Star Wars is a franchise of epic stories, but the galaxy far, far away has always felt a little small. Planets with the population of villages, each only a short drive through hyperspace from one another. One thing that the franchise has needed for a long time is some expansion, some stories to push at the universe’s boundaries. Animation has been, for years now, the place where that has been happening, and Star Wars: Visions –a project in which Lucasfilm let several prominent anime studios tell Star Wars stories– is the latest series to do it. Mostly.
The series debuts with nine episodes –ranging from 13 to 22 minutes– from seven anime studios with mostly good results. There are stories involving a rock band, a ronin, a pair of force using twins, a droid, and more, and many of them are very good examples of Star Wars stories and anime.
Where they fall though, for me, is that they don’t really feel all that new or boundary-pushing. Some of the stories are visually spectacular, but it turns out you can’t get too far away from the familiar stuff if you’re telling a Star Wars story.
The standout episodes for me are the first and seventh, titled ‘The Duel’ and ‘The Elder’, respectively. The former, which tells the story of a ronin defending a village and the subsequent duel between him and the lightsaber war-umbrella wielding sith, is the most visually striking of of the entire series. The latter is set in a time frame centuries past the destruction of the sith, and there are some excellent ideas at play.
Where the series truly shines in with the voice acting, with the likes of Lucy Liu, James Hong, Alison Brie, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, George Takei, and many more –including Temuera Morrison returning as Boba Fett.
Star Wars: Visions is an exciting new chapter in the Star Wars franchise, but for whatever reason I did not connect with it. The good news for you is that I seem to very much be in the minority. If you are a fan of Star Wars, or anime, or both, then there will definitely be something here for you to enjoy.
Star Wars: Visions premieres on Disney+ today, 22nd September 2021
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