Star Wars: Visions remembered: TO-B1

"T0-B1." Star Wars: Visions. Courtesy of
"T0-B1." Star Wars: Visions. Courtesy of /

With season two of Star Wars: Visions coming in 2023, I wanted to look back at each short from season one and celebrate why they’re great. This is Visions Remembered.

Astro Boy is considered one of Japan’s most iconic anime series. It’s often considered the first successful anime in the United States to help the rise of the medium in Western cultures. So it’s no surprise that one of the Star Wars: Visions shorts would pay homage to the series with TO-B1. And of course, there are plenty of nods to Mega Man too in there too!

Like The Twins and The Elder both from Studio Trigger, I like watching TO-B1 back to back with a later entry in this series being Akakiri. That’s because they’re both from studio Science SARU. It shows the range of the studio by showcasing the more cute side of their work versus the darker undertones of Visions’ final episode. It’s pretty special to point to two separate kinds of stories and see what makes a studio great.

TO-B1 is a breath of fresh air in the middle of the season as it’s right in between the darker episodes in Visions’ backend. That’s where this episode is so deceptive though. It lures you in with its simple color palette of TO-B1’s day-to-day adventures with his adorable droid friends. It seems to be a fun romp and not much more than that as he dreams of being a real Jedi. This is where the story is turned on its head with the gut punch when his Jedi adoptive father/maker, Professor Mitaka, gets murdered to save TO-B1 with the arrival of a truly terrifying Inquisitor. I wish that Inquisitor was canon because that’s an awesome design. He’s scary as heck, and such a threatening presence thanks to Neil Kaplan’s sinister performance.

The heart of the story is of course TO-B1 and his search to become a real Jedi. Jaden Waldman brings such innocence and heartbreak into the role making you really feel for this little droid. TO-B1 comes to realize his dreams have consequences as he’s the one who accidentally leads to his father’s death. Instead of giving up, he carries on his father’s legacy by continuing his work. I love the symbolism in trying to heal Tatooine by nurturing plants in this desert world. With context from other shows like Book of Boba Fett that Tatooine once had oceans and was a lush world, it adds to the story that with hard work, patience, and love, even a barren place like Tatooine can heal in time. Anyone can make a better future despite the scars we bare. Legacy is what you make it, and TO-B1’s legacy is his father’s love through his work to heal this world. It’s a beautiful story.

Also to note, it’s always great to see some stellar representation of disabled people. Professor Mitaka doesn’t have arms. Unlike so many other Star Wars stories, he doesn’t have cybernetic prosthetics to aid him. He doesn’t need it. He’s fully capable to do his work without it. This was a surprise, especially in Star Wars which relies so heavily on technology to “fix” people who are missing limbs. But TO-B1 does a great job to show that there is nothing to “fix” on Mitaka. He’s perfect the way he is.

I love looking at TO-B1’s drawings on the walls of his home. There are so many little clues to his dreams and aspirations in there. I also have to wonder how much of that is a nod to other series and shows. It reminds me a lot of the caves on Lothal in season four of Star Wars Rebels. If that is a connection, it’s a subtle one that I appreciate.

TO-B1 seems cute and simple on the surface, but it’s an episode with so many layers to it. It’s just as important as any of the other episodes of Star Wars: Visions exploring love, loss, and legacy. Don’t skip this episode, because it is deceptively good once you look past the bright and playful exterior.

Next time on Visions Remembered, I’m going to tackle my second favorite episode of season one. It’s unique because it’s the only one that explores the more traditional nature of the master-padawan relationship. Come back next time to see me talk about The Elder.

Star Wars: Visions is exclusively on Disney Plus. Season two will air in spring 2023.