Yes it’s anime. Yes it’s Star Wars. Yes it’s good.

First and last negative comment about this series: there’s one episode I don’t like. But that’s the extent of my negative comments, because overall this series was overwhelming, in the best sense.

Star Wars has deep roots in Japanese storytelling tradition. Most people don’t know how connected George Lucas was to that scene back in the ‘70s when he made the original trilogy of movies. He was heavily influenced by Japanese filmmaking, and therefore storytelling culture, back in those days, and Star Wars is heavily influenced by that as a result. It is therefore appropriate in the highest degree that Star Wars and anime should meet. They have at brief moments in the past, but nothing as official as this has ever been created. And in that unique position, this anthology did not disappoint.

The anthology consists of several distinct episodes, all telling different stories and involving different characters. They draw on a variety of sources and materials, much of which is original. Best of all, all of the episodes are made by different anime studios (though a couple studios doubled up and made two episodes). The result is a wide variety of stories, images, styles, themes, animation methods, and characters. And it is all very well done. 

But in the end, the greatest success of this wonderful display is the simple fact that it wasn’t just anime, and it wasn’t just Star Wars: it was both, and it was perfect for that. I sat with my mouth agape during some of these episodes completely enthralled with what was unfolding in front of my eyes. 

The only downer on this show is that it’s Disney+ exclusive, so I don’t know if you can actually watch this anywhere else. I know sometimes you can watch shows that are exclusive to Netflix of HiDive or stuff like that if you know the right places to look, but I’m not sure this is the case with Star Wars: Visions. Disney’s pretty tight with stuff like that, as I’d expect them to be. But it’s worth a brief subscription to watch. Although supposedly they’re going to make more of it at some point—as of November 2022 here it’s still only the original nine episodes I think. So you might want to wait until all of it is out to snag that one-month’s worth of subscription. But whether more is made or not, definitely make plans to watch this. Serious anime fans should not miss a wonderful exposition like this.

Before I launch into any of these stratified categories, I want to note that the distinctness of each individual episode makes this show different from most anime, and therefore the model I use to evaluate shows overall doesn’t fit particularly well in this instance. That being said, I can still evaluate each set of characters or stories from individual episodes; but that being said, I’m not going to tire you by going over every single episode’s characters or story in each section. Instead I’ll definitely highlight the noteworthiest among each category, and after that go over any other miscellaneous items that I want to note. Just know you won’t have to read a cut and dry evaluation of every episode in each of my Character, Artwork, and Story sections. As always, I would rather bring you to recall your memories of this show far more than touch on every little item with a critic’s eye. 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Characters

Rating: 8

It is nearly impossible to build impactful characters in single-episode stories. Most anime we consume aren’t just one episode in length, so usually this isn’t an issue. Historically, single-episode animated expositions are common, but not something the average animation fan encounters regularly. Slightly more common is a situation where you can tell a character from a long series is going to be great after watching just a single episode, usually the anime’s premiere. This happens so infrequently that it’s very remarkable when it does, and is always a testament to the quality of the writing and the creativeness behind a show. 

Here in Star Wars: Visions the writers have no choice however. The characters have a single episode to wow audiences and create indelible memories in their minds. The writers had to get it right the first time. They did have a slight advantage here that they usually wouldn’t have: Star Wars itself. Star Wars historically is good at making quick impact, something I’ll get into a bit more later. But besides that, we automatically expect certain things from Star Wars: blasters, exotic planets, diverse species, and above all lightsabers. It’s all very familiar to most audiences. We can see the recognizable things and therefore look deeper into characters more easily because of that. So that made the writers’ jobs a little easier in the character department. But I won’t go so far as to say the task before them was easy by any stretch. Even with all that, they still had only a single episode to get it right.

