Star Wars Visions Episodes Ranked

During the Anime Expo Panel, the Lucasfilm team behind Star Wars Visions introduced the first look to the world. The team said that they hoped the show would get Star Wars fans interested in anime and anime fans interested in Star Wars. Despite the declaration of reciprocation, this is what Star Wars Visions is supposed to accomplish: Tap into the popularity of anime to bring in new Star Wars fans. Sure, if existing Star Wars fans get into more anime that’s great for the anime studios involved, but that won’t increase Disney Plus subscriptions. There are also no plans to integrate these stories into canon per Executive Producer, James Waugh…currently. So Star Wars Visions introduces nine short films to whet the appetite of anime fans across various styles and convey what makes Star Wars great.

Let’s take a look at all nine stories, the characters, the themes, and rank on the likelihood of converting anime fans to Star Wars fans.

*Note: This is not a personal ranking but a ranking based on the criteria that I highlighted above. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.

Karre on an X-Wing, in space, totally fine | credit Lucasfilm ltd. and Trigger Studios

9. The Twins (Trigger Studios)

Two twins (Am and Karre) born from the dark side are on the cusp of creating the ultimate superweapon powered by a kyber crystal. When Karre attempts to steal the kyber crystal for an unknown reason, this leads to the ultimate showdown between the two on top of twin Star Destroyers.

What Feels Like Star Wars?

Everything seems like a play on an actual Star Wars character or design. Let’s start with the twins, who are dark side versions of Luke and Leia (Karre even ends up on an X-Wing overlooking the Tatooine sunset). They were created for a specific purpose, possibly from cloning but maybe from other elements of the Force. These could all be plausible in the future of the Star Wars universe.

The music, which is very ominous but Imperial in tone, and the sound effects for the droids will all be familiar to Star Wars and even non-Star Wars fans. The droid B2-ON is similar to C-3P0 or, for canon junkies, 0-0-0 from Doctor Aphra. R-DUO is R2-D2’s distant relative and even has a hero’s moment piloting the X-Wing. The Holdo Maneuver also makes an appearance later in the episode.

What Doesn’t Feel Like Star Wars?

The power set of the twins very anime OP and, while Jedi abilities get grander with every canon content, the Jedi never go Super Saiyan as Am and Karre do in their battle. Am and Karre standing on top of their Star Destroyers in the vacuum of space (without helmets) sails past suspension of disbelief even for animation. The lightsaber mechanics are also ridiculous. Am sprouting four additional arms, while Grevious-like, is quadruple ridiculous.

This story is a version of the duality of light versus dark and choice versus destiny without key elements and time for exploration. Karre could care less about the Republic’s cause as his motivations are more to save his sister than the galaxy. He could be headed down a path that is more grey, but the story doesn’t afford him the time to explore that, choosing instead exposition to the nth degree. As it stands, “The Twins” uses most of its time on an over-the-top, but visually stunning, battle rather than flesh out the themes presented. In the end, Trigger’s first entry is beautiful to look at with very little depth.

Taijin and Dan look for the disturbance | credit Lucasfilm ltd. and Trigger Studios

8. The Elder (Trigger Studios)

Centuries after the fall of the Sith, a Jedi Master and his Padawan ( Tajin and Dan) are traveling through hyperspace when Tajin senses something dark and sinister in the Force. The two trace the feeling to a distant planet, Habo, and end up encountering an ancient evil not seen for centuries.

What Feels Like Star Wars?

Like Trigger’s other short, “The Twins,” there is a mirror to canon Star Wars characters. Dan and Tajin’s banter is similar to Anakin and Obi-Wan (Dan also seems eager to fight and doesn’t always act like a Jedi in training). The dialogue is Prequel level bad (at least in English) but there are some great Star Wars visuals reminiscent of Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars, which is also not canon but elements were used to create The Clone Wars series. The steam from the lightsabers in the rain calls back to a thrilling battle between Anakin Skywalker and Asajj Ventress featured in the micro-series (also on Disney Plus).

What Doesn’t Feel Like Star Wars?

The message that you can’t win against the weakness that comes with age feels so wrong as a theme in Star Wars content. One of the wisest Star Wars characters, Yoda, is hundreds of years old and was fighting other Sith in the Prequel Trilogy. Older characters outsmart, and overpower, younger characters all the time in Star Wars. Palpatine took control of an entire galaxy through strategic genius but also pure power. Yes, physically one gets weaker as they age but internal strength can continue to build.

Also, Dan? Worst Star Wars name ever.

