Sci-Fi Nerd: Commentary, reflection and accolades from a fan’s point of view on all things sci-fi and fantasy on a daily schedule of themes:
Modern Classics Monday
Throwback Thursday, and
Confession #1: I didn’t like the series very much when it started, and actually dropped it during the first season.
I have been revisiting the CGI series again, and I am remembering my initial reactions to this great animated series.
I should probably start by saying I am a life-long animation fan. Always have been, always will be. In fact, I could go as far as saying I am somewhat of a an animation snob. Even as a kid, I was very fussy about character design, the quality of animation, and artwork used in cartoons. Of course, good writing is of utmost importance also. I prematurely concluded this series was not up to my standards.
During a drought in science fiction I deemed worthy of my time to invest in, I came to realize, pretty quickly, this series was the only game in town. I started watching it again, and a funny thing happened. I got used to the character designs, and realized they weren’t so bad after all, (and they have tweaked them since). My appreciation grew more in regard to the work that went into creating the backgrounds, and alien landscapes, the shots of outer space, and all the rest of the beautifully done environments created by Dave Filoni and the rest of the artists responsible for creating this wonderful show. I suppose its apparent by now I have done a 180 regarding my opinion of this series since my original decision to dump it. Now I consider it to be one of the best science fiction commercial animated series ever made, sometimes reaching heights of artistic eloquence. In short, it’s good stuff.
Confession #2: I literally rolled my eyes when they introduced teen-aged padawan Ahsoka Tanno.
My immediate reaction to Asoka was a short-sighted one. I assumed the stories would become indulgences in cliches about teenage angst and romance. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Ahsoka turned out to be anything but clichéd. She was depicted as highly intelligent, and a strong, idealistic, level-headed junior edition of a Jedi that showed great promise to become a master in a very short time. Pleasant surprise. She soon became one of my favorite characters in the series, and it saddened me when the series left her storyline incomplete with her fate undetermined. This unfortunate lack of resolution seems to be in the process of being corrected in the new Star Wars Rebels series
Speaking of characters, another thing I like about this series is how it allows us to get better acquainted with two characters previously met in the movies. They are, of course, Anakin and Obi-Wan. Getting to know them better allows gives us greater insight into what sorts of people they were, as they approach the the future we know destiny holds in store. Anakin, as we already knew to a degree, is a strong willed, impulsive and somewhat rebellious young man with authority issues. What is more interesting, and amusing to me, is the discovery that Obi-Wan was somewhat of a more laid back wise-ass with a dry, sarcastic sense of humor, as a younger man, than we had previously been familiar with.
The plethora of droids and spaceships are here too. A darker side of living in a galaxy far away is depicted, Asimov’s laws of robotics do not exist in the galaxy far away, and it is made clear what a horrifying, and nightmarish experience it would be to have a multitude of mechanical menaces doing their best to kill you.
There are more characters of note that are explored in the series also. General Grievous is back, along with some of the more famous Jedi,including the malevolent Count Dooku. In addition we are allowed to spend time with a resurrected Darth Maul, his brother Savage Opress, and one of my personal favorites, the totally bad-ass, unapologetic, and fierce Asajj Ventress. Ventresss is a well developed, conflicted, and flawed character with issues that lend her more humanity and depth. There’s alien witches, bounty hunters aplenty, and space pirates too in this fun show. (Of course no series is perfect; Jar Jar Binks is here too.) The voice acting on the series is top notch.
Confession #3: Even after I started watching it again, I didn’t expect all that much in terms of writing.
After all it is a commercial animated series, and I didn’t expect much beyond the weekly mandatory light saber fight, or another generic outer space battle. While it’s true there were a lot of somewhat generic space battles used to give stories more content and context, the truth is the fights are well depicted and choreographed. Where the action in this series truly shines is the fighting that occurs between two people, or in small groups. Really good stuff. The writing on the series surpassed my expectations for the show and when it was wrapping up the final season it even dared to explore a theosophical, metaphysical discussion about the universe, existence, life and death.
The abundant population of robots, spaceships, bounty hunters, heroes and scoundrels are all well represented. All the science fiction and fantasy is here in splendid animated glory (sometimes I think animation is the best way to portray this genre). Everything a fan of the Star Wars franchise could ask for and more are portrayed in a classy and entertaining manner. A truly great series. Highly recommended. It is worthy of note that the new series Star Wars Rebels is also in the capable hands of Dave Filoni and friends, and already shows signs of being another classic animated series in the making. May the force be with them always.