Amongst the expansive slate of blockbuster live-action Star Wars series revealed during Disney's December Investor Day was the surprising reveal of a ten-episode anime anthology series coming to Disney+ in 2021, Star Wars: Visions.
In many ways, Lucasfilm's animated endeavors have become just as famous as its films over the years, with both The Clone Wars and Rebels having seen long and successful runs. However, Visions will mark the Star Wars studio's first time using the unique Japanese art, utilizing the talent of many anime creators to produce ten short films taking place across the timeline.
After a long wait, fans have been treated to their first look at the Disney+ project during a panel run by the series' producers at a major digital anime showcase.
LUCASFILM REVEALS STAR WARS IN ANIME
As was recently promised, a panel during the digital Anime Expo Lite event has offered the first sneak peek at the upcoming Disney+ anime anthology series Star Wars: Visions.
Within the trailer's description, Lucasfilm described the anime venture, revealing that each short “bears a unique Japanese sensibility” which “aligns with the tone and spirit of Star Wars storytelling.” Using the “unique animation style and perspective of each anime studio,” Visions will explore the “cultural heritage” that has influenced Star Wars “from the beginning:”
“As a first formal venture into anime, each “Star Wars: Visions” short bears a unique Japanese sensibility, which in many ways aligns with the tone and spirit of Star Wars storytelling. From the beginning, stories told in the Star Wars galaxy have counted Japanese mythology and the films of Akira Kurosawa among their many influences, and these new visions will further explore that cultural heritage through the unique animation style and perspective of each anime studio.”
Pulling talent from across the genre, seven major studios will produce short films for the anime project, leading to a total of ten unique stories. Executive Producer James Waugh emphasized the “wide creative berth” given to the studios to “be as authentic as possible to the studios and creators” behind them, suggesting the unique stories don't necessarily tie into the larger timeline:
“We really wanted to give these creators a wide creative berth to explore all the imaginative potential of the Star Wars galaxy through the unique lens of anime. We realized we wanted these to be as authentic as possible to the studios and creators who are making them, made through their unique process, in a medium they’re such experts at. So the idea was, this is their vision riffing off all the elements of the Star Wars galaxy that inspired them — hopefully to make a really incredible anthology series, unlike anything we’ve seen before in the Star Wars galaxy.”
Following the event, the official Star Wars site published details of many of the episodes, confirming the return of some classic characters, as well as some interesting story details.
Batman: Ninja studio Kamikaze Douga will produce “The Duel,” a black and white short featuring Samurai-inspired Jedi and Sith, an astromech with a straw hat, and plenty more elements of Japanese culture.
Meanwhile, Geno Studio's “Lop and Ochō” will feature a space bunny called Lop in a galaxy ruled by the Empire, meaning it will take place at some point between Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi.
“Tatooine Rhapsody” from Studio Colorido is, as crazy as it sounds, a rock opera in the Star Wars universe, telling the story of a band that tries to make it big. Additionally, the story will be one of few to include existing characters as the lead characters will encounter Boba Fett and Jabba the Hutt on their journey.
In a clever twist on the classic Luke and Leia dynamic, Trigger's “The Twins” will center around a set of dark side twins, showing a brother going to great lengths to save his sister. Coming from the same studio, “The Elder” will follow the classic master and Padawan dynamic.
Kinema Cirtus' “The Village Bride” will use the Force uniquely, as a Jedi follows the traditions of a small village through a bride's eyes on the day before her wedding as she must make surprising decisions to save the village.
Science Saru will produce two shorts, “T0-B1” will show the joyful story of a droid dreaming to be a Jedi, while “Akakiri” will be a more heartwarming story. Despite the difference in tone, the two will feature a similar cartoon-inspired artistic style.
Lastly, Ghost in the Shell creators Production IG has created “The Ninth Jedi,” a story that started as two tales and has formed into one grand-scale story featuring the daughter of a lightsabersmith, and eight warriors.
A LOVE LETTER TO ANIME
With Visions, Lucasfilm has seemingly created a true love letter to the world of anime in allowing the genre's most talented creators to play in the grand sandbox that is Star Wars. Recent years have seen the studio attempt to unify canon with stories being increasingly more connected, however, the anime anthology truly represents the most bonkers thing to come out of Disney's Star Wars yet.
Traditionally, anime series feature Japanese-speaking voice actors, however, many choose to view through subtitles or English voice dubbed over the original production. The approach Lucasfilm will take with Visions is unclear. Given the expansive budget behind Disney, it will likely recruit voice actors from a variety of nationalities to make the anthology as inclusive as possible.
For many viewers, this may be their first experience of the expansive world of anime, potentially leading them to explore more of the genre. The Japanese animation style has grown an increasingly large cult following over the years, moving gradually further into pop culture.
Star Wars: Visions will premiere exclusively on Disney+ on September 22.