Star Wars Visions Season 2 Review – Is Force Too Female?

On May 4th Disney dropped a new season of Star Wars Vision consisting of nine different studios doing their own short stories, last time we had Japanese Studios giving it a try. While some of them were good looking many of them just didn’t feel like they belonged to Star Wars Universe – it was as if they were told by Disney not to try to imitate any of the movies or animated series that have been done in the past. The same issue consists on Season 2 even though I expected that Western studios would be more prone to staying faithful to the original vibe and feel of Star Wars.

Now something that I noticed after watching all the episodes in every single one is basically the main character was a female, Kathleen Kennedy is still head of Star Wars sadly and the Force is Female narrative is still going very strongly at Disney and we probably won’t see a swift in that anytime soon. I’ve said this before which is there is no use in pandering to female audiences since they aren’t gonna be watching Star Wars anyways – women don’t generally enjoy Sci-Fi that’s a statistical fact.

Episode #1 – Sith (Made by El Guiri)

The first episode is probably one of the more artistic ones that you will be seeing this season, which is made by a studio known as El Guiri. The main character Lola is voiced by Ursula Corbero who is known for her work at La Casa De Papel (Money Heist) and it’s cool to see her doing some English roles for a change.

During the reign of the Sith, Lola, a former Sith apprentice that has rejected the Dark Side, lives in solitude on a desolate planet with her droid B2 and is trying to channel the Force into painting her base.

Obviously, I understand that Visions is consisting of non-canon short stories that aren’t very long so you can’t always tell an amazing plot or anything in 15-20 minutes. The “Sith” feels like a tech demo of a story showing some visual capabilities of this studio and some cool color transitions, but I wouldn’t say that the action here is anything to write home about. I’m also not too big of a fan of the design of Lola.

Episode #2 – Screecher’s Reach (Made by Cartoon Saloon)

Next up we have Irish Studio which is mostly known for a lot of its movies like The Breadwinner, The Secret of Kells & Wolfwalkers which are semi-decent animated movies I would argue. They have their own art style that stays the same pretty much through all of their movies and also this episode.

Prior to the initial extinction of the Sith, a young girl named Daal works in a sweatshop with her friends Baython, Quinn, and Keena. Tired of living there, Daal convinces her friends to head out to Screecher’s Reach, a remote cave, with her by stealing some land speed vehicles. The cave is rumored to hold a ghost within its walls, and the friends are eager to find it.

To be completely honest with you this was the least Star Wars feeling episode there is in this whole season and I would have moved this to the very last episode to prevent people from dropping Visions altogether because it’s probably the weakest episode this season has to offer. The world builder on this short feels like it’s from feudal fantasy series, not Star Wars – the only things that felt remotely SW-esque was the Lightsaber and the speeders.

Far as I also know “Ghosts” are not exactly canon in the Star Wars universe, I mean we have force ghosts but that’s a separate thing. The protagonist was also a whiny loser and no wonder she dumped these loser plebs and went to become a Sith with a creepy-looking lady.

Episode #3 – In the Stars (Made by Punkrobot)

This episode was done by a relatively unknown studio which I have never about before located in Chile. They have quite unique style of claymation that seems a lot more detailed than Aardman for example (which is the next episode). Many of the episodes do have this oppression Olympics story backdrop behind them and this one also makes subtle remarks about the environment too.

During the reign of the Empire, two sisters, Koten and Tichina, are the last of their kind after the Empire conquered their planet and committed genocide on their species. Their mother, a Force-sensitive, led a failed rebellion against the Empire, who have created a factory that took their clean water; she was killed in the resulting conflict, and the factory has since caused severe light pollution as well as water pollution for the sea.

Now I do want to say that this is visually well done and given the episode runtime they were able to tell a bit of history about what went down on this planet and the history of the siblings. If you are looking for new visual styles or something a bit more immersive I think this one is one of the episodes you should check out.

Episode #4 – I Am Your Mother (Made by Aardman)

Episode Four is done by a very well-known British studio known as Aardman who are known for their work on Wallace & Gromit, Flushed Away, and Chicken Run. So if you are into their claymation style you are in for a treat.

Some years after the defeat of the Empire, Wedge Antilles formed a Flight Academy for new pilots. One of the students, a Twi’lek named Anni Kalfus, was inspired to become a pilot by her single mother Kalina but has since come to find her coddling and embarrassing; consequently, she neglects to tell her about a starship racing event from the Flight Academy where families compete against each other.

What are like about this episode is that it feels like a crossover between Aardman and Star Wars in a good way and what I mean by that is it’s kinda bringing like the comedy and style from the studio and making it function & blend alongside the Star Wars universe. Kinda like what the Lego Star Wars stuff is about. The second thing that this one does right is that it’s not based on some oppression storyline again, it’s a silly story about family and parenthood in a lot of ways. Now the whole stick of the short is about Anni being embarrassed by her mom, which is a way too common plotline in any Western cartoon, which is rarely done in reverse.

Overall I really like what Aardman did with this short by embracing comedy aspects of Star Wars while building a story that is about family values.

Episode #5 – Journey to the Dark Head (Made by Studio Mir)

I Am a big fan of Studio Mir which is quite an underrated South Korean studio in all honesty if it was Japanese lot of weebs would be circle-jerking around it for sure. Now it doesn’t surprise that they would be dropping out the alpha quality episode as well and ironically this is probably the most Star Wars feeling thing in both seasons.

