Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 Review

Every year on May the Fourth, fans all over the world come together to celebrate the Star Wars franchise in all its chaotic glory. The informal holiday’s become so popular that even Disney acknowledges its importance, gladly joining in on the fun. Case in point, on this May the Fourth, Disney+ released the second volume of its animated anthology series, Star Wars Vision. Whereas the first volume was the product of various anime studios from Japan, though, Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 went international. The result is a blend of nine animated shorts from talented studios worldwide, each bringing its own brand of animation to the popular franchise. While the lack of uniformity might seem jarring to some, getting to see international perspectives on what Star Wars means to fans makes for a very interesting season. 

I’m RJ Writing Ink, and these are my spoiler-free reviews for each of the shorts to Volume two of Star Wars: Visions

Sith– El Guiri Studio

Star Wars Visions Volume 2-Sith

First up, we have this animated short from the Spanish studio El Guiri. Named for the titular antagonists of the Star Wars franchise, Sith is the story of a former Sith Apprentice who left her past behind to pursue a quiet life of painting. However, she continues to struggle with the Dark Side of the Force within her, a problem that’s only exacerbated when her former master comes looking for her. In order to survive, she has to learn to stop rejecting the darkness within and accept it as part of her.

Besides continuing the themes of light and dark and of balance found in the franchise, Sith is noteworthy for its unique art style. The way it blends the use of paints against backdrops of white and dark makes for jaw-dropping art. The whole short feels like a canvas came to life to tell a story, and we’re seeing the end to it as it’s being painted in. Altogether, it looks and feels amazing!

I Give “Sith” a 4/5

Screecher’s Reach-Cartoon Saloon

Star Wars Visions Volume 2-Screecher's Reach

Cartoon Saloon’s already established itself as a worthwhile studio with the hit movie Wolfwalkers. Now, it gets the chance to bring its vivid and otherworldy style to Star Wars: Visions in Screecher’s Reach. Much like it’s other famous work, Screecher’s Reach stars a young protagonist who goes on a journey in search of the supernatural. What they find is something that feels straight out of a horror film, in the form of an alleged Sith ghost.

Cartoon Saloon’s past works have focused primarily on mythology, and that lends well to the supernatural mythos found in Star Wars. The artwork is both beautiful and haunting, and the result can be something that’s notably unsettling. While I wont’ give away the ending, I will say that it will leave you surprised.

I Give “Screecher’s Reach” a 3/5

In the Stars-Punkrobot

Star Wars Visions Volume 2-In the Stars

In the short, In the Stars, we follow the story of two sisters whose entire village was wiped out by the Empire. Thanks to said Imperial presence polluting their world, the two struggle to stay alive. The younger sister wants to fight back, while the older sister just wants to stay alive. 

A recurring theme in Star Wars is the conflict of idealism vs. cynicism, one made apparent in the differing attitudes of the sisters. While the elder sister means well, surviving against a threat like the Empire isn’t enough. The only way to make things better is to fight evil like them until it goes down. The younger sister understands this and strives to turn her sibling to her side, much like how Luke won over Han in the original movie. The animation itself is also very beautifully done, so it’s fun to look at.

I Give “In the Stars” a 3/5

I am Your Mother-Aardman

Star Wars Visions Volume 2-I am Your Mother

At its heart, Star Wars is more than just a grand epic; it’s a story about family and how strong the bonds something like that can create. Case in point, we have this funny short by the creators of Wallace & GromitChicken Run, and Shaun the Sheep. It’s family racing day at the pilot academy, but Cadet Ani doesn’t tell her mother about it out of embarrassment over how the latter acts. When her mom finds out anyway, the two have to work together to win the race and put a snooty cadet and her mother in their place.

It’s never easy being family, especially when said family tends to embarrass us in public. However, what’s more important is how much we care about each other, and the main heroine and her mom’s love for each other speaks droves about them. Beyond that, though, this short’s just plain funny. Aardman’s mastered the art of stop-motion slapstick over the years, and between the wacky racing hijinks and the facial expressions, this short’s enough to make me laugh out loud.

