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Star Wars: Visions (animated short films) - a general discussion thread - * SPOILERS * — Page 2

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Watched the first four shorts so far. Quick thoughts:

The Duel: this was awesome. Great way to start off the season. Homage to old samurai films like Yojimbo. super cool visually with only a few colours appearing contrasting with the black and white as well as the shadows which look like they’re drawn with charcoal, and I love the character design. I loved how it was set in a post-war landscape, with details like the bandits wearing stormtrooper helmets left over from “the war”. I’m really intrigued by the character of the Ronin and the short was almost like a very effective teaser for the novel by Emma Mieko Candon that’s releasing soon.

Tatooine Rhapsody: was fun, although cheesy and somewhat cliché. I first watched the english dub of this one to hear Tem Morrison as Boba, which was cool - albeit brief. I can’t say much about it - Studio Colorido just went for a short and sweet feel-good short just having a bit of fun with the Star Wars galaxy. Not my favourite but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

The Twins: this short is absolutely insane. I can’t even comprehend how much sense it doesn’t make. Studio Trigger know their audience and it sounds like they deliberately made something so ridiculously over the top it’s entertaining. Following any semblance of logic is just limiting creativity. Anyway, the premise was interesting enough, and I’m happy we got at least one short with exaggerated character expressions, camera movement (as well as exaggerated everything else). I can’t really describe how dumb and funny this one is, I think you just have to watch it.

The Village Bride: a beautiful and touching short which reminded me Hayao Miyazaki’s work. Its characters have a deep respect and love for nature, and the surrounding country landscapes and animated beautifully with really vibrant colours. It draws a clear connection between nature and the Force (the phrase “one with the Force” is substituted with “one with the planet” at one point) and indicates a traditional underlying theme in Star Wars - good people live in harmony with nature, while the bad form its very antithesis. The antagonists use battle droids and other technology to oppress a local village, while the Jedi protagonist draws her power from nature. The story in this one is fairly simple, and very clear cut, but executed in a magical way. This is my favourite so far.

“Remember, the Force will be with you. Always.”

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The Duel
Love the Kurosawa homage but it’s so visually dark that my eyes had trouble distinguishing what was happening. 7/10
Tatooine Rhapsody
Not a huge fan of the animation style. Generic rock ‘n’ roll in front of Jabba the Hutt was pretty jarring. Overall just kinda boring. 5/10
The Twins
Ridiculous, over-the-top nonsense that only Imaishi and Studio Trigger could deliver. Absolutely beautiful with great action but a little too crazy, even for me. 6/10
The Village Bride
The most forgettable of the bunch. A detached, alternative view of the Force is an interesting concept but it needs a lot more exposition for it to really work. 4/10
The Ninth Jedi
Excellent all around with a twist that I really didn’t see coming. 9/10
T0-B1
Astro Boy terraforms a desert planet into a lush paradise and slays Sith Inquisitors with the help of his droid friends. Tezuka would have loved this. 10/10
The Elder
Perfect Prequel-era story with a delightfully evil villain. 10/10
Lop and Ocho
Story doesn’t really work in this short format but everything else is superb. 8/10
Akakiri
Really disliked the animation style and the story felt more incomplete than the others. Some good still shots though. 5/10

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 (Edited)

Visions reminded me of the 2003 Clone Wars series, and I enjoyed it all the more for being so different to the more usual Star Wars animated stuff, and I really want them to do another season. Perhaps a longer Ronin special if the Ronin book from The Duel is a worthwhile success.
There was not one episode I did not like something about even if some was over the top in style, like the Twins, and will watch them all again soon.

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Alright, I’ve watched them all so it’s ranking time…

1: The Ninth Jedi
2. The Village Bride
3. The Elder
4. The Duel
5. T0-B1
6. Tatooine Rhapsody
7. Akakiri
8. The Twins
9. Lop and Ocho

LOVED The Elder. A very touching master-apprentice relationship between Dan and Tajin. I thought it was great that Dan’s insecurity about not being too strong in the Force is hinted at near the start (as he doesn’t sense the ‘disturbance’), the Elder teases him about it, and yet Tajin reassures him at the end that it’s part of the learning process and Dan will soon grow beyond him. Dan had a lot of respect for Tajin I think so that was a very nice scene. It reminded me of the ‘We are what they grow beyond’ quote from TLJ.

voltwaffle said:

The Elder
Perfect Prequel-era story with a delightfully evil villain. 10/10

Unless this is what you meant by prequel era, I’d say it’s maybe more accurate to call it a High Republic era story or a couple hundred years before it. I think it would fit in quite nicely there.

