Star Wars Visions – Episode 1, The Duel: A mysterious ronin rescues a village

When Star Wars Visions was announced months ago I was excited about the anthology series. After the first episode, “The Duel,” I wasn’t disappointed. I don’t expect to like all the episode in this series but I’m eager to find out. The Duel is a simple story. A mysterious ronin arrives to a village attacked by bandits. Much is left unexplained regarding the backstory of any of the characters or the village. It’s not an issue. The bandits begin to round up the villagers looking for “taxes.” The leader demands to speak to the chief. However, he’s incapacitated with an unknown illness. His young son rises up in his place.

The Duel plays with our expectations several times. We’re familiar with the tropes found in this episode, so we all know the ronin will save the village. However, the village isn’t helpless. The Chief’s son raises his hand signaling an attack. Suddenly, the bandits are under attack and overwhelmed. When the resistance appears to be victorious a Sith Lord appears. Armed with an umbrella like lightsaber she quickly defeats the resistance.

A Ronin vs A Dark Lord

The mysterious ronin head into the village. The Sith discards the umbrella like tool and assaults the ronin, who “catches” the lightsaber with the force. Most Star Wars fans have been train to expect the dark side, light side binary. This assumption is shared by the Dark Lord who claims it’s “been a long time since she’s killed a Jedi.” The ronin reveals his lightsaber to be a red one. Obviously, red lightsabers are associated with the Sith. The ronin doesn’t fight fair, willing to use his environment with the force.

While the two engage in their duel, the resistance is overtaken by the bandits. The Sith Lord corners the ronin on a log. They engage in the duel while the log heads toward a waterfall. When the Sith Lord is told of the village take over the ronin sheaths his lightsaber. As I’ve mentioned previously, The Duel is playing with our expectations. When the ronin sheaths his sword when predict he’s surrendering. However, he triggers his droid that eliminates the rest of the bandits. With only the Sith left, the ronin is knocked off the waterfall. The ronin deceives the Sith by placing his lightsaber in the hand of statue. Fooled, the Sith strikes at it leaving her vulnerable to an attack from behind.

The Verdict

Star Wars Visions – Episode 1, “The Duel,” played with our expectations. We expect the ronin to save the village. He does. We expect him to be a Jedi. He’s not. We expect the villagers to be helpless. They weren’t. We expect the main character to win. He did. The animation from Kamikaze Douga amazing. Inspired from old samurai movies, The Duel is mostly in black and white, save for anything powered by energy; lights, guns, and lightsabers. The characters and the environment are rendered in a shaded 3D. The appeared shaded by charcoal. The contrast between the color and black & white is always visually stunning. Star Wars Visions has started off well, I hope it continues.

Anime · Misc

Disney’s Star Wars: Visions – Anime and the Star Wars mythology collide in a new anthology series

During a special panel at Anime Expo Lite, Lucasfilm revealed the anthology series. Star Wars: Visions will arrive on September 22 on Disney+. Lucasfilm allowed some of Japan’s best animation studios to tell stories in the Star Wars universe. The studios could use established characters or create new ones, and they don’t need to consider the official timeline. Executive producer James Waugh said “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,” and “We realized we wanted these to be as authentic as possible to the studios and creators who are making them, made through their unique process, in a medium they’re such experts at. So the idea was, this is their vision riffing off all the elements of the Star Wars galaxy that inspired them — hopefully, to make a really incredible anthology series, unlike anything we’ve seen before in the Star Wars galaxy.”

An all star lineup

Many anime fans will recognize many of the seven studios tasked with creating nine shorts. Kamikaze Douga specializes in animation for commercials, videogames, and anime openings/endings. They’re most well known for the 2012 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure anime openings. Geno Studio (Twin Engine) the studio that produces Golden Kamuy, Studio Colorido (Twin Engine) the producer of Burn the Witch movie, and Pokemon: Twilight Wings, Kinema Citrus (Made in Abyss), Science SARU (Devilman Crybaby), Production I.G (FLCL Progressive), and Studio Trigger (Little Witch Academia, SSSS.Gridman, Promare). Each studio will tell a different story, with unique visual styles:

  • Kamikaze Douga –The Duel
  • Geno Studio (Twin Engine) – Lop and Ochō
  • Studio Colorido (Twin Engine) Tatooine Rhapsody
  • Trigger The Twins
  • Trigger The Elder
  • Kinema Citrus The Village Bride
  • Science Saru – Akakiri
  • Science Saru – T0-B1
  • Production IG The Ninth Jedi

A love letter to Star Wars

All the studios are huge Star Wars fans and were excited. Takanobu Mizuno, the director of The Duel, a black and white samurai-inspired short, said “he just wanted this to be a love letter to Star Wars.” Each short will focus on different genres, characters, and themes. Lop and Ocho introduces a space bunny character Lop, Studio Colorido’s Tatooine Rhapsody is a rock opera with a “Chibi art style,” and Trigger’s The Twins will follow the story of twins born to the dark side and The Elder will explore the relationship between Master and Padawan. Like many anthology series, fans may like some over others. Regardless, as a fan of anime and Star Wars, I’m excited about this series.

Watch the Star Wars: Visions Special Look: