Star Wars: Visions producers discuss how anime and Star Wars go together

Star Wars: Visions. The Inquisitor, “T0-B1.” Photo: Disney+.
Star Wars: Visions. The Inquisitor, “T0-B1.” Photo: Disney+. /

Star Wars: Visions has brought to life a completely new take on the Star Wars universe, and has intertwined the world of anime with a galaxy far, far away. Now, the production team behind the show has shared some new details about their creation and creative process.

In an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter, executive producer James Waugh spoke about bringing Star Wars: Visions to life, and basing the show on some of the same things that originally inspired George Lucas to create Star Wars in the first place.

It is well known that legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa was extremely influential to Lucas, and samurai mythology and Japanese cinema share many of the same motifs that can be seen throughout the Star Wars franchise. Waugh wanted to meld that same Japanese culture and history into his new show, especially when it came to the animated aspect.

“The goal with Visions was always that we wanted this to be authentic Japanese anime,” Waugh told The Hollywood Reporter. “We wanted it to be a true expression from these individual creators in a process that they’re used to.”

Waugh also explained that Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy was a big driving force behind the show, and shared some of the same excitement in bringing a unique art form to Star Wars.

“[Kennedy is] also a huge animation fan and a huge anime fan… and so at a certain point, there was definitely a conversation of, ‘everybody keeps talking about how much they like this.'”

Waugh was joined in the interview by fellow executive producers Josh Rimes and Jacqui Lopez. Rimes stated that he felt the great union of Star Wars and anime “came from the DNA of the old Akira Kurosawa films. It’s those films that George discovered growing up in his USC day that just really inspired him.”

Lopez added that part of the charm of anime and why it works with Star Wars is the storytelling. “Most of the anime I’ve been watching is all about a different universe. You suspend your belief very easily in anime, and you have a set of rules that can be crazy rules,” she said. “But in the end, there’s so much heart in it, and there’s a lot about doing the right thing for the underdog and helping people. And then it’s just the iconography. The style lends itself so well to Star Wars.”

Producer Kanako Shirasaki, who also lent his voice to the interview, echoed that many of these values can be found in both Star Wars and traditional anime. “The core of a Star Wars story is about family, friends, and what you believe in. And that’s very universal in any storytelling, which also echoes in Japanese animation.”

The group remained mostly mum on upcoming plans, but did say that nothing was off the table when it comes to a potential animation to live-action jump. Additionally, the team praised Disney+ for allowing them to make a bold show like Visions, and that there were “a lot of great things to do with Star Wars that are completely unexpected.” What this means for the future, only time will tell.

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Star Wars: Visions is available to stream now exclusively on Disney+. For more Star Wars news, keep up with Dork Side of the Force.