Writer/Director: Kenji Kamiyama
Summary: The Jedi Order is nearly extinct. Margrave Juro, ruler of Hy Izlan, invites seven apprentices to his temple to receive new lightsabers, each one having a design lost to time. One is given to Ethan, the youngest, as proof that the rest will receive theirs when they are complete.
Meanwhile, sabersmith Lah Zhima is captured by the Sith. But his daughter Kara manages to escape with the finished lightsabers, which she delivers to the Jedi. It is then revealed that all of the apprentices –with the exception of Ethan–are Sith impostors sent to murder Juro. Kara and Ethan save Juro, but it’s revealed that one of the impostors is Homen, an old friend of Juro. The three set out to rescue Zhima.
Review: This one was beautiful and action-packed. Like The Village Bride, it had one of the best scores of the entire series. I liked the pacing of this story. It felt longer than it actually was, almost as if I was watching a pilot for another series. Out of all of the shorts, this is the one that I wouldn’t mind seeing turned into a series.
One more to go! I’m sure you can all guess which one is next. To be honest, both this and the next one are tied for the best out of all of them.
Writers: Takahito Oonishi & Hitoshi Haga
Director: Hitoshi Haga
Summary: On a remote planet, a village chief ‘s daughter named Haku and her lover Asu wish to surrender themselves to bandits who have reprogrammed Sepratist droids to raid their village, despite her sister’s objections. A fallen Jedi named F and an explorer named Valco intervene when Haku’s sister faces execution.
Review: One of things I love about anime is how beautiful it can be. Kinema Citrus gives this story a rich palette.
The music for this short was the best I’ve heard in the entire series. Not to sell any of the others short, because they had excellent scores too.
As for the story, it was great. I liked the relationship between Haku and Asu. Their selflessness for their village made me want them to be together. I loved F and Valco’s fight with the droids.
Two more to go, and in reality, they could be tied.
Writer: Yuichiro Kido
Director: Abel Góngara
Summary: An armless inventor named Professor Mitaka has created a sentient robot named T0-B1, who dreams of becoming a Jedi. While searching for a kyber crystal to power a lightsaber, T0-B1 accidentally sends a signal into space, attracting a Sith Inquisitor to its presence. We eventually learn Mitaka is actually a former Jedi and TO-B1 is powered by a kyber crystal, meaning he is Force-sensitive.
Review: We Americans have Walt Disney, and the Japanese have Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka may not have started the manga industry, but he was one of the most prolific creators in both manga and anime. One of his most beloved creations was Mighty Atom, or his more famous name Astro Boy, which has been adapted into 3 series and a CG movie. This short is basically a love letter to the boy robot. Not only does T0-B1 bear a slight resemblance to Astro, but its name is similar to the name of the son of Dr. Tenma, his creator. In the story, Tenma’s son is killed by an oncoming car, and he creates Astro to replace him. Mitaka is modelled after Professor Ochanomizu, a colleague of Tenma who is head of the Ministry of Science, who becomes Astro’s surrogate father after Tenma rejects him (I’m currently watching the 80’s version of the anime). As a fan of Astro Boy, I loved this concept. I thought the idea of a Force-sensitive robot was a great way to pay tribute.
Next up are my top 3 favorite Visions shorts. Either one of these could be the best one, but I decided to put The Village Bride next.
Director: Yuki Igarashi
Summary: A rabbit-like slave named Lop is found on the planet Tau by Yasaburo (a clan leader) and his daughter Ocho, who adopt her, with Ocho even calling her her little sister. The story flashes forward, and Ocho is now older and cooperating with the Empire. This puts her at odds with her father, who wants the Empire off their world.
Review: Not long ago, I heard a saying “You are often part of two families: the family of blood and the family of choice.” This short uses that saying . Lop is not even the same species as Ocho or her father, and yet she treats her as such, even placating her with food to convince her to join their clan.
I liked how honor-bound Yasaburo was. He wants the Empire gone. To him, Ocho is betraying her family as well as her world. With no one else to turn to as an heir, Lop is the logical choice. It’s easy to see why this infuriates Ocho.
I liked how Lop is so trusting of Ocho. Even after Ocho kills their father, she still thinks her sister can be redeemed. The ending was well-handled.
To be honest, I could’ve ranked this higher, but with the next 4 titles, I had to put this somewhere. I didn’t dislike it, it’s just the next 4 are so amazing.
Writer/Director: Masahiko Otsuka
Summary: A Jedi named Tajin and his padowan Dan arrive on an isolated planet in the Outer Rim. While Dan befriends a group of children, Tajin learns of a Sith who is extremely old and is out for blood.
Review: I thought this was a good alternate take on the relationship between Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan in Phantom Menace. Dan was calmer and kinder than Obi-Wan. I loved his scenes with the village children.
The fight between Tajin and The Elder was well-animated. The Elder isn’t just a threat because he wants revenge, but because he has nothing to lose. His anger is the only thing he has left. And that’s what makes him so dangerous.
This story didn’t have a lot to it, but it was good.
Writer: Hiromi Wakabayashi
Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi
Summary: Using Sith alchemy, two Force-sensitive twins named Karre and Am are created and trained in the Dark Side. But Karre actually wants to use his powers for good, unlike his sister.
Review: I really wanted to rate this higher. On paper, it sounds like a winner. The animation is nice. And even though it has only a half-hour, it tells the story well.
So what brought this down, besides so many other shorts being better? To be honest, the dub. The American version is so cheesily dubbed, I can’t take the story seriously. I wanted to just ignore that, but I couldn’t.
Next: The Elder
Writer: Yasumi Atarashi
Director: Taku Kimura
Summary: A rock band called Star Waver is being targeted by Boba Fett because their bassist, Gee, doesn’t want to participate in the Hutt criminal empire.
Review: This was the short that felt the least like Star Wars to me. Now not being 100% like Star Wars isn’t bad, in fact, quite a few of the higher-up shorts didn’t seem “like Star Wars” .
My main problem is this style. I’m not a fan of chibi animation, and hearing the adult voice for Boba Fett seemed wrong. If it had been the voice actor for his younger version, Daniel Logan, I might have not had a problem.
That being said, I did like the band. I especially liked the drummer being a conjoined triplet. It had a more light-hearted feel, but I didn’t mind that.
Overall, I didn’t hate this one. It was different, which isn’t always bad.
I’ve decided that for the next 9 weeks, I’m going to review all of the Star Wars: Visions anime shorts, in order from least liked to most liked. I didn’t hate any of these, so don’t think that me placing an episode this low means it’s the worst ever. So let’s start with the one I liked the least, “Akakiri”.
Studio: Science SARU
Examples of Anime created by the Studio: Inu-Oh and The Heike Story (both released in 2021).
Summary: A Jedi named Tsubaki has received visions that his lover, the princess Misa, will die in his arms. He rushes to save her, but is ambushed by her aunt Masago, who is aligned with the Sith.
Review: I felt this one was too short, and I didn’t like the animation style. The beats were too similar to Anakin and Padme’s fates, and I felt the story was too bleak and predictable.