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.
It took me a long time to truly appreciate Akakiri. As Science SARU’s second entry after TO-B1, I did appreciate it had a completely different tone and style from the cute Astroboy-inspired episode earlier in the season. Still, I struggled with this short for a long time. I thought it was a real bummer tone to end Star Wars: Visions on. But the more I sat with Akakiri, I began to see it in a different light. Each time I watched it, I came to appreciate the story more and more. That’s because I had a realization after talking with a friend of mine about Rey and Ben Solo’s relationship.
The truth is Akakiri is one of the most hopeful Star Wars endings on screen. It’s just super subtle about it.
The story of Tsubaki and Misa is a familiar one we’ve seen over and over. A Jedi falls in love with someone they aren’t supposed to be with. It has notes of Anakin and Padme as Anakin’s visions end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy leading to Padme’s death. Misa is royalty like how Satine Kryze was a Duchess despite being in love with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Ben Solo and Rey along with Hera Syndulla and Kanan Jarrus never get to live happily with their loved ones because of the deaths of Ben and Kanan. Misa doesn’t get her happy ending with Tsubaki as he has fallen to the Dark Side and leaves with the Sith Lord, Masago.
That last point is where Akakiri differs from all the previously mentioned romantic couples. It is what separates it from a normal Star Wars story. Misa and Tsubaki are both alive at the end of the episode. Neither dies like Padme, Ben, Satine, or Kanan. On the surface, Akakiri seems like a tragic ending. But because they both live, it means there is always hope. There is hope that Misa will keep fighting for her love. There is hope she will find Tsubaki again. There is hope that he will come back to the Light Side. They get something that none of the other listed couples have which is a chance to live. That is a heck of a subtle message, but boy is it the most inspiring one. It’s so easy to kill characters. The harder narrative choice which is often the more interesting one is keeping them alive to continue forward. They lived, and that is hope at its core.
Henry Golding and Jamie Chung shine as Misa and Tsubaki, especially in the quieter romantic scenes. Also, how could you not love Keone Young and George Takei teamed up as the lovable duo of Kamahachi and Senshu? But it is hands down Lorraine Toussaint who steals the show for me as Masago. I love, love, love her as Shadow Weaver in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. I screamed when I heard her voice in Akakiri as she gave a nuanced and menacing performance to this Sith Lord.
Akakiri is such a beautiful and haunting final entry in Star Wars: Visions‘ first season. It begs to be rewatched over and over again. The layers unravel more each time to really showcase the artistry in this short. Out of all of the episodes, Akakiri is the one that continues to have me thinking about it a year later. Its staying power has left its mark on the franchise. I can only hope that one day, we get the next part of Misa and Tsubaki’s story.
Thank you for coming on this journey for Visions Remembered. Star Wars: Visions is exclusively on Disney Plus. Season two will air in spring 2023.