When I first heard that there was going to be a new anime series inspired by the stories and worlds of Star Wars, I was both excited and intrigued at the possibility of what could be. After watching nine of the 10 episodes of “Star Wars Visions,” I’m happy to report that I’m all in on this new direction.
“Star Wars Visions” is a collection of animated short films crafted by seven different Japanese anime studios, and serves as the first formal venture for the franchise into the medium. The studios involved are Kamikaze Douga, Geno Studio (Twin Engine), Studio Colorido (Twin Engine), TRIGGER, Kinema Citrus, Science Saru, and Production I.G., and each one brings their own signature visual and storytelling style to tell new tales set in a galaxy far, far away.
Any die-hard Star Wars fan could tell you that the original trilogy found its footing thanks to the influence of Japanese mythology and the films of Akira Kurosawa, and that inspiration comes full circle in “Star Wars Visions.”
I will admit to suffering from what some would call “Star Wars Fatigue” post-sequel trilogy. I enjoyed “The Mandalorian” but when it changed the one thing that I loved most about it (being so far removed from the Skywalkers), I couldn’t help but check out a bit. Since then, my interest in the galactic franchise has waned, but “Star Wars Visions” has the potential to bring me back!
Each episode is masterfully contained around a 15-minute runtime, and the stories told within feel complete — even if I wish they could be longer. There are stories that feature familiar faces, and others that serve as their own basis of mythology with brand-new players. Perhaps the greatest wild card is a Star Wars pop punk band playing songs that sound like Sum 41 and Blink-182 (really).
There is something to be said about being different just for the sake of it, but “Star Wars Visions” is different in the most delightful and unexpected way — and it just works. Each episode is like a taste of a brand-new universe, with varying score, animation styles, and stories to match. Some of the writing is a bit cheesy and on-the-nose, but the English voice performances do sell it in a way that feels true to the genre.
I truly hope that this series does well enough so that we can see more Star Wars anime in the future from these contributing studios; based on this collection alone, there are plenty of stories to tell with this unique medium at their disposal.
All episodes of “Star Wars Visions” are available to stream on Disney+ starting tomorrow, Sept. 22. You can check out the English dub trailer below: