English Title: Star Wars – Visions
Studio: Various Released: 2021
Runtime: 9 episodes, ~10m–20m each.
My Verdict: Whilst not a bad effort overall, they are nothing great. A few are recommended.
Visions is an anthology of short anime films. Although all 9 episodes can be considered anime, the style of each episode does vary.
These stories are outside of the main storyline as depicted in films and sometimes deliberately take different interpretations of the lore. In this respect, they are somewhat refreshing.
Having said that, given these are short films, the plotting is limited. Although this is expected, most can be better flushed out. In this respect, one is not missing out on much. “The Duel” and “The Ninth Jedi” are particularly recommended. “The Village Bride” and “Lop and Ocho” have their problems but are not bad viewing.
Below are a few comments for each episode.
“The Duel” – Director: Mizuno Takanobu, Screenwriter: Okazaki Takashi, Studio: Douga Kamikaze
A lone swordsman happens to be at a village when stormtroopers led by a Sith try to seize it.
Set in an alternate history in which droids and lightsabers exist in feudal Japan, this is probably the best of this season. Given the simple premise, it progresses nicely with decent action. Even if not highly stylized in black and white with conte-like texturing, this would probably still be the best.
“Tatooine Rhapsody” – Director: Kimura Taku, Screenwriter: Atarashi Yasumi, Studio: Studio Colorido
Gee, a young member of the Hutt family, rather be in a band than part of the family’s crime business. After Boba Fett captures Gee so Jabba can execute him, Gee’s fellow band members visit him one last time on Tatooine.
Despite the seemingly dark premise, this is obviously one for the younger audience and is the least anime-like of the series.
“The Twins” – Director: Imaishi Hiroyuki, Screenwriter: Wakabayashi Hiromi, Studio: Studio Trigger
Am and Karre are fraternal twins engineered and trained to use the dark side. When about to test fire the hyper cannon on their special conjoined Star Destroyer, Karre steals the crystal core. Am, the older sister, naturally pursues him and the two engage in a duel.
It is not a bad premise but the scale is too ambitious with the two fighting in vacuum for a prolonged period. This is obviously deliberate, with the style partly like early-80s epic anime. It is not outright cheap but it goes too far; it would be much better by taking a more realistic approach in modern style.
“The Village Bride” – Director: Haga Hitoshi, Screenwriters: Oonishi Takahito & Haga Hitoshi, Studio: Kinema Citrus
Another case of “bad guys wanting to plunder a lovely planet” but, thankfully, does not try to be Dances with Wolves (1990) or Avatar (2009). In this case, the bad guys are using droids (left by the Separatists who previously did the plundering) and they intend to take the village chief’s granddaughter as hostage. A Jedi Padawan visiting the planet saves the day.
This is more like the usual anime. It begins with the village chief’s granddaughter and her groom. But with the introduction of the Jedi Padawan, it becomes unclear who the main viewpoint character is, the shift being a little off-putting.
Whilst it is not a bad story, merely a glimpse of the Padawan’s background is shown. She is meant to be mysterious but that aspect could nonetheless be better flushed out.
“The Ninth Jedi” – Director: Kamiyama Kenji, Screenwriter: Kamiyama Kenji, Studio: Production I.G
Margrave Juro invites Jedi from across the galaxy to gather at the temple on an orbiting asteroid with the intention of re-establishing the Jedi Order and to bestow on them lightsabers, weapons which are considered lost. Seven individuals turn up, wondering if it is a trap. Meanwhile, on the planet surface below, sabersmith Lah Zhima finishes the commissioned lightsabers when Sith minions pay him a visit. Thus, he is forced to send his highly Force-sensitive daughter Kara to deliver the lightsabers.
This is one of the better episodes of the series, and more action-orientated, which is what one can expect from a studio that produced works such as Ghost in the Shell: SAC (2002) and Eden of the East (2009).
The pacing is solid although Kara’s abilities are a little convenient. Granted, she is naturally gifted and a daughter of a sabersmith, and it’s not as if her abilities are not signposted, but it can be a little better executed.
“T0-B1” – Director: Abel Gongora, Screenwriter: Kido Yuichiro, Studio: Science SARU
Professor Mitaka works to restore life to the desert planet on which he lives. He has many droids as assistants, including T0-B1 who dreams of becoming a Jedi.
T0-B1’s appearance and name (“Toby”) are clearly a homage to Astro Boy and is done partly in the style of early-80s sci-fi/fantasy anime. Whilst it may not be exclusively aimed at a younger audience, it tries too hard to be one of those “aimed for children but poignant” films and it doesn’t work.
“The Elder” – Director: Otsuka Masahiko, Screenwriter: Otsuka Masahiko, Studio: Studio Trigger
A Jedi and his Padawan patrol the Outer Rim when the former senses a disturbance in the Force. Arriving at a nearby planet to investigate, the locals inform them of an old man who also recently arrived.
Whilst the production is good, the story is somewhat lacking, even if treated as a vignette. The plotting is somewhat clumsy with the Jedi and his Padawan having a conversation as the setup and then they find the old man.
For a moment, it looks like the audience may be treated to an awesome lightsaber fight but then it doesn’t deliver. A good lightsaber fight would not make a better story but at least would give the audience a more satisfying conclusion.
“Lop and Ocho” – Director: Igarashi Yuki, Screenwriter: Sayawaka, Studio: Geno Studio
The planet Tau is rich in natural resources but has not developed much due to its adherence to nature and tradition. The Empire helps with industry but in effect occupies the planet. The planet’s leader Yasaburo wishes to get rid of the Empire. However, his daughter Ocho sides with the Empire whilst his adopted daughter Lop, of a rabbit-like race who was an escaped slave, sides with Yasaburo and wishes the family to stick together.
The premise and setting along with the family as the central theme give the feel of a fantasy film by Studio Ghibli. Indeed, some aspects of the style reflect that too.
Again, like some of the other pieces, the plotting is a little clumsy. Whilst one does not expect Ocho and Lop to resolve their differences in a short film—and it would be too contrived if it does—the final act is a bit rushed and the ending correspondingly abrupt.
“Akakiri” – Director: Choi Eun-young, Screenwriter: Kido Yuichiro, Studio: Science SARU
Tsubaki, a Jedi suffering from nightmare visions, returns home to his love interest Princess Misa. His aim is to save her since her aunt recently assassinated the king and Misa is in effect exiled.
The premise is obviously taken from Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005). Whilst it is understandable that it takes a tragic approach, it is too predictable. Even for a short film, the resolution can use a twist without inflating the runtime. There are a few options consistent to the lore that is suitable but that is another discussion.
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