Star Wars: Visions & What's Canon Anyway?

I didn't think I was going to have any interest in Star Wars: Visions when it was first announced, because I'm not really a fan of anime and the trailer didn't look interesting to me at all. But then I saw it pop up on my Disney+ feed and thought: Eh, might as well see what that's all about!

And as it turns out... I enjoyed it overall! My very first exposure to the Expanded Universe back in the day was Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, so I'm actually quite partial towards random short stories simply set in the Star Wars universe, and every animation studio gave the property a slightly different flavour. Let me do some mini-reviews for each episode - these will contain spoilers. If you want to remain spoiler-free, it's (mostly) safe to continue reading below the list.

1. The Duel

This one was very moody and visually interesting. I rolled my eyes a little at the Sith lady fighting in heels and wielding a lightsaber umbrella, but then I was kind of like... it's not canon, so who cares? The revelation at the end was intriguing. It occurred to me that I could see the young chief telling his own children one day about the events leading up to him being given this rare crystal, and if this was his re-telling that would explain why some things are a little over the top.

2. Tatooine Rhapsody

It seems most people weren't too impressed with this one but I kind of liked it once I got over the shock of how different the style was to the first episode. Chibi Boba Fett hunting a Hutt with a wig that wants to play in a band? Why the hell not! I liked that the main character's "microphone" did indeed just remain a microphone and he didn't suddenly ignite his lightsaber for a heroic rescue at the end. This appealed to my "not everything in Star Wars has to be resolved by using the Force" leanings.

3. The Twins

Based on other opinions I've seen, people seem to either love or hate this one. I'm more in the latter camp, though "hate" would still be too strong a word. I was after all entertained, just by laughing at how ridiculous it all was instead of being able to take the story seriously in any way whatsoever. It just reminded me of bad fan fiction, the sort where someone just picks one or two aspects of a film they saw and decide to write a story all about that, which doesn't mesh with anything else from the source material. Star Destroyers, X-Wings, something something dark side, massive battle scene woo!

4. The Village Bride

This one was probably the least memorable of the lot for me. It was competent and I did like it well enough while watching it, but it felt like a fairly generic story of a low-lying Jedi choosing to reveal herself to save a village. I liked the guy with the bucket hat. Oh, and someone pointed out that the ship that the bandits arrive in is the same as SWTOR's smuggler ship, which was neat.

5. The Ninth Jedi

Now this one was fun. Come on, do you really think that ominous guy with the full body armour and the red glowing eyes wants to just help out some Jedi? Are you daft? But then! A delicious twist! I loved that.

6. T0-B1

First off, was anyone else slightly amused by the main protagonist's name kind of sounding like "Teen Obi-Wan" when said out loud? No, just me? Oh well.

This one was kind of weird and I didn't really know what to make of it. I was on board with the idea of a droid wanting to be a Jedi, and I liked how during the big battle getting his arm chopped off didn't phase him at all because duh, droid! But then the whole "you're just like a real boy" vision gave me Pinocchio vibes and I never liked Pinoccio much. Also, I was a bit put off by the planet initially looking kind of like Tatooine but then it clearly wasn't.

7. The Elder

This one had very strong Qui-Gon Jinn and young Obi-Wan vibes, but I didn't mind. For all the aspects of Star Wars that the franchise has cloned and repeated to death, this particular dynamic is not one of them I think? I liked how this was the calmest and most dialogue-heavy of the episodes, reminding us that Star Wars doesn't have to be all about flashy battles. The only slight negative from my point of view is that the dialogue felt kind of weirdly paced in the English dub sometimes, but then I've read somewhere that this is fairly common with anime due to the way the Japanese language works (?)

8. Lop and Ochō

This was probably the most visually beautiful of the episodes, and I liked the theme of found family over blood relations, which is something the sequel trilogy kind of undermined with its weird focus on genetic heritage. The only con from my point of view was that I thought the dialogue was a bit weak (just how many times does Lop repeat something or other about bringing the family back together...)

9. Akakiri

This one was visually and stylistically very interesting, but I found the cuts a bit weird and honestly got confused at one point because I didn't immediately recognise that a couple of scenes were meant to be flashbacks. It also felt the least "Star Warsy" to me somehow, because even though there was mention of Jedi and Sith, everything looked very stereotypically Japanese, and most of the other common Star Wars trappings, such as aliens, droids or familiar locations were notably absent.

Overall I enjoyed seeing the IP get explored in this different style, though I think some critics are giving it too much credit for originality... e.g. Forbes reviewed the series under the headline of "Star Wars: Visions finally breaks free from the Skywalker saga", which I think made most Star Wars fans go "Dude, where've you been?" There's already plenty of supplemental content out there that explores other aspects of the Star Wars universe. I'd even say that in terms of themes, Visions is fairly conservative by having most episodes be about some sort of Jedi vs. Sith conflict. Which is not a problem! However, it's hardly revolutionary either.

