16.8 C
Munich
Monday, May 20, 2024

Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 Review

Must read

As the Star Wars TV shows have become increasingly complex, tying together multiple animated series and films with their lore and characters, the animated anthology series Star Wars: Visions remains a breath of fresh air. The nine shorts in its second volume embrace the themes and spirit of Star Wars without the baggage of canon while also providing a beautiful showcase of the diverse styles of animation studios around the world.

Even with brief runtimes between 11 and 18 minutes, each episode of Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 manages to feel like a complete and powerful story – and many of them also seem like they could easily become pilots for a new series. Some of the individual characters are so inspired that the creators of future Star Wars shows and stories may become sorely tempted to bring them back.

The volume’s first episode, “Sith,” is its most spectacularly beautiful. Spain’s El Guiri studio brings to life a tale of a repentant Sith seeking to grapple with the darkness inside her through art with lush images heavy on purple, red, and orange. It’s immediately captivating, with the backgrounds of her ship appearing thinly sketched compared to her vibrant works using paints animated by the Force. Its thematic aesthetic is reminiscent of Sabine Wren’s artwork in Star Wars Rebels but pushed further, with the former Sith’s bright vision serving as a psychic battleground that provides a powerful alternative to the usual lightsaber vs. lightsaber combat.

The volume’s first episode, “Sith,” is its most spectacularly beautiful.


“Journey to the Dark Head” also brings novelty to the traditional Sith vs. Jedi duel. The team at Studio Mir, the Korean studio behind The Legend of Korra and The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, are masters of anime-style action, and that skill is shown off in a dramatic tale set at the height of the wars between Jedi and Sith. The episode has both a spectacular setting — a planet that houses two enormous sculptures representing the two sides of the Force — and an ominous villain who uses a chain whip as much as his red lightsaber. It’s one of the shorts that most feels like the start of a new adventure rather than just a standalone story.

Volume 2 does suffer from the same problem as Volume 1 in that there doesn’t seem to have been enough coordination among the studios to avoid overlap in their independant stories. A full third of the episodes, for instance, focus on young girls finding mentors to teach them how to use the Force. Indian studio 88 Pictures has crafted a gorgeous setting positioning the Empire as a parallel to the British Raj in “The Bandit of Golak,” but the ending tale about a boy trying to find a safe haven for his baby sister who attacts too much attention by playfully using the Force leans too heavily into the questionable Jedi ethos of abandoning all attachments. “Aau’s Song” is a more traditional magical girl tale elevated by gorgeous animation from South Africa’s Triggerfish, which gives the feel that the characters are made from felt and string.

A full third of the episodes focus on young girls finding mentors to teach them how to use the Force.


The strongest of the three is “Screecher’s Reach” from Cartoon Saloon, the Academy Award-nominated Irish studio behind The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea. The episode draws on their extensive experience with coming-of-age stories where adventurous kids encounter the supernatural, and then flips it and the very concept of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey on its head to devastating effect. The fact that it’s the second episode of the volume makes the later ones following the same theme feel far too safe by comparison.

This volume also delves significantly more into the political aspects of Star Wars than Volume 1. “In the Stars” uses the same theme of Imperial-led genocide and supresion of indigenous cultures shown in Andor for a touching story of love and loss. Even darker is “The Pit,” a collaboration between Lucasfilm and Japan’s D’ART Shtajio, which involves forced labor, a brutal murder, and a population desperately trying to make the people of a city aware of the atrocities being committed in their own backyard. It’s intense stuff, getting back to the opposition to the wars in Vietnam and Iraq that inspired George Lucas’ films.

The acrobatic movements of the titular diva are gorgeously rendered in flurries of silk and cloth.


The theme of resistance is particularly beautifully executed in “The Spy Dancer” from France’s Studio La Cachette, which follows a Rebel cell operating in a theater frequented by Stormtroopers. The acrobatic movements of the titular diva are gorgeously rendered in flurries of silk and cloth. While the episode reaches a powerful emotional resolution, the plot the Rebels are working on is never truly executed, making it feel like these characters deserve a second outing in a future volume.

Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 Trailer Images

Fans of Volume 1’s most novel story, “Tatooine Rhapsody,” will likely enjoy the similarly lighthearted “I Am Your Mother” from Wallace and Gromit animators Aardman. The goofiest story of the bunch follows a young pilot embarrassed to bring her mother to family race day, where the team to beat is a posh mother-daughter duo armed with their own miniature Death Star. It’s a particularly nice break from the higher-stakes drama of the rest of the series.

Verdict

While the themes of Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 can be a bit repetitive, the diversity of characters and animation styles presented in tight episodes makes it well worth watching. Alternately goofy, political, sweet, and thrilling, the show celebrates the broad reach of Star Wars and provides plenty of characters and plots compelling enough to anchor their own spinoffs.

- Advertisement -

More articles

- Advertisement -

Latest article