The live-action programs Lucasfilm has developed for Disney+ have borrowed heavily from earlier animated series, highlighting the fact that animation has long been the creative engine behind the “Star Wars” world. The animated anthology “Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi” maintains this connection by providing an opportunity to further the characterization of supporting characters who wield lightsabers.
It should come as no surprise that producer Dave Filoni, who handled animated shows like “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” before bringing his fertile mind for all things “Star Wars” to “The Mandalorian” and other live-action material, is responsible for this latest addition to the mythos.
Five of the six shorts were written by Filoni, and they alternate between focusing on Ahsoka Tano (again voiced by Ashley Eckstein) and Count Dooku (again portrayed by Eckstein) (played in the movies by Christopher Lee and voiced by Corey Burton).
The episodes jump around in time, with the exception of a brief flashback to when Ahsoka was a baby (perfect for the holiday gift exchange, kids), in which her home planet and its warrior streak are depicted. This provides new information about Dooku, who betrayed the Jedi Order and joined the Dark Side and Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid).
The anthology style allows the audience to enter the “Star Wars” story at a variety of turning points. Each of the six episodes, which range in length from 10 to 17 minutes, skillfully expands our knowledge of the “Star Wars” canon by introducing new information about the characters and the events that shaped them. The subtleties that surround Ahsoka, her connection to Anakin Skywalker and the aftermath of the Clone Wars are certain to pique the interest of fans.
Thus, Filoni and crew have effectively constructed within this animation bundle a shortened version of what Lucasfilm accomplished with “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” lovingly wrapping these beautiful small stories around the main movies. The “Star Wars: Visions” anime shorts demonstrated how animation has become a platform for increased creativity in the past year.
While Lucasfilm has been careful about igniting fresh passions, critics have said that these projects amount to a type of super-service for the “Star Wars” devout by rekindling old flames and comfortably drowning fans in the past.
It’s a valid critique in general, but it has nothing to do with the issue at hand. If it’s accepted that the “Star Wars” films would feature elements that have been derisively labeled “fan service,” then, by all means, do it as beautifully and as slickly as this.
Episode 1 of “Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi” will stream on Disney+ for the first time on October 26.
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