Back in 2021, Lucasfilm released the first volume of its innovative animation project Star Wars: Visions via Disney+. The concept of this initiative was a simple one– invite nine different Japanese anime studios to create their own short-form Star Wars stories for the small screen without being beholden to the restraints of the larger canon.
The result was a critical success and a hit with fans, so much so that a second volume of Star Wars: Visions was put into motion and is at long last set to debut this week in honor of the annual Star Wars Day on May the 4th. Only this time, Lucasfilm has expanded the idea to incorporate animation studios from all over the world.
Star Wars: Visions Vol. 2 includes entries from Spain’s El Guiri Studios, Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon, Chile’s Punkrobot Studio, England’s Aardman Animations, South Korea’s Studio Mir, France’s Studio La Cachette, India’s 88 Pictures, America’s D'Art Shtajio (in collaboration with Lucasfilm itself), and South Africa’s Triggerfish Animation Studios. I was lucky enough to watch advance screeners of all nine shorts in this volume a couple weeks ago, and I can say my first impression was that I was completely blown away by the quality and variety of the submissions. Broadening the concept has resulted in a vast array of differing animation styles, from traditional 2D animation to more contemporary CGI to jaw-dropping stop-motion. Each one of these shorts is absolutely gorgeous in its own way and I would be hard-pressed to choose a favorite, though beginning tomorrow (after Vol. 2’s release on Disney+) I’ll be going through them all to write individual reviews and attempting to rank them, as difficult as that sounds.
Right off the bat I’ll say that, as a comedy fan and a rabid devotee of the Wallace & Gromit series, the one that appealed to me the most was Aardman’s “I Am Your Mother,” which retains that studio’s irreverently charming sense of humor and instantly recognizable visual panache. But all of these shorts are at the very least worth watching, and each one carries with it a particular sensibility that reflects the unique approaches of both these studios and their nations of origin. My only note is the same one I had after the first volume of Star Wars: Visions– I think Lucasfilm should probably be giving these animation studios their own separate prompts or topics to cover in their shorts to avoid overlap in subject matter. Again, I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s so much more to Star Wars than Kyber crystals, lightsabers, and Jedi. I understand why that would be the direction most creators would steer upon being given the opportunity to create their own Star Wars stories, but it does mean that there is some repetition between a good number of the final nine films. Some of the studios do manage to avoid those pitfalls (Aardman included), however, and consequently those are the ones that ended up standing out to me. Regardless, this is all pretty much uniformly great stuff, and starting tomorrow you can check back right here at LaughingPlace.com for my individual episode reviews.
Star Wars: Visions Vol. 2 will be released in its entirety tomorrow, May the 4th, exclusively via Disney+.