TV Review | Star Wars: Visions Volume 2
“Star Wars Visions Volume 2 is an incredible season showcasing different stunning visual styles. Each episode is unique, celebrating diverse voices and inspirations.”
After a fantastic first series of Japanese anime shorts, Star Wars: Vision is coming back with a second volume extending its reach with studios from all over the world. I had the chance to watch all the episodes last month. The new season arrives tomorrow on Disney Plus for May The Fourth.
THE SITH (EL GUIRI)
This is an artistic episode that feels quite different from what you may have seen before. As the title indicates the story has something to do with the Sith. It is actually a beautiful story about identity and being in control of your own journey. Moreover, the colors are an essential element in this episode, it is like their own character. The episode intricately plays with colors to tell a visual story that intertwines with the story of the main character. In that regards, it is very much abstract art.
An episode that plays like that with its visuals can only be something beautiful. Indeed, there are some really striking shots that feel like a painting. Even though, it is not an episode that everyone will enjoy, I have no doubts fans will applaud it for its visual quality. And keen eyes will recognize some inspirations from different Star Wars films for the ships and sets. Finally, Dan Levy’s score is also an highlight of this episode. There is an epic dimension to it that undeniably feels like Star Wars.
SCREECHER’S REACH (CARTOON SALOON)
Cartoon Saloon is an Irish animation studio that I discovered with the film Song of the Sea. They have their own unique animation style. It is absolutely beautiful and at the same time it evokes childhood memories. This animation style reminds me of something coming out from fairy tale books that my parents used to read to me when I was child. Beyond that, Cartoon Saloon uses Ireland as an inspiration for their scenery. Undoubtedly, when watching this episode, I could feel it. The animation is simply magnificent.
Furthermore, this episode tells a mature and dark story about survival. It takes turns that I didn’t expect which is a great surprise. “Surprise” is a definitely the right word to describe this episode, in all the good ways. Siofra Ni Chaisade’s vocal for the score is something enchanting and yet it is also haunting. Which, is exactly what this episode will make you feel.
IN THE STARS (PUNKROBOT)
‘In The Stars’ is a powerful story about family which is a central theme of Star Wars. It explores the relationship between two sisters. And through that it deals with the idea of belief and resisting against the oppression in an incredibly inspiring way. The people behind this episode captured the essence of our beloved franchise to tell a story of their own while also making it feel like it is really part of this universe. Honestly, if you were to insert this story within the canon time period of the Reign of the Empire, it would fit perfectly. The whole Imperial aesthetic is there. Besides, it is also an amazingly animated episode that truly impresses. There is also a symbolism with the colors, here it is about the skyline. This whole episode reminded me a lot of Star Wars Rebels.
I AM YOUR MOTHER (AARDMAN)
If the studio Aardman sounds familiar it’s because you may know them for Wallace & Gromit. The award-winning director Magdalena Osinska who directed this short also directed some commercials of the famous duo. For her Star Wars story, she chose to talk about family, which is a central theme of our beloved saga. This short explores the bond between a daughter and her mother. Mothers have an important place in Star Wars but we often get the mother-son relationship and not so much the mother-daughter relationship. Thus, it is quite refreshing to see this.
These two characters participate in a family race in which they face another mother-daughter team and the latter is the villain. The relationship between our two heroes feels genuine like an actual teenager being embarrassed by her loving mother. Obviously this creates fun situations but also heartwarming ones too.
On top of that, it is nice to see a Star Wars animated short in stop motion, you can definitely recognize the style of the studio. Finally, Denis Lawson reprises his role of Wedge Antilles. As Palpatine would say “A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.”
JOURNEY TO THE DARK HEAD (STUDIO MIR)
Studio Mir is an anime Korean studio and for their episode they have chosen an interesting topic – a war between the Jedi and the Sith. This is what I loved the most about the first volume. Indeed, several episodes were about the Jedi vs the Sith and that was incredibly compelling. Here, Hyeong Geun Park gives us his take on this eternal conflict between the light and the dark. It is a captivating story with a spectacular lightsaber fight worthy of the Prequels. There is action, humor, emotions … it has everything you want from a Star Wars story. And because of its subject, the message it delivers is a spiritual one. Not everything is one thing or the other, there is a lot of in-between. I think it is beautiful the way the story shows us that.
During the Visions panel at Star Wars Celebration Europe, Park’s passion for this franchise was palpable and you can definitely feel it all throughout this episode. Obviously, it gives the best results. Visually, this is also a breathtaking episode. It is not an overstatement to say that this is Studio Mir’s best work. Undoubtedly, this is my favorite episode of this new volume.
To enjoy this episode at its fullest, I recommend watching it in its original version, which is the Korean language (subtitles are available). The voice cast is a great one. And Korean fans will recognize some voice actors from Korean dub version of the Star Wars films. This is a nice easter egg.
THE SPY DANCER (STUDIO LA CACHETTE)
This episode is inspired by the French resistance during World War II. And that is the perfect inspiration for a story of the Rebellion versus the Empire. This is a compelling spy story with some impressive action sequences. It stays grounded, which is the right tone for this type of story. There are also some nice surprises. Finally, if you pay attention to the voice cast, you will recognize a famous French actor. It was quite pleasant to hear him in a Star Wars story.
THE BANDITS OF GOLAK (88 PICTURES)
This is a CG episode that uses an animation style very similar to The Clone Wars. It even seemingly reuses several assets from the series while incorporating an Indian touch to the surroundings. So it definitely is a beautiful visual feast. Once again, this is a story about family. Here, it explores the bond between a brother and his sister. It is an entertaining and heartfelt episode.
THE PIT (D’art Shtajio and Lucasfilm Ltd.)
This is an episode that uses an anime inspired style from the 90s. So, it is visually nice. The story involves the Empire. It is about oppression and standing up for what is right. All in all, it is an inspiring story even though it is a bit clumsy at times. Moreover, it does go to some dark place while delivering a message of hope and that is unexpected. It is still a pleasant surprise. Watch the credits until the end, there is a post-credits scene.
AAU’S SONG (TRIGGERFISH)
Star Wars has found its new cute character with Aau. I think we need a plush of this plush-like character. And I am pretty sure fans will agree after watching this episode. It is a simple story but a lovely one in which music plays an important role. Moreover, this is a colorful episode with nice visuals.
Star Wars Visions returns with a second volume giving voices to studios across the world. It is an incredible season showcasing different stunning visual styles. Each episode is unique, celebrating diverse voices and inspirations while also feeling like an integral part of Star Wars. Visions is definitely a type of series where you can do anything. However, too many episodes rely on using the Empire time period instead of exploring different eras. It is a missed opportunity.
Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 arrives tomorrow on Disney Plus.
Collectables Editor at Future Of The Force.
Star Wars and Marvel specialist, anime expert