We can argue all day about whether the succeeded in that effort or not. I largely think they did: while most of the characters are not 100% memorable, a lot of them hang in my mind even now, several months after finishing the series. But it was something else about these characters that I will always remember more, something that helps ensure the characters are much more memorable, something the producers behind these episodes did to aid the immediate impact of these characters, and that’s voice actor casting.

Lop, a pretty memorable character on her own, is played by Seiren Kobayashi (Eri, MHA). She was only 17 years old at the time of production. She has a bright future ahead of her.

A lot of these characters have top-tier seiyuus doing their vocals. And not just current top-tier talent either. Several characters have VAs that most modern anime audiences wouldn’t know—even though they should. These VAs range in age, accomplishment, style, and repertoire across a very large spectrum. While some are better known for simple character roles, most of them have done either some or a lot of main character work, and a handful have done characters who are forever fixtures in the vast world of anime.

The highlight of this series for me in this regard was the episode titled TO-B1, the one about the droid trying to become a Jedi. This was a good episode by itself, but once I learned who the VAs were I was amazed. There are only two main characters and a Sith Inquisitor. The two mains are the droid TO-B1 of course and his creator, a man named Mitaka. Mitaka is voiced by the prolific Tsutomu Isobe. This man has dubbed more American big-name actors than perhaps anybody else in the Japan VA world. But it’s his anime work that the avid anime fan will appreciate the most. Lunge from Monster, Dutch from Black Lagoon, George Black in Jormungand, and Harry McDowell in Gungrave are among his most famous roles. He has that instantly recognizable deep, threatening, smooth voice. He is always magnificent. Although Mitaka wasn’t even in the entire episode, the studio Science SARU made a very proper choice by going and getting a great legacy name like this to voice this character.

But it didn’t stop there. Oh no it didn’t. The droid TO-B1 had this super high-pitched, almost grinding voice that I instantly knew I’d heard somewhere before. I knew it was someone I recognized, someone whose voice was easy to remember—and very not to my taste. 

But I’ve always thought that about Goku from Dragon Ball Z. I never could stand that voice.

Goku might say “I don’t seem to remember owning a droid” in that very high-pitched voice of his supplied by Masako Nozawa. Who also supplies the voice for the droid TO-B1.

Yes! Masako Nozawa, the long-time VA for the immovable Son Goku from DBZ, plays the voice for TO-B1. I didn’t care whether I could stand that voice any longer or not. That choice, this studio’s choice, to get perhaps the most prolific legacy seiyuu on the planet into this Star Wars: Visions series was perfect. I couldn’t contain my excitement. 

Then the next thing I thought was something that should have struck me sooner: how old must she be? Yep, as of the time of this show’s creation, she was 84 years old. 

I was Jedi-leaping around the room when I learned all this. What magnificence! This lady is still doing voice roles today as far as I know. It was absolutely, unimaginably perfect to hear this voice in this show. Star Wars finally meets the world of Japanese anime and one of the top anime voices of all time, if not the top anime voice of all time, is included in this cast. It was perfect.

Between Isobe and Nozawa there is a combined 100-plus years of anime voice acting experience in this episode. Isobe has been doing voice roles since the mid ‘70s, but Nozawa’s work goes back into the 1960s, at the very dawn of the modern Japanese anime industry. For these two to make an appearance in a Japanese anime Star Wars work is wonderful beyond description. I can’t even think of a parallel to compare this to. Anime as we know it was birthed in middle of the 20th century, and Star Wars grew from the sci-fi movements that really got going about that same time, not to mention George Lucas’s connection to Japan’s creative arts industry around that time, so it is the height of appropriate that VAs who contributed to the world of anime from that time be a part of this series. I was astounded and ecstatic. 

It goes without saying that as far as VAs goes that wasn’t going to be topped in this series. Nevertheless, some wonderful VAs were included in this series outside those two. The last episode, Akakiri, a magnificent episode, featured names such as Wataru Takagi (Onizuka, GTO; Obito Uchiha, Naruto; Wataru Takagi (same name), Detective Conan), Lynn (Sakura Yamauchi, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas), and Cho (Brook, One Piece, that hilarious voice; Jaken, InuYasha). Fun tidbit: Cho’s character, Senshuu, is dubbed by George Takei in English, of Star Trek repute. Fun tidbit. 