Now, what really got me thinking about Visions was the fact that it's been labelled as "not canon" and that in my own reactions to individual episodes, I sometimes perceived this as a good thing (like in The Duel, where I saw it as an easy excuse to hand-wave away some awkward details) and other times as a bad thing (like in The Twins, where I felt kind of annoyed that the writers seemed to have zero respect for established norms in the Star Wars universe). Why is that?

I thought about what exactly canon even means in this kind of context, and the definition that seemed the most appropriate is "the works of a particular author or artist that are recognized as genuine" or "the list of works considered to be permanently established as being of the highest quality". Of course George Lucas waived the exclusive right to come up with Star Wars stories a long time ago, so it's less about the author and more about what the IP holder, in this case Disney, has deigned to give the stamp of approval as "the true story".

I feel that having an established canon does add value to a universe like this, because it adds authenticity to the stories by ensuring that they contradict each other as little as possible, and ideally there should also be some sort of minimum quality control. (Ideally...) But in a fiction as vast as the Star Wars universe, it can also become restrictive and cause fans to become weirdly obsessive about pointless details, fretting about things like why that one stormtrooper in that one scene wore the wrong helmet for the time period and what that must mean.

And I think that explains why I felt the way I did about Visions too. In The Duel, my initial reaction to seeing the Sith's weapon was to think something like: "Oh no, I thought we'd seen all the weird things people could do with lightsabers... " But on reminding myself that it wasn't canon, there was a certain sense of relief that I didn't have to worry about where it fit into the "canon of lightsabers", I could just take it at face value in this particular story and enjoy it for what it was.

Comparatively, The Twins made me think: "OK, I know that Star Wars isn't very concerned with physics, but people still aren't able to breathe in space, usually..." It didn't just violate some obscure part of canon, it clashed with most stories taking place in space and just gave me the feeling that the creators didn't care about any kind of logic or credibility, which in turn made me feel detached from the story.

If you've watched Visions, what did you think of it? And did you see the lack of canonicity as a pro or a con?


  1. I felt the same way about Twins. Absolutely off the walls with that one. I definitely reacted with a "OH HELL NO!" vibe when I saw it. Almost insulted. When Angry Joe reviewed it, I got even more triggered about it, because he tried to blame on the Sequels when Leia used to Force to float back. But no, you can't blame the sequels for The Twins. The Twins is it's own thing. I'll say it's inspired by Star Wars, but I personally won't accept it as Star Wars, canon or not. As for Angry Joe, I pretty much dislike all of his movie and tv show reviews. He's much better at reviewing video games. Lol, I think I'm triggered again. [Takes deep breaths]

    Overall I enjoyed this series very much and would definitely love to see more every year.

    This took me back to Star Wars Tales from Dark Horse. They weren't canon and they never tell you which era they take place in. But were great stories nonetheless. Nice to see this happening on screen.

    Some of my fellow guildees are now asking for Star Wars: What If...?

    1. Oh man, I remember watching Angry Joe once upon a time. I can't remember anymore when or why I stopped exactly to be honest... probably also due to something Star Wars-related though. :) Or just generally due to getting tired of angry guys on YouTube.

  2. I haven't watched Visions as anime doesn't interest me that much. I think it is fine and obviously a big thing, but it just doesn't call to me to watch. Now I did enjoy the original animated (now non-canon) Clone Wars, so maybe I should give these a watch.

    I do think the non-canon nature of it is fine. I see things like these stories as traveler's tales and campfire stories amongst the beings of the Galaxy. They didn't really happen -- thus being non-canon from that perspective -- but they do fill the niche of 'tales and legends' that entertain folks.

  3. I thought it was so-so myself. Again too much focus on Force wielder centric stuff which gets a bit stale over time.

    I Really wish they had taken full advantage of the format and come out with more wilder concepts. Since it's non-canon after all.

    Like having a Mecha Zillo Beast fighting giant eldritch threats from the Unknown Regions.

  4. I never understood the whole act about canon or non-canon. Revan is part of the canon, than he is out, and suddenly back in. Or another figure, planet, starship, storyline. Whatever. Doesn't matter to me at all. If i like Revan it does not change because somebody said, this is not canon. What does it even mean? This is a rhetorical question. I do know what it means. But for me it has no value. If i like the story, the figure, whatever, is not connected to being canon or not. It just matters if it is good.


Share your opinion! Everyone is welcome, as long as things stay polite. I also read comments on older posts, so don't be shy. :)