I was 7 years old in 1977 when I heard an auntie talking about seeing Star Wars for the first time. I could see and hear her excitement as she described the spaceships, droids, Jawas, and every other creature that captivated her. I was sold. I had to see this movie and once I did (maybe I had seen it a few times), I would lie in bed and run the film through my head scene by scene, spaceship by spaceship, and alien by alien before falling asleep.
45 years later it would be easy for a 52-year-old to be dismissive of some of the SW animation series and, to be honest, there’s times when I was watching The Clone Wars movie and series that I was about to turn it off. I persevered through the “kiddie” stuff (I still can’t stand the slapstick battle droids), and became invested in the characters, stories and world-building. That said, if I was doing a re-watch there’s some story arcs, I’d skip through…. (Meebur Gascon I’m looking at you).
I never would’ve guessed just how invested I’d get with a character like Ahsoka and it’s really a testament to the actors, writers, and creators that they can get a stubborn 50-something bloke to buy into these characters and stories. While I think Rebels is a better series, I started a bit cold on it also, what I’ve learned was to give the characters time to develop and the stories to unfold.
The payoff for my “at times tested” patience is immersing myself into so much intricate and purposeful storytelling, seeing characters emerge and grow with meaning and consequences, the sheer enjoyment and wonder at unbridled world-building, and mind-blowing landscapes. The latter one is probably where the animated series are at their best. The freedom that an animation series gives the creators is obvious, I’ve already mentioned the world-building and alien landscapes, but I also think that a “lesser” product (not a live action cinematic release) gives the creators more freedom to move stories into different areas and even test genres. Where else would there be the freedom to immerse yourself in Rebels’ The Worlds Between Worlds, the Mortis Arc, and Yoda’s mesmerizing arc in season six of The Clone Wars? Did I mention Vader flying a TIE fighter while standing on it with lightsaber drawn ready for battle?
Personally, I think episodes like these are some of the most expansive of all Star Wars storytelling. I proposed this very point to a friend of mine who is a few years older than me and a sci-fi author. I convinced him to take a deep dive into The Clone Wars and Rebels while also warning him about some episodes along the way. He loved it and is very happy he watched them all, as am I; it’s always a good discussion of our thoughts on characters and storylines.
Without wanting to sound self-righteous, I sometimes feel a bit sorry for Star Wars fans who haven’t taken the time to delve into these series. Imagine watching The Mandalorian and knowing nothing about the Darksaber, Bo-Katan, or Mandalorian canon! I have friends I work with who love Star Wars but are totally confused as to what they’re watching, where it fits in, and why I’m so excited about it. I don’t have the time or resources to go deep into all the novels (canon and non-canon) or the comics, which would be more my thing, but we choose how much of our lives we dedicate to Star Wars. The animated series’ have given me my resource to go deeper into a wider world.
Now with a new season of The Bad Batch before us I’m enjoying Omega’s growth and I’m fully vested in the journey Dave Filoni chooses to take us on in a galaxy far, far away.
Ben is a shipwright/carpenter now back home in Adelaide, South Australia after many years sailing and living overseas and interstate. If he's not watching Star Wars, you'll likely find him at the beach or hiking with his dog.
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