I Give “I am Your Mother” a 4.5/5

Journey to the Dark Head-Studio Mir

Star Wars Visions Volume 2-Journey to the Dark Head

I’m going to flat-out say it: this was the best out of all the shorts. It had the best action, the best animation, and the best story as a whole. It helps that it was made by Studio Mir, the Korean studio that did the animation for shows like The Legend of Korra and Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts. While on the surface, it seems like another classic case of Jedi vs. Sith and how the Dark Side must be stopped, it tells an even deeper message, one that the Jedi would do well to understand. Light and darkness co-exist in the universe, and one cannot do so without the other. While it may make efforts to do good feel pointless in the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t change the fact that the battle must be fought.

I Give “Journey to the Dark Head” a 5/5

The Spy Dancer-Studio La Cachette

Star Wars Visions Volume 2-The Spy Dancer

A lot of spy movies enjoy the concept of the femme fatale, a woman who uses her beauty and charm to seduce the enemy and spy on them. The Spy Dancer takes that idea and removes some of the romanticism to give a more realistic portrayal. While the titular dancer is a femme fatale that uses her dancing prowess to spy on Imperial troops, she’s motivated by the traumatic abduction of her son many years ago. When things go south, what follows is a fight that artfully combines combat with dancing. The result is an emotionally-charged battle that doesn’t go quite the way you’d expect. The ending alone with surprise you.

I Give “The Spy Dancer” a 4/5

 The Bandits of Golak-88 Pictures

Star Wars Visions Volume 2-Bandits of Golak

An Indian take on the classic old westerns that partially inspired Star WarsThe Bandits of Golak tells the story of two siblings? trying to find refuge from the Empire. Most of the characters possess Indian accents, befitting the studio’s country of origin, and much of the architecture, clothing, and culture’s derived from India. There’s a train sequence that’s all Western, though, right down to it getting attacked by bandits. As far as animation goes, 88 Pictures does a good job at it. It doesn’t reach the same heights as other 3D animation, but it does a good job of holding its own. Not to mention, the backgrounds and artwork are breathaking.

I Give “The Bandits of Golak” a 3.5/5

The Pit-D’Art Shtajio and Lucasfilm

Star Wars Visions Volume 2-The Pit

When faced with a force as monumentally evil as that of the Empire, one can tend to feel small and weak. That’s how they kept control over the Galaxy for a generation, and how their successors almost regained it. However, all it takes is one person to reach out to others to make a change. The Pit, a story about slave laborers left to die by the Empire, is a perfect example. Despite the Empire trying to keep them down and the truth hidden, once they reach out to the people, it becomes impossible for the Imps to maintain control. 

This short’s a microcosm of how the Rebellion ultimately brought the Empire down. A single person with the courage to stand up to injustice inspired others, and that led to the Empire running like the cowards they are. Alas, sometimes, some things require great sacrifice to affect change…

I Give “The Pit” a 4/5

Aau’s Song-Triggerfish

Star Wars Visions Volume 2-Aau's Song

Lastly, we have this little short from the South African studio Triggerfish, Aau’s Song. Aau’s an adorable, lion-esque alien from a world whose people mine and purify Kyber crystals for the Jedi to use. However, she’s got this special power in her voice that makes said crystals go crazy. Considering how they’re all corrupted by the Sith and have to be purified, that’s bad. Or is it?

To be honest, this was one short that I wasn’t too fond of in particular. It was sweet and nice to look at, but it didn’t really grab my attention all that well. I did enjoy the stop-motion animation and the fact that all the characters looked like plushies in terms of their texture, though. It was cute to look at.

I Give “Aau’s Song” a 2.5/5

Overall, Star Wars: Visions did a good job with their second volume. Getting to harness the power of anime to promote Star Wars was awesome as it was. Getting animation studios all over the world to show what they can do, though? That not only promotes their potential, but encourages the growth of animation as a medium worldwide. Given how badly it gets treated, it’s something animation needs. 

May the Fourth be with you all!