Star Wars - Visions review: Nine innovative takes on the iconic franchise, each clear in its vision
 
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Star Wars - Visions review: Nine innovative takes on the iconic franchise, each clear in its vision

Six Japanese anime studios take iconic Star Wars characters to offer a new and unique perspective on the franchise. 

3.5
Shaheen Irani
Sep 23, 2021
cover image
Star Wars: Visions
Story:

While one community of people wish to bring about the Seth rule, the other wants to see the rebirth of Jedi. Star Wars: Visions is a constant war between the two, to see which community survives and which falls. 

Six Japanese anime studios come together to present their version of Star Wars. Every episode has something new to offer while trying to keep the very essence of Star Wars.

Review:

Ever imagined what the coming together of every Star Wars movie and show released looks like? The newly-released Star Wars: Visions makes that vision come alive.

The series commences like the iconic franchise and evokes nostalgia right at the beginning. While nostalgic, it tends to get a bit off too, which is once again expected from something that tries to replicate the original films. Although the first scene is a flashback to Star Wars, soon we reach The Mandalorian era, where war is a common sight.

R2D2 makes an appearance early on and it has the same crazy impact like it did in Star Wars. New characters are introduced in these series. None of the iconic Jedi characters is repeated, which aligns with the series’ attempt at novelty.

The lightsabers are also back in the most stylish fashion. The lines between Jedi and Samurai are blurred in the series, making it a cool blend of both worlds.

Visions also recreate a scene from Naruto in monochrome. The waterfall where Naruto trains with Killer Bee as well as the cave where Sasuke passes thunder through the waterfall, are both incorporated in a single scene.

The style matches animator-filmmaker Takanobu Mizuno’s previous works, who has worked on projects like Sound & Fury and Tsukikage No Tokio. He paves way for something brilliant that does not disappoint.

There is an interesting and entertaining beginning to the second episode. It goes on to the extent that you almost forget you are watching Star Wars which excelled in intense yet heartwarming scenes.

Jabba, from The Mandalorian, makes an appearance in the episode. Soon after, The Mandalorian and his spaceship are also actually introduced to the series.

This time, the story revolves around a frog, a three-faced devil and their gang. They travel with another robot - V-5 - who resembles a truck with the antenna-meets-a speaker.

While Star Wars isn't known for its songs, Visions changes all that for it. With lyrics close to BTS' Love Yourself motto, the series has an incredible song that brings the energy of the episode to another level!

Taku Kimura, who has worked in various anime, including Naruto: Shippuden, as voice actor and director, has managed to take the level of the series up with the episode.

The real Star Wars, however, begins in the third episode. Darth Vader is seen in this episode. Renamed Karre in the series, he takes control of Stormtroopers in the recreation of the Star Wars aircraft. This time around, he has a robot, R-Duo (what you could describe as an older version of R2D2), to himself. The Star Destroyer too exists in this series, heightening the excitement that all Star Wars fans experienced when the instalment was first released. This spaceship plays an important role later on in the series but the excitement doesn't come close to what you would have experienced when Luke Skywalker managed to destroy it in Star Wars.

C3PO has teamed up with Karre's sister Am this time around. He is renamed B-2ON and follows orders without goofing around.

The series brings in the female as more powerful than men. While Star Wars had Princess Leia, it also had Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. With Visions, you very rarely see any of the trios leave a mark as much as the females do.

Karre reveals his identity early on, leaving very little to the imagination. Am, on the other hand, has a few tricks up her sleeve which she does not let out instantly.

The fight between the siblings itself is the highlight of the series, helmed by Hiroyuki Imaishi. He has managed to give the lightsaber immense power, thus making even violence a beautiful sight.

We come across a princess but she doesn't seem inspired by Leia. The princess has a companion who, along with her, hopes to see a change in the world. This episode begins on a spiritual note.

Another lady with a mask is introduced, who closely resembles Leia's introduction scene when people were still trying to understand the plot of Star Wars.

She is already seen in the company of a male companion, who resembles Han Solo. For the uninitiated, Han Solo and Princess Leia ended up marrying each other while exploring the wars and their complexities together. Not just that, this mysterious lady is later introduced as someone who has similar powers as Leia.

The droids from The Mandalorian are back too. They do not have much role but in the limited space, they tend to take you back in time. Similarly, the Jedi prove their 'force' in the most marvellous ways like always.

While the Leia look alike departs for her adventure, the man stays back to help the villagers with their day-to-day chores.

