For the new Disney Plus anthology series Star Wars: Visions, Lucasfilm invited seven Japanese anime studios to bring their talents to its far-off galaxy, resulting in nine distinct and exciting original shorts. Rather than repurposing characters and situations from the massive back catalog of Star Wars lore, Visions features only a few familiar faces and locations and consists of fresh, self-contained stories that are not bound to the strict rules of continuity.
But underneath this new coat of paint, however, flecks of the existing canon and even the defunct Legends expanded universe can still be found, leading us to explore just how Visions relates to the grander tapestry of Star Wars as we know it. Here are all the ways the new set of shorts brush against the known, deeper-cut parts of the universe.
[Ed. note: This story contains spoilers for each of the nine shorts.]
“The Duel,” Kamikaze Douga
In this short, a rural village comes under siege by an army of bandits led by a ruthless Sith. Only a wandering ronin wielding a red lightsaber stands a chance of defeating her. The ronin claims that he’s “no Jedi,” but wields the Force in defense of the innocent nevertheless.
In Legends canon, there’s a Force alignment informally known as “Gray Jedi,” referring to those who study the Force but do not follow the strict rules of the Jedi Order nor the Sith. Jolee Bindo from Knights of the Old Republic, Bendu from Star Wars Rebels, and even Ahsoka Tano (after her excommunication) fall into this category, as may our mysterious ronin. While Light Side-aligned Force-wielders do not use red lightsabers in the new canon, some Jedi favor a red blade in the old Legends universe. The ronin from “The Duel” collects red Kyber crystals from the Sith he defeats (not unlike General Grievous’ trophy lightsabers), which implies that his own red blade may have been taken off one of his enemies.
The ensemble of village guardians in “The Duel” is comprised of familiar alien species from the canon — a Sullustan (like Lando’s co-pilot Nien Nunb), a Trandoshan (like the reptilian bounty hunter Bossk), a Dug (like the podracer Sebulba), to name a few — and clicks nicely to the timeline. “The Duel” seems to take place after the birth of the First Order, as the bandits wear modified Stormtrooper helmets of both Imperial and First Order design. A prose novel sequel, Ronin, is due in October, and may add even more background to the short.
“Tatooine Rhapsody,” Studio Colorido
The second Star Wars: Visions short follows the misadventures of a touring rock band, Star Waver, and is the only short to feature established characters from the Star Wars mythos. The story begins with Jay, a Jedi Padawan, as he runs from a battle in the Clone Wars. While one might assume that Jay is escaping the Jedi Purge in the aftermath of Order 66 (like Rebels’ Kanan Jarrus or Fallen Order’s Cal Kestis), the blaster bolts fired at him are red, like that of the CIS Battle Droids, not the blue rifle blasts of the Clone Troopers. Jay may actually have escaped before the Clone Army turned against the Jedi.
Jay is taken in by Gee, a rebellious young Hutt with ambitions of rock stardom. After years traveling together as a band, Star Waver’s dreams are dashed when Gee is dragged back to Tatooine by none other than Boba Fett (voiced by the familiar Temuera Morrison in the English dub). In a bid to reunite their family, Jay and the rest of Star Waver arrange a final concert in front of Jabba himself (and his major domo Bib Fortuna) at the Mos Espa speedway, site of the podrace in The Phantom Menace. Their performance is broadcast to familiar locations across Tatooine, including the Mos Eisley Cantina and Ben Kenobi’s mountain bungalow.
“The Twins,” Trigger
“The Twins’’ is the story of Am and Karre, a sister and brother who have been genetically engineered to serve the Dark Side of the Force. The twins and their Imperial troops are about to activate their superweapon, the Gemini-Class Star Destroyer, but Karre has a change of heart and steals its power source, forcing the pair to do battle for the fate of the galaxy. Based on references to both the Empire and the Republic and on the variety of fighter craft stored in the Star Destroyer’s hangar, this story would likely take place after the Galactic Civil War, but this is an installment in which it seems in which we’re not meant to worry about it. “The Twins” also includes a number of specific visual references to the film saga, from The Last Jedi’s Holdo Maneuver to the famous binary sunset on Tatooine.
The idea of twins connected through the Force is a pretty common one, beginning with Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa and continuing into the old Legends expanded universe with Leia’s own children, Jaina and Jacen Solo. Like Am and Karre, Jaina and Jacen begin with the same alignment to the Force (in their case, the Light Side), until one of them turns. The Force, after all, seeks its own balance. The current canon’s closest equivalent is the Force dyad of Ben Solo/Kylo Ren and his quasi-cousin Rey.
“The Village Bride,” Kinema Citrus
“The Village Bride” is set after the fall of the Jedi Order and rise of the Galactic Empire, on a planet whose inhabitants foster a strong spiritual connection to their natural environment. Unschooled in the Force, its inhabitants call this interconnecting spirit “Magina.” The planet was harvested for its resources by the Coalition of Independent Systems during the Clone Wars. Now, a criminal organization has repurposed the Separatists’ abandoned battle droids to force the villagers to submit to their continued exploitation of the planet. A rogue, reactivated battle droid detachment previously featured in an episode of the animated series Star Wars Rebels.
Visiting this world is an adult Jedi Padawan known only as “F,” who is hiding from the Empire. Traditionally, when a Padawan graduates to knighthood, their master will cut their thin braid with a lightsaber. Here, when F finds the courage to come out of hiding and stand up for the villagers, she cuts her own braid, effectively knighting herself.
The villain’s starship appears to be from the Corellian YT-series, the same line that produced Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon and Dash Rendar’s Outrider from Shadows of the Empire. F’s ship resembles the ARC-170 starfighter used by the Republic during the Clone Wars.
