Disney released its Japanese-infused take on the Star Wars universe with Star Wars Visions, an anthology series where every episode is directed by a different anime studio. It’s fantastic, a breath of fresh air to the franchise, and some of the most beautifully animated content to come out of the Star Wars universe. More importantly, Star Wars Visions once again proves that for a little more than the past 10 years, Star Wars television is just better than Star Wars film in every way. That’s my hot take and I’m sticking to it.
There is just a lot that Star Wars Visions gets right. After binging the nine-episode series, there was a lot to think about. My biggest takeaway is how much the rest of the Star Wars universe should be more like Star Wars Visions. The franchise has stumbled trying to crawl its way out of the original trilogy’s shadow. There are obvious lessons in the way Visions is structured that can help the series remedy that. To understand what I’m trying to say, you have to understand why Star Wars Visions is so great.
The Galaxy is Vast
Star Wars takes place in a galaxy far, far away, right? A galaxy so large and vast that it’s almost infinite, filled with hundreds of planets and aliens. So why is it that the franchise seems to recycle the same kind of sand planets, jungled forest, crowded city slums, and spaceships made of narrow corridors? Somewhere along the way, Star Wars became so concerned about paying homage to the original trilogy that most of its high-profile content recycles or mimics that same kind of setting. Hell, the planet Lothal in Rebels is just Tatooine with wolves.
Visions brings whole new worlds to the franchise that just feel different from anything we’ve seen before, and it makes sense. In a galaxy so large and endless, there should be all types of planets as far as the eye can see. Visions delivers with planets that feature Japanese-styled villages, bright and vibrant floral mountaintops, dream-like futuristic fields, a secret jedi temple right beneath the moon and a whole lot more. They are visually spectacular areas that feel fresh and different than anything we’ve seen in Star Wars before.
The Galaxy is Made Up of Millions of Stories
It’s no secret that I love anthologies. I have been living my best life over the past month with What If…? and Star Wars Visions dropping at the same time. Anthologies work so well because they tell complete and varied stories. Every episode of Visions takes you to a different part of the galaxy. Each world and story is only loosely connected by the greater elements of the Star Wars universe – the Force, the tech, and the Jedi/Sith. Each episode is allowed to tell its own story, giving us great content as we’ve never seen before.
What if the rest of Star Wars worked the same way? In fact, that’s how their television series work now, and we enjoy it. Each movie should be an original story. Not sequels, not prequels. Just a story featuring a galaxy far, far, away and the elements of Star Wars. It gives creators so much freedom to play around with the universe. When you watch Visions, it doesn’t just feel like nine different animated episodes but nine different pitches for great Star Wars movies.
One where a Ronin with a mysterious past hunts down sith and protects those he meets on his travels. Another one, where Jedi survivors band together with the hope of staying alive. Or perhaps a film about a little droid whose dream of being a Jedi connects him to the force in a way we thought impossible. So many unique ideas are born from being separated from the shackles of the original trilogy.
The Galaxy is Not Just the Skywalkers
Speaking of the original trilogy, it’s about time we left that story and its characters behind, yeah? What makes Visions work so well is how loosely connected it is to all that drama. Maybe two well-known characters (Boba Fett and Jaba the Hutt) from the original trilogy make an appearance, and they barely affect the story. This is why spin-offs like Rogue One works so well. Yes, that film adds to the overall lore of Star Wars, but it doesn’t rely on the Skywalker family drama or old characters to enjoy.
We don’t need trilogies anymore, or at least not for a long time. Let’s be real, we can all use a break from the Skywalkers. That story is done. Don’t get me wrong. Grand sagas are epic in nature but extremely hard to pull off. And when you don’t plan trilogies out *cough* *cough* sequel trilogy *cough* *cough* you end up with a mess of movies that have no narrative cohesion or just plain suck. One reason the MCU works so well is that even though all its films are connected, each one is allowed to tell its own amazing tale. Films are only expanded upon as needed and not to fill out a 3-movie quota.
There are already a couple of great episodes from Visions that I would love to see turned into their own full-length anime (“The Duel,” “The Ninth Jedi,” “Lop,” and “Ochō”). A lot of that feeling comes from these new characters introduced in each episode. And while Star Wars Visions’ big fault is that it focuses a little too much on the Jedi, these characters still feel very separated from any of the Jedi we have seen before, and their situation moves beyond that family dynamic the original trilogy is stuck in.
What do you think? Did you like Visions and the new perspective Japanese creators brought to the universe? Should Star Wars take Visions’ approach when it comes to making new films? Let me know what you think in the comments.