This past weekend was the Fourth of July as of writing, but it was also when Anime Expo took place. And at that particular expo, an important piece of Star Wars news was revealed: that later this year, Disney Plus will be dropping an anime anthology series set within the famous sci-fi universe titled Star Wars: Visions. I felt a disturbance in the Force as millions of Star Wars and anime fans rejoiced upon hearing the news, myself among them. I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since around middle school, and it wasn’t until around the end of high school that I laid eyes on anime. And with anime in such high demand in the current year, it was unsurprising that nearly every major franchise was going to have an anime adaptation at some point.
If I am being honest, however, while I am excited for Visions to release, I also have some misgivings about it, and for good reason. Ever since Disney acquired the franchise back in 2012, entries for the new canon have been hit (The Clone Wars Season 7, The Bad Batch, The Mandalorian (whose future is currently in doubt due to the firing of Gina Carano), Rogue One and Rebels (which admittedly I did enjoy)) or miss (the sequel trilogy, Star Wars Resistance, and The High Republic). Which means that it’s anyone’s guess as to how the final product will turn out, but so far it looks promising. The teaser trailer is down below.
Some important details that were revealed at the expo are:
- We don’t have to wait long for Visions to drop. It will be released on Disney+ on September 22 in a series of nine shorts, each with their own visual aesthetic and story. (Fun fact: That’s the day before my birthday, so depending on how it turns, this could potentially be a good birthday gift.)
- There are a total of seven studios involved with the production of the series: Kamikaze Douga (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure opening animations, Phantom Blood and Stardust Crusaders), Geno Studio (Golden Kamui), Studio Trigger (Kill La Kill, Little Witch Academia), Studio Colorido (Penguin Highway, A Whisker Away, Burn The Witch), Kinema Citrus (Is The Order A Rabbit?, The Rising of the Shield Hero), Science Saru (Devilman Crybaby, Ping Pong the Animation), and Production IG (Ghost in the Shell, Neon Genesis Evangelion). The shorts that they will produce are:
- Kamikaze Douga – The Duel
- Geno Studio – Lop and Ochou
- Studio Colorido (Twin Engine) – Tatooine Rhapsody
- Studio Trigger – The Twins, The Elder
- Kinema Citrus – The Village Bride
- Science Saru – Akakiri, T0-B1
- Production IG – The Ninth Jedi
- Several panelists had expressed their love for anime, while also noting the influence that Japanese culture has had on Star Wars since the beginning. One panelist remarked that “[a]nime has influenced [them] in a huge way” and that “the combination of Star Wars and anime is something” that has been a long time coming.
- Each of the creators behind the Star Wars shorts have been Star Wars fans, even though it wasn’t a prerequisite.
- Due to the pandemic, the series met some production hurdles as lockdown forced a mostly remote production, making things especially complicated considering time zone differences and production pipelines.
- Kamikaze Douga’s The Duel infuses Star Wars with Japanese iconography. The concept art for this short features samurai-esque Jedi and Sith, an astromech with a straw hat, and more references to Japanese culture.
- Related to the above, The Duel is intended to be a love letter to Star Wars. The core theme of the short is about someone who must choose selflessness, a theme of Star Wars. As for the visual aspect, it will be told in black and white with splashes of color for certain elements like lightsabers.
- For Gen Studio’s Lop and Ochou, the visuals reflect its messaging. According to a panelist, the “design style on this short focuses on the collision between natural beauty and encroaching industrialization”, with the Empire representing the march of technology. It will also feature a space bunny-person named Lop, whom the panelists fell in love with.
- Tatooine Rhapsody will be told in a more Chibi art-style and will be heading into uncharted Star Wars territory. According to one of the panelists, it will be a “Star Wars rock opera” and is one of the few shorts to feature classic characters, as the heroes of the short will encounter Boba Fett and Jabba the Hutt. It also is a major influence on the entire Star Wars: Visions project, as it was one of the first pitches that Lucasfilm received. While it was initially met with concern and skepticism, that feeling soon changed and the higher-ups decided to go with it.
- The Elder and The Twins will feature new spins on Star Wars hallmarks. According to a crew member, The Twins “subverts the idea of Luke and Leia and imagines a brand-new set of twins born into the dark side, and how far the brother will go to save his sister”. The Elder, meanwhile, is a homage to a classic Star Wars master and Padawan relationship, and there is a dual meaning that will be found after the short is watched.
- The Village Bride by Kinema Citrus follows a fallen Jedi, but with a twist: The guardian of peace and justice observes a local tradition in a far-off village through the eyes of a bride on the eve of her wedding day, and an unexpected choice she must make to save her people. According to a crew member, the short will also approach the Force in a unique and surprising way.
- Science Saru’s two shorts, Akakiri and T0-B1, will share a similar cartoonish style but differ in tone. Akakiri is set to be “a beautiful yet painful story about a princess”, while TB-01 is a more heartwarming story “of an adorable droid who dreams to be a Jedi.” What’s even more interesting is that the founder, Eunyoung Choi, derives influence from many of the same sources as Star Wars.
- The Ninth Jedi actually began as two separate shorts. One was to be set in a time when Jedi have fallen into legend and need to come back as darkness threatens the galaxy, with the daughter of a lightsaber-smith seeking out the Jedi and delivering their weapons; the other story was to be told from the point of view of eight warriors coming together, learning if they are indeed Force sensitive and can trust each other. Ultimately, the staff decided to combine the stories in order to achieve something on a grander scale. And while the shorts all have their own original scores, what stands out about the score for The Ninth Jedi is that it was recorded at Miza Kawasaki Symphony Hall.
- Star Wars fans who don’t know anime, or vice-versa fear not. Lucasfilm is confident that you’ll find something to enjoy in Star Wars: Visions. That is because “[t]hese things go together like peanut butter and chocolate”, according to a staff member. It makes sense, considering the considerable influence that Japanese culture has had on the franchise.
Whether you’re a Star Wars fan or an anime fan, and you are not familiar with the other, or whether you are not familiar with either and want to see what it’s like, Star Wars Visions is guaranteed to have something you will enjoy. This series is proof that anime can go with a multimillion dollar franchise, and if you like both Star Wars and anime like I am and have always dreamed of seeing them crossover, then this might be the series for you.
Author Unknown. “ANIME EXPO LITE: 20 THINGS WE LEARNED FROM THE STAR WARS: VISIONS PANEL”. https://www.starwars.com/news/anime-expo-lite-star-wars-visions. Accessed 5 July 2021. Published July 3, 2021.