As the first season of Star Wars Visions comes to a close, we take a look at what was good and what wasn’t.
Star Wars Visions is a new show that takes place in the future. The series features a lot of CGI and is set to release its first season on July 10, 2021.
Season 1 of Star Wars Visions is reviewed (2021)
The anthology series Star Wars: Visions is based in the Star Wars universe. Several different Japanese animation companies collaborated on the episodes, which combined the universe of Star Wars with the appearance and feel of anime. The episodes are more like vignettes, with each one presenting a brief, self-contained narrative with no apparent link. The tales are also not bound by Star Wars canon, and the majority of them don’t include any previously known characters. While I like anime on occasion and am a huge Star Wars fan, this seemed like a terrible idea from the start. Sure, anime has a devoted following in the United States, and I’m sure there’s some crossover with Star Wars fans. This must entice a studio that has turned out uneven performances in recent years, trying to find its footing post-Lucas. However, anytime two unconnected items are mixed like this, I feel worried. It seems to be a gimmick, and the fact that Lucasfilm is likely in dire need of more widely adored programs doesn’t help. But as the video began coming out, I was sold. Various anime styles are on show, with a talented cast bringing these old and new characters to life. Let’s get started.
A mystery Ronin comes into a town in “The Duel,” and must defend it from attacking robbers. In “Tattooine Rhapsody,” a rock band must save one of their own from Jabba the Hutt’s clutches. The film “The Twins” is about a pair of Dark Side-created twins (surprise!) who, although sister Am want to follow the path of ultimate power, brother Karre has other ideas. In “The Village Bride,” a Jedi must choose between staying hidden and rescuing a young lady from being kidnapped. A mysterious ruler wants to restore the Jedi Order in “The Ninth Jedi.” The tale of a robot that wants to become a Jedi is told in “T0-B1.” In “The Elder,” a Jedi Master and his padawan face up against a fearsome foe. A planet is invaded by the Empire in “Lop and Ocho,” and a family is torn apart by their opposing viewpoints on the situation. In “Akakiri,” a Jedi returns to aid the lady he loves in her battle against a dictator, her aunt the shogun.
The animation was the part of Visions that I was most looking forward to. Hand-drawn animation is common in Japanese animation, which is something that American mainstream animation sadly lacks these days. The animation style changes from episode to episode, which makes sense considering that only a few were created by the same studio. “The Duel,” “The Ninth Jedi,” and “The Elder” were my favorite episodes in terms of aesthetics. With what seems to be a mix of CG and traditional animation, “The Duel” took me off surprise. This, on the other hand, I enjoyed. It gives the episode a grungy, disturbing appearance that fits the tone of the show. Star Wars: Resistance seemed to be a mash-up of the two mediums, with catastrophic results. Granted, this was done by Disney Television Animation, a well-known anime company. Nonetheless, it’s encouraging to note that the same errors were not repeated in this case. This episode’s use of light and color is stunning, and it’s something we’d never see in a live-action Star Wars film. Visually, “The Ninth Jedi” and “The Elder” are the most similar to the kind of anime I like. They’re still stylized and exaggerated, but they don’t have the massive, over-the-top eyes and heads seen in “T0-B1” and “Tattooine Rhapsody.” That’s not to say I didn’t like the more cartoony episodes; I simply prefer more restrained anime, therefore they were my favorites. Because of the characters’ looks, “The Twins” and “Lop and Ocho” were especially difficult for me to get into. Regardless of my own preferences, the method is flawless. Across the board, the animation is well constructed.
With the tales in Visions, things become a bit more complex. I’m not sure why the episodes were chosen to be so short. Even with the opening and end credits, some of them barely made it to the 15-minute mark, and this wasn’t always enough time to convey a satisfactory narrative. I’m already having trouble remembering the names of characters that don’t share names with their respective episodes after only watching the season. The episodes that do the best, however, are the ones that put all of their effort on graphics and interesting ideas rather than people and relationships. That isn’t always the case for me, but I believe it has a lot to do with the runtime.
The beginning of “The Duel” is cloaked in mystery, with the primary emphasis being on the revelation that both the Ronin and the bandit leader are Sith. In a different Star Wars narrative, the Ronin would be a Jedi who, out of the kindness of his heart, saves the village. It’s both shocking and thrilling to discover that they’re on the same “team,” and that any Sith would care about the well-being of a tiny town. What is the Ronin’s motivation for assisting the village? Is he just an ex-Sith? Lucy Liu’s role, the bandit commander, also piques my curiosity. Her motions and speech reflect her frightening appearance. I bring this up because it’s important and since Visions struggles with it in general. “The Duel” is one of the finest entries in the series because to its compelling graphics and straightforward plot. Although I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, “Tattooine Rhapsody” is not for me. The animation style isn’t my cup of tea, but that’s not the worst part. I can get accustomed to animation, and even like it, provided the narrative and characters are compelling enough. However, the music in this episode, as well as the idea of a rock band in Star Wars, did not appeal to me. I understand the importance of the bandmates’ connection, but this is another another narrative aspect that falls short of the required duration. Jay’s (Gordon- Levitt’s) excessive motions bothered me.
