Star Wars: Visions

In an alternate timeline in which the Sith have been defeated by the Feudal-Jedi Empire, a lone Jedi known only as Ronin defends a remote village against a gang of predatory Sith lead by an escaped Dark Lord. During the Clone Wars, a Jedi Padawan named Jay becomes the leader of a rock band and leads his fellow musicians into a deadly competition to secure the patronage of crime Boss Jabba the Hutt. In the wake of the Empire’s defeat, two Force-sensitive twins are raised in the Dark Side by remnants of the Imperial army, and years later come into joint command of a massive Star Killer capable of destroying the New Republic. Generations after the Jedi order has largely become extinct, the Margrave of Hy Izlan invites seven lordless Jedi to his planet to receive the long-lost symbol of the Jedi – the lightsabre – only to discover that most of the invitees have been killed and replaced by covert Sith imposters; only a young novice and the Force-sensitive daughter of a famed lightsabre smith stand between the Sith and victory. Ranging backwards and forwards – and sometimes sideways – though and across the space-time of the Star Wars universe, these and other stories tell the personal tales of vagabonds and loners, commoners and extraordinary individuals, who make up the galaxy of lives against which the clash between good and evil is set. Through their various adventures and encounters, the protagonists of these stories must deal with questions of identity, loyalty, love and justice, and sometimes with the ambiguous and open-ended nature of existence itself…

Produced by Lucasfilm Animation for the Disney+ streaming network, “Star Wars: Visions” is an anthology of nine anime shorts created by some of Japan’s most prestigious anime studios: production I.G., Geno Studio, Kinema Citrus, and others. Riffing off themes that will be familiar to anyone who has viewed a Kurosawa, Sergio Leone, or Tarantino film, or who even has a passing acquaintance with Shakespeare, these shorts are animated in a variety of styles that range from the grittily realistic to the classically mangaesque. Fans of the “Star Wars” franchise may (or may not) find noteworthy virtues in this anthology; for non-fans, however, the heavily derivative nature of these stories will be both familiar and of only passing interest. For while undoubtedly well-made and visually appealing, the stories in themselves don’t give us anything new that the original franchise has not already explored, or which isn’t already available elsewhere. Perhaps trying to replicate the success with which Japanese animators have encountered the “Bladerunner” franchise, this anthology has its moments, but ultimate fails to sustain its narrative appeal across each tale. Perhaps the producers would have been better off exploring the side-stories and loose ends of the original franchise rather than coming up with wholly new tales; regardless, this is a series perhaps best left for when you have nothing better to do.

Text © Copyright Brendan E Byrne 2021. All rights reserved.