Other episodes included cast members like: 

  • Yuichi Nakamura (Gray, Fairy Tail; Satoru Gojo, Jujutsu Kaisen; Hawks, MHA) as a young Jedi named Dan in The Elder, another good episode; 
  • Asami Seto (Mai Sakurajima, Bunny Girl Senpai; Nobara, Jujutsu Kaisen) as F in The Village Bride; 
  • Yuma Uchida (Ash Lynx, Banana Fish; Megumi, JJK; also the brother of Maaya Uchida, of repute as Rikka Takanashi in Love, Chuunibyou, and Other Delusions…small world) plays Asu, also in The Village Bride; 
  • Mariya Ise (Killua, HxH; Ikishima, Kakegurui; Reg, Made in Abyss; Levy, Fairy Tail), one of my favorite supporting voices, also features in The Village Bride as the wonderfully fiery Saku;
  • Junya Enoki, the voice of Yuuji from JJK (it shouldn’t surprise you at this point that all of the main characters’ VAs from JJK, immensely popular around the time this anime was made, are in this series) plays Karre in The Twins.

The episode with the largest cast is The Ninth Jedi, featuring at least that number of lightsaber wielding Force users plus a few others. Most of the VAs there are lesser known, but some big highlights snuck in there too. What sword anime would be complete without the voice of the greatest swordsman himself, Kazuya Nakai, the voice of Roronoa Zoro from One Piece? Akio Otsuka, also famous from One Piece as Whitebeard (and elsewhere for many other famous series, notably All For One from MHA), narrates this episode. Daisuke Hirakawa, the VA of the infamous filth of School Days Makoto Ito, voices a character in this episode. Shinichiro Miki, the famous voice of Kaiki Deishu from Monogatari, also features in this episode. An extensive and prolific cast to be sure.

I could go on, but it suffices for now to say that these studios didn’t take their casting lightly for this series. I was most pleased by these choices, and enjoyed each episode all the more as I carefully looked over the cast for each. These performers added a lot of spark to this series. Even if I hadn’t known who many of them were going in, the performances themselves were sufficiently remarkable by themselves to get my attention, particularly Nozawa’s TO-B1 and Junya Enoki’s Karre, among a handful of others. But add to that knowing who these boys and girls were going in, I was 1000% extra focused on each character, and that meant a lot for the impact these characters had on me. That was very important for a set of characters who had a mere twenty minutes to make a mark on my memory. These studios made the right choice by choosing seiyuus wisely. 

Asami Seto’s F, The Village Bride. They stole my golden saber idea by the way.

I look forward to seeing who appears in the next set of episodes! My votes go to Sora Amamiya because I’m in love with her, Miyuki Sawashiro for the same reason, Chiwa Saito and Maaya Sakamoto because Senjougahara and Shinobu Oshino (Monogatari), Tetsuya Kakihara and Sayaka Ohara because Natsu and Erza (Fairy Tail), Ayane Sakura because she can voice anything, and they ought to get another legacy actor in the series and cast Mayumi Tanako somewhere—because Luffy is one of the most epic shounen protagonists of all time along with Goku, who’s VA already made her appearance. I would go out and commit grand theft anime to watch a Star Wars anime series with those voices! Such is the impact of having magnificent casts like this.

The VAs were the biggest reason these characters had instant impact for me, but I don’t mean to imply that was the only impact the characters had. It’s difficult to evaluate character quality in shorts like these—a character can impact an audience and draw their appreciation after twenty minutes, but one can’t develop them significantly enough in that time to even begin to discuss matters relevant to more developed characters from longer series. Still, even in that sense, some characters were more “developed” than others, and some were certainly more impactful than others, and some had a bit of both.

