To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Star Wars: Visions is an animated anthology series created by James Waugh for Disney+. The international voice cast includes the talents of Úrsula Corberó, Luis Tosar, Anjelica Huston, Kate Dickie, Amparo Noguera, Maxine Peake, Charithra Chandran, Daisy Haggard, Bebe Cave, Denis Lawson, Ashley Park, Eugene Lee Yang, Daniel Dae Kim, Greg Chun, Camille Cottin, Lambert Wilson, Suraj Sharma, Sonal Kaushal, Neeraj Kabi, Lillete Dubey, Sahil Vaid, Daveed Diggs, Anika Noni Rose, Cedric Yarbrough, Steven Blum, Matthew Wood, Cynthia Erivo, and many more. Volume II consists of nine animated short films produced by animation studios around the world – El Guiri (Spain), Cartoon Saloon (Ireland), Punkrobot (Chile), Aardman (United Kingdom), Studio Mir (South Korea), Studio La Cachette (France), 88 Pictures (India), Triggerfish (South Africa), and D’art Shtajio (Japan) along with Lucasfilm (United States) – each telling their own original stories based on the Star Wars universe.
Off the heels of a widely enjoyed first season of Star Wars: Visions the second season delivers in spades. This season the episodes are “Sith” by El Guiri, “Screecher’s Reach” by Cartoon Saloon, “In the Stars” by Punkrobot, “I Am Your Mother” by Aardman, “Journey to the Dark Head” by Studio Mir, “The Spy Dancer” by Studio La Cachette, “The Bandits of Golak” by 88 Pictures, “The Pit” by D’Art Shtajio and Lucasfilm, and “Aau’s Song” by Triggerfish. Volume II is really enjoyable and its style and presentation continue to be widely different from other Star Wars animated series and that’s including Volume I. While there is still a heavy anime influence, a few episodes take inspiration elsewhere. “I Am Your Mother” is made using stop-motion and clay animation techniques popularized by Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep. “In the Stars” and “Aau’s Song” looks to be stop-motion as well, but the characters have more texture to them as if they are made of wool and other fabrics. “Screecher’s Reach” has more of a paintbrush aesthetic while “Sith” features a stylized comic book style of animation reminiscent of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
With the series being an anthology, I think the differing animation styles brought on by the variety of studios from around the world should continue in future seasons. Even though I like the episodes that look like traditional anime, more styles will help bring in more viewers. The same goes for the voice talent and the stories. This season has more ethnicities, accents, and cultures infused into the storytelling. For the longest time, Star Wars has felt like its universe was mostly populated by Aliens and White people. There’s just something about seeing an Indian Jedi that felt inspirational. Even though there is no India in a galaxy far far away, the representation matters even if it’s only animated. Also bringing in studios from different countries will also bring in their viewers. I’m not sure how many Irish Star Wars fans there are, but I’m sure there will be a few more after this season.
The standout episodes are “Journey to the Dark Head” by Studio Mir, “The Spy Dancer” by Studio La Cachette, and “The Bandits of Golak” by 88 Pictures. “Journey to the Dark Head” follows Ara (Ashley Park), a mechanic as she teams up with a Jedi Padawan named Toul (Eugene Lee Yang) in an attempt to stop a prophecy from coming true. This episode feels more like a traditional anime which is right up my alley. The fight choreography and animation are stunning. The villain Bichan (Daniel Dae Kim) has a unique lightsaber that makes for a deadly fighting style. The story seems to be set during the High Republic judging by the robes the Jedi wear which is an era we have not seen much of yet. “The Spy Dancer” follows Loi’e (Camille Cottin), an alien dancer who leads a faction of the Rebel Alliance which consists of her entire dance troupe. Fans of Andor should love this episode as it doesn’t focus on Jedi or Sith but on the Rebels who are fighting on the front lines. The spy motif is thrilling and the twist is well-written. “The Bandits of Golak” follows siblings Charuk (Suraj Sharma) and Rani (Sonal Kaushal) as they make their way to the city of Golak. Rani is Force-sensitive and must keep her abilities a secret before she is found by the Empire. What stands out about this episode is the Indian culture that is on display. All of the clothing and characters appear to be of Indian descent. Even the alien Inquisitor (Neeraj Kabi) following them is garbed in Indian-themed attire. And don’t let me get started on Rugal (Lillete Dubey) and her duel lightsaber cane!
With all the great ideas and themes that are present in this anthology, it’s sad to know that they aren’t canon. This series adds much-needed character and storytelling diversity to a galaxy far away. I give Star Wars: Visions Volume II a Good 4/5. This show continues to impress, and I can’t wait to see what studios Lucasfilm brings in for Volume III. It would be nice if they looked in-house to see what Pixar could come up with. Or even allowed fans to submit shorts for possible inclusion. The internet is already filled with tons of Star Wars fan films, it would make things slightly easier for Disney.