Star Wars: Visions premiered on September 22nd. An animated series created in anime by the top artists in Japan. It features episodes that are different storylines, plots, and characters. The series pays beautiful homage to the original Star Wars created by George Lucas in 1977, who had been influenced by Japanese entertainment. The score for the series is on par with John Williams, and it helps create a thrilling adventure.
Episode 1: The Duel
The first episode of Star Wars: Visions was a stunning black and white reimagination of the franchise’s universe as a small Japanese village. As it gets raided by a powerful Sith bandit, we see an unlikely hero save the day.
The twist of this episode was almost as exciting as the lightsaber duel. The colored blades were magnificent against the black and white animation, and it had offered a creative look at what lightsabers can possibly do. There was excitement in the duel, the score, and the use of Force powers.
Episode 2: Tatooine Rhapsody
An episode that takes us back to a familiar planet. Tatooine is the staple of Star Wars, it is the first planet introduced in the franchise and solidified itself to be essential to the story. There are surprisingly plenty of things to see on this planet, and one of the most infamous is Jabba the Hutt.
Rather than highlight a story about smugglers, Jedi, or even Bounty Hunters, this episode explores a rock n’ roll band. The bassist owes Jabba some money, and through that, we see the return of one of the most iconic Star Wars characters, Boba Fett. This blend of Japanese culture, rock n’ roll, and Star Wars proved to be an entertaining adventure.
It showed that Jabba the Hutt actually has feelings, too. He’s like the rest of us, and when the music is as good as this band’s he can’t help but feel the beat. Those familiar characters in anime style were fun to see, and it looks like we got some more Boba Fett before the premiere of his show. This story was fun; it had explored more of the universe, and aside from the Cantina Band, I’ve never thought twice about the in-universe entertainment. The Mos Espa circuit was also a very nice touch that showed off the creator’s Star Wars knowledge.
Episode 3: The Twins
This episode features two dark side twins. They are remnants of the fallen Galactic Empire and seek to grow in power, strength, and so much more. Their armor is influenced heavily by Darth Vader. As this episode pays homage to the Original Trilogy, like the one before, we see familiar-looking characters, like stormtroopers, reimagined into an incredible anime style.
The twins represent a perverted side of the story, reimagined to show a perspective where Luke and Leia are born into the Empire and engulfed with the dark side. Their powers are extraordinary, the recognition of the power of the kyber crystal is thrilling, and Karre’s arc represents the true power of the Force, the light, and free will. Ama’s abilities in the Force show what insane power the Darkside can offer.
This animation is a testament to how far the imagination can take the powers of the Force, the dark and light balance, and the beauty of the Star Wars universe.
Episode 4: The Village Bride
Similar to the first episode, we are taken to a small village secluded in the mountains. A Jedi on the run embraces her new planet, and two villagers are to be married. This episode begins with two separate stories and converges them into one as we see a wonderful fusion of Japanese culture and Star Wars lore.
The village is threatened by a crafty warlord, who repurposed battle droids to do his dirty work. The chief refuses to fight the warlord, but when her sister gets taken hostage, the Jedi is forced to reveal herself to save the villagers. This clash of good and evil reveals a beautiful yellow-bladed lightsaber in the shape of a katana.
This episode was a beautiful animation that represented how powerful the Star Wars landscape can be. This plot was an exciting journey as we see just how important the Jedi were for small, vulnerable villages.
Episode 5: The Ninth Jedi
This episode shows an intriguing side of Star Wars. We see a lightsaber-smith and his daughter, Kara, as they live their lives on a beautiful and very Star Wars-looking planet. The smith’s abilities are impressive, and he gives insight into where ideas of the Force could head into with the freedom Visions offers.
The smith had forged some illegal lightsabers, and this draws the attention of some aggressive authorities. His Force-sensitive daughter attempts to escape but gets pursued by one of the soldiers, where we get a fantastic callback to the speeder chase in Return of the Jedi as she raced away.
The episode leads into an epic lightsaber battle between the Jedi and Sith. The episode shows more influence from Return of the Jedi, as the clash of green and red lightsabers is similar to the final duel. The destruction of the Sith in this episode is also similar to the death of Palpatine, as they both died in an explosion of blue fire.
Episode 6: T0-B1
A story about a droid who fantasizes about being a Jedi is probably one of the most relatable episodes. His aspirations to wield a lightsaber and use the Force is something we’ve all experienced. His creator is a scientist who programmed his robots to help with his work, but T0-B1 can’t help but wish to see more.