If this were an episode of The Clone Wars, Padawan Dan would be dead not because he was young, but because of his arrogance that he could face a Sith alone. “The Elder” has a better overall story than Trigger’s “The Twins” (it’s complete), but it completely misses the mark on theme.

T0-B1 and Professor Mitaka | credit Lucasfilm ltd. and Science SARU

7. T0-B1 (Science SARU)

A droid, the titular T0-B1, who lives on Tatooine with his maker, dreams of becoming a real Jedi (and a real boy). His maker, Professor Mitaka, is a scientist that spends his time tuning the other droids and working on terraforming the desert planet. One day, T0-B1 learns a secret the Professor has been keeping that threatens both their lives and the little droid must realize his dreams to fight back against the evil forces encroaching on his homeworld.

What Feels Like Star Wars?

This one is for the kids, even more-so than other animation content from Star Wars. If you tell a droid that the Force is present in all things, they are going to take it literally, and T0-B1 did, looking for the Force all over Tatooine. It was a cute moment and one that would convey the metaphorical with humor that would appeal to children. Classic droid humor.

The hero’s journey of wanting one thing and ending with a completely different purpose is at the heart of Star Wars stories like Jedi Fallen Order (a game which was also intended to appeal to non-Star Wars fans). T0-B1 continues his mentor’s mission of helping other planets instead of his initial desire to travel the galaxy fighting evil.

What Doesn’t Feel Like Star Wars?

The actual research and work of terraforming a desert planet feels more like Dune but it is heartwarming that a former Jedi would consider a droid his Padawan for continuing his work. Droids are a big part of Star Wars and stories revolving around them have evolved into deep explorations of personhood. L3-37 from Solo: A Star Wars Story is a more recent example of a droid with ambition beyond that of their original programming. But L3 is still a droid. She does not cry, she does not have dreams or visions, and she cannot tap into a life force to make things fly like Force-sensitive, organic beings can. T0-B1 being able to do that and use a lightsaber with perfect form was a missed opportunity to emphasize that anyone can be a hero, even without the Force.

This story could have worked with the droid deciding to carry on his maker’s legacy on Tatooine, though the plot still seems similar to Wall-E. Speaking of which, the overall feel/theme makes “T0-B1” more of a short you would find under the Walt Disney Studios tab in Disney Plus than Star Wars.

Flashback of Tsubaki and Princess Misa | credit Lucasfilm ltd. and Science SARU

6. Akakiri (Science SARU)

Yes, Trigger and Science SARU’s shorts seem to be lumped together and that is probably not a coincidence. But, while “T0-B1” has a more lighthearted kid-friendly approach to Star Wars that falters, “Akakiri” is a bold, dark story of a Princess and a Jedi. A Jedi, Tsubaki, travels to a distant planet to save his love, a Princess, from a Sith who has taken control of her family. Tsubaki is warned by his Master that he will fall to the dark side if he goes, but the Jedi is stubborn and insistent that he can change this outcome and save the woman he loves.

What Feels Like Star Wars?

Being blinded by emotions and driven to the dark side in an effort to save someone you love is the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker. And it is also Tsubaki’s tragedy. He is unwilling to let people go (he rescues a guide during a perilous journey to Misa’s palace even though the guide’s friend warns him against it). In the end, he is easily manipulated by the Sith Masago into joining her after accidentally killing his love (which was also Masago’s fault). A self-fulfilling prophecy.

Also, a story about a Jedi and a Princess is pure Star Wars. Nobility tied to a sense of duty is also a big part of Star Wars and it is surprising that “Akakiri” is one of two stories where it is touched upon.

What Doesn’t Feel Like Star Wars?

Star Wars loves its tragic stories and one main source of torment is not being able to save those you love from death. Acceptance of death is part of what separates the light from the dark. That the Princess was saved from death feels like a letdown.

I like the false perception given early when Tsubaki saves the guide from death, giving him and his friend a happy ending only to fall to the dark side trying to do the same thing later. The ending of “Akakiri” is the least hopeful out of all the episodes and also happens to be the last one this season. But that, too, is Star Wars, and anime fans who loved the dark ending might find a kindred spirit in many The Clone Wars episodes. Also, this is the best collective voice cast for the English dub, and I would love to see Henry Golding, Jamie Chung, George Takei, and Lorraine Toussaint in a live-action Star Wars adventure.

Dueling Siths | credit Lucasfilm ltd. and Kamikaze Douga

5. The Duel (Kamikaze Douga)

On pure visuals, this is an A+. A throwback to classic black and white Samurai (and Western) shows with the classic Star Wars opening of a space shot panning down. This is followed by a film grain aesthetic as we see a man and a droid and immediately “The Duel” has your attention. The wanderer and his droid defend a small village against bandit remnants of war and a Sith.

