Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 is a mixed bag, with more mediocre shorts than fantastic ones

The acclaimed anthology series celebrating Star Wars animations has returned, and this time they’ve gone global. Shifting from an anime-focused first season, Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 brings in animation studios from around the world to create a greater variety of Star Wars-inspired narratives.

As with most anthology series’, you’re going to have a final product where some episodes hit stronger than others, and some episodes are not received quite as well. Star Wars: Visions is a great concept – it’s cool to see what stories these external animation studios can tell while not being tied down by the rules and expectations of the ever-expanding canon universe. Through borrowing themes, imagery and characters, some of these shorts deliver fresh narratives that are inventive and make you want to see more of that world. On the other hand, many of these shorts deliver stories that are drenched in mediocrity. I wouldn’t say any of the shorts in here are bad, it’s just that the majority of the stories either aren’t that engaging or they hit the same themes and plot points as each other.

I’m not sure how much communication there is amongst all of the studios working on these shorts, but I’d imagine there’s next to none. As a result, there’s a lot of recurring themes, ideas and plot points that occur across multiple shorts. All of them are handled in a slightly different tone, but that does’t stop it all from feeling a little repetitive, taking the novelty out of these being original adventures.

Of the nine shorts in this season, only three of them stand out as being incredible pieces of original storytelling, while the rest are either just good or okay at best. The first short in this season, Sith by El Guiri Studios, is a brilliant Star Wars story that’s also beautifully animated with a watercolour aesthetic. This narrative isn’t actually as deep as the rest, but I loved the simplicity of it – it suggests a rich history between the characters, fuelling the conflict on-screen. Everything from the character design to the look of the world is fantastic. Then there’s Journey to the Dark Head by Studio Mir Co., Ltd, my favourite of the bunch. It’s got a distinct anime vibe, borrowing a lot from existing Star Wars lore and presenting it in an awesome package led by two compelling characters. Lastly, The Spy Dancer by Studio La Cachette showcases silky-smooth animation and one of the most captivating stories. It’s one where as soon as the credits rolled I knew I immediately wanted a continuation of the story.

Dropping down to the shorts that I’d say are good and engaging, but not amazing, we have both Screecher’s Reach by Cartoon Saloon and The Bandits of Golak by 88 Pictures. Both of these were neat and original, with beautiful animation and strong narratives. Both became more interesting in the latter half of their stories, while the build-up was just okay. Now, I’m not going to sit here mentioning all of the other shorts, only because they’re all very mediocre. One or two of them might creep close to being good, and a lot of them have cute and fun moments, but I struggled to stay locked in to the stories they were telling. That being said, every short (exceptional or just fine) has qualities I liked, so I wouldn’t call any of them bad. For one, the animation across the board is great. Whether it be more of a drawn look, claymation or some form of digital animation, I could appreciate the care and attention to detail that went into every one.

Where to from here? To be honest, I can’t say I’m excited for the potential of a third volume. With so many of this batch being quite mediocre and not offering much that’s impressively new, this series might have run its course. I guess the good thing is future seasons would bring in new animation studios, so there’s always the opportunity for great, new stories. I just wouldn’t be going in as giddy and excited as I was for this batch.

In the end, Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 is a mixed bag – there’s moments where the concept really shines, but overall it leaves more to be desired. Many of the shorts are just okay, with some cute, fun moments and beautiful animation being their main draws. The few exceptional shorts explore corners of the universe that I’d love to see more of. The good thing about this being an anthology means you can just watch the fantastic ones and leave the rest alone. If you’re a fan of Star Wars, or animated shorts in general, this is a quick and easy watch that will bring some level of enjoyment.



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