I like the concept of “The Twins,” and some of the images, such as the picture of the twins in gestation, are very powerful. However, the facial expressions are precisely what people identify with anime, which is one of my pet peeves. These exaggerated motions and gestures really detract from the experience for me. Similarly, Alison Brie is over exaggerating her position as Am. As her brother Karre, Neil Patrick Harris performs well and fully immerses himself in the character. However, the anticlimactic conclusion and everything about Am turned me off to this book. “The Village Bride” is aesthetically stunning, but the conclusion isn’t particularly gratifying. Despite a brilliant ensemble that included Karen Fukuhara, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Christopher Sean, and Andrew Kishino, none of the characters made an impact on me. While “The Ninth Jedi” keeps things basic, it feels like Star Wars, while many of these tales don’t. Kimiko Glenn, Simu Liu, and Andrew Kishino provide excellent voice acting in this film, which has one of the most gratifying endings (again).
T0-B1 has a light narrative and extremely cartoony graphics, but I enjoyed it much. It’s entertaining and fast-paced, and I was moved when the mechanical kid lost his master. David Harbour plays the Jedi Master, Jordan Fisher plays his student, and James Hong plays the eponymous Elder in “The Elder.” This episode’s climax is a bit shaky, as it bends over itself for a happy ending; nevertheless, I really loved the three characters. The speech is brief yet effective, and the images are breathtaking. I’m not sure I’d call “Lop and Ocho” bad, but I’m not sure I’d watch it again. Lop being taken in by a family of a different species and planetary origin appeals to me. The time leap, however, precludes us from witnessing how they all interact. It doesn’t seem right when Ocho betrays her sister and father to join the Empire. Why is she in such a bad mood? She speaks about their house, but why does the concept of home have more significance for her than her family? Why is she denying that Lop is a family member? Adopting her was her idea. Why, by the way, did they name the sister after the Spanish word for eight? This is how they even say it. Lop’s character design is likewise one of my pet peeves. She’s much too adorable and has the appearance of a bunny rabbit; it’s tough to take her seriously as a character, particularly after such a brief introduction. Finally, “Akakiri” was mostly uninteresting. I must confess that I like the finale; it was dark, surprising, and more in line with the conclusion of “The Elder.” Jamie Chung, Henry Golding, George Takei, Keone Young, and Lorraine Toussaint all provide outstanding vocal performances. This one’s animation style is also appealing to me. It’s distinct, yet not overbearing. However, apart from the conclusion, I found this tale to be uninteresting. The former lovers’ tension is non-existent, and there isn’t enough time in this narrative structure to provide flashbacks.
Overall, I’m not sure how to rate Visions as a whole. A few of the episodes are excellent, but the most are average at best, and a few irritated me much. I’m aware that there are noisy, exaggerated anime shows and films, but they are the ones I steer clear of. I simply don’t like it when voice actors scream or when their face and body gestures are overdone. Animation is an art of exaggeration, but it loses its realism at a certain point in my opinion. I applaud Lucasfilm for hiring genuine anime companies rather than putting the term “anime” on projects from the United States or the Philippines. Netflix, I’m looking at you. I like Visions enough to be happy I watched it, and if they do future seasons, the quality control may improve. Some of these tales are too short to be told in these episodes. The designs, on the other hand, were made with a lot of imagination. If you’re a die-hard Star Wars fan, the fact that they travel so far from canon and well-known characters may irritate you. The one episode with established characters, “Tattooine Rhapsody,” is, however, one of the weakest of the season. The episodes that recreated the atmosphere of old Star Wars were my favorites. Visions isn’t the Clone Wars, Bad Batch, or even Rebels, but I admire them for attempting something new.
Plot – 4
Acting – 8 points
8 – Production Design
Overall, I’m not sure how to rate Visions as a whole. A few of the episodes are fantastic, but the most are average at best, and a few of them irritated me much. The episodes that recreated the atmosphere of old Star Wars were my favorites.
The star wars: visions episode 1 is a fan film that was released in 2021. It’s about the events before Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and it has received positive reviews.
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