What Feels Like Star Wars?

The episode is a barrage of familiar species, droids and sounds: an R2 unit, a probe droid and Trandoshan all contribute to the Star Wars atmosphere in this Japanese town.

The small town village being invaded due to a lack of order and lawlessness is very Star Wars. Also, anime fans that watch this then The Clone Wars film or series might see some similarities with the Sith leader and Asajj Ventress.

What Doesn’t Feel Like Star Wars?

The reveal that it is not a Jedi that has come to the rescue of the town but another Sith is new, and the overall aesthetic is quite different. It combines Japanese history of the Ronin Samurai warriors during Feudal Japan with Star Wars. Everything about Ronin is, well Ronin-like, except of course the red lightsaber and Force powers.

“The Duel” is currently the only Star Wars Visions episode that is getting additional material: a novel coming out October 2021. And that alone elevates this story as Lucasfilm felt confident this would be a favorite and fans (anime, Star Wars, and both) would want to learn more about a former Sith warrior that has a bunch of kyber crystals. Beyond the novel, who knows what’s next but it will be one of the first indications of Star Wars Visions‘ success.

WIP Jedi | credit Lucasfilm ltd and Production I.G.

4. The Ninth Jedi (Production I.G.)

Lah Kara, a Force-sensitive young girl is sent by her lightsaber-smith father, Lah Zhima, to help a leader in the Outer Rim restore the Jedi Order by providing Masterless Jedi with lightsabers. Kara must complete her journey while avoiding Jedi Hunters and the Sith, who seek to destroy the Jedi before the lightsabers ever reach their hands.

What Feels Like Star Wars?

The production and costume design in this feels more like Star Wars than any of the other shorts. The score shines with the grandiose introduction and battle music, the ominous undertones, and the sharp horns when danger looms.

“The Ninth Jedi” is also the only short to have an equivalent of an opening crawl, which is one of the most recognizable signatures for a franchise. Even though the exposition is narrated and not a crawl, it provides the necessary exposition without disrupting the story.

What Doesn’t Feel Like Star Wars?

One of the reasons this episode is a favorite among Star Wars fans is that there is a twist. And that works because of the lightsaber mechanics within the world of “The Ninth Jedi.” Unlike Star Wars canon where the kyber crystals have to go through a process called “bleeding” to turn red, the lightsabers here change based on the intentions of the wielder.

The whole idea of a twist is also rare in Star Wars. The modern Star Wars (and non-Star Wars) community has not yet collectively experience such a twist. That is special. And the hints to the mystery are all there: the opening exposition mentioning the Sith’s plans to thwart the Jedi, Ethan (who was light side) being the only Jedi who ignited the lightsaber at first, and the questions from the “Jedi” to the droid, who is the Margrave in disguise. All the credit to Production I.G. for planting the seeds for the payoff in a 24-minute short.

Also, this is the most adult anime short as Siths get cut in half, which is only something alluded to in Star Wars content but never truly shown.

An engaging story overcomes the fact that “The Ninth Jedi” is light on Star Wars themes. The duality between light and dark is simple, but it is just a thrilling story. Non-Star Wars fans who love “The Ninth Jedi” might find a kindred spirit in The High Republic content. And we could see more Sith in the upcoming Disney Plus series focusing on the High Republic era, The Acolyte.

By the way, many planets in Star Wars resemble Earth, so it is nice to see Saturn get some love with Hy Izla.

One last song | credit Lucasfilm ltd. and Studio Colorido

3. Tatooine Rhapsody (Studio Colorido)

When a Jedi Padawan on the run runs into a Hutt guitarist, he discovers his true calling as the leader of the rock opera band, Star Waver. Now on their way to stardom, they must band together to save one of their own from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt.

What Feels Like Star Wars?

Putting aside the appearance of Boba Fett (with Temuera Morrison voicing) and Jabba, “Tatooine Rhapsody” plays into the glorious weirdness of Jabba’s Palace scene in Return of the Jedi Special Edition. Some Star Wars fans will not get past the hyper-stylized animation, which is a shame. It is pure Star Wars joy. Found family and a group risking their lives to save one of their own are all part of some of the best Star Wars stories.

What Doesn’t Feel Like Star Wars?

“Tatooine Rhapsody” is a rescue mission set against the backdrop of a musical set. Jay and his bandmates save their friend without ever having to ignite a lightsaber. Jay even repurposes the lightsaber as a microphone for Star Waver’s set. Star Wars Visions has been heavy on the lightsabers, which is fair as they are a key part of what makes Star Wars, Star Wars. But it is not the end-all, be-all.

