‘Star Wars: Visions’ Is A Jaw-Dropping Fusion That Showcases The Fearlessness Of Anime – Review
Back in 1977, the soon-to-be phenomenon known as Star Wars opened in theaters. As word spread of an insane movie about a space warrior flying off in a wild-looking ship to face down an evil robotic overlord; new types of movie-goers came out to witness this bizarre adventure. One of the biggest reasons for the success of the original film is the ludicrous premise that somehow perfectly fit together. Audiences were left asking themselves, “How did they pull this off?”
Creativity in Star Wars has always been celebrated, which is why the original sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, is still considered groundbreaking. The George Lucas mantra became the “go with your gut” feeling during the creative process, despite others telling you that what you’re proposing is ridiculous. This energy continued through the Prequels, and even in the Sequels with some truly innovative moments.
Nearly every on-screen production of Lucasfilm has followed the same canonical timeline. Their newest project, however, strays away from that path, with original stories coming to Disney+ in the form of Star Wars: Visions. The announcement of this show sounded like a match made in heaven. Lucasfilm wanted an anime story within the Star Wars universe, so they approached various Japanese studios telling them to each create their own unique short film set “in a galaxy far, far away.” The studios include Trigger, known for Little Witch Academia and Kill La Kill, as well as the studio behind Devilman Crybaby, Science Saru. They expand various genres and animation styles, each one complete with a set of storytellers and animators all eager to add their personal touch to the Star Wars universe.
Fans of anime storytelling have long wondered what Star Wars would be like in this format. There are even a few YouTube videos with that same premise: “What if Star Wars was an anime?” That curiosity doesn’t come from out of nowhere. George Lucas has long talked about the films of Akira Kurosawa inspiring his grand space opera. The Japanese aesthetic and history are even incorporated in the canonical Star Wars tale with Jedi being heavily inspired by the legendary Samurai warrior. It’s about time Lucasfilm realized the potential of working with Japanese anime creators and their expansive storytelling prowess. The possibilities are endless in anime and the Star Wars setting could act as an incredible canvas.
I had high expectations going in, and Star Wars: Visions managed to exceed them. Visions is a wonder. A true Star Wars anime experience complete with beautifully animated sequences and jaw-dropping, unforgettable moments. Every short feels different from the last and still manages to fully immerse you in their pocket of the Star Wars universe.
The first short “The Duel” kicks things off with a bang. Introducing a mysterious, wandering traveler passing through a small town, only to run into a group of bandits ready to invoke devastation. The traveler, later referred to as Ronin (a term for a masterless samurai) is soon confronted by the Bandit leader who appears to be a Sith. She soon proves that she is not to be trifled with, as she reveals an incredible spinning blade lightsaber, which she uses exquisitely to plough down local rebels that cause her trouble. The animation during the duel sequence is stunning. The twists and turns “The Duel” takes is a blast, along with a fun finish to the battle.
Visions quickly shows the audience a glimpse of its potential with the beauty of “The Duel.” Each following short continues this trend. Studio Colorido takes a complete left turn with “Tatooine Rhapsody” where an ex-Padawan turned punk rockstar finds himself on the run from a relentless Boba Fett. The short is both hilarious and heartwarming, demonstrating a different side to the Visions project.
Not only do the shorts showcase the vastness of the anime genre, but they also give other audiences a look at the perspective of a Japanese Star Wars fan. As a long time anime fan, I’m very familiar with the stories coming from Magna and how they unequivocally stand apart in their vastness and boldness. Unrestrained is what these creators do, and the animators follow suit with ambitious sequences and moments that tend to stay with viewers, many times even more than traditional Hollywood films.
There’s something about anime that sticks with you unlike anything else. It might be our comfort watching an animated story since so many of us are introduced to it at such a young age. That comfort allows one’s consciousness to dive straight in without hesitation, which can lead to a mesmerizing experience. Star Wars: Visions taps into this, and dazzles with a well of never-ending worlds to explore and fall in love with. The score of each short is powerful. With every one of them fitting the narrative and visuals flawlessly.
Star Wars: Visions is a triumph to behold. Something that every Star Wars fan must watch yet everyone can enjoy. There are no limits in this show and that perfectly embodies the anime spirit. Whatever you can imagine, you can create. Reminiscent of one of the biggest factors in what made Star Wars what it was all the way back in 1977. That feeling is back because we’ve never seen anything like “Visions” before. Just like audiences in theaters at the first Star Wars screening I find myself asking, “How did they pull this off?” That is the perfect embodiment of what Star Wars represents, an unwavering commitment to bold stories with insane premises that somehow comes together. Star Wars has always celebrated creativity, it’s time to celebrate the one we see from Star Wars: Visions.