The worlds of anime and Star Wars are about to collide in a new anthology series, Star Wars: Visions, which premieres on Disney Plus later this month.
With legendary Japanese animation studios exploring iconic worlds and characters, Star Wars: Visions promises to be a major release for the Disney streamer.
So, read on for everything we know about the series so far, from who’s involved to when and where to watch it to rumors and Easter eggs, and more.
If you don’t already have Disney Plus, you can sign up by hitting the button below to watch Star Wars: Visions when it premieres.
What is Star Wars: Visions?
Star Wars: Visions is a series of animated shorts, and each tells its own story in a unique animation style. What unites them is that they take place in the Star Wars universe. And they’re are all Japanese anime.
A few episode descriptions have offered some sense of what to expect, including familiar themes and imagery.
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The twins and master/Padawan motifs from the films will appear in the shorts The Twins and The Elder, respectively. The former will feature a brother and sister born into the dark side, with the brother seeking to save his sister from her Sith ways. In T0-B1, a droid dreams of being a Jedi. And throughout, characters struggle to maintain honor and do good in the galaxy in the never-ending fight against the dark side.
You can see from the trailer that several of the shorts draw heavily on westerns as well as the films of Akira Kurosawa, like Yojimbo and The Hidden Fortress.
George Lucas famously drew from westerns and The Hidden Fortress when working on the original Star Wars, and was inspired by a great deal of Japanese history while developing familiar Star Wars iconography. So, this really is a match made in heaven.
When and where can I watch Star Wars: Visions?
Star Wars: Visions will stream exclusively on Disney Plus starting September 22.
Additionally, a fourth Star Wars series, The Book of Bobba Fett, is set for a December 2021 release on Disney Plus.
Which animation studios are involved?
Unlike Disney’s previous animated anthology series What If…?, Star Wars: Visions won’t have a single visual style across episodes.
Instead, Disney and Lucasfilm contracted Japanese animation studios to create their own Star Wars stories in their signature styles. That means the stories were written in-house at each studio, and the animation was crafted accordingly.
The seven studios, and the shorts they produced, are as follows:
- Kamikaze Douga: The Duel
- Geno Studio (Twin Engine): Lop & Ochō
- Studio Colorido (Twin Engine): Tatooine Rhapsody
- Trigger: The Twins and The Elder
- Kinema Citrus: The Village Bride
- Science Saru: Akakiri and T0-B1
- Production IG: The Ninth Jedi
Who is voicing the Star Wars: Visions characters?
Star Wars: Visions boasts an impressive cast of voice actors for both the Japanese-language version and English-language version.
The Japanese version will feature the following voice actors, organized by short film:
- The Duel: Masaki Terasoma (Ronin), Akeno Watanabe (Bandit Leader), and Yūko Sanpei (Village Chief)
- Tatooine Rhapsody: Hiroyuki Yoshino (Jay), Kōsuke Gotō (Geezer), Akio Kaneda (Boba Fett), Masayo Fujita (K-344), and Anri Katsu (Lan)
- The Twins: Junya Enoki (Karre), Ryoko Shiraishi (Am), and TokuyoshiKawashima (B-20N)
- The Village Bride: Asami Seto (F), Megumi Han (Haru), Yūma Uchida (Asu), Takaya Kamikawa (Vaan), Yoshimitsu Shimoyama (Izuma), and Mariya Ise (Saku)
- The Ninth Jedi: Chinatsu Akasaki (Kara), Tetsuo Kanao (Juro), Shin-ichiro Miki (Zhima), Hiromu Mineta (Ethan), Kazuya Nakai (Roden), Akio Ōtsuka, (Narrator), and Daisuke Hirakawa (Hen Jin)
- T0-B1: Masako Nozawa (T0-B1), and Tsutomu Isobe (Mitaka)
- The Elder: Takaya Hashi (Tajin), Kenichi Ogata (The Elder), and Yuichi Nakamura (Dan)
- Lop & Ochō: Seiran Kobayashi (Lop), Risa Shimizu (Ocho), Tadahisa Fujimura (Yasaburo), and Taisuke Nakano (Imperial Officer)
- Akakiri: Yū Miyazaki (Tsubaki), Lynn (Misa), Chō (Senshuu), Wataru Takagi (Kamahachi), and Yukari Nozawa (Masago)
The English version will feature the following voice actors, organized by short film (watch the English trailer here):
