Star Wars Visions: Season 2
The Force is strong with these nine tales from around the globe.
I had mixed emotions after watching the first season of “Star Wars Visions.” Some episodes I loved, some I hated, but as an overall experience, I thought it was a nice twist on Star Wars storytelling. So, when the second season was announced, I was looking forward to it, but it wasn’t something that instantly rose to the top of my list of things to watch in the Star Wars universe.
Now having watched the second season, I can admit I was wrong. This season is phenomenal from start to finish, with only a single exception, and I highly recommend that any Star Wars fan give this series some serious respect. After having all nine episodes of season one created by Japanese animation studios, this time around, we get animation studios from around the globe contributing to the series, making these stories feel more well-rounded and unique.
9. The Bandits of Golak (88 Pictures – India)
For me, this was the dud of the bunch. The story seemed tossed together from multiple ideas that never formed a cohesive narrative. The “Clone Wars” look was nice, and the story of an older brother protecting his force-sensitive younger sister was a cool concept, but it never really did anything for me.
The second half of the episode featured a duel between an aged woman and an Inquisitor, and it was great. Unfortunately, I never cared enough about any of the characters to feel invested in their fate.
8. The Pit (D’Art Shtajio – Japan and Lucasfilm – United States)
This is a heavy story. Slave workers, after completing their work, are left to die in a pit – they’ve been digging their own graves. What’s most tragic is for a brief moment, they believe they’ve been freed after completing their duties.
But not resigning himself to that fate, Crux (voiced by Daveed Diggs) sets out to climb the wall and bring help back to the group. Crux made sit out, but he quickly captured and thrust back into the pit from whence he came. It turns out to be the smallest voice that ultimately leads them to the light or, more to the point, leads the light to them.
7. I am Your Mother (Aardman – United Kingdom)
This is the funniest and shortest of all the episodes and definitely an episode to catch your breath. It’s the sweet tale of Anni (voice by Charithra Chandran), a young Twi’lek female pilot, and her relationship with her mother. There’s a race for pilot cadets and their parents in Hanna City, but Anni is skipping it. She’s embarrassed by her family’s ship and her boisterous mom, but when her mom realizes the family race is happening, she’s all in. The two work together, reconnect, and end up winning the race. We also get an appearance of Wedge Antilles voiced by Denis Lawson, who played Wedge in the original films.
6. In the Stars (Punkrobot -Chile)
What really pulled me into “In the Stars” was its use of stop-motion animation. It looks stunning, and the story of two sisters trying to survive in their home world, which is not occupied by the Empire, is powerful. The younger sister tries to use the mysterious power their mother was able to wield to battle the Imperial forces, but her older sister just wants to lay low. But when they are discovered within the base, the elder sister reaches deep within herself and finds her power to save her sister.
This is a beautiful story of two young people fighting for freedom, restoring their planet, and allowing their mother’s memory to shine.
5. Sith (El Guiri -Spain)
The abstract beginning of “Sith” is stunningly beautiful, as is the story of a former Sith who has left behind her old life and is now trying to paint a new one. But as hard as she tries, the light around her always has darkness attached to it. When she ventures out to check on a malfunctioning piece of equipment, she is confronted by her past in the form of her former Sith Master.
We get a great battle between the two, and the titular character’s lightsaber looks fantastic, but I never felt really connected to the character. The beauty of the animation is what helped place this in the middle of the pack.
4. The Spy Dancer (Studio La Cachette – France)
Loi’e (Camille Cottin) is a dancer at a club where Imperials are frequent patrons. But she is more than she seems, working as a spy for the Rebellion and doing her part to take down the Empire. On this night, all is going as usual until she realizes someone from her past is in attendance, and we see a flashback where her baby son is ripped from her hands by the person in the club cloaked in shadow.
Her mission has changed, and now her sights are set on this mysterious figure who is a pivotal player as to why she became a spy for the Rebellion. But as she gets closer to her prey, she realizes the connection to her might be closer than she expected.
In terms of story, this might be the densest. There is a lot going on with excellent twists, and the animation is beautiful and elegant.
