https://www.ign.com/articles/star-wars-visions-anime-jedi-rock-opera Spoiler The Elder and The Twins: Before Episode I and After Episode IX Masahiko Otsuka and Hiroyuki Imaishi, the two founders of Studio Trigger – the anime studio behind Kill La Kill, Little Witch Academy and Promare – explained that their two Visions entries will bookend the Skywalker Saga, with Otsuka’s “The Elder” set sometime before Episode I and Imaishi’s “The Twins” set after the events of Episode IX. “For some viewers, this series might be their first Star Wars experience, so I wanted to make something that you can enjoy without any knowledge of the rest of the story,” said Otsuka. “So our story is not directly connected to any of the characters from the films, but it explores the idea of the Jedi Knights and the master and padawan dynamic in an older setting.” “‘The Twins’ is set after Episode IX, after the Empire has been vanquished by the Resistance,” said Imaishi. “The remnants of the Imperial Army have raised a pair of twins on the Dark Side of the Force, and the story goes from there.” Imaishi referenced the twins searching for “a new hope”, suggesting some thematic references to that other story about a couple of Force-sensitive twins. The two animations from Trigger will each take very different tacks. Imaishi said working with many of the same team as his last animated feature, Promare – including character designer Shigeto Koyama and lead animator Sushio – has allowed him to continue the look and feel of their previous work, but with an added Star Wars vibe. In terms of music, he said he is working with an orchestra for the first time. “I asked Michiru Oshima to compose the score, and working with an orchestra was a first for me,” Imaishi said. “We finalized all of the visual side before adding a bespoke score – I imagine the soundtracks to the Star Wars movies were composed in this way, and so this helped us to evoke a classic Star Wars feeling that pays respect to the work of John Williams.” Otsuka, who had been about to retire but stuck around to work on this project, chose to take the opposite tack for “The Elder,” in which a master and padawan encounter an unknown foe. “I had always wanted to work on a Star Wars project, and when they said our studio could make two short films for this series, I looked at what Imaishi was doing with his story, and I decided I would do something totally different – to cover two separate extremes,” said Otsuka. “I saw it as a chance to do work that we wouldn’t usually be able to do: Something with a more realistic style.” The Ninth Jedi: What Became of the Jedi After The Rise of Skywalker? Director Kenji Kamiyama of Production I.G. said that his episode “The Ninth Jedi” will also be set after Episode IX. “I wondered, after Episode IX, has the galaxy settled into peace? We all love stories of the Jedi and lightsabers, but what became of the Jedi Knights after the movie series? My story is about that,” said Kamiyama. “When I first saw Star Wars, I was fascinated by the story of this kid Luke Skywalker who came from nothing and went on a huge adventure, and for me that is the root of Star Wars’ charm,” he said. “So I wanted to depict a galactic-level adventure with a different character.” Kamiyama started out working on classics such as Akira before becoming director on series such as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex; he is reportedly also co-directing the first season of upcoming anime series Blade Runner: Black Lotus. This revered director saw Visions as an opportunity to return to traditional animation techniques to create a truly artisanal work. “I’ve been making 3D CG anime for several years now,” said Kamiyama. “But this time I decided to return to hand-drawn Japanese-style animation, along with the talented animators at Production I.G. – I haven’t done this for a while, so it was really exciting. “Japanese hand-drawn animation is very different than CG animation,” he continued. “It’s very difficult to produce, even for a short story like this one. But for a title like Star Wars, myself and all of the animators knew we had to give it everything we have, and I think it will be something a little different, with a classic hand-drawn style.” Lop and Ocho: Nature vs. Technology, and a Classic Star Wars Inspiration Yuki Igarashi of Geno Studio, a relatively new subsidiary of Twin Engine founded in 2015, will helm Lop and Ocho as his first project as director. “The story is set between Episode III and IV of the Star Wars movie series,” said Igarashi. “The Galactic Empire is expanding throughout space. On a particular planet where the inhabitants are very close to nature, the Empire lands and builds a