My favorite characters were from the first episode, The Duel, and the next to last episode, Lop and Ocho, and for very different reasons. The Duel drew on elements of Japanese historical drama a little, and while anime often pokes fun at such media, they were popular back in the days of the original Star Wars, and works of this type such as Seven Samurai by Akira Kurosawa were big influences on George Lucas. Knowing all this, I was excited right away when I saw what was happening in this first episode, and then the lightsabers started flashing and the voices started talking…I was sold. More on that later. 

We’ll talk about artwork here very shortly. It’s magnificent.

The reason I bring up all of that non-character stuff here is because that’s what got my attention focused in on the characters of this first episode, among other things. I couldn’t tell you the names of the characters, I couldn’t particularly tell you what they looked like, I don’t even recall who their VAs were: I simply remembered these characters because of the wow-factor of this episode. I didn’t need an ounce of character development to appreciate the history behind these character designs. To have Star Wars paraphernalia placed on top of it just about had me jumping off the couch, and so this set of characters became extremely memorable.

Lop and Ocho’s characters were memorable in a much different way. Though, when I say characters, I mean Lop and Ocho themselves. I’m not big on the kemononingen type characters usually, and Lop is pretty rabbit-like on that scale, but that in itself shows you how drawn into this character I was, that she could be something I usually have distaste for yet still create a positive memory in my mind. The dynamic between her and her sister and the unfolding of the story and how these two interact with it are very well done in this episode. Their behaviors, the situations they faced, and the actions they chose evoked a strong reaction in me. Despite only having twenty minutes in front of audiences, these two characters felt very well developed. I remember Lop’s optimism and spirit, Ocho’s darkness and stubbornness, and above all the friendship between the two that is challenged because of the decisions each of them make. It was very well done for just twenty minutes of anime.

Lop, Ocho, and their father before it all falls apart.

The characters from The Twins impacted me for both sets of reasons. The episode itself was top-notch in a lot of senses: action, animation, voice acting, story, the artwork itself, and character design of course. I can still see the imagery of that episode in my mind clearly. It was the only episode to heavily draw on the hallmark Star Wars theme of “the face behind the mask,” which that franchise utilizes amazingly. The characters of The Elder also had decent development and had impact from intangibles like voice acting (I love Fairy Tail, so when I knew Gray’s VA was a part of this I was hooked already) and action. So a combination of things often made the characters memorable to me, not just a single thing like development or the items surrounding them. 

Some were big downers, like those in Tatooine Rhapsody. I know what they were trying to do with this episode, and I appreciate it on a certain level, but to use a Star Wars analogy, I put up my shields when I encounter stuff like this. I cringed through the whole episode and ended up liking nothing about it. I’ll probably keep saying that about this particular episode throughout this review. But that’s the only set of characters I really didn’t like.

It’s difficult to make characters have impact in single-episode anime, yet these studios managed to create characters who do the nearly impossible and have decent impact on audiences. Some more than others true, and for a lot of reasons we’re not accustomed to, but nevertheless they collectively are a great success as anime characters. Time limits impose limits in how great characters can be of course, so we’re not talking about them making anyone’s all-time lists, but they’re very good for how little time their given to work within. Given the task before the writers and the studios behind these episodes, I can’t imagine these characters could be much better collectively. If they were I’d be almost beyond words, whereas I can just manage to describe my reactions to these characters now. It’s a very well-done set of characters on the whole.

Artwork

Rating: 10

It’s good. It’s very good. Sometimes it was almost amazingly good.

It’s Star Wars. It’s anime. Of course it was gonna be good.

I sat down. I powered up Disney+. I thought to myself: “Let’s see how this goes. Let’s see how anime and Star Wars meet, and what happens there.” I pressed the magic buttons and started episode 1, The Duel.

