Star Wars: Visions Season 2 builds on the previous anthology season by increasing the scope of storytelling across 10 different countries. Star Wars Visions Season 2 Episode 3, “In the Stars” is CG/digital animation, animated to look like it utilized stop-motion elements by Chilean Punkrobot Studios. In this short, the two sisters, the last of their kind who live in hiding on their ravaged land, squabble about how to survive with the Empire encroaching. On a water run, the sisters must fight back when they are discovered in a facility just trying to live.
Sometimes grief moves you to action; sometimes, instead of making you freeze, it makes you fight, particularly when that grief is intergenerational. Taking heavy inspiration from Indigenous cultures in both character design and score, Star Wars Visions Season 2 Episode 3 tells a story with a large and intimate impact. On the one hand, we see Tichina (Julia Oviedo, both in English and Spanish) and her sister Koten (Valentina Muhr) fight the empire who have decimated their planet. The Empire has destroyed the landscape, stolen their water, and wiped the stars from the sky with their smog. At the same time, their fight isn’t just driven to survive. It’s a fight to see the stars again, which they believe are their families, their people, after death.
As a story, “In the Stars” is a story about saving the land but also saving the connection of your people. While the Empire has destroyed it all, Tichina has kept the stories close, using her last bits of water to paint a story, remembering her mother, and remembering what life should be like if the Empire hadn’t come. There is an intimacy in the story that makes Star Wars Visions Season 2 Episode 3 a standout story, connecting the personal with a large goal. This is especially relatable given the young age of the protagonist and her sister having to deal with losing their mother and their home. The age of the protagonist doesn’t restrict their storytelling capability. Instead, like other episodes in the anthology, it lends to it.
With a unique visual style, Punkrobot Studios creates a tactile and dynamic story in every single frame. While the animation of the main characters and the action they enact is one thing to be amazed by, the even larger fantastic visuals for me came in seeing our small characters against large landscapes that included real models for the short film. The dichotomy between small and large, man-made and natural, helped add depth to the story. Star Wars Visions Season 2 Episode 3 is immersive just by the story being told, but the beauty in the details of the animation is really what sweeps the viewer off of their feet.
Punkrobot Studios has created one of the most beautiful and creative animated films, a short film yes, but the attention to detail in each element, from water droplets to emotional facial expressions, makes this animation have a beautiful depth that is both tactile and dynamic. “In the Stars” is a sad story, a triumphant story, and one that moved me. It reminded me of the connections I have to my ancestors, to their fight and their survival. The larger themes of protecting the environment but, more importantly, stopping the imperialistic destruction of native land isn’t subtle, and Star Wars Visions Season 2 Episode 3 is better for it.
“In the Stars” is different from anything I’ve seen. I hope that Punkrobot Studios animates many more stories because of their deft exploration of emotion and the larger impact of imperialism on the land and the people who live on it.
Star Wars Visions Season 2 Episode 3 and the rest of the season are available now on Disney+.
Star Wars Visions Season 2 Episode 3 — "In The Stars"
“In the Stars” is different from anything I’ve seen. I hope that Punkrobot Studios animates many more stories because of their deft exploration of emotion and the larger impact of imperialism, not just on the land but on the people who live on it.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.