“Tatooine Rhapsody” is a unique way to present Star Wars, but it is Star Wars all the way, proving that you can be a hero without being a Jedi.

Two points of view meet in the woods | credit Lucasfilm ltd. and Kinema Citrus Co.

2. The Village Bride (Kinema Citrus Co.)

A Jedi, F, in hiding from the Empire observes the traditions of a local village, including a new bride. With the help of a guide named Valco, F learns about the traditions of the village and their homeworld. When the Bride decides to give herself as collateral to the leader (Izuza) of a group of raiders to save her village, the Jedi must decide whether to break her code against interfering and help the villagers.

What Feels Like Star Wars?

This is everything that Star Wars encompasses in a short story: the call to action and the initial refusal of a hero’s journey combined with a Jedi’s struggle between being keepers of the peace and soldiers. Recent Star Wars canon (particularly in animation and novels) has explored different species/planets’ interpretations of the Force. In “The Village Bride,” it is called Magina, and the Bride explains that it is how she knows that her decision will save her people. She puts her faith in Magina, while F is skeptical and, perhaps, jaded.

Matthew Wood also brings The Clone Wars vibes in the English dub, voicing the B1 battle droids with that classic Prequel humor.

What Doesn’t Feel Like Star Wars?

Nothing feels far from Star Wars except for the character design and the beautiful operatic and spiritual score.

Izuza’s arm gets cut off by F’s lightsaber, and he does the most realistic thing that most who lose a limb don’t in Star Wars: he passes out from shock.

“The Village Bride” takes its time, allowing people to get invested in these characters. When the battle at the end starts, there are real stakes, and the hero moment is earned. It is similar to a chapter of The Mandalorian and was close to being number one but was beaten by a short that had a little something extra.

Lop is stuck in the middle of philosophies | credit Lucasfilm ltd. and Gene Studio

1. Lop and Ochō (Gene Studio)

“Lop and Ochō” is the perfect combination of anime style and Star Wars themes, while telling a tragic family story. On the Imperial occupied planet of Tao, a young Lop escapes Imperial captivity when she is rescued by Boss Yasaburo and his daughter Ochō. Even though Yasaburo does not want to adopt Lop, he agrees for his daughter’s sake, and the two girls instantly become close. Seven years pass and Ochō has become more sympathetic to the Empire’s cause and disillusioned with her father’s desire to fight the Empire, with Lop stuck in the middle. Lop must pick a side and decide where her loyalties to her adoptive family lie.

What Feels Like Star Wars?

I was so taken aback by the opening sequence of a 3D Star Destroyer coming out of hyperspace that I lost focus for the first minute of “Lop and Ochō.” Star Destroyers entering the frame via hyperspace is classic Star Wars imagery. And Imperial prejudice towards non-human species is a common occurrence. Lop’s species are enslaved (though in English dub the word “laborer” is used). The Empire has been a part of other stories in Star Wars Visions but mostly relegated to the background. Here it is front and center and throughout the story as an impending force of doom for the family. We also get an Imperial officer, though his look is more anime than Star Wars.

What Doesn’t Feel Like Star Wars?

Not so much that this doesn’t feel like Star Wars, but prejudice and how that ties into the exploitation of resources (both land and people) is barely touched upon in the Star War films (but is in the animated shows). Planets that get plundered by the Empire and enslaved are non-humans (Twi’leks, Wookiees, Ugnaughts). Lop is saved from a life of slavery but she is never truly accepted by her adoptive family (her sister appears to until Lop is given the family lightsaber) and her father doesn’t accept her until Ochō joins the Empire.

“Lop and Ochō” has a similar but better executed ending than The Rise of Skywalker. Lop is continuing the family tradition, and Rey has taken the name Skywalker. But Lop affirming that she belongs in the family and looking on as her sister leaves feels more earned in 21 minutes than Rey’s ending looking over Tatooine’s setting suns after three films.

“Lop and Ochō” dives into Imperialism and what that means for planets and people over time, which is covered more in the Disney Plus shows like The Mandalorian and The Bad Batch but also present in the Sequel Trilogy with the First Order. While most of the other studios focused on the Sith as the main villains and ignore the Imperialism aspect of Star Wars, Gene Studio chose to lean in fully. That they executed the story perfectly puts this episode above all others because the Empire is the most common antagonistic force in Star Wars. And, if anime fans can appreciate this tale of two sisters who have grown apart, there are so many more great stories in canon that await. But I also would not mind more tales of Lop and Ochō.

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