I saw dim, brownish artwork. A country village, like in feudal Japan, was drawn before my eyes. Where some might react with “Ugh why this colorless, old scene?” I sensed the very roots of Star Wars. Mentioned above, George Lucas was heavily influenced by Japanese period dramas that were placed in settings like this rural village. I wasn’t disappointed: I was excited.

Little did I know what I was in for. I hadn’t seen half of my excitement.

Events began to unfold. And with the first bolts from blasters, with the first ignition of a lightsaber, the color exploded onto the screen. Dazzling action sequences followed, with magnificent energy bolts of green and red shooting from weapons placed over these grainy, almost sepia backgrounds. Then the sabers flew, and the assailants leapt as only anime assailants can, the colors of the sabers burning into my eyes. I was ecstatic.

I love that this was the first episode in this series. To pay homage to Star Wars’ roots, to so magnificently design and execute amazing action sequences, and above all to contrast that old look of brown colorlessness with the blinding color of the weaponry generated by the power of modern animation methods—it was fantastic. It was Star Wars meets anime. It was nearly perfect.

The artwork for The Duel was unusual to say the least, but magnificent because of all it was attempting to accomplish. Note the distressed feeling of old film combined with the striking coloring of the lightsabers.

That’s how you start an anime series. Whether it’s for anthologies of individual shorts like these or serialized anime or anything in between, starting with a bang is the best policy. What a bang this was! I don’t lightly or effusively say it was nearly perfect: it really was. I can’t imagine a better way to start this series.

While nothing was going to top all the underlying elements behind the visuals of that first episode, there were other episodes that challenged it in the visual realm. The Duel had great visuals—animation, drawings, background, cinematography—to go along with its homages and all that. For other episodes to vie for supremacy in the artwork realm in my mind means those episodes did something very right.

I won’t go through each of them here. I will briefly say this: one of the best things about the visuals of this series was not simply the quality and effort put into each—and that was, quite apparently, very significant and praiseworthy—but the wonderful adherence to particular art styles unique to each studio. I loved this. I’ll give a great example. Studio Trigger, which most us know, produced two episodes in this anthology: The Twins and The Elder. Both were great episodes. From a visual standpoint alone they were both magnificent. But let me tell you what stood out to me and got my heart rate going. I could instantly see the infamous, infamous Kill la Kill art style in The Twins, and I could see a very different but also very recognizably Trigger style of shows like Darling in the Franxx in The Elder. Other episodes had some of this as well, but I won’t go into each of them here. The fact that I could discern a studio-specific art style for episodes produced by some of these prolific anime studios really got me excited.

I will briefly laud one more artwork element. I will prelude first with another leap into the past. Star Wars’ visual effects were always very good, but nothing remotely compares to the work surrounding laser blasts and of course the one and only lightsaber. The effects Lucas used for the blaster bolts were fantastic: their realism and power are awesome to watch, more so when you realize how groundbreaking this kind of visual effect was back in the ’70s when Star Wars first debuted. The lightsaber is in another realm beyond that even (although I know the originals were “updated” in the early 2000s I believe—same for the blaster bolts I think, but still). I could go on for ages about how magnificent the conceptualization, design, and execution of the visual effects of this weapon were. I’m not sure it will ever be topped as a weapon in visual arts history. 

Studio Trigger used the contrast of the lightsabers’ mighty light with a dark environment in The Elder, something that’s very familiar from impactful lightsaber duels in Star Wars.

Knowing all this, the task before the animators and artists for Star Wars: Visions had to be daunting. While handling a visual item like this is fairly simple work for anime artists, the weight of this weapon had to weigh on the artists, no pun intended. Japan has a culture of respect for swords that is unique in the world (and part of the reason behind Lucas imbuing the lightsaber with so much respect from the Jedi in Star Wars); the artists, knowing Star Wars’ worldwide impact and its connections to Japan, must have known how important it was for them to make these sabers epic in appearance. 

