Star Wars Visions is an anthology series, with each episode painstakingly created by veteran anime studios from Japan. Each episode is its own compact tale. Each episode is also extremely anime. However, that is its strength. By embracing many of the tropes of the medium, Visions displays its true goal; to be a celebration of all things Star Wars, Samurai, Fantasy, and the beautiful marriage of the three. Every episode clearly has heart and soul poured into it, from the minimalist episode of “The Elder” to the maximalist “The Twins”. The series is literally the epitome of that famous line by essayist Tony Zhou – Every frame a painting.
With the talent involved, it’s no surprise whatsoever that “Visions” is top-tier Star Wars content. What is surprising though, is how lore and canon friendly the whole Visions series is. There are several episodes that could easily fit into the gaps between the 9 movies, such as “The Village Bride” which could easily be any time between the start of the clone wars (though probably is post order 66) and A New Hope, or “The Elder” which could be hundreds of years or mere weeks before The Phantom Menace. Episodes like “Akakiri” and “The Ninth Jedi” have strong Knights Of The Old Republic vibes, and could easily fit before or after the Skywalker saga, with a several hundred year degree of separation.
One of the best parts of the show, if not THE best part, is the show’s treatment of the franchise’s core themes of love vs anger, hope vs hate, and the concept of the force. Such explorations are found throughout, with my favorites being found in the excellent “The Duel”, “The Ninth Jedi”, “The Elder”, and “Akakiri”; the last of those being an excellent adaptation of the danger of attachment leading to the dark side. The conversation between the Jedi master and padawan at the end of “The Elder” is an honest look into dangers of seeking power beyond one’s years, and is an articulate definition of the difference between the Jedi and the Sith.
The Circle is now complete. The Samurai films of Japan that once influenced George Lucas to create his iconic space fantasy have now gone on to influence the Anime that is now being produced in that very same country. Star Wars was but the learner, but now is the master. Unlike Vader though, Star Wars has always been a beacon of hope and light in mainstream media, a stark contrast to the gritty realism of its cinematic sci-fi peers (save for maybe star trek). Visions isn’t a burning ember, a vestige that barely keeps the franchise alive. Visions is yet another vibrant corner in which to get lost in the vast galaxy, from a long time ago and far, far, away…