One of the best things about Star Wars: Visions is how different each short is. The philosophy behind the show appears to have been to give Star Wars to several of the greatest anime studios in the world and tell them to go nuts. This led to some tonal whiplash, particularly between the first two episodes, “The Duel” and “Tatooine Rhapsody.”
“The Duel” is a Kurosawa homage told in striking monochrome and features an awesome lightsaber battle. This was catnip for longtime fans and is being followed by a tie-in novel fleshing out its story and characters. After that, viewers were primed for more of the same… which goofy comedy “Tatooine Rhapsody” definitely isn’t.
Set during the Clone Wars, this sees a refugee Jedi Padawan escaping imperial forces and starting a rock band with a distant relative of Jabba the Hutt. It’s a light-hearted story that concludes with a pop-punk performance at Tatooine’s pod-racing circuit, and the band’s toe-tapping tunes eventually win the approval of the crime lord.
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Now there’s a debate raging on Twitter and Reddit over whether this is trash or just a throwaway bit of fun. Complaints range from pop-punk feeling out of place in Star Wars to the chibi art style. Others claim that “Tatooine Rhapsody” used too many generic anime tropes and that it was fundamentally kinda childish.
One interesting point is that many fans think the episode is more enjoyable in Japanese than in English. This means losing Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the lead character, but I can’t deny the music sounds a lot better in Japanese. This video compares the two versions, so check it out for yourself.
The broadly positive reception to Star Wars: Visions should mean we get a second season, but as yet nothing is confirmed. Let’s hope some online controversy doesn’t deter Disney.