They succeeded in their efforts. I could refer to The Duel again and the magnificent way those colors are handled against the backdrop, but I could just as easily refer to any of the lightsabers put on display in any episode. They dominate the scenes they appear in, as they rightly should. Modern Star Wars has lost a little of the respect for lightsabers that the original series made a point of having, but this series captures all that respect in full. These weapons in the various episodes are heirlooms, objects made by craftsman, unusual and awesome to the ordinary character who has never seen Jedi, symbols of a strange and ultimate power—any of these and other similar elements are applied to the lightsabers in all the different episodes. It was wonderfully done. Some of this was accomplished through writing, but most of it was done through the lightsabers’ appearances and the animation when they were employed.

While I could point to shows with “nicer” artwork—artwork that’s more beautiful, that has better animation, that fits the show so perfectly it becomes something greater than what it is alone—I can’t imagine the artwork for this Star Wars anime being much better. While the style between each episode is very different, the collective whole is extraordinary. It’s everything it should be and more. It had all the hallmarks of the love and devotion—and respect—of these artists all over it. It was magnificent to behold in almost every episode. Can things be more “perfect” than perfect? I think so, at least by our standards here in this universe. So I can safely say that, in a sense, this artwork is perfect.

Story

Rating: 7

Like with the characters, these single-episode expositions had very little time to create impact through their stories. However, unlike with the characters, this task was not quite so impossible. Anime creators are very accustomed to making single episodes based on single stories, whether that single story fits into a larger whole or stands alone. So the task before the writers here wasn’t as unusual in this area.

Still, a single impactful episode in a 12-episode series still has more room for error than a truly single episode like these. A lot had to be packed into twenty minutes of storytelling here to make the episodes memorable.

The writers did just that. A lot happened in each episode and went by quickly. But the primary means of creating impact that the writers used was plot twists. Or perhaps simply “surprises” or “the unexpected” is a better phrase here, since twenty minutes isn’t much time to create a plot to twist. Still, we would recognize such elements as “plot twists” in larger tales.

I found it curious that basically every episode would throw something “unexpected” like this at us. Each episode was made by a different studio after all, yet they all seemed to arrive at the same conclusion in this regard. It goes to show you that plot twists are definitely the most impactful storytelling element out there. We’ve all seen shows that use them well (ex., To Your Eternity) and overuse them (Code Geass) and even fall in between (Attack on Titan). The anime fan is pretty familiar with the power of this storytelling element. 

Some spoilers to follow.

The Twins definitely tried to keep us off balance storywise. But I want to back up and note the familiar Studio Trigger style from Kill la Kill used in this episode. I loved it.

Every episode but Tatooine Rhapsody (and arguably The Village Bride, but it could be argued either way, and we won’t have that argument today) uses some unexpected plot twist. The Duel reveals the ronin is a former Sith. The “droid” in The Ninth Jedi turns out to be the man behind everything, whereupon he goes all buttobasu on the bad guys. Karre turns on his sibling in The Twins. The death from Tsubaki’s vision in Akakiri turns out to be caused by him. TO-B1 is powered by a kyber crystal which is key to that episode’s plot. 

I don’t mind this element. It’s always kind of bummer when the unexpected becomes the expected, but these episodes go by so fast and are so distinct from each other in every other way that one hardly notices that they’re all using very similar plot devices. And I cannot argue with the effectiveness of this plot device overall: history shows it to be timelessly effective. It definitely adds a good bit of spark to each episode, since you never know what’s coming next. That’s what these writers needed for these short expositions.

Dan’s overconfidence was his weakness, and also nearly led to his untimely demise.

The stories themselves are clever. I was pleased with this aspect. You had the plot twist that made them unpredictable, but beyond that the stories themselves drew the viewer in. The Twins used the “face behind the mask” element very well, aforementioned. Akakiri felt like it was setting up for tragedy, and it really was, creating an effective emotional impact. Lop and Ocho is very emotional as well, throwing the viewer violently between sympathy, happiness, anxiousness, and sadness. The Village Bride is engaging throughout, one scene carrying nicely into another.