base. Their new technology causes conflict with the inhabitants, and the protagonist Ocho, who is the daughter in a kind of local yakuza family, meets the enslaved orphan Lop, who is a humanoid rabbit-like alien creature inspired by Jaxxon from the classic Star Wars comics; they meet and form a familial bond that is not bound by blood.” Igarashi said to expect a Japanese period movie feel, thanks in part to the score, which will mix John Williams-style orchestration with “a Japanese taste that expresses the setting of the world.” The Duel: Power in an Unknown Corner of the Universe Having previously directed Batman Ninja, Kamikaze Douga’s Junpei Mizusaki is no stranger to reinterpreting classic Western characters with a traditional Japanese flavour. As general director, his Visions episode “The Duel” follows a similar blueprint, and during the press conference he explained that his character designer and Afro Samurai creator Takashi Okazaki “embraced an Akira Kurosawa movie style,” which animation director Takanobu Mizuno then adapted for animation. Mizusaki indicated that “The Duel” will show us a new side to Star Wars. Explaining the scenario of his story, he said, “The Jedi versus the Sith and the Rebels versus the Empire are common parts of Star Wars lore. But what if some random person in an unknown corner of the universe got hold of a lightsaber or some of that power on his own? That’s the premise of ‘The Duel.’ “I never thought I’d be given this much freedom to interpret Star Wars in my own way,” he continued. “So I figured if we were allowed to do whatever we wanted, we should go all in.” The Village Bride: A Galactic Wedding The remaining episodes will also take place in new corners of the Star Wars universe. “The Village Bride,” by Kinema Citrus, will show the wedding traditions of an unknown planet – but it sounds like not everything will unfold smoothly. “There are so many planets in the galaxy, and I wanted to explore the various customs that might be out there,” said director Hitoshi Haga, who previously worked on Made in Abyss. “Weddings are celebrated in so many different ways, even here on Earth, and I wanted to show how customs can differ by using the relatable example of a wedding ceremony. “Even in Japan, we have had a variety of different kinds of wedding customs over time – and not all weddings are happy occasions,” he said. “So who knows what could happen.” Haga hinted that “The Village Bride”’s setting may be familiar to Made in Abyss fans. “Just like Made in Abyss, the setting will show a side of nature,” explained Haga. “In showing the culture of our village, we wanted to show the nature that surrounds it, which is a similar theme – and it might give you a taste of what nature looks like in Japan.” He said that another motivation was the opportunity to engage the younger staff at Kinema Citrus by giving them a crack at a Star Wars project with a Japanese flavor. “In our studio, we have a lot of younger staff, and I’m one of the older ones,” he said. “It’s a bit like Obi-Wan teaching Luke, and I wanted to show them my way of making traditional style Japanese anime.” Akakiri and T0-B1: A Love Story and a Droid Story Science SARU, a Tokyo studio known for its recent Netflix series Japan Sinks: 2020, as well as support work on Crayon Shin-chan and Yo-kai Watch movies, will contribute two episodes to Visions. The first, “Akakiri,” is directed by studio head Eunyoung Choi, who described her film as “an ephemeral love story between a Jedi and princess – and it doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending. “It’s a kind of ephemeral road movie that follows the two of them and their friends on their journey,” she said. Choi attributed the culturally diverse and young staff of her studio and the hands-off approach of Lucasfilm with allowing her to deliver something fresh in “Akakiri.” “T0-B1,” meanwhile, is directed by Science SARU’s Abel Góngora, and its titular protagonist is that most Star Wars of staples: a small droid with a big role to play. “It’s a story about a little droid, but even though he is a droid, he has his own dreams,” said Góngora. “But eventually he will give up on his dreams for something bigger, so it’s like a growing-up story.” Góngora, a Tokyo resident who originally hails from Spain, said he felt a responsibility to “pay respect to Japanese animation and also to the Star Wars universe,” and “T0-B1” is his attempt to find a balance between the two. As such, the lead droid is somewhat reminiscent of Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy, while the sense of adventure and theme of finding greatness within oneself appear to be very Star Wars. Tatooine Rhapsody: Star Wars Rock Opera