I’d kind of dismissed the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series, because I didn’t see a need for it what with the already pretty awesome Clone Wars series by Genndy Tartakovsky. And also because, seriously, people, nobody likes the prequels. Why do we need to dwell on them?
But I think Clone Wars managed to redeem the prequel trilogy for me a little bit. Oh, it’s still terrible, but they kind of help show how it might have been good if George had actually hired a real director or something.
The best part about Clone Wars, hands down, is Ahsoka Tano, Anakin’s padawan introduced by the series. She’s feisty, brash and hot-headed, like the prequels were desperately trying to make Anakin, but she’s also deeply moral and just and kind. She gives Anakin something to care about that’s not his horribly dysfunctional relationship with Padme. And she’s fun. Oh god, it’s so refreshing to have a Star Wars that’s fun again.
Her morality causes conflict. With the Jedi, with Anakin and with herself. But she comes through, mostly doing the right thing when she can, and doing her best when she can’t.
The series does a bunch of other amazing things even when Ahsoka isn’t on screen. The Clones become actual characters you care about. All the political machinations start making some semblence of sense. You see how things like trade embargoes (somewhat simplified) affect actual people. Jar-Jar is still a (mostly) useless buffoon, but everyone’s in on it now and rolling their eyes along with you. I didn’t hate the Jar-Jar episodes! They kept Assaj Ventress from the 2003 series and she’s still awesome.
It’s not perfect. The Jedi are still inexplicably dumb. The politics, while amazing for being coherent and relatable, are clearly simplified for the kids watching. Legend of the Galactic Heroes, this ain’t. And they almost completely avoid the mystical Jedi stuff, gloss over anything about what it means to fall to the Dark Side or how any of that stuff works, much like the prequels. With one notable (tho odd) exception. Which is a shame, because all that stuff is what I loved thinking about playing Knights of the Old Replublic or the West End Star Wars RPG.
None of that overshadows how great the characters are (even Anakin sometimes), or how much fun it is to watch.
I should also note that it gets pretty dark towards the end. Fair warning: characters die. Ones you care about. Not Game of Thrones dark, but surprising for a kids’ show. Not that I don’t think kids could handle it, and I thought it was great what they pulled off. But it surprised me.
I gotta say, I recommend it. Clone Wars made me love Star Wars again. And I’m really looking forward to Star Wars Rebels.