There are tons of Star Wars shows currently in various stages of development. The Bad Batch is currently airing on Disney+, The Book of Boba Fett recently wrapped production ahead of a December release date, Andor has been filming for a while, and Obi-Wan Kenobi began filming earlier this year – and that’s all in addition to the many shows that are also being developed and are coming in the foreseeable future.
While most of those shows are fairly self-explanatory for Star Wars fans, another show has been a bit of a mystery. Star Wars: Visions was also announced in December (buried by several other major announcements), and it will be an anime series – but what else do we know about it?
Yesterday, Lucasfilm held a panel at the Anime Expo Lite to talk about Visions, giving us our first real understanding of what the show is and what it’ll be about. As such, it answered a number of questions that Star Wars fans have had, and so I thought I’d compile several of them into this article. Much of this information comes from the StarWars.com post recapping the event, which has even more information than is included here in this post, and I’ve then added some of my own thoughts interspersed throughout as well.
What is it?
Star Wars: Visions is an upcoming anthology series celebrating the Star Wars saga and bringing the franchise together with anime for the very first time. Lucasfilm is partnering with some of the leading Japanese anime studios to create this new series of shorts. When it was announced in December, it was described like this:
Presenting all-new, creative takes on the galaxy far, far away, Star Wars: Visions will be a series of animated short films celebrating Star Wars through the lens of the world’s best anime creators. The anthology collection will bring fantastic visions from several of the leading Japanese anime studios, offering a fresh and diverse cultural perspective to Star Wars.
In the special look released yesterday, executive producer James Waugh said, “We were looking for something from the heart and soul of the individual creators. They are their visions through the lens of Star Wars.”
When is it releasing?
Star Wars: Visions will premiere on Disney+ on Wednesday, September 22 – marking the first Star Wars show to premiere on the new Wednesday release date for the streaming service. It also sounds like all of the episodes will release on the same day, as opposed to the weekly release format that has been standard for Disney+. But this should not be read as indicative of any future decisions and actually makes perfect sense for at least two reasons: (1) first, these episodes are referred to as “shorts,” so it’s entirely possible that these are not as long as episodes of other shows we’re familiar with; and (2) second, these shorts do not appear to have any sort of linear storytelling and the shorts instead seem to be separate from one another.
How many episodes are there?
There will be nine different shorts included (and we have no word yet on whether there will be more than one season). These shorts will be produced by seven different studios, comprising some of the very best anime studios and developers in the business. Here are the episode titles, with the studio behind these shorts in parenthesis: “The Duel” (Kamikaze Douga), “Lop and Ochō” (Geno Studio (Twin Engine)), “Tatooine Rhapsody” (Studio Colorido (Twin Engine)), “The Twins” (Trigger), “The Elder” (Trigger), “The Village Bride” (Kinema Citrus), “Akakiri” (Science Saru), “T0-B1” (Science Saru), and “The Ninth Jedi” (Production IG). You can find a bit more information about each of those episodes in the StarWars.com article.
We do know that the nine episodes will be very different stylistically from one another, highlighting the various studios involved and their respective takes on the art form. Executive producer Josh Rimes said, “What’s really exciting is how unique and special each one of these shorts are. Each studio has different styles and tones.”
Is the show considered canon?
This is a question many fans are wondering, and it’s certainly a worthwhile one to consider. Though we have no official word on the show’s in-universe standing, we have enough information to make a guess that this show is not considered canon, at least in the way other shows are. The StarWars.com article mentions that the “storytelling didn’t have to fit in the timeline” and that regardless of whether the episodes include brand new characters or ones we’re already familiar with, the storytellers don’t “need to tie into the larger chronology.” Additionally, executive producer James Waugh said that, “We really wanted to give these creators a wide creative birth to explore all the imaginative potential of the Star Wars galaxy through the unique lens of anime.”
All of that is certainly up for interpretation, but taken at surface level it certainly appears to imply that the show will not be considered canon, since it doesn’t have to fit the already established timeline or tie into existing stories with the existing characters used, and since the idea was to provide a wide creative experience for these storytellers. At most, then, this might be considered canon like some other anthology stories are, in the sense that they are viewed as in-universe legends or stories told about these characters that may or may not be totally true.
But does all of this matter? Yes and no. It certainly does matter, and that’s because fans have an understandable desire to know which stories are considered “true” within the universe and which ones aren’t. This isn’t a bad thing. In our world, for example, fiction and nonfiction are both worth reading, but it’s helpful to know which is which. Though all of Star Wars is obviously fiction, it’s nonetheless still helpful to know how these stories are considered in-universe. Clarity is helpful, and truth isn’t purely relative and subjective. But at the same time, the canonicity of the show should not matter if we’re asking whether we should watch and/or enjoy this show. Content should be enjoyable enough for its own sake, regardless of how it connects and fits in with other material. This is why many Star Wars fans still love reading Legends books; even though they are no longer considered canon, they are enjoyable stories.
So my answer to all of this is that canonicity does matter in the sense of trying to see how all of these stories relate to one another, and this is not a bad impulse; clarity is important. But canonicity does not matter in the sense of whether you enjoy these stories, as you can do so whether something is canon or not. I’m still very much looking forward to this show, even if it’s not considered (fully) canon like others are.
What will the music be like?
Each of the episodes will have its own original score, and the StarWars.com article makes a special point of noting that the music for “The Ninth Jedi” was recorded at the Muza Kawasaki Symphony Hall. The larger point, however, is that there will be new music composed for each of these shorts. Considering how important and influential music has been to Star Wars since the very beginning (and still today), this is something very much worth pointing out. I’m assuming that the music for these shorts will vary from episode to episode and will, like these shorts, give a unique take on the galaxy far, far away.
What if I’m not familiar with anime?
If you are not familiar with the genre or if you’re not a big fan, is this show still for you? The showrunners certainly expect that to be the case. “These things go together like peanut butter and chocolate,” executive producer James Waugh said. “So hopefully they love this combination as much as everybody on this panel does.” It sounds like they are confident that you’ll find something you like and resonate with, regardless of your affinity and experience (or lack thereof) for anime. Coming from someone who has watched very little anime, this is good news! While this show’s announcement didn’t really grab my attention like others did, I’m nonetheless excited for it, and I’m excited to see a unique take on a familiar galaxy. And considering just how rich of a history Japanese culture and storytelling has had on Star Wars from the very beginning, Waugh is absolutely right to see a strong and natural connection between Star Wars and anime.
Will there be any additional tie-in material?
Yes! On October 12, Del Rey is publishing a novel that is inspired by Visions. The book is called Ronin and will be written by Emma Mieko Candon, and it will be inspired by one of the anime shorts. This book is not a novelization of Visions but is instead a brand new story that is inspired by one of the shorts in the series. It is unclear if there will be any other tie-in material released with the show, but at the very least we know a novel will come out a few weeks after the show does.
Has a trailer been released?
Yes! Well, sort of. We got a special look that, while not exactly serving like an actual trailer, nonetheless does show a ton of concept art, images, and interviews that give a much better idea of what to expect, and it certainly serves to build hype. Check it out!