Visions Episode That Needs a Movie
Mar 25, 2023
Star Wars: Visions was always going to be a bit of a risky venture for Disney. The Star Wars brand has certainly had its fair share of expansions in the universe outside the main line numbered entries. The success of The Mandalorian paved the way for more live action treatments, but besides The Clone Wars, which was a huge success, Disney hadn’t fully explored animation as a fluid way to tell new stories in the Star Wars universe. Assuming we’re not counting the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special.
Even more than being something new – these stories were individually handed out to filmmakers and animators from all different backgrounds in anime. It would serve as an anthology where each creator would get to fully realize their own unique vision of what Star Wars is. Disney, like Lucasfilm, has a history of being protective of their brand. The Star Wars formula seemed to be something that creators were given before working on their projects. With Visions, it seemed that went out the window. There are some truly wild takes on what makes a Star Wars story, and most of them work really well and serve as a breath of fresh air for Star Wars fans. While many would consider “The Ninth Jedi” to be the best episode, it’s “The Village Bride” that needs to be further explored the most.
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The Unique Tone and Era
Star Wars, in its original creation, treated the force with a certain level of mysticism and wonder. One can argue that the prequels were effective in a myriad of other ways, but it’s hard to deny that quantifying the force as a tangible, observable phenomenon takes the magic away from what the force represents. The Village Bride treats the universe and the force with a sense of wonder in the same way that the original films did. Directed by Hitoshi Haga, The Village Bride is a post order 66 story. It tells the story of Jedi survivor simply referred to as F (Asami Seto, Karen Fukuhara). Outside the main character, references to the greater Star Wars universe are kept aside as the short episode deals with one particular planet and a small set of characters. At one point, the two main characters discuss how the Galactic War stripped this beautiful planet of its resources and allowed for scavengers and pirates to take over. Valco (Takaya Kamikawa, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) states something that is missing from most battle heavy Star Wars stories. This quote represents everything that the episode is.
“That’s all that war is – nothing but loss” The tone, dissimilar to many other Star Wars stories, is an antiwar story. The director wisely shows the planet as important and almost mystical. The characters treat it as if it’s alive, and have a strong reverence for its power and tradition. They face an impossible situation, as a group of pirates refurbished Separatist Battle Droids from the war and are threatening the peaceful population with decimation unless they are willing to give up a hostage. There’s a heavy emphasis on protection and respect for nature, and how the war and the ideals of Jedi and Republic ultimately caused this. It’s impressive how reflective the episode can be while also introducing the characters and the story in less than 30 minutes.
The Main Characters: Valco and F
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Given the short episode length, there are a lot of things implied but never said. F is a Padawan without a master and is torn apart by the war. She’s haunted by memories and pains from the past. What happened to her master is never explicitly stated, but there is an air of mystery around the whole situation. Not only this, but her relationship with Valco feels like one of a Padawan and a master. Yet, Valco is not a Jedi. He’s described as an explorer, but he’s trusted enough by F for her to have revealed her past to him without fear of being turned into the Empire.
The episode asks a lot of questions that could be answered in a movie. F and Valco have such a tender, respectful relationship to each other, and a movie could not only reveal how they met, but also show where they’re going now. F ends the episode by cutting her Padawan braid and leaving the planet alone, but there is plenty of room to reunite them and not only give F a larger character arc, but Valco as well. There’s a lot of room to explore these characters. Another popular episode, “The Duel”, received a follow-up novel and comic issue. This shows that Disney isn’t afraid to expand these characters if they feel like it’ll work.
The Animation and the Music
Star Wars: Visions producer Kanako Shirasaki described the episode as poetic, meditative, and romantically bittersweet. This is, in large part, thanks to the music. It doesn’t try to replicate the iconic style of John Williams, but instead seeks to specify its soundtrack to the planets it takes place on. It’s hauntingly beautiful and totally fitting to the beautiful locations and shots the episode produces.
The gorgeous art was done by Kinema Citrus, an animation company best known for Made in Abyss, Black Bullet and The Rising of the Shield Hero. There are a lot of stunning shots throughout the episode, but it just shows that this animation company is perfectly capable of producing a feature length Star Wars film. These are not just beautiful shots meant to wow, but actually move the story and tell us a lot about the characters as well. The framing is just as impressive as the color and fluidity of the animation.
Related: Star Wars: 7 Directors That Should Join the Franchise
The Perfect Pacing
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The Star Wars: Visions episodes vary in quality, but they all innately share the same flaw. They have to establish a tone, story, character motivations, and invest audiences in all of the above in under 30 minutes. Short-form filmmaking isn’t new by any means, but it’s new to Star Wars. Clone Wars has so many incredible moments, but it had whole seasons to work out character arcs. This episode excels in its pacing and world-building better than any of the other episodes in season one. You’re not only invested in the main characters, but the villagers who are being oppressed by the pirates as well. Their sacrifice and commitment to the planet is moving even with only a handful of lines and set-up.
With season two just around the corner, we can expect to see expect to see more stories expanding the universe in exciting and new ways.
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