Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 continues the phenomenal animated anthology series that started in 2021, but pushes the concept even further. At the time of its release, the debut season of Visions was a special venture for Star Wars that felt risky and experimental. The experiment paid off so well that the second season draws from not only Japanese anime but animation styles and cultures from around the world.
With so many outstanding episodes, we’re splitting up our reviews for the season across three articles. Click here to read Wiktor Reinfuss’ reviews for “Sith”, “I Am Your Mother”, and “Journey to Dark Head”, and Emily Maack’s reviews of “Screecher’s Reach”, “In the Stars”, and “The Pit”! But without further ado, here are my reviews for “The Spy Dancer”, “The Bandits of Golak”, and “Aau’s Song” from Star Wars: Visions Volume 2.
“The Spy Dancer” – Studio La Cachette from France
Julien Chheng fills “The Spy Dancer” with spectacular showmanship. The thick, cartoonist lines feel like reading a French bande dessinée comic book brought to life, accompanied by an epic, grand score.
“The Spy Dancer” plays on a number of classic Star Wars elements: A thrilling action story layered with love and tragedy, starring underdog heroes in undercover operations, and ending with a poignant touch of hope. But “The Spy Dancer” is far from familiar, enhanced with immaculate visual, musical, and emotional beauty. The shapes pop, loosely contained in their marker-style inks, and the vivid colors dynamically shift the tone of each scene along with Olivier Deriviere’s orchestral score.
The combination of familiar Star Wars qualities with Chheng’s special spin makes this one of my favorite Star Wars stories ever. “The Spy Dancer” is simply an incredible achievement by Julien Chheng and Studio La Cachette.
“The Bandits of Golak” – 88 Pictures from India
I was utterly enraptured by Ishan Shukla’s “The Bandits of Golak.” Just hearing Indian accents and seeing so much beautiful South Asian culture was enough to completely win my heart, but the three-part story is totally engaging and the painterly 3D animation is beyond stunning.
I was especially hooked by the action of the first and second parts. In particular, the intricate costume designs and visual atmosphere of the episode are unlike anything we’ve ever seen in Star Wars before. At the same time, Shukla makes sure to reference popular Star Wars iconography, such as the classic Jedi Order logo and the spinning blade of an Inquisitor.
The effect is captured in Sneha Khanwalkar’s score, which blends modern electronic effects with traditional Indian tabla. Throughout the entire episode, I was overjoyed to see the color and liveliness of South Asian culture depicted so lovingly in a Star Wars world, fusing traditional parts of my family culture with traditional parts of this famous space culture.
While some Visions episodes feel like short snapshots, “Bandits” feels like a short movie condensed into 15 minutes. This type of outline works for and against the episode. While the story certainly felt like a rollercoaster of adrenaline and relaxation, the finale would have landed stronger if there had been more time to develop the characters and their journey over the course of a full film.
For another criticism, the sharp shading details in the facial expressions seemed to occasionally disappear in less important scenes, giving the overall animation style a slightly inconsistent effect. But overall, the costumes, animation style, traditional music, and powerful story elevate “The Bandits of Golak” into must-watch Star Wars material.
“Aau’s Song” – Triggerfish Studios from South Africa
“Aau’s Song” by Nadia Darries and Daniel Clarke is cute, fun, and colorful. The best part of the short is how the duo design the characters with wonderfully real material textures, accentuated with cartoony expressions. The characters are adorably animated, and the tangibility of their costumes gives them a true sense of life. The practical animation and score work in harmony with the brilliant digital effects and sound design, creating an immersive sensory experience.
The story overlaps slightly with “Bandits of Golak,” but in a way that they complement each other as a shared theme between different authors. The story is fairly straightforward, but the stunning animation and soundscape are what sets this piece apart. In addition, the set design, writing, and clever animation allow the world to feel fully lived in, adding richness to these characters and their family dynamic.
Markus Wormstorm’s playful score adds to the levity of the short, perfectly capturing the small, homey feeling of the characters’ community. “Aau’s Song” is easily one of my favorites of the season, and I would love a whole TV show set in this world. I simply can’t wait to see more from Darries, Clarke, and Triggerfish Studios, because “Aau’s Song” is utterly delightful.
Final thoughts on Star Wars: Visions Volume 2
I’m beyond thrilled with these three episodes, and the rest of the season as well. Visions has transcended beyond “fun alternate visions of Star Wars” to essential viewing for a richer understanding of our own world.
Across the season, each episode stands out for its unique point of view, yet they all share the common traits that define what Star Wars is. Without exception, each story in Visions explores the mythology, lessons, humor, and deep emotions of Star Wars, presented through a bold new lens. Each episode sings with the voice of not only a different creative mind, but the voice of an entire culture. Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 is not just a celebration of Star Wars – this is a celebration of humanity.
All episodes of Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 are now available on Disney+. How did you like these episodes? Did you enjoy season one? Let me know on Twitter @vinwriteswords and remember to follow the site @MyCosmicCircus for more Star Wars coming soon!
Be on the lookout for Emily’s review of more episodes coming soon, and check out Wiktor’s review of episodes from Studio El Guiri, Studio Mir, and Studio Aardman linked below!