Directors: Rodrigo Blaas (Sith), Magdalena Osinsk (I Am Your Mother), Nadia Darries and Daniel Clarke (Aau’s Song), Paul Young (Screecher’s Reach), LeAndre Thomas and Justin Ridge (The Pit), Gabriel Osorio (In The Stars), Hyeong Geun Park (Journey to The Dark Head), Ishan Shukla (The Bandits of Golak), Julien Chheng (The Spy Dancer)
Star Wars Visions: Volume 2 is now streaming on Disney+
The second volume of Star Wars Visions contains nine new stories within the Star Wars universe. However, unlike the first series, created solely by animation studios in Japan, this follow-up features animation studios from all around the globe. This leads the series to escape the “Star Wars anime” feeling and feature a much wider animation style alongside different stories.
The majority of the store in Star Wars Visions: Volume 2 also feel like they could fit into the Star Wars canon if they want to. Unlike the sometimes outrageously wild stories seen in the first season. That’s not to say the stories here feel restrictive, which they’re not — just that they aren’t as wild as some seen in the first volume.
As will always be the case with any anthology series, some of these shorts stand out more than others, with several stories feeling like pilots for a whole series rather than a self-contained story. I enjoyed all nine of the shorts, but there is some crossover between at least three of them which shows a distinct lack of communication between the over-arching producers of the series, as well as the animation studios as their stories featuring young female characters discovering their powers, or finding a mentor felt a few too many for one series.
Let’s discuss the episodes in my ranking order from least favourite to favourite.
9.) Journey to the Dark Head by Studio Mir
Both the animation from Studio Mir and the Jedi vs Sith-focused narrative here felt the most like a story from the first volume of Star Wars Visions. This doesn’t necessarily make it bad, but when I look at this compared to the rest of the season, I enjoyed the new directions and stories much more than this one.
There are some interesting ideas in here, however, with a planet-hosting what appears to be writers of the Whills and playing with the dark side within all in a Jedi vs Sith showdown.
8.) The Bandits of Golak by 88 Pictures
The Indian influence and characters in The Bandits of Golak bring something new to the Star Wars universe. Although I enjoyed most of this short, it does fall into familiar territory in the second half, which is why it’s ranked lower on my episode rankings.
7.) Aau’s Song by Triggerfish
Having a character be so oddly in tune with the force that her singing disrupts dark Kyber crystals makes for an instantly intriguing narrative. The stop-motion-inspired animation with fluffy character designs and a world that feels like it’s come from Yoshi’s Wooly World was also a standout.
6.) In the Stars by Punkrobot
The stop-motion animation here was fantastic, particularly in the first few minutes with a tie-fighter searching for hiding citizens with a searchlight. And the tale of two sisters working together to fight back against the Empire who have destroyed their planet, taking away such an essential resource as water, does a great job of telling a relatable narrative within the Star Wars universe.
5.) The Pit by D’Art Shtajio and Lucasfilm
The Empire using enslaved people to mine Kyber and build a luxurious and wealthy city in the distance makes for some sad and memorable imagery. Leaving the enslaved people to die slowly in the hole they have dug themselves, placed on the outskirts of the town, is even worse. But this story does an excellent job of showing how we can be naive or even choose to turn a blind eye to where goods and more come from and who built them.
Shoutouts for this story also had the one post-credits scene that added a touching epilogue to the story.
4.) Screechers Reach by Cartoon Saloon
From Cartoon Saloon, the animation studio behind the brilliant Wolfwalkers comes another story in this volume that initially seems a-typical but features a twist.
The animation here is stunning, with the opening moments of the young girl working and a particular dark sequence in a cave being highlights of the entire volume.
3.) Sith by El Guiri
The series premiere will be a fan favourite with the best action of all the new episodes, featuring a simple good vs evil storyline with a slight twist. Here it’s not a Sith tracking down a Jedi, but instead a runaway ex-Sith looking for a new life.
What makes Sith stand out, however, is the stunning art direction which sometimes looks like an oil painting. The use of art to show how this runaway Sith is attempting to get past her prior mistakes and life and her struggle to paint over the darkness is inspired.
2.) I Am Your Mother by Aardman
As a Wallace & Gromit fan, I adored this short from Aardman, which is the most fun of all within Star Wars Visions: Volume 2. The banter and relationship between the mother and the dynamic were charming, and the ending was sweet. I would love to see Aardman do more Star Wars with this same vibe.
1.) The Spy Dancer by Studio La Cachette
Combining what used to happen in WWII with spies working as allied forces and rebels when entertaining the Nazis to a Star Wars story is the kind of real-world amalgamation and referential look at our wars that George Lucas started Star Wars with back in 1977.
The animation in The Spy Dancer is also stunning, with the dancing mesmerizing on-screen. The reveal at the end of this story left itself open perfectly for more, and this story felt like one of the most I’d like to see expanded in the future.
Star Wars Visions: Volume 2 showcases how much larger, diverse and exciting the world of Star Wars can be if we let creators push the world and storytelling. With beautiful animation from oil-painting moments to stop-motion and more, every episode feels different. Although some of the themes and characters in a couple of the episodes overlap, there’s still a much larger Star Wars universe than we’re currently seeing in the canon Disney+ series.