During the initial war between the Jedi and Sith, an adolescent monk named Ara believes that the statues on her home planet, whose stones around its base have foretelling abilities, control both light and dark, as one is lit in blue light and the other in red. She resolves to destroy the dark head in the belief it can turn the tide of the war. Years later, Ara, now a teenage mechanic, requests the Jedi Council for a bodyguard on her quest; they assign a young Padawan named Toul to the task.

Now I’m not a big fan of any premonitions and foretelling stuff, because it kinda has the possibility to kill a plot very easily. But all things being said it’s executed in a decent way in this short story. Visually Studio Mir shows exactly why they are Top Dog in the world of animation, the quality of the fights is very nice and I very much in liking of their artistic approach to the character designs as well.

Toul could’ve been the male lead here though instead of Ara and this probably would’ve given a lot more balanced feel to this feminist direction approach in these episodes. In some ways, I wish that Disney would consider doing a whole series order from Studio Mir because they clearly can stay faithful to what Star Wars is about and not shovel in too much of their own artistic biases which would distort it to something else.

Episode #6 – The Spy Dancer (Made by Studio La Cachette)

If there is anything that feels like French animation it’s definitely this Studio La Cachette has worked with Genndy on Primal for instance and their art style is impressive, but their design choices in this episode are indeed a hit or miss.

A group of aliens with heterochromia and small horns run a high class club which is visited by stormtroopers. It is revealed that the club’s owner Loi’e plans to hide trackers on every one of the stormtroopers during a dance performance. However, she spots a familiar looking officer and in flashback it is revealed that her infant child was taken from her by the supposed officer.

This episode feels like it could be part of Andor depicting the rebel resistance in some petty bourgeoise club. As I said it has all that French leftism all over it mixed up with oppression Olympics background story for the main character.  I think I could actually like this being implemented as a form of side story plot in some Star Wars Live-action series, but I would redesign the characters and change things around quite a bit.

Episode #7 – The Bandits of Golak (Made by 88 Pictures)

When it comes to art direction this has to be one of my favorites made by 88 Pictures who are known for their work at Trollhunters for example, which is probably one of the better-animated shows Netflix decided to pick up.

Charuk and Rani are siblings that were forced to flee their home and are headed to Golak for refuge. Rani has the powers of the Force which Charuk desperately tries to hide and are nearly caught when on the train ride to Golak.

Now I have to be clear that while I really dig the animation style and some of the alien designs. This does feel like a Bollywood Parody of Star Wars, having super high influence from Indian Culture and characters even have Indian accents, which is completely unseen and unheard of in Star Wars – in general, there have been always some Asian influencers in designs of planets and where Lucas has filmed, but never Indian elements I would argue. Sith with the giant mustache was not exactly the most believable moment of the story.

But man this was however quite creative still regardless of the odd mix of Indian and Star Wars aesthetics.

Episode #8 – The Pit (Made by D’Art Shtajio and Lucasfilm)

This one is a collab between D’art and Lucasfilm a story about a group of prisoners left out in a pit after working with the Empire basically. It has a lot more anime-esque style compared to the rest in this list (outside of Studio Mir).

Prisoners are forced to dig a large pit in the middle of the desert for kyber crystals. After years of digging, they hit the bottom, only for the stormtroopers to completely abandon them. Crux tells his daughter Livy that he will escape the pit and ask help from a nearby city.

This story is completely stolen from The Dark Knight Rises, revolving around a pit where practical slaves are abandoned by the Empire and one of the people decides to climb the pit just like Bruce Wayne did in the movie. Also, Crux is voiced by Daveed Diggs who has a very woke background and you can see that too in this episode with token black people in main roles, at some points I feel like I was watching some type of a Sci-Fi retelling of black lives matter movement LMAO…

Animation wise the style is not too bad, but this does fundamentally feel like some type of propaganda piece done by Disney.

Episode #9 – Aau’s Song (Made by Triggerfish)

A South African animation studio Triggerfish completes the season with their episode known as Aau’s Song with a fantastic animation style that seems to be using stop-motion technology apparently? and some type of puppet models, I’m not quite sure here.

The people of Korba have been trying to purify the kyber crystals which have been turned red by the Sith. A young girl named Aau seems to have an unusual effect on the crystals when she sings. Her father, Abat, is trying to help a Jedi named Kratu with finding a way to heal the crystals but warns Aau that her singing is dangerous.

Well this one doesn’t look like anything remotely Star Wars, but it looks cool regardless I think this could work out as something else, to be frank, and I would be interested in watching it. On further thinking it does remind me a bit of the Rilakkuma series on Netflix. Musically this is the strongest entry on the season and maybe also in creativity, whilst like I said don’t feel like a Star Wars story despite featuring Kyber Crystals.

The End Verdict

The force is female indeed… every single episode has a female lead into them out of 9 episodes? Do we think that is a coincidence? We don’t. When I go to compare season 2 to the first season done with Japanese anime studios, I think they are quite even in terms of their storytelling, but perhaps the first season had at least ~3 stand-out episodes that were rather decent quality. I’ve never been an anthology fan and this is kinda something you want to showcase at an animation convention to business investors in my opinion.

It’s not all bad though, but I wouldn’t say anything here is a must-see outside the Episode done by Studio Mir, because I feel like that was a proof-of-concept style episode that really captured what Star Wars could look like with an Anime-esque art direction and style.