Star Wars: Visions, an anime-inspired anthology series, has finally premiered on Disney+ on Wednesday, took a while to happen.
The concept of a Star Wars anime anthology is as natural as the Force itself for a story whose roots were largely influenced by George Lucas’ admiration of Akira Kurosawa’s masterpieces.
Visions is directed by Akira Kurosaw, recognized as one of the most significant and influential film directors in cinema history, having made 30 films over the course of a 57-year career.
“‘Star Wars’ has been so influenced by Japanese culture from Kurosawa films to jidaigeki (Period Samurai) films (from which the Jedi name is derived) to Zen Buddhism and its impact on the Force,” said executive producer James Waugh of Lucasfilm.
“We’ve been talking about doing (‘Star Wars’ anime) for a long time, but we couldn’t make it happen until the force of nature that’s Disney+,” he added.
Visions brings an exciting voyage, with famous Star Wars visuals seamlessly blending with Japanese animation styles. Seven Japanese animation studios present their original animated take on a slice of the Light & Dark Side in 9 animated episodes from 13 to 22 minutes.
Each episode of Star Wars: Visions bridges the gap between two polar views of the series, presenting storylines that are firmly anchored in both anime storytelling standards and Star Wars animation principles.
The first episode, “The Duel,” is heavily influenced by Kurosawa and follows the story of a mysterious Ronin (voiced in English by Brian Tee and in Japanese by Masaki Terasoma) who saves a community from a bunch of criminals dressed in Stormtrooper equipment. They’re commanded by Lucy Liu/Akeno Watanabe, who plays a fearsome dark lord. In their 13- to 22-minute runtimes, the following episodes deliver a wide range of stories. Each one sets its atmosphere and draws emotion in an instant.
The anime series provides the open-ended Star Wars franchise a clearer route ahead by allowing Japanese anime directors to envision new corners of the Star Wars universe. With a great cast and lightsaber battles that will linger in your mind, Star Wars: Visions is Star Wars at its most creative and aesthetically beautiful.
“Star Wars: Visions” is now available to stream exclusively on Disney Plus. All nine episodes premiered on September 22.
Watch the Star Wars: Visions trailer here: