Seven Japanese anime studios have joined the legacy of the Force. Each delivers unique talent and perspective to “Star Wars: Visions”—a collection of animated short films now streaming exclusively on Disney+.
The anime studios featured are: Kamikaze Douga, Geno Studio (Twin Engine), Studio Colorido (Twin Engine), TRIGGER, Kinema Citrus, Science Saru, and Production I.G. Each studio created a short using their signature animation and storytelling styles to realize their own visions of the galaxy far, far away.
I watched four of the nine animated shorts released yesterday and found a lot to be excited about.
This is the first formal venture into anime for Lucasfilm. Each “Star Wars: Visions” short bears a unique Japanese sensibility. Although some stray pretty far from what fans have seen in the Star Wars galaxy so far, the shorts ultimately align with the general tone and spirit of Star Wars storytelling.
The first episode “The Duel” echoes the films of Akira Kurosawa and pays homage to the Samurai heritage of Star Wars’ Jedi Knights. Although the animation style is much rougher than Disney fans are used to, I found this short to be compelling and immediately rewatched it to pick up all the details I missed the first time.
I also enjoyed the “The Twins” episode. It reminded me very much of some of the Japanese animation I grew up with in the 1980s. The characters grabbed me immediately and the themes were instantly familiar to fans of the original trilogy. The color direction in this short might find it on the shortlist for future festival awards too.
Dark and light, twin powers, and Jedi powers. There were also some fantastic call outs to the second and third trilogies. I’d very much like to see this story continue in season two.
My favorite episode of the first four was “The Village Bride.” This had the feeling that I hope Star Wars tries to capture going forward. A reluctant hero has to figure out the situation before deciding whether or not to act, but when they do act, it’s decisive. The short film really could easily have been expanded into an entire series. It was that good.
From the first sketches of an idea made by George Lucas, stories told in the Star Wars galaxy have counted Japanese mythology and the films of Akira Kurosawa among their many influences.
The Star Wars franchise appears to be in good hands domestically and around the globe. I can’t wait to watch the next five episodes of the inaugural season of Star Wars: Visions.