STAR WARS: VISIONS -- VOLUME 2 Review: World Animation Showcase
Shorts from Chile, France, Japan, India, Ireland, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, the U.K. and the U.S. debut on Disney Plus.
"Star wars, nothing but star wars." -- Bill Murray.
Star Wars: Visions -- Volume 2
The second season debuts May 4, 2023, on the Disney Plus streaming service worldwide. I've seen all nine episodes.
George Lucas' Star Wars has always required patience.
In the last century, three years passed between the original film and each of its sequels. Sixteen years passed before the second trilogy commenced, with similar timing for its sequels. Ten more years passed before this century's trilogy began, with just two years between films, and two stand-alone entries jammed in between them, making five films in four years.
That's a lotta Star Wars, not even counting the bevy of animated and live-action shows produced by Disney and Marvel over the years.
In view of all that, and putting aside valid arguments that Disney is milking the entire concept dry, the emergence of Star Wars: Visions remains ... cool.
Released in September 2021, the seven episodes produced by Japanese animation studios were all "varying levels of fabulous," as I wrote at the time. For its second season, the invitation to create has been extended worldwide, and the results are, again, fabulous.
What I enjoy as much as anything about this season is that every culture which has embraced Star Wars interprets it through its own unique perspective. The stories are, first of all, good short stories. (Each episode runs 13-18 minutes.) They all have a beginning, middle, and end, and all feature elements from the Star Wars universe -- lightsabers, droids, and so forth -- as well as themes that will sound familiar, yet play out differently in each episode.
Most deal with family issues of one kind of another: siblings, mother/daughter, father/daughter. Several have to do with young people leaving home, which circles back to the very first film. All are expressed in different styles (impressionistic to clay to "traditional" anime) and develop different storytelling vibes (mystical, ghostly, comical, protest, wistful).
Like my father, I don't have any favorite children, but I throughly enjoyed them all: Sith (El Guiri Studios, Spain), about an artist; the ghost story Screecher's Reach (Cartoon Saloon, Ireland); the clay story In the Stars, where a young woman and a young charge go on an adventure (Punkrobot Studio, Chile); the extremely amusing and clever I Am Your Mother (Aardman); Journey to the Dark Head, a buddy-drama adventure (Studio Mir, South Korea); The Spy Dancer, a wild adventure that is very, very French (Studio La Cachete, France); The Bandits of Golak, a train thriller with a great ending (88 Pictures, India); The Pit, a unique protest story about imprisoned workers (D'art Shtajio, Japan); and Aau's Song, a beautiful tale about a young girl whose singing voice has more power than she imagined (Triggerfish, South Africa).
Anjelica Huston, Daveed Diggs, Cynthia Erivo are a few names that I jotted down as I watched, but all the voices, celebrity or not, are well-chosen for the English dubs. I'm hoping that original-language versions will be available, as well, because this is a series that I intend to watch again to fully savor all the international flavors on offer.
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Star Wars: Visions
- Michael Sinterniklaas
- Neil Kaplan
- Adam Sietz