Wchicken Visions Producer Kanako Shirasaki has announced Lucasfilm’s intention to let Japanese creators get away from Star Wars history, few of those who have spent even a short time finding out about creator George Lucas’ interests could claim to be. surprised. The Star Wars universe is a patchwork of Earth cultures: the Bedouin influence of Tatooine. Naboo’s nods to ancient Rome, chariot / pod races and all. What are the Jedi Knights if not a riff on the samurai warriors of feudal Japan?
The Japanese theme doesn’t stop there. Lucas said that the 1958 Akira Kurosawa film The hidden fortress helped shape the years 1977 New hope. It’s raw jidaigeki, the Japanese word for period drama (the kind of movies Kurosawa made), inspired the Jedi. Long before Sir Alec Guinness (reluctantly) took on the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Lucas had envisioned Kurosawa regular Toshiro Mifune in the role.
If there is anything surprising about Visions – nine short, non-canon Star Wars stories produced by eight Japanese animation studios (Science SARU pulls dual function) – this is perhaps the best spin-off to date from the world’s most popular fantasy franchise. Yeah, you heard us Baby Yoda! Because here’s the thing. Yes The Manadlorien akin to the greatest cover band ever, regularly hitting beloved beats, giving fans what they want and often, so Visions is an original artist of some distinction. It’s in the latter’s release that we can learn the most about the Star Wars situation – and where the franchise is heading.
Because as far as John Favreau is concerned, the Star Wars franchise doesn’t need ten other spinoff productions directed by him (there are, at the time of writing, three in production: The Mandalorian, Ahsoka, The Rangers of the New Republic). International appeal requires international voices, which Marvel knows all too well. We often say that representation is important as it is powerful for everyone to see themselves on screen. A simpler reading is that without diversity things get boring.
Visions is rarely boring. Kinema Citrus’ “Village Bride” is sagging a bit, but elsewhere it’s clear that everyone involved in the project is having fun. We’re shown the answer to the never-before-asked question “What kind of lightsaber would Mary Poppins have?” In the best episode of the series, the superb “The Duel” by Kamikaze Douga. Studio Trigger’s remarkable “The Twins” shows us a lightsaber that doubles as a whip. And Visions is not afraid of becoming very, very stupid. ‘Tatooine Rhapsody’ is the story of an intergalactic emo group performing in an amphitheater in Tatooine, in the hopes that it convinces Jabba the Hutt not to perform their bassist. The band is called Star Waver and the Cantina Band P45s are in place.
To associate Star Wars with the MCU again, it’s unlikely that a series like Visions could exist in the increasingly convoluted world of the latter. Maybe they should try to give more of their properties to new voices. Few would criticize the consistency of Marvel’s world-building since their acquisition by Disney in 2009, but some of their productions are more like extended trailers than stand-alone works. Everything became very rigid on the way to End of Game.
Conversely, when Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, they called the comics, novels, and video games-fleshed out timeline a Star Wars: Legends and moved on. There’s a lineage in the movies, but elsewhere, if it sounds like Star Wars, it’s Star Wars. The MCU doesn’t have that freedom, or that consistency of tone, as the oft-forced What if…? We know what Star Wars should look like, what it should look like, the stylistic parameters in which the series should stay. The screen fades between scenes. An abundance of high tech machinery that looks dusty and worn out. Ropes that fly away. Bip-y droids. Creatures with texture. That’s why fans disliked the CGI orgy that accompanied the prequels – and overlooked the brazen plot rework of the force awakens.
Visions looks like Star Wars, while being something completely separate. This is great news for fans, and a nod to a future that seems limitless in its ambition and… well, its vision.
‘Star Wars: Visions’ is now streaming on Disney +