space. With each episode created by a different studio (with two exceptions), they all feel distinct from each other, making the series easily bingeable- especially because they’re all bite sized at around 20 minutes each.
(There will be some very light spoilers but nothing major)
The distinct styles of each studio definitely shine through in each episode. One of the best examples is in the first episode The Duel created by the studio Kamikaze Douga. This episode takes direct inspiration from old Kurosawa films in both tone and presentation. The animation style and aesthetic are jaw dropping with fight scenes that would rival any old samurai film, even with the admittedly ridiculous lightsaber umbrella (I think it looks dope though). The pure stylishness of The Duel is definitely a great starting point for the series.
Another one of my favourites from the series would have to be The Twins created by Trigger. It can be argued that this episode is the most anime one of the bunch, with not only the style, but the ridiculousness that is on full display. From the conjoined Star Destroyer super weapon, to the absurdity of the fights, to the multi-armed lightsaber, this episode oozes style. Coming from Trigger, this was one that I was very excited about-I was not disappointed.
The Village Bride
Visions isn’t all just style though, there are episodes that also tell stories that could easily be turned into full series by themselves. The first to come to mind for me is The Village Bride created by Kinema Citrus, focusing on a remote planet that lives in harmony with nature, but are constantly under threat from bandits. Whilst it does sound like a simple premise, the heart of this episode shines through in the interactions between the characters and the amazing art style. This episode also had the battle droids in it which is always a plus in my book.
The Ninth Jedi
My favourite episode though would definitely have to be The Ninth Jedi created by Production I.G (also the longest episode at 22 minutes).This is another episode where the story could easily be turned into a full series. From the unique take on Lightsabers’, to the twists and turns the story takes in such a short amount of time with Kara becoming one of my favourites from the series- The Ninth Jedi certainly has it all. That ending fight scene is just perfection, with the music, animation and fight choreography- this episode is damn good.
In my opinion, Star Wars Visions is some of the best Star Wars content that has been released since Disney took over, and I’ve only mentioned 4 of the 9 episodes. This unique approach to the franchise has been a breath of fresh air, especially after the divisive sequel trilogy. Hell, one of the episodes looks like it takes direct inspiration from Astro Boy.
Even if these shorts aren’t a part of the overall Star Wars story, they’re all must watch adventures that’ll bring a smile to any Star Wars fan. Even if you don’t normally watch anime, I would still strongly recommend giving the series a chance. Who knows, maybe this is the series that gets you to change your mind.