By now you’d have seen plenty of social media chatter on ‘Visions’, the Star Wars anime anthology newly released on Disney+. The ambitious series is an unprecedented project involving seven animation studios based in Japan, who were given the freedom to create a standalone story each with original characters in the Star Wars universe.
For people who love both anime and Star Wars, the collaboration was a dream come true – but many fans were also understandably wary of ‘Visions’ potentially becoming just another throwaway spin-off. However, as producers of the show put it, George Lucas’s original Star Wars films were heavily influenced by Japanese storytelling, including the masterpieces of Akira Kurosawa. By allowing the anime studios to take artistic liberties in their storytelling, ‘Star Wars: Visions’ became a triumphant fresh take on the franchise that also explores the backstories of the galactic chronicles.
Because they’re made by different studios, the nine episodes in the series all vary in artistic style and creative vision. It’s worth watching all of them to enjoy the different narratives, but these three episodes are a standout.
It’s impossible not to be wowed by ‘The Duel’, the first episode of the series, which is inspired by the samurai of feudal Japan. The cinematography is visually stunning, with the episode appearing almost entirely in black and white, except for the vivid colours emanating from the lightsabers.
Centered on a young Padawan eager to get into action and an old master Jedi who knows better, ‘The Elder’ brings us back to the early days of master Yoda training Luke Skywalker. The story kicks off with a disturbance in the Force on a faraway planet, sending the apprentice-mentor duo to go investigate the source of the trouble.
The Ninth Jedi
Lightsabers are a focal point of every fight and battle, and Star Wars wouldn’t be Star Wars without them – but what do we know about the people who make them? In ‘The Ninth Jedi’, we follow Kara – the daughter of a sabersmith – as she races to deliver a set of lightsabers to a group of warriors while fleeing Jedi hunters who are hot on her trail after kidnapping her father. It’s an exciting episode, with a satisfying twist that you won’t see coming – one that calls for the episode to have its own sequel.
‘Star Wars: Visions’ is now streaming on Disney+. See the full list of episodes and animation studios here.
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