I’ve already given some thoughts on The Village Bride so I’ll just touch on my top #1, The Ninth Jedi. I suppose I can’t say much other than I’d love a sequel, the director apparently would love a sequel, and loads of other fans would love a sequel too. I don’t know what form that would take - another short if we get a season 2 of Visions, perhaps, but if I was being very optimistic I’d say a full anime miniseries would work great. I just think the worldbuilding, the quality of storytelling, and the character work especially on Juro and Kara is outstanding and the best of the bunch. I liked how it incorporated elements of the main Star Wars timeline and combined them with newly imagined elements. I also really liked its ideas around how a person’s strength with, and relationship to, the Force has an effect on their lightsaber. In canon, I believe this idea has only really been touched on in Rebels and it’s a shame this isn’t a bigger feature in other Star Wars stories.

“Remember, the Force will be with you. Always.”

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I decided not to watch this all in one sitting, and I also didn’t watch it in the order that they’re displayed. I decided to start with the ones I was least looking forward to and then went in order of how much they interested me before I finished with The Duel which is the first episode in the collection. Also after each episode, I also went into the extra’s and looked at the filmmaker’s focus on each one before moving to the next short.

I watched them in this order
TO-B1
Lop and Ocho
Tattooine Rhapsody
Akakiri
The Elder
The Village Bride
The Twins
The Ninth Jedi
The Duel

Ranking
9 Lop and Ocho This was a real flop for me. I wasn’t that excited about it, because of the main character being a bunny girl, but that actually wasn’t much of a problem. The biggest issue with this one is that it feels really incomplete. None of the characters are well developed and I think Ocho in fact is the most poorly developed. The way she was characterized before she officially joins the empire and after she joins feels really abrupt. It also ends pretty abruptly and doesn’t have much of a conclusion. It feels like it got cut off way too soon like this was the beginning of a much longer story. It wasn’t until I watched the behind the scene feature about this one that I fully understood what the studio was going for. I got some of it from watching the short, but that I needed to go look at the behind the scene video for me to feel that is a failure of the short. It’s a real shame because I feel like if we got to fully explore Ocho’s descent to the dark side it could have worked better. I also think if we’re able to get a full movie or another 2-3 episodes to fully explore or conclude the story this would be really strong but without those, the short just isn’t all that good.

8 The Twins This was a really fun short. The plot is rather simple, but since the focus of the short is on the action it’s exactly what it needs to be. This is very clearly animated by Imaishi, whose style is immediately recognizable, to give us fight scenes on par with some of his best works. However, maybe because the plot is so simple I didn’t really connect to this one all that much. Don’t get me wrong I like cool action scenes as much as the next person, but I would have liked a little bit more substance. However, as a spectacle and piece of popcorn entertainment, it fully succeeds.

7 Tattooine Rhapsody was probably the most fun of these shorts. The idea of making a rock opera in Star Wars was pretty unique and in the wrong hands it could have ended up just feeling embarrassing, but the confidence the staff had in this project really shone through. It’s also the only one that features established characters from the franchise in the plot. It was also interesting to see the main character be a Jedi who turned away from fighting and became the lead singer in the band. All of the band members are well defined and the middle portion of the episode really sells that bond that all of them share with each other. It also doesn’t hurt that the music is really good. Joseph Gordon Levitt plays the main character and it turns out he’s a pretty good singer, Galactic Dreamer is a banger that’ll be playing on loop in my head over the next few days. I also went through and listened to the song in all of the languages it was dubbed into. Anyway, this episode was really enjoyable and I can defiantly see myself coming back to this one.

6 The Elder was definitely an interesting story it was rather more introspective than some of the other ones. The characters were well defined, and it did a decent job of introducing some mystery into the proceedings. I would definitely be interested in seeing these characters return. Like all of them, there is potential for the story to be expanded and turned into a series. I could see this being the prelude to a story about the return of the Sith, but I think it ended in a decent enough place that it works as a standalone. I’d also like to call out the score which feels a lot like John Williams’s score. In fact, this is one of the shorts that feels the most like Star Wars.

5 TO-B1 was the first one I watched because didn’t think I’d like it all that much but I actually found it pretty charming. The story was cute and the relationship between him and Mitaka was really well done. The animation was also really inventive and fluid throughout the entire thing. All of the characters were extremely expressive. The parts of this where he’s searching for the Kyber Crystal and exploring the force for the first time felt a bit shorter than I would like and I kind of wish this was a full 30-40 minute movie so some of those parts could breathe a bit more. However, it did tell a complete story and I was pretty satisfied after watching it.

4 The Duel was the short that I was most looking forward to and that was 100% because of its art style. While it wasn’t quite as good as I had hoped it was still a brilliant watch. I loved the sketchy black and white art style, and it looked a lot like they were blending some 3D into the 2D animation. It’s your standard Ronin helping a village story, but there were some fun touches on the formula such as the chief being a little kid. The idea of having this former Sith being the wanderer was also pretty inspired. I also liked how the short kind of does a fun homage to the Anakin and Obi-Wan fight in Revenge of the Sith, with the fight on the river log clearly being modeled on their fight on the magma barge. I also appreciate the soundtrack sounding a lot like Star Wars. I’m glad we’re getting more to this and I’ve preordered a Hardcover of the book, the cover art is so cool.

