Individual short reviews.
One of my favorites. Gorgeous art style, great sparing use of color, I really enjoyed the art design as well. The melding of recognizably Star Wars elements paired with imagery from feudal Japan is done so well - astromech with a straw hat dome, yes please. The titular duel has engaging choreography and it moves through space well, using what we find out about the characters and with a great use of the environment. Fantastic start to the set.
"Yes, we've seen Revenge of the Sith." Moments later: "Yes, we've SEEN Revenge of the Sith!" A second later: "YES, W- ah, forget it."
This one, like some of the others, felt like it could have benefitted from a 22 minute runtime, a la an episode of The Clone Wars or Rebels. It had more potential than I think it fully delivered on, but still told a fun story with its runtime. Hoping that the music is better in the original Japanese. Might do a fan edit sometime down the line. Oh, and it felt like a really weird role for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, not the first time there's a big name in a part and I come away with a question mark.
"Why is the crowd here? Are they here for the execution?"
UGH I hated this one. Could not stand. Easily the worst of the bunch. "As you know" exposition, over the top animation and dialogue reminiscent of Kill la Kill without any understanding of why it was so engaging. [Editor's Note: No wonder the animation seems reminiscent, it's because it was produced by the same damn studio.] Tragic misuse of Neil Patrick Harris; I don't recognize Alison Brie but I get the same feeling for her. I have to hope they both saw the material, knew it was garbage, and at least had fun.
Nothing in this makes sense! Twins, fine; paired Star Destroyers with a superweapon in the middle grafting them, fine; Gemini-class? You're getting kind of cute there. And it just... I could not stand it for anything other than spectacle, and it was short even on that. It was at its best when Am one-upped Grievous and an actual saber duel happened (though both combatants are standing on the hull of the ship in the middle of space with no space suits or helmets on), everything else can go in the bin.
"The DROID! Has a HELMET!"
The Village Bride
"This feels very Miyazaki," Steph said as it opened, showing off a gorgeous bucolic landscape. While the direct comparison ends there, it does does a good job of establishing its setting. This was another one that could have done with a longer runtime - it's very front-heavy with exposition, and the payoff for all of it is great, but fleeting after how heavy the front was. Great art style, and possibly my favorite lightsaber of the entire anthology (and there are many lightsabers, I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear). It kind of does the Mad Max Fury Road thing where the protagonists (F and Valco) are not the center of the storyline - they're accessory to it. I want more with the two of them, perhaps, as F continues to grow more confident in the wake of Order 66, though this particular short also ends quite satisfactorily. I suppose it's just that I wanted to know the two of them better and the runtime didn't allow it. EDIT: Runtime on this one is 20 minutes, just short of the 22 minutes a regular half-hour show would fill. Runtime alone may not have been the source of the pacing issue if we're measuring it against that.
Also, I'll note that following The Twins does this one a disservice. It's a slower, more relaxed, one could say romantic toned short. It's hard to be in the mindset for that after what came before.
"We all saw Kylo Ren do it, so now everybody can do it."
The Ninth Jedi
My favorite. Hands down. It's superbly paced, it doesn't feel like there's stuff missing, it doesn't feel like there should be more... well, except for that obvious sequel hook, which I am 100% behind because I enjoyed the characters, the setting. There's a twist in here (in that the Margrave is obviously set up to be evil but turns out not to be) that was so telegraphed that I was like, "Well, it's obviously what they're setting up, but the characters don't notice it. Or is it a twist? No, I don't have enough faith in what I've watched so far to think they'll go for the twist." So, again, a disservice paid by some of the preceding. (The Twins was still fresh in my memory. Have I mentioned how much I hated The Twins?) Oh, and it has a novel asteroid mining concept that is absolutely not how science works, but whatever, it's a great visual I give it a pass.
Star Wars: Visions was originally envisioned as a ten-film anthology, but apparently two were merged to create The Ninth Jedi. I wonder what the separate concepts but if they were on par with others, this was definitely made stronger by the fusion of the two ideas into something that stands very well on its own. EDIT: Runtime on this one is 22 minutes, which may have helped it feel like a season opener, or at least the first episode of a two- or three-parter.
I don't know what more to say - great plot, characters, a twist that was accompanied by another twist that I didn't see coming, it's all here. If you watch one short from this anthology, make it this one. And can we get that sequel produced, please?
"I wouldn't trust that." "His eyes are fucking red! No way!"
This was... cute. Art style did nothing for me and it's clearly made for a younger audience. A child droid wants to grow up and be a real Jedi! Normally I'd say, take it easy Pinocchio, but nah, let's let the kid do his thing. I... don't have much to add. It at least told a coherent story and didn't feel rushed for time to do so, so it already ranks above the bottom third of the anthology.
"iT wAs WiThIn YoU aLl AlOnG. Oh my fucking god."
This was alright. I admit that it's possible that my impressions of this final third of the anthology was colored by it getting a bit late, and getting a bit tired, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't the case here. People went places and did things. It all happened quite competently. David Harbour delivered a good performance as a Qui-Gon "living Force" style Jedi Master, something I wish I could see more of. Made by the same studio as The Twins, more or less redeeming them.
Any insightful reaction I can think of is tempered by the fact that there is now a Star Wars character named Dan.
Lop & Ochō
Man, I really wanted to like this more. Not to imply that I disliked it, but nor did I really get into it. It did its stuff pretty well! Unfortunately it was another one that was cramped by its runtime - I really liked Lop for her unique character design, I was totally on board, but she's hardly characterized outside her relationship with her adoptive family. We get time with her father to come around to his way of thinking, but her pro-Imperial sister, Ochō, just lacks any sort of charisma so I didn't feel anything for the personal, familial side of the conflict. And the other side of the conflict - is Imperial occupation beneficial to the planet (or the city, whatever the family considers itself stewards of) - is never dealt with. Father says the planet doesn't need them! Ochō says it does! And... nothing happens with that. Ochō is chased offworld and the short ends because nothing is decided with finality. EDIT: Runtime: 20 minutes. Probably not the sole source of the issues here.
There seems to be a common notion in this anthology that wielding a lightsaber grants one the ability to use the Force. This was like, the third time.
I should give this another watch because I was getting tired, and I can't tell if I wasn't invested because I was tired or if I was tired because I wasn't invested. Stuff happens because it happens with no really reason for anybody doing anything other than "but thou must". The characters each had their own art style, which was interesting, but aside from that it felt like... I don't know. Didn't feel like much of anything. Same studio as T0-B1.
I wasn't invested enough, nor did anything much particularly happen enough, to even react to anything going on.