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Star Wars: Visions Season 2 review: Breathtaking visuals and heartwarming vignettes

By Hoots the Owl - 8 May 2023

Star Wars: Visions Season 2 review: Breathtaking visuals and heartwarming vignettes

Image Source: Disney

Star Wars is an entire galaxy beyond the Skywalkers, and Season 2 of animated anthology series Star Wars: Visions drives that point home emphatically. While Season 1 reimagined Star Wars from the perspective of anime – a stroke of brilliance considering that George Lucas was widely known to have been inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s work on jidaigeki films like The Hidden Fortress – Season 2 brings in a much more diverse range of art styles and representation.

With studios hailing from every corner of the globe, ranging from Chile to India and South Africa, the stories told are deeper and richer than ever – a reminder of the vast galaxy that Star Wars is really set in and the thrilling liberation of working outside of the franchise’s canon.

Image Source: Disney

Every one of the nine episodes is a heartwarming exploration of Star Wars mythology, filtered through the lens of local cultures. I particularly enjoyed 88 Pictures’ “The Bandits of Golak”, set in a landscape and culture deeply reminiscent of India. With epic lightsaber duels, thrilling chase scenes, and a brother who must keep his Force-sensitive little sister in check, the world in “The Bandits of Golak” is alternately heartwarming and fraught with danger at every turn.

The animation itself is stunning, with slick visuals and realistic lighting. And when the Sith Inquisitor shows his face, only to be confronted by a Yoda-esque old crone who turns out to be a Jedi, we’re treated to an epic lightsaber duel featuring both double-bladed and dual-wield sabers.

The Empire looms large in nearly every episode, and Force-sensitive children feature prominently in many of them. “Screecher’s Reach”, “In the Stars”, and “Aau’s Song” all offer incredibly creative and unique interpretations of what it means to be Force-sensitive in a world ravaged by either the Empire or Sith. Each of these paints a poignant picture, and “Screecher’s Reach” is purposefully ambiguous – while Daal appears to have passed some sort of test, the master that comes to collect her is never explicitly stated as either Jedi or Sith, although the extensive use of the colour red and her yellow eyes appear to ominously point toward the latter.

Image Source: Disney

“In the Stars” also explores what Force-sensitive children can do even without having been trained in lightsaber combat or acquainted with the Jedi. Sisters Tichina and Koten single-handedly reclaim their planet from the Empire, destroying a massive mining facility by releasing all the water that the Empire has stripped from the land. But their triumph over so much loss, after having lost both their planet, mother, and tribe, feels ultimately bittersweet.

Their culture believes that the dead become stars in the sky, and when two smaller stars appear alongside the glittering star they believe to be their mother, you can’t help but wonder whether they actually made it to the surface after all.

“The Pit” is another standout episode, and possibly the darkest in the series. While the other episodes have mostly uplifting endings for their protagonists, “The Pit” sees its supposed protagonist suffer a brutal end in the middle of the episode. The sheer callousness of the Empire also comes through in stark terms. When its prisoners have exhausted all the kyber resources at a site, digging themselves into a massive pit in the process, the Empire releases their restraints. However, they are far from free – and the Empire has effectively left them to starve and die in a pit they have no way of getting out of.

Image Source: Disney

The stop-motion style of “Aau’s Song”, with its adorable fuzzy, felt characters, also makes it one of the most distinctive in the series. It is notably lighter and more optimistic than its counterparts, and while the Sith have corrupted the veins of kyber crystal – neither they nor the Empire make an appearance in the episode.

But what really sets Visions apart from Star Wars canon is the way the Force feels so much more than a cold, unfeeling entity that demands absolute abnegation of the self. Beyond Jedi mind tricks and telekinesis, the Force in Visions is a living, breathing thing that can be used for art or even expressed in song.

Above all, Visions is unique. While we’ve been inundated in recent years by Star Wars series like The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, Tales of the Jedi, The Bad Batch, and the upcoming Ahsoka, Visions stands out from the pack because of its expansive interpretation of a galaxy far, far away. Its individual vignettes are deeply personal and have a ton of heart, inviting the viewer to rethink how they approach Star Wars. After all, there are many ways to resist tyranny and defy the Empire. 

Star Wars: Visions is streaming now on Disney+.

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