Thank the maker — we’re finally getting Star Wars anime. The new anthology series, Star Wars: Visions, premieres nine original animated shorts on Sept. 22 on Disney+.
Visions, according to Star Wars, is a showcase of some of the world’s best anime creators with shorts that celebrate the legends of the Star Wars universe while also introducing “unique takes” on galactic storytelling. While Lucasfilm nor Disney have officially confirmed whether Visions is part of the Star Wars canon or not, an article on StarWars.com suggests the series is not part of the canon continuity. The article notes the “storytelling didn’t have to fit in the timeline.”
Ridding the stories of the constraints of canon “let creators tell the stories they wanted to tell…without a need to tie into the larger chronology.”
Canon or not, the excitement for Visions is real, and the series is made even more exciting by the Visions novel Ronin, which releases Oct. 12.
Ahead of the series premiere, StarWars.com finally gave fans more details about what to expect from the stories, characters and animation style through interviews with executive producer Josh Rimes and producer Kanako Shirasaki. Meet the heroes of Star Wars: Visions.
The Ninth Jedi short comes from Production I.G. and features a story about a mysterious Jedi master trying to revive the Jedi Order. The other main character is Kara, who holds a deep connection to the Force and whose father is a “legendary lightsaber-smith.” And, like Luke Skywalker and Rey, Shirasaki says Kara is “not aware of her hidden power.”
Rimes explained more about Kara:
Thematically, Kara has familiar hopes and dreams as heroes like Luke or Rey. She longs for more, wishes to become a hero and get off her tundra planet where great harpoon cannons farm for kyber crystals from the asteroids above. What’s new, though, is that Kara has a stable, loving relationship to her father. He’s everything to her and she’s everything to him. He has an important job and when trouble comes she must take up her father’s mission and become the hero she’s meant to be — but despite her natural skill, she realizes this adventure is only the beginning and will need all the training she can get as she becomes a part of a group with a mission that’s bigger than herself.
Also like Luke and Rey is Kara getting “caught up in an unexpected destiny” and facing “the ultimate choice of her life,” according to Shirasaki.
Karre and Am
The stars of The Twins short are Dark Side siblings described as a reimagining of the famous Skywalker saga siblings. These twins, however, were purportedly “created by Dark Side forces” in order to have them rule the galaxy from thrones on a Twin Star Destroyer. Despite their upbringing, Karre’s love for his sister shines through the darkness and causes him to question his and his sibling’s destiny and place in the galaxy.
Karre brings a whole new point of view to Star Wars, but it also feels so familiar. He’s fighting for Am, the only family member he’s ever loved or known — and she is against it with every fiber of her being. Karre’s drive to protect and hold onto those he loves can be traced back to Anakin with his love for his mother or for Padmé, and Luke when it comes to his love for his friends and his ultimate forgiveness of his father. He’s making a choice that will forever shape his destiny. What’s really unique is that he’s doing it from an all-powerful position that’s set against a wild, exaggerated, burst of sound and fury and color. But it’s all because he wants his sister to live.
The design of Karre’s Sith attire also takes inspiration from the black armor of Darth Vader, including a mask, a chest plate and a cape. His journey harkens back to the conflicted journeys of Anakin and Luke Skywalker and Rey, who fought against forces that wanted to define and wield them.
“He is a strong believer that you can choose your own destiny and forge your own path,” Shirasaki said.
Dan and Master Tajin
The Elder short is another story exploring the relationship between Jedi master and Padawan learner. A little like Anakin, Rimes described Padawan Dan as “a bit impatient and sarcastic — he just wants to see a little Jedi action.”
Dan’s master, however, is “wise and cautious, but trusting” — sounding a bit like a mix between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn.
Despite his impatience and flashes of sarcasm, Dan brings a sweet, youthful energy to the galaxy. It’s hard not to fall in love with him or see yourself in his shoes. This short really dissects a particular master-student relationship in a really deep and incisive way.
Shirasaki also notes a love for Dan’s twist on the traditional Padawan braid hairstyle by adding shaved lines to the sides of his head. Shirasaki said this and Dan’s curiosity and impatience add to the character’s individuality.
The Village Bride episode features a mysterious character known only as F, a fallen Jedi watching a village’s wedding rituals on the planet Keelia.
Describing F, Rimes said:
From her cloak, to her mask, to her one letter name, F is mysterious, hidden, cautious due to a great tragedy in her past. Despite her Jedi heroics in an earlier time, she is really much more of an observer here as she takes in an unfamiliar world and village and must decide: will she step back into her old Jedi life and reveal herself?
While The Village Bride isn’t as action-packed as other shorts, the episode presents different ideas about the Force and how different galactic peoples understand and interpret it. In the case of Keelia, the planet’s people call the force “Magina” and “use it to connect them with the nature around them,” Shirasaki said.
The tale of The Village Bride is one of F’s observations about the planet and its people alongside recollections of her tragic past. Rimes and Shirasaki describe the short as transcendental and one of bittersweet redemption.
The character Ronin and the short The Duel are directly inspired by Samurai history and Japanese culture and films that influenced much of Star Wars. Also the main character of the Ronin novel, Ronin is a mysterious wanderer and antihero with a droid sidekick wearing a wide straw hat. The Ronin, who takes inspiration from the lore of wandering, masterless Samurai of Feudal Japan, also appears to wield a thin, red lightsaber that he sheaths in a scabbard.
“Ronin is a wanderer, an anti-hero, a mysterious warrior directly influenced by Toshiro Mifune and Kurosawa films like Yojimbo,” Rimes said. “He exists in a realm where old Kurosawa films, manga, Westerns, and Star Wars all collide in a feudal style world full of stormtrooper remnants and alien bodyguard squads…”
Rimes also said more about Ronin is explored in the novel, but his feature short in Visions is “this tale about a man with a strong sense of justice and right and wrong.”
The way he’s animated and performed in both original Japanese and the English dub shows that he really carries the weight of his own past with him on his journey toward self-discovery — and he’ll dispense some eye-popping, lightsaber-clashing justice along the way if he must.
Star Wars: Visions premieres nine animated shorts on Sept. 22 on Disney+.