‘Star Wars: Visions’ takes Japanese culture and anime to a distant galaxy

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It is Star wars like you’ve never seen it before. Not really.

Seven Japanese animation studios, including Ghost in the shellIG production and Promare‘s Studio TRIGGER, have designed and produced nine original cartoons Star wars short films, each with new characters and very different animation styles.

“It was something we’ve all wanted to do for years now,” said James Waugh, vice president of Lucasfilm. “We didn’t really know what to do in a world five years ago when we didn’t have [Disney+] D +, but as D + really solidified as an amazing platform, it forced us to revisit our strategy and really say, “What’s the right one?” Star wars story for this platform? ‘ and “How do we find a way to blend a shape we love with the galaxy we love?” “

This “thing” is Lucasfilm’s latest project, Star Wars: Visions, released yesterday and now available for streaming on Disney +. The anthology of nine animated short films is produced by Waugh with Star Wars: Forces of Destinyby Jacqui Lopez and Star Wars Resistanceis Josh Rimes. The episodes are also produced by Edenby Justin Leach and Kanako Shirasaki.

“And all the creators who joined this project are enormous Star wars fans, ”notes Shirasaki. “We didn’t know it at first, but when you meet them and start having a conversation, you learn their love for Star wars is very strong. “

From the beginning, Star Wars: Visions had two goals, according to Waugh and Shirasaki: the first, to showcase Japanese culture through stories and various styles of anime, from retro styles infused with color to black and white sketches. Even the character outfits and fighting styles are a nod to Japanese history.

“There are different notes played in the anime, and I think there is a sort of ‘layman’ point of view on what anime is and the truth is, it’s a lot wider than that. “, explains Waugh. “What we wanted to do is really get the unique cultural perspective that gives birth to the anime. Because I think if it’s just an aesthetic choice, you don’t really get the full experience. cultural influence is important.

He adds, “I don’t think what drove this project in any way was the idea that the anime has really grown its fan base over the years. luck and a kismet moment. I think the truth is that we are so fans of the work that has been going on in these individual studios for so long, that it really inspired many of the creators at Lucasfilm. You can see it in our comics and in our games. In the end, it was our president Kathy Kennedy who ended up saying, “You keep talking about anime all the time. Everyone seems to like it. I love it. Why don’t you” aren’t we exploring this in a more robust way? ”She was one hundred percent right.

Since its creation, Star wars the stories have been influenced by Japanese culture, from the country’s mythology to Akira Kurosawa films. So, Waugh and Lucasfilm teamed up with Leach and Shirasaki at Qubic Pictures and started meeting different animation studios in Japan, implementing their second goal: to ask the creatives, who were also passionate Star wars fans, to draw inspiration from their own heritage and invent stories to further expand the Star wars galaxy.

“We contacted the studios to submit pitches and asked them to tell us original stories in the Star wars universe, and we picked the shorts from there, ”says Shirasaki. “They had access to all the documents on Star wars from Lucasfilm, but they were already very knowledgeable and also put a lot of their original ideas into their designs.

Although these nine films are set in Star wars sets with familiar characters, such as Boba Fett to Jabba the Hutt, their creative directive was not to follow a specific genesis of events but to create something entirely new that had never been seen before.

“The whole idea of Visions framework was not to look at everything from a “How do we fit this to the timeline?” perspective. ”, Notes Waugh. It was: ‘What would you do with any Star wars item you want? What Star wars story or phrase have you always wanted to give? ‘ It was a very high level brief. I think we picked some of the pitches based on what was going to make a good anthology, but it was really the visions of these studios – pun intended – leading to specific stories.

Waugh, Shirasaki, and the other producers even actively steered away from stories that relied too much on fan-favorite characters.

“What we didn’t want to do is have everyone do different versions of a Darth Vader story or a Luke Skywalker story,” Waugh reveals. ” It was not What if…? for us. It was a really robust universe with a lot of potential and the story you would create without depending on the fairness of those other characters.

And despite the challenges of the pandemic, with strict travel restrictions between Japan and the United States, Lucasfilm, Geno Studio, Studio Colorido, Kamikaze Douga, Kinema Citrus, Science Saru and the other studios have managed to create a truly collage. special apart Star wars stories that have a very personal and historical designer touch, while remaining true to the heart of this beloved galaxy, far, far away.

“We wanted to make sure that the stories were as authentic as possible and that they had the values ​​that are really fundamental to Star wars storytelling: heart, soul and believing in something, ”notes Waugh. “But they all had a great innate sense of it already.”

Victoria Davis photo

Victoria Davis is a full-time freelance journalist and part-time Otaku with an affinity for all things anime. She has reported on many stories ranging from activist news to entertainment. To learn more about his work, visit victoriadavisdepiction.com.

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