“The Ninth Jedi,” Production I.G
“The Ninth Jedi” takes place in the distant future, after the Jedi have all but disappeared. This is likely beyond the end of the Star Wars timeline, either in the new Disney canon or the Legends canon that preceded it.
While Jedi traditionally craft their own lightsabers as part of their final trials, “The Ninth Jedi” features a sabersmith who constructs nine blades for masterless Jedi. Using his method, the color of the lightsaber changes depending on who wields it, or appears as colorless when held by someone whose connection to the Force is not fully established.
The concept of a lightsaber’s color being determined by its bearer is not new to Star Wars. In the current canon, Kyber crystals are naturally colorless until they and their respective Jedi choose each other. Sith lightsabers turn red through a ritual called “bleeding,” during which a Force wielder pours their negative feelings into a Kyber crystal until it changes color. The future lightsabers in “The Ninth Jedi” appear to make these processes effortless, instantaneous, and reversible.
“TO-B1,” Science Saru
“TO-B1” centers on a droid who fantasizes about becoming a Jedi, and is littered with references to existing Star Wars canon — starting with the name TO-B1, pronounced “Tee Obi-Wan.” The short is set on a planet that closely resembles Tatooine in both climate and architecture, and while it may not be on Tatooine itself, the home of TO-B1’s creator, Professor Mitaka, is modeled after Lars Homestead, Luke Skywalker’s childhood home. (There’s even a T-16 Skyhopper in the basement.) The hut’s interior walls have been carved with a mural of the events of the Star Wars saga, up to and including the Battle of Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back.
“TO-B1” is the only Visions short to make clear references to the recent Expanded Universe. When TO-B1 accidentally exposes Mitaka’s true nature as a Jedi in hiding, an Imperial Inquisitor comes to the planet to kill him. The Inquisitorius is a band of Force-adept warriors working under Darth Vader, first seen on Star Wars Rebels. Imperial troops arrive on Mitaka’s planet in a TIE Reaper landing craft that debuted in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and the Inquisitor himself travels in a TIE Advanced v1, a craft favored by Inquisitors on Rebels. Before Mitaka goes to meet his fate, he paraphrases the Guardian’s Mantra from Rogue One — “I am one with the Force, the Force is with me.” Mitaka hides his lightsaber hilt by splitting it in two, like Rebels’ Kanan Jarrus, and the saber itself resembles the default hilt from Jedi: Fallen Order.
TO-B1’s dream of Jedi knighthood might seem impossible, since only organic beings can play host to Midicholrians and command the Force. There is, however, some precedent for a synthetic Jedi in the old Legends canon. In the discarded continuity, the Iron Knights were a group of sentient crystals who were capable of using the Force and employed entirely robotic bodies. They fought alongside the Jedi during the Clone Wars, but were denied entry into the Order until it was reformed by Luke Skywalker.
“The Elder,” Trigger
“The Elder” is the story of a Jedi Master and Padawan on a journey together during the Republic era. The Sith have been gone for “hundreds of years,” so this tale can take place anywhere from the time of the current High Republic publishing initiative to the first part of the prequel trilogy, between the fall of the Sith and the start of the Clone Wars, when Sith survivors are dismissed as rumor.
The villainous Elder himself wields what appear to be a pair of lightsaber short swords, not seen in the films but common in the expanded universe. Ahsoka Tano is well-known for employing one full-sized saber and one shoto in combat.
“Lop & Ochō,” Geno Studio
Set during the reign of the Galactic Empire, “Lop & Ochō” follows two sisters — Ochō, the biological daughter of the wealthy Yasaburo family, and her adopted sister Lop. Lop is a rabbit-like humanoid resembling the Lepi species, canonized with the introduction of the infamous smuggler character Jaxxon in a 1978 issue of Marvel’s Star Wars title.
Inside a Yasaburo family temple bearing the symbol of the Jedi Order, Lop and her father perform a ceremony by which she officially inherits a lightsaber that a Jedi left to her family hundreds of years ago. Within the canon, it is uncommon for a lightsaber to be passed down through generations, as the Jedi do not leave heirs behind. A Jedi’s lightsaber is traditionally returned to Coruscant after their death, and in the High Republic era their Kyber crystals are added to a monument inside the Jedi Temple. The Yasaburo lightsaber also bears a visible inscription on the glow of the blade, something that would not be possible on a canonical lightsaber.
“Akakiri,” Science Saru
In the final short, Jedi Knight Tsubaki returns to a planet where he senses that a princess, Misa, is in mortal danger. Tsubaki is plagued by a premonition of death, which he is determined to overcome. However, his intervention ends up fulfilling the prophecy as Misa is accidentally killed by his own hand. Misa’s treacherous aunt Masago teaches Tsubaki a technique for restoring Misa’s life in exchange for his fealty to the Dark Side.
Prophecies in Star Wars have a tendency to come true, even if they are not realized in the most obvious way. Tsubaki causing the fate he hopes to avoid mirrors the story of Anakin Skywalker, as does his resulting turn to the Dark Side. Unlike Palpatine, however, Masago keeps her end of the bargain and resurrects Misa, winning Tsubaki’s service in trade.
Tsubaki arrives on the planet in a B-Wing Fighter, though this model wouldn’t be developed until the Rebellion era at least a few decades (if not centuries) later. Misa’s servants, Senshu and Kamahachi, are likely references back to Tahei and Matashichi from Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, who George Lucas has acknowledged were the inspiration behind C-3PO and R2-D2. Misa herself may be named after Misa Uehara, who portrays Princess Yuki in The Hidden Fortress.