By its very nature, Star Wars: Visions was always destined to be a mixed bag. Seven Japanese animation studios given the keys to the franchise and allowed to play with whichever toys they want, experiment with the tropes, characters, and visuals, canon be damned. Some are fascinating to watch, others exhilarating, and some come at Star Wars from an angle that not everyone will find engaging. For me, that was T0-B1, but I’m sure that short was somebody else’s favourite. Almost every taste is catered for and I was personally drawn in by the films made by Trigger. The Elder offers a restrained and philosophical tale while The Twins embraces the scale, craziness, and outright silliness of Star Wars like little content before it.
On a Gemini-Class Star Destroyer, two twins fight a personal battle to decide the fate of the galaxy. The siblings were born from the Dark Side, manufactured by the Sith occultists of Exogol, and embody the franchise’s theme of duality, light and dark. The two debate the nature of destiny with words and lightsaber blades as Karre, voiced by Neil Patrick Harris in the English-language dub, chooses a fate away from fear and towards hope, stealing a mythical Kyber crystal and embracing the Light Side. He and his sister Am, voiced by Alison Brie, who sticks with the Dark Side, embody many of the franchise’s themes in a single relationship. The goal of Visions was to synthesise Star Wars down to its bare essence and The Twins succeeds.
The door of Jabba’s Palace inside a Star Destroyer. The handrail-less walkway of Starkiller Base. The Empire planning to strike at a still-existing Republic. R2-D2 is R-DUO, a villain’s droid. A bizarre mixture of ships in the Imperial hanger, from X-Wings to Jedi Starfighters. What I love about The Twins is its complete disregard for canon. As a reader of many Star Wars novels and comics, I admit, I can get hung up on canon, so that’s why I love that The Twins takes full advantage of not existing in the prime Star Wars timeline. The short The Village Bride is really good and interesting but it could easily slip into canon. These anime studios have the ability to do what they want so why not go crazy and mix everything up? The Twins is nothing if not crazy.
In fact, The Twins is stupid, and that’s why I love it. I can talk about the themes and ideas of Star Wars, and enjoy those aspects of the franchise, but at the same time a key piece of the formula has always been embracing the weird and the silly. Karre gets snuck up on by the loudest AT-STs you’ve ever heard and then he and his sister have a prolonged fight on the outside hull of a Star Destroyer, exposed to space, with no helmets. It’s only at the very end when we finally see someone wear a helmet to survive in space and who’s wearing it? A droid! It’s such a fun detail in the final moments acting as a wink from the creators; they know just how silly their short film is and they welcome it.
I’m not much of an anime fan but when I think of anime I think of the style of storytelling and action we see in The Twins. First of all, the dialogue is truly terrible, but enjoyably so. Lots of shouting and screaming and characters describing the obvious and speaking their thoughts out loud in the most blatantly expositional way. The visuals are crazy and I really like the style. The action is bombastic and turns the Star Wars dial up to 11. The cool idea of Kyber-powered dark armour allows for Am to have six huge lightsaber whips at once, which in a canon source I would hate, but it’s the perfect weapon for the intentional insanity of Visions.
The fight between the eponymous twins takes up most of the short’s 18-minute run time and the two seem equally matched. So just how can such a duel come to an end? Why, by Karre standing on top of his X-Wing, making his lightsaber blade absolutely ginormous, and going to hyperspace so he can cut the behemoth Star Destroyer in half while also being gentle enough to cut his sister’s suit at just the right point in an action that can only be described as ‘the Holdo manoeuvre on acid’, of course. It’s nuts, it’s stupid, it’s cool, it’s Star Wars, it’s everything an episode of Visions should be.
As with the Holdo manoeuvre in The Last Jedi, a moment of quiet follows Karre’s actions and we see the beauty and horror of such destruction. After the loud in-your-face insanity of the preceding 15-minutes, the ending allows the audience to catch their breath as the film embraces yet another part of classic Star Wars imagery. Karre finds himself crashed on Tatooine, looking out at the horizon of the twin suns and reflecting on his own twin and her fate. He still has hope for her and, just like Karre, I hope we see her again as well. More Star Wars: Visions content has yet to be confirmed but I’m hoping for a second season. I’d like to see a mix of new stories and sequel episodes to those in the first season, and a follow-up to The Twins would be at the top of my list.
The Twins is not the best episode of Visions. It doesn’t have the world building or coolness of The Ninth Jedi or the heart of Lop & Ocho, but as a remix of Star Wars ideas and elements, with an anime style and sensibilities, it’s exactly what Visions promised to be. Trigger took full advantage of the creative freedom Lucasfilm gave them and made something potently Star Wars, where every frame is identifiable as the franchise, yet also unique and very anime. It’s totally bonkers and all the better for it.
What are your favourite episodes of Star Wars: Visions? Let me know in the comments and be sure to geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.