Finally, “Tatooine Rhapsody” looks like it will be another style of anime entirely. Directed by newcomer Taku Kimura at Studio Colorido, it portrays characters such as Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett alongside a cast of new characters with a bold, cartoonish design. “It has rock music, action, and a concert scene,” enthused Kimura of his self-described “rock opera” episode. “It has a message of doing what is in your heart, regardless of your position.” He explained that using existing Star Wars characters in his animation came with a sense of responsibility. “Boba Fett and Jabba the Hutt have a lot of existing fans who love them, so I tried to balance that weight of expectation with some new characters and a satisfying story,” he said. “It’s a lot of pressure!” Star Wars has always borrowed from Japanese culture, from George Lucas’ heavy influence from filmmaker Akira Kurosawa to the samurai look of Darth Vader’s helmet and lightsaber, and even the zen concept of the Force. While past projects have included collaboration with Japanese studios, such as Polygon Pictures’ work on the Lucasfilm-led production of Star Wars Resistance, it’s a rare and welcome opportunity to see Japanese creators be given such a voice in the Star Wars universe. https://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-visions-trailer-and-cast Spoiler “Lucasfilm is partnering with seven of the most talented anime studios in Japan to bring their signature style and unique vision of the Star Wars galaxy to this inspired new series,” says James Waugh, executive producer and Lucasfilm Vice President, Franchise Content & Strategy. “Their stories showcase the full spectrum of bold storytelling found across Japanese animation; each told with a freshness and voice that expands our understanding of what a Star Wars story can be, and celebrates a galaxy that has been such an inspiration to so many visionary storytellers.” The English dub cast includes the voice talents of returning Star Wars actors and talent new to the Star Wars galaxy, including Temuera Morrison as Boba Fett: The Duel: Brian Tee (Ronin), Lucy Liu (Bandit Leader), Jaden Waldman (Village Chief) Tatooine Rhapsody: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Jay), Bobby Moynihan (Geezer), Temuera Morrison (Boba Fett), Shelby Young (K-344), Marc Thompson (Lan) The Twins: Neil Patrick Harris (Karre), Alison Brie (Am), Jonathan Lipow (B-20N) The Village Bride: Karen Fukuhara (F), Nichole Sakura (Haru), Christopher Sean (Asu), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Valco), Andrew Kishino (Izuma), Stephanie Sheh (Saku) The Ninth Jedi: Kimiko Glenn (Kara), Andrew Kishino (Juro), Simu Liu (Zhima), Masi Oka (Ethan), Greg Chun (Roden), Neil Kaplan (Narrator), Michael Sinterniklaas (Hen Jin) T0-B1: Jaden Waldman (T0-B1), Kyle Chandler (Mitaka) The Elder: David Harbour (Tajin), Jordan Fisher (Dan), James Hong (The Elder) Lop & Ocho: Anna Cathcart (Lop), Hiromi Dames (Ocho), Paul Nakauchi(Yasaburo), Kyle McCarley (Imperial Officer) Akakiri: Henry Golding (Tsubaki), Jamie Chung (Misa), George Takei (Senshuu), Keone Young (Kamahachi), Lorraine Toussaint (Masago) Disney+ also revealed a look at the cast voicing the shorts in Japanese, which includes a multitude of veteran voice actors: The Duel: Masaki Terasoma (Ronin), Akeno Watanabe (Bandit Leader), Yūko Sanpei (Village Chief) Tatooine Rhapsody: Hiroyuki Yoshino (Jay), Kōsuke Gotō (Geezer), Akio Kaneda (Boba Fett), Masayo Fujita (K-344), Anri Katsu (Lan) The Twins: Junya Enoki (Karre), Ryoko Shiraishi (Am), TokuyoshiKawashima (B-20N) The Village Bride: Asami Seto (F), Megumi Han (Haru), Yūma Uchida (Asu), Takaya Kamikawa (Vaan), Yoshimitsu Shimoyama (Izuma), Mariya Ise (Saku) The Ninth Jedi: Chinatsu Akasaki (Kara), Tetsuo Kanao (Juro), Shin-ichiro Miki (Zhima), Hiromu Mineta (Ethan), Kazuya Nakai (Roden), Akio Ōtsuka, (Narrator), Daisuke Hirakawa (Hen Jin) T0-B1: Masako Nozawa (T0-B1), Tsutomu Isobe (Mitaka) The Elder: Takaya Hashi (Tajin), Kenichi Ogata (The Elder), Yuichi Nakamura (Dan) Lop & Ocho: Seiran Kobayashi (Lop), Risa Shimizu (Ocho), Tadahisa Fujimura (Yasaburo), Taisuke Nakano (Imperial Officer) Akakiri: Yū Miyazaki (Tsubaki), Lynn (Misa), Chō (Senshuu), Wataru Takagi (Kamahachi), Yukari Nozawa (Masago) The studios creating the nine shorts include Kamikaze Douga – “The Duel”; Geno Studio (Twin Engine) – “Lop and Ochō”; Studio Colorido (Twin Engine) – “Tatooine Rhapsody”; TRIGGER – “The Twins” and “The Elder”; Kinema Citrus – “The Village Bride”; Science Saru – “Akakiri” and “T0-B1”; and Production I.G. – “The Ninth Jedi.” Experience the entire anthology when it debuts exclusively on Disney+ on September 22, 2021.