The multiplicity of styles and visions that ‘Star Wars’ entails has been in the franchise’s DNA from its very beginning. Let’s not forget two key issues: First, the original movie and its early sequels were already a hodgepodge of genres and references., among other things to the space opera, al western, to the samurai cinema and to the adventure and fantasy cinema of a lifetime. Second, from the moment the merchandising was a substantial part of George Lucas’ project, in a sense the viewer was being invited to reformulate ‘Star Wars’ from his point of view.
The passage of time has seen the birth of multiple derivations of the official story told in movies, through books, series and video games, starting with the unfortunate and highly cult Christmas special released the same year as the first film. It is the so-called Expanded Universe, declared non-canonical by Disney after the Lucasfilm purchase, but which continues to generate new and stimulating proposals. The last one is this ‘Star Wars Visions’, which flies free thanks to its lack of handles with the official canon.
In this first season, these are the episodes and studies assigned to each one:
- The Duel – Studio: Kamikaze Douga
- Tatooine Rhapsody – Studio: Twin Engine/Studio Colorido
- The Twins – Studio: Trigger
- The Village Bride – Studio: Cinema Citrus
- The Ninth Jedi – Production IG
- T0-B1 –Studio: Science Saru
- The Elder – Studio: Trigger
- Lop & Ochō – Studio: Twin Engine/Geno Studio
- He agreed –Studio: Science Saru
The result is as varied and inventive as you would expect from a series involving the creators of ‘Kill La Kill’ or ‘Devilman Crybaby’, ‘Made in Abyss’ or ‘Pet’. A multiplicity of styles that feels great when lore from ‘Star Wars’, since they demonstrate in an extremely simple way how in the saga there is room for a diversity of tones Which explains that with the passage of time fans of so many ages and interests have followed her. From pure action to emotional drama to hard-line comedy or sci-fi: everything fits in ‘Visions’ (and therefore, ‘Star Wars’).
Common elements and many differences
The nine episodes, almost all of which are between fifteen and twenty minutes long, focus on common themes due to the Japanese origin of all of them. However, even in that each one goes in a different direction: for example, the samurai root of the Jedi order (Kurosawa was always an absolutely confessed influence of George Lucas) is explored, both from the point of view of pure action (in the hyperstilized ‘The Duel’, which functions as a bridge between ‘The Mandalorian’ and ‘Yojimbo’) and of the more sober period drama (with the relationship between a Jedi and his Padawan in ‘The Elder’). Both among the best of the season, each in its own way.
As is to be expected, not all episodes maintain an extraordinary level. Those least concerned with embracing the series canon, who they use the lore of ‘Star Wars’ just to tell what interests them, they are undoubtedly the most notable, which includes the delicious tribute to Osamu Tezuka in general and Astroboy in particular ‘T0-B1’. Or the delusional, pure explosive 70s sci-fi anime ‘The Twins’, which includes so many betrayals of the saga’s canon per second that it almost seems like a fun (and extraordinary) provocation.
Less interesting are more or less well-intentioned experiments like the childish ‘Tatooine Rhapsody’ or the not very original ‘The Ninth Jedi’. All have, however and at least, abundant plastic or design successes: Japanese studios reinterpret the thematic tropes, and ship, robot and creature designs from ‘Star Wars’, or just invent new ones (from countless variants of lightsabers to new fauna furry) in an authentic experience of washing of prejudices and conventions.
The experiment is undeniably positive. Perhaps it could be held in the face of the whole that, despite the multiple authorship and settings, quotes from samurai philosophy and history are brought to the table again and again. But the aesthetic approaches are so diverse that not only does it not bother, but this insistence on the obvious inspiration of the Jedi in traditional Japanese history gives a curious and varied coherence to the whole. Also, what the hell, if Lucas relentlessly looted the classics chambara, ‘Visions’ is the best possible reckoning.
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‘Star Wars: Visions’: the infinite potential of the franchise, revealed in Disney + and anime code