Well done on this essay; I’m an absolute cinephile, and interested in film history and analysis, so I really enjoyed reading it. I’ve particularly noticed the fantastical approach taken in The Mandalorian, with things like the tracking fob which make no sense to me but are better for the story, and settings like Trask - where we have a fishing town with woollen-jumper-wearing Mon Calamari - ground the show firmly in the fantasy genre. After what you’ve said, I’ll be looking out for more expressionist, surreal locations or features in future content.
I think sci-fi is actually quite hard to define. Yes, Star Wars has never made any scientific sense, but that doesn’t necessarily prevent it from being science fiction. Particularly in movies, a simplistic approach to defining sci-fi is looking at the iconography: Star Wars has spaceships, robots and laser guns, so in a very tight genre expectation of SF, it counts. I personally think what defines sci-fi is having a material cause, or explanation: for example, if a person wakes up one morning and they’ve magically turned into an ant, it’s fantasy; if that person invents a mutation machine that causes them to turn into an ant, however stupid, it’s sci-fi. Star Wars usually does have these material explanations dating back to the original films, like hyperdrives. Although I’d never classify Star Wars as pure science fiction, it’s sci-fi/fantasy to me.