3. Aau’s Song (Triggerfish – South Africa)
Closing out the second season of “Star Wars Visions” is “Aau’s Song,” and it’s great. The story revolves around Abat (voiced by Tumisho Masha), a miner who harvests kyber crystals corrupted by the Sith, and his daughter Aau (voice by Mpilo Jantjie). Abat and the other miners harvest the red crystals and entrust them to the Jedi to purify them, but his biggest concern is his daughter. Aau loves to sing, but he forces her to remain silent as her voice interacts with the cyber causing them to become unstable and pose a danger to those around her.
But when a Jedi arrives, she instantly notices Aau’s power and, instead of being afraid, encourages her to use it. Wondering into the mine, Aau is drawn to the cyber, and when she begins to sing, the entire mine begins to hum with energy, and Abat discovers that his daughter’s voice might not be the danger he had feared all along and that her fate lies in the stars.
This is another mellow episode and a great way to end the season. The animation is terrific, and I loved the message of the episode. Aau is a great character, and the power she wielded just by using her voice was excellent.
2. Screecher’s Reach (Cartoon Saloon – Ireland)
Daal (voiced by Eva Whittaker) is looking for more. He eyes are set beyond the workhouse where she and her friends toil away her days. She convinces them to go in search of the mythical Screecher for a bit of fun, and on the journey to the mountain, it is all fun and games, but when they arrive at the mouth of the cave, things turn serious.
Like Luke Skywalker in “The Empire Strikes Back,” Daal must enter the cave and face her greatest fear. Once inside the cave, the quad of friends encounters the Screecher, but Daal ultimately finds herself alone. She clutches an amulet around her neck and keeps repeating mantras to help give her the courage to fight the specter. As she’s trying to escape the clutches of the Screecher, Daal uses the force to pull a boulder onto it revealing an aged Sith who makes one last attempt at Daal, but the girl uses the Sith’s lightsaber and strikes it down.
Emerging from the cave to rendezvous with her friends, Daal is changed. A voice appears from her amulet, congratulating her on a job well done and acknowledging it was a test. The life Daal has been looking for reveals itself, but she now faces the decision of going away and not looking back or staying with her friends. It’s a heartbreaking ending.
I’m not going to lie; this episode has the capability of scaring the hell out of a younger viewer. The visuals are sometimes terrifying, and they only last a moment or two, but it was almost too much for my son. I loved this haunting version of Star Wars. After watching “Screecher’s Reach,” I know one thing - I want more straight-up horror set in the Star Wars universe.
1. Journey to the Dark Head (Studio Mir – South Korea)
“Journey to the Dark Head” is the story of a young girl Ara (voiced by Ashley Park), who, along with the rest of the people at her temple, interprets vision that arises from the rain falling on rocks. She’s frustrated by the fact the group only records the visions and nothing more, and when she grows up, she asks permission from a council of Jedi to return to her planet and cut the head of a dark statue.
There is a statue of light and one of dark, and when it rains, the water from these statues creates visions on the stones below. She believes that eliminating the dark monument could turn the tide of the war waging in the galaxy. The Jedi approved her journey and assign Jedi Toul (voiced by Eugene Lee Yang) to accompany her on her mission. Toul has a tormented past, having seen his master killed by a Sith as a Padawan, with the Sith predicts his fall to the dark side.
Ara and Toul get off to a rocky start, but when the Sith senses Toul’s presence in the Force and tracks them back to her planet, the two must come together to defeat the enemy and complete her mission.
I loved this episode, and it was my favorite of the lot, barely edging out “Screecher’s Reach.” This episode felt so much like Star Wars and I loved the animation style, I couldn’t get enough It’s the longest episode of the season, and I would have been perfectly fine if it lasted much longer.
Season two of “Star Wars Visions” is terrific, and while I went in with some trepidation; I can’t wait for a third season. The nine episodes have something for everyone, and it’s a great series to sit down with family or other Star Wars fans and enjoy some time in a galaxy far, far away.