When Star Wars: Visions premieres, fans will finally see anime set in a galaxy far, far away. Visions features nine animated shorts from some of the biggest names in anime production. The first season drops on Sept. 22 on Disney+.
With those shorts come unique takes on Star Wars lore and legend and a new crop of characters — some heroes, some villains and many taking inspiration from stories and characters of the Skywalker saga.
StarWars.com recently introduced several heroes we’ll meet in Visions, including Karre of The Twins short and Ronin of The Duel short. Now, it’s time to meet the villains. Here’s what co-executive producer Justin Leach has to say about five of the antagonists we’ll see in Star Wars: Visions.
According to Leach, though the titular character in The Elder appears and acts like a Sith, the Elder “is clearly more focused on mastering his skills than following their ideology.” Like Ronin in The Duel, the Elder is mysterious and keeps the audience guessing about his true origins and motivations.
Leach described the Elder as a “master swordsman seeking worthy adversaries”:
"Since his motivations seem to be more about mastering his skill in combat and less about gaining power, this adds a new dimension to the Sith archetype."
The designer of the character, Kamome Shirahama, was influenced by classic anime style, Star Wars myth and Samurai lore, Leach said. The Elder also has a katana-shaped lightsaber with dual blades, which Leach said is a tribute to the Japanese source material that originally inspired many parts of the Star Wars universe.
The twin sister to Karre, Am is the antagonist of The Twins short. While these twins are both Dark Side siblings, Karre’s love for his sister pushes him to question his and their destiny, including the forces that created the two to rule the galaxy. Am, however, is “consumed by her desire for power, and blind to the danger she faces,” according to Leach.
In both character and appearance, Leach said Am is much more than a representation of a traditional Sith lord. Extremely powerful in the dark side of the Force with terrifying ambition, Am can also wield her power through “weaponized armor” in a “truly unique expression of the dark side.”
With both Karre’s attire and Am’s armor, Leach said character designer Shigeto Koyama reimagined the look of a Sith lord by combining elements of Darth Vader’s suit with classic anime style. One of the most chilling and captivating aspects of Am’s armor is its extra appendages and special Kyber crystal that allow the dark side sister to “wield an array of lightsabers that can take the shape of a blade or a whip.”
"“Am takes being a Dark Lord to the next level with her drive, ambition, and skill on a scale that could only be expressed through anime,” Leach said. “It flips the classic Star Wars twins upside down in a way that is now and exciting.”"
Another mysterious Dark Side user, Masago is the “burdened with glorious purpose” antagonist of the Akakiri short. The bold design of Masago is intended to echo the character’s looming strength and desire to fulfill her purportedly immovable destiny.
Designer Naoyuki Asano explains:
"With a great deal of strength and weight in the design, her broad shoulders and physical presence are palpable. Her red eyes, imbued with the Dark Side of the Force, create the impression of a soul full of darkness, ambition, and hunger for power."
Sith Bandit Leader
With hand-drawn details set in black and white with brief appearances of color (mostly red), the animation style of The Duel makes it one of the most striking of Star Wars: Visions. While the key protagonist of the short is Ronin, a mysterious wandering warrior wielding a sheathed lightsaber, the chief antagonist is the Sith Bandit Leader, who takes direct inspiration from female samurai history and 1970s Japanese film.
Even before seeing the Sith Bandit Leader in action, Star Wars said it’s clear “this woman is a force to be reckoned with, a powerful presence realize through careful line work.”
"“(Designer) Okazaki-san’s passion and love for Star Wars comes across clearly in his designs and The Bandit Leader is no exception,” Leach notes, a skillful combination of traditional Japanese culture and Star Wars mythology."
In The Duel, Ronin encounters the Sith Bandit Leader and must step in to help a village of innocent people from the warrior and her cronies. This is when we see one of the most unique lightsabers in all of Star Wars — a spinning lightsaber umbrella, which was teased in the series’ trailer.
The short T0-B1 features a droid pretending to be a Jedi post-Order 66, which prompts the arrival of a Dark Side Inquisitor. Inquisitors were some of the key antagonists of the Star Wars Rebels animated series — Force-sensitive beings wielding red lightsabers who were tasked by the Empire to hunt down any remaining Jedi and Force-sensitive children.
In the Visions short, this Inquisitor also seeks to eliminate any remnants of the Light Side of the Force. But his design is “reminiscent of a medieval black night with modern details,” Leach said.
Star Wars adds:
"There’s a primal element to the Inquisitor, an instinctive menace that is expressed in the short through the animation style. “As he fights, he becomes more animal-like, exposing a mouth full of teeth as he screams in anger,” Leach said."
Star Wars: Visions premieres all nine anime shorts on Sept. 22 on Disney+.