The animated series is a creative triumph, but it won't resonate with everyone.
To some extent, Star Wars: Visions is the very antithesis to what Disney has done with Star Wars up to this point. What has been the name of the game so far, is careful control, only green lighting carefully curated projects, and investing big in mainstream ideas. Some of these have paid off big time, like The Mandalorian, while the mainline sequel trilogy has soured fans over the past couple of years.
It's all been carefully controlled, honed in if you will. Star Wars: Visions is the opposite of control, it's downright chaotic, an anthology series from different studios, telling different short, action-packed stories, and none of them fit the traditional Star Wars storytelling mold. It's experimentation at its purest, perhaps symbolising the surrendering of the tighter narrative.
But as per usual with experimentation at its purest, the end result is a bit of a mixed bag, and like, say, Love, Death & Robots before it, it's going to come down to which of nine 15-minute-ish episodes you like, rather than if you like the entirety of Visions as a series, as a concept or not.
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I say that because they vary significantly in their expression, narrative style, and their interpretation of Star Wars as a whole. Just the first two episodes show this to great effect, the first being a black/white Ronin-style tale of a small-town standoff between a Sith and a... well a ronin of sorts. The second episode is the tale of a Tatooinian (is that a word) rock band, who has to perform for Jabba the Hutt to save one of their band members from execution. Yeah, you read that right. Like Japanese anime, Visions vary in visual style, how whimsical it is, or certainly isn't, or how it's thematically constructed. It's hard even to judge the package as a whole, seeing as this is about as anthology as it gets, even if it's all, to some extent, about Star Wars.
Behind each and every one, though, is quite nice technical execution. I'd advise immediately switching to the Japanese voice track, which helps to strengthen the outlandish nature of the concept, but even if you spring for English, it's beautifully voiced and mostly impeccably crafted visually. As is obviously the case, some dazzle more than others, but on the whole, if we have to judge it as a collection of tales, it's well done.
The point is that this is about as crazy as Star Wars gets, and about as hands-off as Disney has ever gotten since acquiring the rights from George Lucas and killing the extended universe. That alone makes its existence interesting.
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There are small gripes, for sure, such as some episodes being a tad on the short side, marking them almost as vignettes rather than fully narrative-fledged episodes, and the stories contained within could've been stronger if they'd been given the extra time. Maybe an arbitrary 25-minute threshold could've created the necessary breathing room?
Even still, Star Wars: Visions is a creative triumph, and while it certainly isn't for everyone, particularly not for those who scoff at classical anime storytelling tropes, it is an important step in the right direction, representing the aforementioned relinquishing of creative control to those who've been wanting to work with the IP for ages.