Hitoshi Haga, who has worked on Pokemon and Soul Eater previously, complicates the plot a little but not to the extent that you want to completely shun it. However, giving more insight into the characters would be a bonus for this episode.

Margrave Juro, who replaces Darth Vader in this tribute to Star Wars, is introduced as the ruler of the planet Hy Izlan. His introduction is quite out of the world and graphic, literally.

The series has a new take on Master Yoda. It has replaced the green-coloured cutie with a half-human half-elephant named Hanbie. Luke Skywalker appears to be replaced by a man named Ethan in the series.

This time around, though, the surviving fighters are from the Dark Side. Juro, on the other hand, wishes to restore the Jedi. He has magical powers and the fighting level of Darth Vader from the original franchise films.

The iconic flying bike featuring Luke Skywalker from Star Wars, also makes an appearance, only this time with a female named Kara and a droid called Four-Nine supporting her. Kara's story will take you back to Rey's story. Like Rey, even Kara is a natural with lightsabers. She is most probably 'The Last Jedi' among all of them.

Lah Zhima, who plays a selfless father willing to fight evil to protect his daughter, is also on a trip back to Star Wars. However, following the common practice in Visions, there is no follow-up on Lah's character.

We then come across an action sequence in a forest, which is a nostalgic flashback to when Princess Leia and Han Solo met and fell in love. The scenario is completely different this time though.

Once again, the backdrop is a beautiful setup. Imagine a bike on ice while the sun rises far away. This episode is a visual delight in the whole of the series.

Kenju Kamyama, who has worked on the anime versions of popular films like Ghost In The Shell, Blade Runner and The Lord Of The Rings, comes closest to retaining the essence of Star Wars and yet, bringing about a major twist to it.

As the story progresses, we come across a half-human half-gorilla named Hazen. He appears to be a tribute to Chewbacca. However, unlike the original Chewbacca, he talks in the human language

Soon, we meet TO-B1 (Tobi), who is a child robot. Professor Mitake is a person who makes droids. He comes as a surprise.

The Professor gives birth to both TO-B1 as well as C03. The two are a force to reckon with, just like R2D2 and CP3O in the original franchise films.

The series takes us into the droid world too, stating how they also hope to be Jedi in the godforsaken world.

Spanish animator Abel Gongora, best remembered for the American series OK K.O! Let's Be Heroes, has worked on the episode. Bringing a perspective of the droid to the forefront was a bold move that he pulled off effortlessly. Thus, kudos to him for managing that within the limited time frame.

The series is also refreshing since it doesn't give in to the old American ideology and introduces a black Padawan (young Jedi) named Den. He is trained by the Jedi-samurai warrior who we meet in the first episode.

However, Den has a weird and perverted way of greeting children. He winks at them and they wink back at him.

Masahiko Otsuka, who had worked on Little Witch Academia (appearing to be a take on the much-loved anime My Hero Academia), has worked on the seventh episode of the series. His world comes closer to the battle between hostile training and how a master always stands up for his student no matter what. This balance is what makes the episode almost perfect.

The Empire is introduced in the eighth episode and they are on land this time around. Here, you come across a story between blood-related and adopted family members.

The traditional Japanese house is also a part of this episode. The Yasaburo household has a secret you barely see coming. Flying cars are also no longer a dream in this series.

The only disappointing part with Visions is that it doesn’t complete what it begins. A different story is introduced with every episode but left right there. Very rarely do the characters repeat and thus, it gets difficult to follow the pattern of the story/stories.

Mob Psycho animator Yuki Igarashi turned the director for this episode. While he flawlessly points out the irony in the story, sadly, this part does not have a link anywhere with the series.

Princess Leia as Misa appears at last. She is seen with a man dressed up as Han Solo. He is introduced as a Jedi named Tsubaki.

There is also more than one reference to Orochimaru from Naruto in the series. This episode sees Princess Leia's lookalike Misa stating that Orochi had attacked a village (which in Naruto, was Konoha). In episode eight, too, the female protagonist-turned-antagonist dressed up the same way as the powerful ninja from the Sannin.

The episode ends on an unfortunate note but one that you would see coming if you follow Japanese anime closely.

Budding animator Eunyoung Choi has helmed this episode. While she shows promise with the story, it comes together a little too late.

Verdict:

Star Wars: Visions pays tribute to the iconic franchise nine times. Although it isn't possible to love every episode, most of these bring something new to the table which cannot be shunned. Thus, Visions can be your watch for the weekend as it doesn't even need to be viewed at a stretch.

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