Review: Star Wars: Visions Season 1 Emphatically Broadens The Galaxy Far, Far Away
When they announced Star Wars: Visions, the first-ever official anime from that universe, it was sort of buried in other, at the time, more exciting news. The Ahsoka and Obi-Wan live-action series, the Patty Jenkins’ movie, The Bad Batch, and many more. Honestly, with only a title card, it was an announcement that garnered “sure, okay”, type of reactions. But as the first trailer proved, Star Wars: Visions was the most exciting new thing to happen to Star Wars in a long time. And as I’ll discuss many times in this Star Wars: Visions season 1 review, it’s quite possibly one of the greatest things to happen to Star Wars in a long time as well. Read on for my review of why Star Wars: Visions season 1 on Disney Plus is an absolute must-watch! Both for anime fans as well as Star Wars fans; and everyone in between, really.
How Star Wars: Visions Season 1 Goes Back To Lucas’ Inspiration
So many questions. | Image via Disney Plus.
It’s no secret that the majority of Star Wars is an amalgamation of various other content that inspired creator George Lucas himself. The massive franchise is a testament to how content can be inspired from other content. Especially doing so without adapting, remaking, or rebooting that existing content. Lucas’ original Star Wars was very much sci-fi, Samurai Westerns that blend Eastern philosophy with the wide-eyed wonder of good versus evil.
Much of that inspiration did come from the East. The Jedi Way is a blend of many Eastern philosophies like Buddhism and Taoism. Whereas their Code is reminiscent of Bushido or the Shogun warriors of old. So when Star Wars: Visions promised to take the franchise back to those cultures, to allow Japanese creators free reign to tell Star Wars in the style of their biggest industry, anime, it just felt right. And now, in my Star Wars: Visions season 1 review, you’ll see why that life cycle of creation to inspiration back to creation, reinvigorates Star Wars in a way that we’ve never seen before.
Visions Is Visionary In Its Scope And Story
When the Force becomes a force of love. | Image via Disney Plus.
That will be the only ‘visions’ pun in this review, I promise. But it’s truly unavoidable because Star Wars: Visions season 1 is so incredibly specific to the style of each of the seven studios that were allowed to tell these stories. Their artistic license, creativity and visual styles make each episode in the anthology season that much more interesting and engaging. Now, this Star Wars: Visions season 1 review will be completely spoiler-free, but there are common themes inherent to the Star Wars franchise that each episode does that I’ll discuss.
Given its anthology nature, Star Wars: Visions focuses on stories that are both huge and grand when it comes to the larger universe, but others that are also small and insignificant to it. The subject matters range from ethical conflicts between the Empire and its people to family dramas. And then there’s the saving the universe stories and fantastical parables to existing folklore. It’s exciting, sweet, funny and, for some, edge of your seat suspenseful. Each episode focuses on one story told in a different anime style that perfectly captures the story’s vibe and atmosphere.
Spoiler-Free Star Was: Visions Season 1 Review
Star Wars Rock! | Image via Disney Plus.
The original Disney Plus Star Wars anthology series starts off with The Duel. It’s the episode that most goes back to the Akira Kurosawa directed The Hidden Fortress. The movie is credited with having the most inspiration behind Star Wars: A New Hope. The episode is in black and white, with the added cool effect of only the things that emanate light being in colour. Such as lanterns, blaster bolts and of course, lightsabers. The story is also inherently like a Samurai movie. A village being terrorized by some mercenaries find a saviour from an unlikely, and surprising lightsaber-wielding stranger. The first episode is the best way to open the series as it’s full of action and amazing lightsaber duels. The English voice cast features Lucy Liu and Brian Tee.
Things then slow down with a more personal episode that is a total departure from Star Wars stories we’ve seen so far. A lost boy finds refuge in the kindness of others, as they start up a band together as found family members. The episode is much more of a personal one set in the Star Wars universe, taking us to some familiar places with some familiar faces. The English voice cast has Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Temuera Morrison reprising his role as a famous bounty hunter and Bobby Moynihan.
Star Wars Is At Its Best When It’s Good Versus Evil!
Where blades meet. | Image via Disney Plus.
While some of the episodes in the nine-episode Star Wars: Visions season 1 are some cool tangents set in the Star Wars universe, the familiar tropes are the best. Episodes like The Twins feature a set of twins, from and raised in the Dark Side, coming to odds with one another just when they are at the peak of their destiny. Lop & Ocho features even more sibling rivalry as two sisters find themselves on the opposite side of the Galactic Empire, but with the same goal. It’s one of those episodes where you see how even those that turn to the Dark, do so initially with good intentions.
The Elder and The Ninth Jedi are the most classic battles between good and evil, that pits Jedi and Sith against one another. The Elder is a straight-up fight between a mysterious stranger and a Jedi Master and his Padawan. While The Ninth Jedi is all about restoring the fallen Jedi Order, from some unlikely sources. T0-B1 is one of the sweetest episodes of Star Wars: Visions season 1, as it combines a Jedi story with that of the Pinocchio tale.
I honestly think that one is my favourite episode of the season because it fully captures and embodies the essence and idealism of Star Wars. And will be the most relatable to anyone who grew up with Star Wars and wanted to be a Jedi. Whereas, on the flip side, Akakiri ends the season on a much darker note, as we find out exactly how desperation and attachment can turn one to the Dark Side.
The English Voice Cast For Star Wars: Visions Season 1 Is Hefty
The best of the lot. | Image via Disney Plus.
As great as the episodes are, the Star Wars: Visions season 1 English voice cast is just as awesome. The cast includes the voices of Neil Patrick Harris (Matrix: Resurrections), Alison Brie (Glow), Karen Fukuhara (Suicide Squad), Simu Liu (Shang-Chi), Henry Golding (Snake Eyes), David Harbour (Stranger Things) and many others. The representation in the English voice cast is pretty impressive, while the performances are pretty amazing.
The Star Wars: Visions Anime Episode Styles Are Incredible
The most adventurous one. | Image via Disney Plus.
T0-B1’s animation is very much Disney meets Astroboy, and it’s one of the most gorgeous looking anime of the lot coming from Science SARU. Whereas many of the others look like the traditional anime from studios like Geno Studio (Twin Engine), Studio Trigger, Production I.G. The episodes that feature more stylized and unique anime techniques come from Studio Trigger as well who did two episodes, as well as Kamikaze Douga and Studio Colorido. Kinema Citrus’ The Village Bride episode feels most like a Studio Ghibli movie, with its sweet story about love and its abstract connection to The Force.
The way the animation, action, the story uses elements of the Star Wars stories that came before to tell these new stories is also incredible. Similar themes, concepts and morals are presented in these stories that feel familiar. While at the same time, the settings, culture and people involved are so drastically different than what we know, that it makes it so much more stunning to watch these new stories in a known universe. It’s also very cool how they use existing elements from the new Star Wars trilogy, while also presenting entirely new ideas that are jaw-droppingly innovative.
Visions Is A Must Watch For Anime And Star Wars Fans
Caught between two worlds. | Image via Disney Plus.
Star Wars; Visions season 1 is a great addition to the Star Wars franchise. The visuals are breathtaking while the stories accompanying them do not disappoint. While not every episode will be to everyone’s liking, it’s still worth a watch to see how this amazing massive franchise can be when entrusted in the hands of creators without restrictions of the canon or world-building.
Star Wars: Visions season 1 is now streaming all episodes on Disney Plus.
What did you think of this Star Wars: Visions season 1 review? Do you agree, disagree or strongly disagree? Let me know in the comments below.
Featured image via Disney Plus.
Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.