Star Wars: Visions is Another Step Toward Diversity in Animation

Amy Zhou, Contributing Writer

In September 2021, Star Wars: Visions made its debut on Disney+ as the first Star Wars anime. Consisting of nine short animated episodes made by seven different Japanese animation studios, Visions tells several different stories that connect to the Jedi and Sith. The Jedi are the protagonists of Star Wars and represent good and peace. The Sith are the exact opposite—wielders of war and violence.

In Visions, alone wanderer comes across a village under attack by bandits and a Sith (“The Duel”). A fugitive Jedi is brought to an isolated village and must confront her identity (“The Village Bride”). A sabersmith’s daughter delivers lightsabers to surviving Jedi (“The Ninth Jedi”). Visions offers a new entertaining way to watch Star Wars. Arguably, “The, director Eunyoung Choi said, “Ultimately, we hope that Star Wars fans who don’t know the imaginative, amazing things that are happening from Japanese culture in Japanese animation, see this and fall in love with the medium like we have.”

Visions offers a new entertaining way to watch Star Wars.

The original concept for Visions was a tribute to the Japanese cinema that inspired George Lucas. Jedi and Sith were influenced by Japanese Samurai. The Force, the energy connecting everything in the Star Wars universe, was influenced by the Chinese concept qi (“vital energy”) and the Japanese concept of Bushidō (“warrior way”). Lightsabers are katanaesque, and many characters wear Japanese robes. Visions honors the work of Akira Kurosawa, a Japanese filmmaker. Kurosawa’s samurai films inspired Lucas, and his influence is still seen in modern Star Wars media.

Visions included various Asian characters in significant roles, including Jedi. Jedi have been the majority of leading roles in Star Wars, and Jedi concepts drew inspiration from various Asian cultures. Despite this, Asians have rarely portrayed Jedi. While Visions is an incredible watch with stunning animation, it is also a step forward for the representation of Asian culture in film. Star Wars has a history of lacking when it comes to prioritizing diverse casting. The inclusion of people of color and women in Star Wars: Visions is positive progress toward proper representation in mainstream media.

This piece also appears in our October 2021 print edition.