Star Wars is for everyone. That universe created by George Lucas has since expanded into a collection of stories that bring a community together for something they all love. From tales of Jedi knights fighting Sith lords to roguish outlaws being rescued by royalty, there is something for everyone.
And thought flows into Star Wars Visions Vol. 2, an animated anthology where animation studios from around the globe share their love of the galaxy far, far away and celebrate their respective cultures by weaving it into the Star Wars tapestry. As such, we see the beauty that allows us to see what Star Wars means to each of those studios through a global lens.
Because Star Wars is as expansive as the universe, its reach is infinite, and its lore can be interpreted differently. With Vol. 1 centered on finally bringing anime to the Star Wars: Visions Vol. 2 shifts its focus on how the rest of the world sees it. The result is something breathtakingly beautiful to watch while exploring the studios’ respective cultures in a way that offers a dynamic new perspective on the storied mythos of Star Wars.
One of the more impressive things about Vol. 2 is Lucasfilm’s commitment to letting these studios tell their stories while celebrating their respective cultures against the backdrop of Star Wars. Each of these shorts is wildly different from the next in terms of tone, pacing, and style. The lengths of these episodes may vary, with the shortest runs at 11 minutes and the longest at 18 minutes. And because of the variety of these shorts, some end up being stronger than others in terms of the totality. That is not to say there’s a single bad one in it. Some just work better than others. And that’s okay.
The unfortunate thing about these shorts are that they are one offs, unlikely to be revisited. And though their open-endedness gives a sense of leaving its conclusion up to the audience’s imagination, it’s hard to accept that some of these characters will end up where they are. However, it does lay out the groundwork for other artisans to bring some of that inspirational perspective to future works.
And while these shorts mainly operate outside of the Skywalker Saga, they are still bound by Star Wars rules. We see the ongoing battles between the Jedi and the Sith in Studio Mir’s Journey to the Dark Head. At the same time, Punkrobot’s In The Stars reminds audiences of the Empire’s colonization atrocities — not to mention their industrial pollution. One of the darkest shorts comes from Cartoon Saloon, whose Screecher’s Reach episode features that gorgeous animation we’ve come to know and love when watching their films like Wolfwalkers and The Breadwinner. While an exciting adventure awaits this family, it does take an unexpected turn that may upset younger audiences. However, I’d expect nothing less from a Star Wars universe full of twists and turns.
Most of the shorts are connected to this idea of rising against oppressors or at least exposing them and female empowerment. El Guiri’s Sith, directed by Richard Blaas, brings a fresh perspective on running away from the darkness to find your voice. Using stylized animation, the short feels like watching someone create a Star Wars story with a paint brush. The way these characters move and how the action is explosive turns this short into a beautiful Pablo Picasso piece. At the same time, Screecher’s Reach looks into the temptation of the Dark Side and how it affects the family around you if one chooses to embrace it. And I am Your Mother is Adrman’s fun take on a young daughter who dreams of becoming a starfighter pilot, discovering that there’s more to her mother than the embarrassing moments.
Some of the more emotional shorts, like 88 Pictures’ The Bandits of Golak, circle back to the Force but focus heavily on the brother and sister dynamics while also bringing more of the director’s voice, their culture, and the values that make Star Wars what it is today. And we get to see much of that in the director’s respective choices in the music, costumes, and even the character’s enunciation of the English language. But hearing these shorts in the studio’s native language from their countries of origin has more meaning. It emphasizes the global impact of Star Wars.
While Star Wars Visions Vol. 2 is being released all at once, much like its predecessor, it’s better to watch them in individual morsels. These shorts are free from telling stories of the Jedi and Sith and are more concerned with telling the tales of the heroes who aren’t a part of that feud. This is absolutely wonderful because there’s more to Star Wars than a few good lightsaber duels. And like the world, there are so many other stories to tell from different perspectives. These shorts are less concerned with bridging the gap or planting the seeds for the future, but rather, giving the space for these nine studios from around the globe to tell their stories full of heart, hope, and a little humor. By exploring Star Wars through the global lens, we get to see the humanity in these stories where beings from another galaxy fight their oppressors, where those are searching for their identity, or one where the protagonist finds discovers that mom who embarrasses them in front of their friends has a very cool secret. It’s these kinds of global stories that reflect upon the humanity and give a wider scope of what Star Wars means to the world.