Probably the thing I liked the best about the stories however was that they felt like “anime stories.” Since this is a Star Wars setting, it’s appropriate to compare these stories to Star Wars stories. While you might not be able to describe why, the difference between what we think of as a “Star Wars story” and a story that feels very “anime” was obvious here. On the surface you had obvious things like certain Japanese cultural things that popped up here and there in individual stories, but you also had other elements that were much less obvious and difficult to describe. The best way I can describe it is that the stories felt like “anime stories,” which I liked. I didn’t want to see these studios try to imitate something they weren’t familiar with. They made the right decisions by drawing on Star Wars elements but staying true to their own special storytelling abilities.

The writers managed to a lot in a little time with these stories, and I applaud that. Like with the characters, a lot was required to make these stories memorable, even if this was a slightly more familiar area for anime creators. They succeeded as much as one could with such brief expositions, making these stories easily memorable.

Overall: 9

One of the great successes of this series, as I’ve mentioned several times in different contexts, is that these episodes are very good despite how little time the creators had to work with given that each story is a single 20-minute episode. Maybe anime creators are very familiar with this kind of thing, but that doesn’t make it easy. But on top of that they were dealing with a legend: Star Wars. And on top of that, you’re dealing with not only a foreign legend (albeit with roots in Japanese storytelling through Lucas), you’re dealing with a legend that demands certain elements. Certain things had to be there for it be belong to the body of that legend. And among the many things that makes Star Wars what it is, it’s interesting, and perhaps a little ironic in this case, that one of those things is that Star Wars is very good at making immediate impact on audiences.

Think about iconic parts of Star Wars. From the opening scene of the franchise with the Star Destroyer chasing the Alderaanian ship to Darth Vader’s revelation to Luke to John Williams’s crescendoing music powerfully leading into climactic moments, this franchise is good a making a lot of impact in a very short amount of time. It’s a hallmark of this franchise that few others, if any, have been as successful at.

So the writers had not only had to create impact in a short time due to time constraints of each episode, but they also had to create impact in a short time to honor Star Wars tradition. To say they had their work cut out for them at the outset of this project was an understatement! But it is no overstatement to say that they absolutely succeeded in this endeavor. This doubly heavy weight makes that accomplishment even greater in my mind.

And to think this was accomplished by anime writers. These are the people that adapt manga and create originals that you and I have been watching and loving for a long time—from Japan. They’re anime creators. They’re not American Star Wars fans. They’re taking their art and applying it to Star Wars. And they’re not creating a different Star Wars in the process: they’re adding to its legend. They’re making anime and Star Wars stories at the same time.

Star Wars elements have appeared in anime before. I love love love (yes I said it three times) the lightsaber appearing in Sword Art Online, both in S2 of the main franchise and GGO (an epic side story, definitely worth watching, especially after seeing Star Wars: Visions). I even remember an odd moment in March Comes in Like a Lion where the shadow of Darth Vader appears behind a shogi player (a fun moment from the very creative Shaft people). I’m sure a lot of you could point to a few Star Wars references in other anime. So the world of anime is familiar with Star Wars, and the two have collided before.

But not like this. Sure good anime writers might be familiar with the franchise (any storywriter should be), but they’ve never written for it before. In other words, they’ve never contributed directly to the franchise itself. Star Wars: Visions does just that. It’s the ultimate collision between Star Wars and Japanese anime. Given George Lucas’s connections to Japan mentioned earlier that made their way into his storytelling, this is a perfect meeting of traditions. And this series has contributed to both traditions in a nearly perfect way.

It’s anime. It’s Star Wars. It’s not one or the other. It’s—successfully—both. That is the best thing about this series.

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