A Jedi announces her presence in the episode The Village Bride of Star Wars: Visions.
All nine episodes of Star Wars: Visions land onWednesday bringing anime action with a powerful twist to the streaming service. Japan’s leading animation studios brought their signature styles to each episode of the anthology series, telling us stories of a lightsaber wielding ronin, an android who dreams of being a Jedi, and dark twins who battle for the incredible power of a kyber crystal vied.
The show’s mastermind is producer Kanako Shirasaki, whose previous work includes Netflix’s Eden, and executive producer James Waugh, who is and previously worked on Lucasfilms’ vice president of franchise content and strategy.
Speaking to me about Zoom prior to the show’s release, Shirasaki and Waugh talked about the potential of elements of Visions to dig into the canon, about releasing all the episodes at once, and their hopes for a second season. Here is a transcript of our Zoom conversation, which has been edited slightly for the sake of clarity.
Star Wars and Anime are such a perfect mix. Why is now the right time for it?
Waugh: I don’t think it’s a secret that anime had a huge creative impact on Lucasfilm. It’s an incredible cinematic form that does amazing, inspiring things. So we’ve wanted to do that for a long time. I think it was a question of how and why – we talked to Kanako and [co-executive producer] Justin Leach has been talking about how we could do this for years.
What really changed everything was Disney Plus, a platform that allowed us to think in different ways about what a Star Wars story is and explore things that we might not otherwise have done.
Look at that:
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What made you decide to publish all nine episodes on the same day? We’re so used to the Disney Plus model with a weekly episode.
Waugh: It felt right for an anthology because each of these short films are 13 to 20 minutes long. We felt that part of the story here is an anthology and the entirety of these different tones and styles of anime.
Have you been really cool inspired by that TIE Fighter animated fan film from a few years ago? It’s phenomenal.
Waugh: I don’t know if we’re inspired by it because it was something we wanted to do anyway, but it’s a great job. I’ve looked at it over and over – it really hits all Star Wars grades.
Could elements from Visions be included in the canon? Some episodes feel like they should fit into the existing continuity pretty smoothly.
Shirasaki: Not right now, but it could affect the next generation of creators.
Waugh: That’s right – every piece of Star Wars affects future Star Wars storytellers in some way. Are there any plans to incorporate Visions into the storytelling of the timeline saga? Not currently, but I have no doubt that things that were in Visions will become part of the Star Wars fabric for the next several decades.
Now you can get on with the storytelling – there is a novel  Coming out of Emma Mieko Candon, a really talented writer. As with all Star Wars, we want to build a storytelling ecosystem around visions and these characters. We have to see what people fall in love with.
A well-known Hutt appears in one episode.
Do you each have a favorite episode?
Shirasaki: All nine shorts are valuable to us, so it’s really hard to say. Whenever you watch it, your favorite can change depending on your mood. So I recommend everyone to keep checking back to find new surprises in the stories that you may not have been impressed with before – you can find different perspectives.
Waugh: Yeah, they’re all great for a variety of reasons. And that’s also why they were chosen so widely. But I want to see more of the band [from Tatooine Rhapsody]because I like a good rock song.
Shirasaki: Do you have a favorite?
The oldest. I thought it was super cool – what a great atmosphere it had.
Waugh: I love this master class story, it just fits in with the values and issues that Star Wars really touched – passing knowledge to eager youngsters, working with the more experienced master, and what that zeal can do. It’s just a great lesson.
The Elder episode quickly creates an intense atmosphere.
There’s an economy of storytelling in these short films – I think The Elder lasts 16 minutes. How do you think the animation studios build such strong emotional connections in such a short time?
Shirasaki: It’s all about the directors and writers, their animation and tempo choices. They carefully crafted all of the recordings to tell a very powerful story.
Can we expect another season?
Waugh: I think we’d like to do more Star Wars: Visions, we need to gauge the reaction and what the fandom wants. Kanako and I are probably incredibly biased; We love these shorts and really think this is a great frame for Star Wars.