His curiosity and wanderlust may be his and his master’s destruction. He discovers something about him that will call some very unwanted attention. This episode takes place after the fall of the Jedi, and so the galaxy is controlled by the Empire. But, even after the death of his master, T0-B1 continues his legacy and achieves his goal.
His reward is the ability to use a kyber crystal and properly assemble a lightsaber to live out his fantasy. With the ability to use the force, T0-B1 has what it takes to take on an inquisitor and rise as a Jedi. The artist’s choice to use the gray, gloomy background during the lightsaber duel accented the glow of the sabers and the clash of good and evil. This story of a droid was a fantastic story of the power of hope, imagination, friendship, and awakening within.
Episode 7: The Elder
In this episode, a Jedi Master and his Padawan seek out a figure who is strong in the powers of the dark side. Another episode depicts the beauty of the Star Wars worlds as we are taken into the Unknown Regions of the galaxy. The mountainous planet that we visit is host to villagers who live in fear of a Sith.
The evil force on the planet is an elder. He embraces the powers of the Sith but not their ideology. He is too focused on blade combat that he doesn’t embrace the lust for power that the dark side may offer. The Elder is too concerned with finding his next worthy opponent to fall victim to the self-destruction that the Sith before him had done.
The duel between the Jedi master and the Elder was elegant; they had both demonstrated confidence in their lightsaber abilities. With the help of his Padawan, the Jedi Master was able to successfully kill the elder Sith, but not before we could see an epic display of power and force lightning. A fantastic episode that showed not everything is as it seems. The elder with insane agility was a solid match for the Jedi, but not still could not come out triumphant.
Episode 8: Lop and Ocho
This episode highlights the struggle that civilians had as the Empire moved into their homes and took their valuable resources. A planet becomes divided as the control of the Empire grows on their freedom. The population is torn on whether or not they want the Imperial support; some say the protection is worth it, while others find it invasive. But the fact remains that the Empire is a stranger to this planet.
This is a fantastic story that reveals the manipulation of the Empire as they seize absolute control of the planet. Their techniques to twist opinions and persuade the weak-minded tears Lop’s family apart. Ocho had fallen victim to the Empire and the gilded life they advertise to offer.
The creators of this episode blended Japanese tradition and Star Wars mythology to create a mysterious family and intriguing plot that pits a father against his daughter on a child scale that is on par with Vader and Luke. Another creative take on weapons, this episode boasts battles, family drama, and the essence of Star Wars.
Episode 9: Akakiri
This is the final installment of Star Wars: Visions. The episode features a Jedi who returns to his forbidden love to fight off an invading Sith. The story characters of this episode are just as unique as the rest of the series, while still incorporating a classic Star Wars feel.
The Jedi, Tsubaki, sets off to find the Sith, Asago, and face off to keep peace on this planet. Asago’s powers in the Force are strong. She is like a combination of both Darth Vader and Darth Sidious. She knows how to manipulate people to join the dark side and embrace those powers.
This episode was interesting because it showed how tempting the dark side and those powers are. Similar to Anakin’s turn, Tsubaki did it to save the one he loved. After accidentally killing her in a fit of rage, Asago offered Dubaki a solution, and he took it without hesitation. For the final episode, this twist was fantastic because it explored the fear of losing someone you love and what someone might do to get them back.
I Have Spoken
Overall, Star Wars: Visions was an incredible addition to the franchise. These non-cannon stories were a very creative blend of Japanese culture and tradition with Star Wars mythology elegantly. Some episodes were better than others, but each one was able to bring a unique, fresh look at the Star Wars we know and love. The blend of familiar characters, planets, style of clothing, and the ever-so-popular theme of dark vs. light were all on par with the Original Trilogy. On the topic of the OT, the music had paid homage to John Williams in an incredible way.
The impact that Star Wars has on the world can be seen throughout this series. As our notions of the franchise and the Force shift gears to embrace another culture, fans from all over can enjoy this anime style, the storylines, and the “What If…?” aspect of the universe. The different never-before-seen weapons and Force abilities highlight where the franchise could go with a little creative freedom. A suit of armor powered by a kyber crystal? It feels that we’ve all daydreamed about some of these possibilities, and Star Wars: Visions delivered.
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