- The Duel: Brian Tee (Ronin), Lucy Liu (Bandit Leader), and Jaden Waldman (Village Chief)
- Tatooine Rhapsody: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Jay), Bobby Moynihan (Geezer), Temuera Morrison (Boba Fett), Shelby Young (K-344), and Marc Thompson (Lan)
- The Twins: Neil Patrick Harris (Karre), Alison Brie (Am), and Jonathan Lipow (B-20N)
- The Village Bride: Karen Fukuhara (F), Nichole Sakura (Haru), Christopher Sean (Asu), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Valco), Andrew Kishino (Izuma), and Stephanie Sheh (Saku)
- The Ninth Jedi: Kimiko Glenn (Kara), Andrew Kishino (Juro), Simu Liu (Zhima), Masi Oka (Ethan), Greg Chun (Roden), Neil Kaplan (Narrator), and Michael Sinterniklaas (Hen Jin)
- T0-B1: Jaden Waldman (T0-B1), and Kyle Chandler (Mitaka)
- The Elder: David Harbour (Tajin), Jordan Fisher (Dan), and James Hong (The Elder)
- Lop & Ochō: Anna Cathcart (Lop), Hiromi Dames (Ocho), Paul Nakauchi (Yasaburo), and Kyle McCarley (Imperial Officer)
- Akakiri: Henry Golding (Tsubaki), Jamie Chung (Misa), George Takei (Senshuu), Keone Young (Kamahachi), and Lorraine Toussaint (Masago)
Where does it fit into Star Wars canon?
The Star Wars “Expanded Universe” is massive. It includes the original film trilogy, the prequel and sequel trilogies, novels and comics, and video games.
And canon got even more complicated when Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012. In 2014, the company formed a “story group” to oversee development of Star Wars films and other properties and to maintain a degree of consistency across titles. That meant many parts of the Expanded Universe were removed from the broader continuity, relabelled as “Star Wars Legends.”
Official, Disney-approved canon now consists of the nine main feature films, some of The Clone Wars films and series, and books and games produced mostly after the Disney acquisition.
So, where does Star Wars: Visions fit in?
Star Wars canon can be tricky, and Disney isn’t giving us any clear answers about Star Wars: Visions.
According to executive producer James Waugh, the studios involved did not have to operate within established Star Wars timelines or chronology. “We really wanted to give these creators a wide creative berth to explore all the imaginative potential of the Star Wars galaxy through the unique lens of anime,” he said at Anime Expo 2021.
But does that mean these shorts aren’t canon? Well, maybe. Disney hasn’t clarified, and that’s probably intentional. We may very well see elements of these stories pop up elsewhere in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Or maybe we won’t. The good news is, the main objective here seems to have been to tell great stories above all else.
What to expect from Star Wars: Visions
In addition to a few brief synopses, Disney hasn’t revealed too much about individual episodes.
But the trailer does give us a few glimpses at iconic Star Wars content. Here’s a brief list of the ones that stand out, along with tidbits of info gleaned from statements and interviews:
- It looks as though a Jedi or Force-sensitive character will halt a blaster bolt in mid-air, like Kylo Ren did in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This was a dramatic use of the Force that expanded on blaster deflection from earlier Star Wars films. That may signal some general engagement with the newer films.
- Boba Fett and Jabba the Hutt will make appearances in one of the shorts. Fett and his famous ship Slave I can be briefly seen in the trailer.
- We see what looks like the podracing stadium on the planet Tatooine from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. This is likely the location of the rock concert or rock opera that will be featured in Tatooine Rhapsody.
But aside from familiar Star Wars characters and settings, the series trailer shows us what look like entirely new characters and storylines. But even with wildly different animation styles from the various studios, these stories all look distinctly like they fit into the Star Wars mythos.
That’s what we know about Star Wars: Visions so far.
You can check it out in September on Disney Plus.