In the fall of last year, Lucasfilm released the first season of its highly acclaimed anime series Star Wars: Visions, which consisted of nine short films created by some of Japan’s top animation studios.
And now Dark Horse Comics has released a hardcover coffee-table book entitled The Art of Star Wars: Visions, collecting the design sketches, paintings, and drawings that were used to create the memorable series during the development and production processes.
The Art of Star Wars: Visions opens with a foreword by series producers James Waugh, Josh Rimes, and Jacqui Lopez, which expresses Lucasfilm’s desires in inviting anime creators to pay in and contribute to the universe of A Galaxy Far, Far Away. Then the book is divided into nine chapters by episode of the show, starting with “The Duel” and going all the way through “Akakiri.” Author Zack Davisson (Yurei: The Japanese Ghost) provides the informative text, and each of the filmmakers are interviewed to get their incisive soundbytes about the design decisions that went into the characters, stories, and locations. For example, “The Duel” director Takanobu Mizuno of the Kamikaze Douga animation studio discusses the influence of Akira Kurosawa’s beloved samurai films on his short, and how the droid R5-D56 was inspired by a Japanese R2-D2 toy from the 1970s. As the title of the book implies, these quotes are accompanied by a wide variety of artwork, showcasing the innovation and inventiveness that went into bringing Star Wars: Visions to the small screen.
Beyond the book itself, there’s also a Deluxe Edition slipcover version of The Art of Star Wars: Visions that includes a portfolio with three absolutely gorgeous frameable prints– representing all nine short films– of artwork from the show. But in learning about the creation of the series, my favorite parts of this release were definitely the eye-opening revelations regarding how the individual studios incorporated elements from both Star Wars history and Japanese culture in putting together their stories and the designs of their worlds. In freeing the Star Wars: Visions filmmakers from the restraints of the ongoing canon and continuity, Lucasfilm allowed the Visions participants an independence to explore new avenues while utilizing the iconography and spirit of this franchise that has thrilled audiences for nearly 50 years. And now as a second season approaches in 2023, it’s the perfect time for fans to discover how an ambitious animation project like this is assembled. Like other Art of Star Wars books before it, this volume feels like an essential addition to the collection of anyone with an interest in the behind-the-scenes process detailing how Star Wars is made.
The Art of Star Wars: Visions is available now wherever books are sold.