With the recent release of the trailer for Star Wars: Rebels Season Two, I think it's only fitting to talk about this series for a bit. While seeing the departure of the previous animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars wasn't easy, I believe Star Wars: Rebels is a worthy replacement that I can't help but love.
As a brief summary to explain this series, Star Wars: Rebels takes place fourteen years after the rise of the Empire from Revenge of the Sith and it is Disney's first real visual contribution to the Star Wars universe about a young boy named Ezra Bridger (Star Wars' version of Aladdin) who lives alone on the lonely planet of Lothal. During another incident where he's pranking Imperials stationed on the planet, he encounters a small band of vigilantes whose purpose is to 'rebel' against the Empire. Ezra is sucked into their plans, and he begins his journey through learning the ways of the Force to become a Jedi taught by a mysterious former Jedi Padawan named Kanan.
Right off the bat with its premiere Spark of Rebellion, this series shows us why we love Star Wars in the first place. There are really no politics or prequel-level romance to be found here. Instead, we are tossed into a party of speeder bike pursuits, ship battles, lightsaber duels, and further exploration of the Force in its state during the Dark Times. We get to see characters from the Original Trilogy, some being voiced by its original actors from the films. One of them includes a small role that Yoda plays, voiced by Frank Oz. It was a real pleasure to hear his voice again.
The show also manages to create a cast of heroes that we can grow to like and sometimes even relate to. Ezra is an orphan who has a score to settle with the Empire for what they've possibly done to his parents, Kanan is a former Padawan who never made it to the rank of a Jedi Knight before the events of Order 66, and then there are the others like the graffiti-loving Mandalorian Sabine (not related at all to the Duchess Satine from TCW), the heavy-set Lasat Zeb who happens to be one of the last of his kind, and Hera Syndulla, the pilot and technically the mother figure of the group. Oh, and then there's Chopper, their astromech droid and a real sociopath too. All of these characters have personality traits that you can love regardless of your overall opinion of the character. Most of them had character arcs that made them grow on me.
On top of good heroes, this show also has strong villains, most notably Agent Kallus and the Inquisitor. Anyone who has really done his research into Star Wars knows that a Sith Inquisitor is not fully trained in the ways of the dark side, but is trained enough to become a deadly foe against the Emperor's enemies. Brilliantly voiced by Jason Isaacs, the Inquisitor proves himself as a force to be reckoned with as he manages to actually chase the heroes away and overwhelm them time and time again. He's what General Grievous should've been in The Clone Wars.
One other thing I must compliment this series on is its storytelling style. Unlike the story arc way of storytelling in The Clone Wars, Rebels aims for a much more serialized feel, so almost everything we see come to pass throughout the season has a purpose and is made relevant in the finale. This makes me even more excited for the second season, and I can't wait to see what's in store. On another note, this show is much tamer and lighter than The Clone Wars. It doesn't mean this makes the show less exciting, but it does mean that parents should feel more comfortable with their 'younglings' watching it.
If I was to have any gripes with this show so far, it would probably be the animation style. I understand that using the same animation from The Clone Wars would make this show lose a little bit of its stand-alone quality, but after seeing what Lucasfilm Animation pulled off with its animation in The Clone Wars, it's difficult not to compare. The animation did improve somewhat as the season progressed, but still doesn't level with what we got to see in The Clone Wars. The animation definitely does have a 'Disney-like' quality to it, which is something that I'm going to have to get used to, but it doesn't distract me from the story or how well-written this show is.
My only concern going forward is the reveal that characters like Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex from The Clone Wars are coming back may make the show feel more like a continuation of the previous show rather than its own thing. One of the strengths of the first season was how unique it felt on its own. I appreciate their attention to making sure previous stories from Star Wars are connected, but the addition of these characters makes me feel like new viewers who haven't seen The Clone Wars will feel a little lost. Given that Season Two hasn't started yet, I'm willing to wait and see how they pull this off. Other than that, this was a strong first season of Rebels and I'm very excited to see more.
What do you guys think? Was this show a worthy first endeavor for Disney, or do you think there are other things they could've done? Sound off in the comments below, and May the Force Be With You!