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‘Star Wars: Visions Volume 2’ Is A Beautiful Array Of Boundless Star Wars Creativity – Review

Some of the most beloved Star Wars stories have come from the Lucasfilm animation department. From Rebels to Clone Wars to The Bad Batch, the animated medium has proven to be the perfect canvas for captivating Star Wars adventures. One of the most unique and celebrated of these projects is Visions. An original anthology series created by various Japanese anime studios. This collection of shorts proved to be one of the best new Lucasfilm projects. 

Lola in a scene from the Star Wars: Visions, Volume 2 short by El Guiri, “Sith” (Courtesy of Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM)

Now, Visions Volume 2 takes on a whole new formula. Instead of Japanese animation studios, these shorts are from worldwide, each with their own style and perspective on the Star Wars universe. Following up the incredible first season is a tall task, but Visions Volume 2 delivers a distinct and powerful season filled with boundless Star Wars creativity.

Lucasfilm reached out to some of the most highly acclaimed animation studios from all over the world. The premise was simple: create an original, one-off Star Wars story with all new characters, worlds, and conflicts within the confines of a 10-15 minute short. The season features Spain’s El Guiri, Chile’s Punkrobot, South Korea’s Studio Mir, India’s 88 Picture and several more. The objective was to experience a unique perspective within the Star Wars universe. The results are a beautiful tapestry of imaginative works of art that all hit on a specific thematic element within Star Wars. Each studio brought its definition to “What is a Star Wars story?” 

Star Wars: Visions Volume 2
Tichina in a scene from the Star Wars: Visions, Volume 2 short by Punkrobot, “In The Stars” (Courtesy of Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM)

Star Wars has proven to be a global franchise, with people worldwide having their own experiences with a specific era of films. Through what lens does a kid growing up in Chile view these films? What themes and lessons does someone from South Korea latch onto? Volume 2 set out to answer this, with some of the most talented and passionate artists lending their gifts to this project.

The season opens up with El Guiri’s “Sith,” a stunning piece about a former Sith coming to terms with her past while opening herself up to a more polychromatic perspective of the force. The animation is astonishing, with colors playing an essential role in the character’s emotions and point of view. From there, we jump to Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon, tapping into Irish folklore to tell a terrifying and surprising tale in “Screecher’s Reach.”

A major standout is Punkrobot’s “In the Stars,” where director, Gabriel Osorio, references real events in Chile’s history to tell a story about family, perseverance, and fighting against the injustice of the Empire, who are wiping out indigenous villages and poisoning their environment. Every short engages with a message seen in Star Wars. Some discuss hope, others class, but all deliver their top-notch animation style to bring these stories to life.

The medium can play a role in the story. That is one of the most powerful elements of animation. The artistic style in which the characters are drawn, the world is lit, and the movements are animated can all play a hand in the story’s themes. Animation, just like Star Wars, is limitless. Stop motion studios like Aardman can tap into quirky designs and amusing motions to convey a comedic approach to their shorts. Japan’s D’art Shtajio can use its throwback anime style to engage with a sense of emotional turmoil and devastating scenarios. Every studio delivered extraordinary works that used their style and outlook to elevate the themes of their shorts. This goes for every detail. Every short score is as distinct as its art and story. The voice cast is the biggest name in each studio’s home country. Every component is meticulously constructed and raised to the level of breathtaking animation. 

An Inquisitor in a scene from the Star Wars: Visions, Volume 2 short by 88 Pictures, “The Bandits of Golak” (Courtesy of Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM)

Another incredible factor that enhances this season is the audience that every short has in mind. For years, various studio heads and executives have reduced animation to “a medium specialized for kids,” but that is far from the truth. Animation is for everyone. Some shorts are aimed at a younger audience, but others are open about their heavy themes and encourage older audiences to dig deeper. “Journey to the Head” is a prime example of classic sci-fi traits coinciding with complex existential questions. Not to mention it features a thrilling and, particularly violent lightsaber duel. D’art Shtajio’s “The Pit” is another one aimed at an older audience, with brutal imagery and a blunt conversation on class, discrimination, and the viciousness of capitalism. Visions Volume 2 demonstrates the wide variety of what Star Wars can be and what animation can represent. 

Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 delivers a pure, unbridled Star Wars series. Something that rises above the noise to tap into the root of what Star Wars truly, means. It is creativity at its finest. A dazzling array of Star Wars stories. These artists created some of the most profound and hard-hitting adventures we’ve seen within this universe. This kind of project can lead to more fans falling in love with this world and even encourage them to create their own works of art.

Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 premieres exclusively on Disney+ on May 4.

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