3 The Village Bride. I really enjoyed this one and it’s definitely one of the ones that feel the most complete as a story. The stands out for me in this one is the visuals. It focused on the beauty of the planet, and the beauty of quiet moments. It also had some pretty unique character designs and the style of animation was not what I’m used to but I still really liked it. It was also I think the only one that had actual anime voice actors, most notable Stephanie Sheh, in the cast and not just Hollywood talent. The story was also simple but effective and I liked how the people of the planet connected with the Force.

2 Akakiri was fantastic. It really felt like a samurai movie. It was probably the most stylish one of them all, not including the duel, with absolutely gorgeous animation, and the minimalistic soundtrack. This one actually reminded me quite a bit of Samurai Jack, mixed with an Akira Kurosawa film. It’s also probably one of the darker shorts in this collection. The tone is pretty bleak throughout, due to how the music colors even the more upbeat moments, but there are moments of beauty throughout. The music has a heavy focus on percussion and the whole piece feels very dreamlike. The ending is pretty dark and the way the color red drowns out all of the other colors was fantastic. This is definitely the second strongest of the shorts and it’s the only one where I have no complaints, so it’s a shame that it seems to be one of the least popular shorts. I usually see it hover around sopts 7 or 8 on ranking lists which is a shame and I think it might possibly be due to the art style. Science Saru typically has more out there character designs and the way their animation typically distorts characters to create fluid movements usually seems to be controversial. I quite like the fluidity that this type of style brings to the table, but I know it takes some people out of the moment as many like characters to remain on the model and not distort to create fluid animation. However I really vibe with this studio’s style, and this is the one that I really want to see expanded on later down the line, but unlike with Lop and Ocho, it’s because it was so good that I want more. It’s pretty much the perfect short, but there was one that I liked more

1 The Ninth Jedi ended up being my favorite. It was one of my most anticipated, partially because of the trailer shot where Kara uses her saber to destroy a speeder, and mostly because it was directed by Kenji Kamiyama as he was the director of one of my favorite series, Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, as well as Serei no Moribito, and Eden of the East. This did not disappoint. I really loved the concept of the color of the lightsaber being dependent on each person’s connection with the force, and it also had a pretty good story. It also had a pretty cool twist, which was spoiled for me, but it was still really cool. I think this also probably had the best action out of all of them with the speeder chase throughout the forest and the final lightsaber fight being extremely well animated. This is also the longest of the shorts, with it being a full 23 minutes, and it made excellent use of that time. This is the one I want a sequel to the most, as this feels a lot like a fantastic pilot episode for a full series, and in the behind-the-scenes look at this episode Production I.G wants to do more as well, so hopefully, we’ll get it. I’d really like a full 13 episode tv series, but I’d also be fine with a 40-50 minute OVA or a full movie.

So in conclusion I consider this project a complete success, not all of the shorts were great, but there were none that were outright bad, and the top 3 were truly amazing. The real weakness of this project was that some of these shorts feel like they’re too short to tell the story that the filmmakers want to tell, so hopefully, if we get more they’ll allow the studios to go longer with the shorts. It still remains to be seen how popular this ends up being, but it seems to be fairly well-received by the fandom, or at least the audience ratings on the review aggregate website still appear to be decent, so I’m hopeful we’ll get more of this.

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 (Edited)

I’m thinking of moving Akakiri up my list. Since I watched it, I’ve known something felt off to me but it was hard to pinpoint. I actually really like the animation style and find it quite charming. I love the homage to The Hidden Fortress with the two 3P0 and R2 esque peasant characters. I find Tsubaki and Misa to be really interesting characters with great designs and their story in the episode was great. It just feels like good story ideas were packed into too small a run time, and presented in a slightly confusing way. I’m not sure the pacing entirely worked for me either. But I’ll need to rewatch it.

I’ll maybe put it above Tatooine Rhapsody for now.

“Remember, the Force will be with you. Always.”

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I’ll be brief because I still have a few episodes to go. I’ll say this: Outside of Speed Racer as a kid (which I loved), I’ve never really cared for anime. To my inexperienced eye, it all looks the same; big eyes, no facial features or depth. I get that it’s huge in the world, it just seemed flat to me.

Until this past week. I hadn’t planned to watch Visions. However, it was only out of disinterest not as any sort of issue I had with the premise. A nerd friend pushed a bit and said he thought I’d dig them, at least three or four of them. Plus they’re only 15 minutes each, he said. Give one or two a look and then bail if they don’t interest you.

Long story maybe shorter: I have thoroughly enjoyed these. The artwork is really interesting and the stories are even more so. They’re not connected to The Saga outside of familiar terms and realities in-universe (e.g., the Force, lightsabers, the empire, Jedi).

These are truly alternate takes in a tangent Star Wars universe. I haven’t even finished the series yet and I’ve already watched two of them twice. I have a whole new appreciation for anime. Color me a fan.

The two I’ve watched twice are The Duel and The Ninth Jedi. I’m sorry they aren’t two hour features. Maybe these seven anime studios will get a second go-round to develop longer episodes.

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