As we knew already from previous announcements, Star Wars Visions was introduced as a “short film anthology series working with some of the best anime creators and studios around.” To accompany the panel, Lucasfilm also released a three-minute trailer for the series featuring stills and concept art of the animation, along with logos from some of the anime studios involved in the project.
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During the Anime Expo Lite panel, Host Chastity Vicencio welcomed Star Wars: Visions executive producers James Waugh, Josh Rimes, and Jacqui Lopez from Lucasfilm, alongside co-executive producer Justin Leach from Qubic Pictures and Producer Kanako Shirasaki of Netflix’s Eden to discuss some of the topics listed in the bullet points below.
- Star Wars: Visions is an anthology of Star Wars short films created by Japanese anime studios.
- “Anime has had a huge influence on the creative staff at Lucasfilm.”
- Each studio participating in the project has its own distinct styles and tones.
- Lucasfilm wanted the shorts to be as authentic as possible to the studios and creatives making them. “This is their vision riffing off all the elements of the Star Wars galaxy that inspired them.”
- Japanese culture was already a big influence on Star Wars via Akria Kurosawa’s work.
- Visions was a team effort during the COVID pandemic shutdown, with the creators and producers communicating across three time zones using multiple languages.
- “The Force was strong with this project.” The project was produced over video conference. The directors were initially planning to visit Skywalker Sound but that plan was scrapped due to the pandemic.
- Lucasfilm hopes this series inspires fans to fall in love with the anime world.
The nine shorts collected in Star Wars: Visions are as follows:
- “The Duel” from Kamikaze Douga (creators of Batman Ninja) – Lucasfilm fell in love with this idea from the first image of samurai Jedi and an astromech droid with straw hat. It was influenced by Yojimbo and Seven Samurai and is a love letter to Star Wars about a character who must choose selflessness and help others.
- Geno Studio’s “Lop & Ocho” – Based on the world view known as “wabi sabi,” this short is about accepting beauty in all its imperfections, a collision between natural beauty and encroaching industrialization. It centers around a humanoid bunny named Lop who is unwavering in her devotion to family.
- “Tatooine Rhapsody” from Studio Colorido – This short features a Chibi art style, and is an action-packed comedic Star Wars rock opera about an unexpected friendship within a band. “Sometimes all there is is a dream, and that dream is to rock.” There was an initial hesitation about the pitch within Lucasfilm, but they ultimately decided “That’s what Visions is going to be about.” It uses established characters and settings from Star Wars like Boba Fett and Jabba the Hutt at the Mos Espa Speedway.
- Trigger presents “The Twins” and “The Elder” – This studio is making two shorts for Visions. “The Twins” has a colorful, exaggerated style, and is about a set of twins born into the dark side who have conjoined star destroyers. “The Elder” is about a Master and Padawan relationship, with one generation passing the baton to the next.
- Kinema Citrus’s “The Village Bride” – This short was described as poetic, meditative, and romantically bittersweet. A bride must make an unexpected choice to save her people. It approaches the Force in a unique and surprising way.
- Science Saru’s “Akakiri” and “T0-B1” – “Akakiri” is a beautiful yet painful story about a Jedi and a princess. “T0-B1” is a cute and fun story about a droid who wants to be a Jedi. “Akakiri” draws heavy influence from Hidden Fortress, much like the original Star Wars film, while “T0-B1” is inspired by Astro Boy.
- Production IG’s “The Ninth Jedi” – The anime pioneers behind Ghost in the Shell and Kill Bill’s animated sequence present an epic story that began as two separate ideas that were eventually combined. It’s set in a time when Jedi are just legends. The story daughter of a legendary lightsaber smith intersects with eight warriors coming together and trying to figure out if they can trust each other.
In an additional statement, Lucasfilm said “As a first formal venture into anime, each ‘Star Wars: Visions’ short bears a unique Japanese sensibility, which in many ways aligns with the tone and spirit of Star Wars storytelling. From the beginning, stories told in the Star Wars galaxy have counted Japanese mythology and the films of Akira Kurosawa among their many influences, and these new visions will further explore that cultural heritage through the unique animation style and perspective of each anime studio.”
Star Wars: Visions will premiere in its entirety on September 22, exclusively on Disney+.