What makes Star Wars: Visions work so well in the first place is its almost ceaseless yearning for flair and flash always comes with storytelling that’s driven by the fundamental themes which have defined Star Wars for generations. One of the most dazzling of the nine animated shorts in the series understands this keenly — with a reminder of one of the Skywalker Saga’s most important lessons.
“The Twins” — produced by Studio Trigger and directed by Kill la Kill and Promare’s Hiroyuki Imaishi — is certainly one of the shorts that pushes the boundaries of what Star Wars fans might consider “logical” about a franchise. A franchise, we might remind you, in which ancient wizards wave glowsticks at each other and a new planet-killer shows up every Tuesday.
If the child of Darth Vader pulling themselves inside a ship from the vacuum of space was enough to spark hotly contested debate for months, were it not emphasised that Visions is only adjacent to Star Wars canonicity, the sibling showdown between Karre (Junya Enoki/Neil Patrick Harris) and Am (Ryoko Shiraishi/Alison Brie), might’ve made a few heads explode.
Star Destroyers are stuck to other Star Destroyers, the vacuum of space that made people furious about Leia Organa is treated here like it might as well not exist. Ships are smashed about only to be perfectly fine, suits of armour explode and grow arms in a way that would make even General Grievous blush. Speaking of The Last Jedi and fan controversy, its “Holdo Manoeuvre” is echoed here (one of many echoes), but this time instead of one woman against a fleet it’s a boy, saber held high as he stands atop an X-Wing going to lightspeed, to carve a slash through time, space, and even part of his sister. Suffice to say, it’s an absurdist, kinetic, and dazzling riff on Star Wars, visually speaking.
It’s completely gorgeous, a little bit silly, but self-aware enough to know all this in the first place, as all good Star Wars should, alongside those pointed echoes to its past. There’s always another Empire and Republic, there’s always another world-ender. There are always important siblings. Light and dark. And lightsabers, even if the lightsabers here turn into whips and extended about the place like Lumiya has very suddenly come back into fashion. But it’s the heightened surreality of visuals of the “The Twins” that serve to more starkly highlight the thematic undercurrent beneath those visuals: a lesson that Star Wars has turned to over and over, but one that sat at the heart of its sequel trilogy.
Early on in “The Twins,” we’re told that Karre and Am are twins of the Dark Side: whatever version of some kind of Evil Empire they’re on in its nebulous time frame, up against whatever Republic, they are the product of Dark Side cultists breeding a dyad of their own, warriors whose sole purpose is to rule the galaxy through fear and power as brother and sister.
That is, until the eve of the testing of their planet-killer — this time, taking a page from The Rise of Skywalker’s visual textbook, by slapping a Death Star laser as the connective housing between two Star Destroyers — and Karre simply decides that he’s had enough of this endless cycle of power-chasing. Nabbing the giant kyber crystal powering the Gemini Star Destroyer’s superlaser, Karre makes for a hasty exit, but not before his sister, fully committed to her destiny as the Dark Side’s vessel, goes all-out to stop him.
Amid their hectic battle on top of the Star Destroyers themselves, it’s made more clear that one of the reasons Karre has turned his back on the Empire is a vision he had through the Force. While he lacks the raw power his sister has, and craves more of, his symbiotic relationship with her gave him a vision of his sibling’s doom that he couldn’t shake. Time and time again he asks of her, as things get increasingly more and more dangerous, to come with him — not necessarily to get away from the Empire because what it’s doing is bad, or even because of his vision of her death. Instead, it’s out of love. Karre wants Am to take the opportunity he has: to be free of the bloodline they were raised from, to take their futures into their own hands. There’s no need for control and order at their hands if they can be free — if the whole galaxy can be free — to decide who they are for themselves alone.
Star Wars and destiny go hand in hand, and always have; from Luke’s battle with his father, to the prophecy of the chosen one, all the way to the revelation of Rey’s own lineage in The Rise of Skywalker. Fates, by blood and name pulse throughout its very heart, for better or worse, placing the sweeping stakes of a galaxy far, far away into the hands of a chosen few.
But as important as that idea is to Star Wars — and the reason “The Twins” itself is riffing on it in the first place — equally important is the refutation of that prescribed power. Countless Star Wars heroes become heroes out of nowhere, deemed nothing or unimportant in the grand scheme of bloodlines like the Skywalkers and Palpatines, only to help save the galaxy over and over. In The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren’s venomous revelation to Rey that she is meant to be “nothing” is what sets her free when he can’t be — already desperately lashing out at the restrictions of his own legacy as the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa.
When it’s revealed in The Rise of Skywalker to be a lie and that she is, in fact, a Palpatine, her greatest victory is in refuting what that destiny is supposed to mean for her. Instead, she creates her own, taking on the name of Skywalker — not because she is of its blood or because she is destined to, but because it is what she wants to do for herself.
Karre and Am’s story playing with that idea from the adjacent perspective of not two fated heroes, but fated villains, is a funny twist in and of itself. But that it does so to challenge the idea of destiny once more — to remind us that power comes not from armour, crystals, super lasers, or fate, but in taking hold of your own identity and self in a big, wide world — makes it arguably more true to Star Wars than its hyperactive, technicolor action would make it first seem.