A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, so many characters never got the time of day. The Star Wars universe is filled with so many different species and characters it’s impossible to shine a spotlight on each of them. It looks like the head honchos at Lucasfilm also realized this and have created a solution – Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi. This animated mini-series follows two prominent Jedi during the prequel era, Ahsoka Tano and Count Dooku (before he went all evil). The series shines a new light on these two Jedi, revealing more about their past and futures. With three episodes a piece (for a total of six), Tales of the Jedi provides more of that Clone Wars animation style alongside new reasoning for certain characters’ actions and criticises the way the old Jedi order failed its students.
Seeing the title Tales of the Jedi, you might think each episode focuses on a different Jedi. Unlike an anthology series like Star Wars: Visions, where none of the stories are related, this series focuses on two Jedi from the prequel era and showcases different parts of their life. The episodes featuring Ahsoka occur at three points in her life that are years apart. The first is when she is a newborn, chilling with her family and alien tigers. The next is her training with Anakin and the clones during the Clone Wars. The final episode is set after Episode 3 and has her trying to live her life after the whole Order 66 thing. Seeing these influential points in Ahsoka’s life is one of the great things about this series. It helps to flush out the character of Ahsoka even more, and it’s always good to see more Anakin and Ahsoka content.
The rest of the episodes feel more like an anthology series, as it’s less obviously connected. The other episodes focus on Count Dooku before Episode 1. These episodes are a lot more self-contained than the Ahsoka ones, having Dooku go on some wacky adventures. There’s a rescue mission to save a Senator’s son, going to recover a dead Jedi’s body (with a side of betrayal), and even more betrayal of the Sith variety. These episodes are more action-packed than the Ahsoka ones (with the inquisitor being an exception). There’s a large focus on the Republic and the Jedi Order. It was great to finally see the evil Count Dooku doing good deeds (even if he went a little overboard). Similar to Ahsoka, we get a deeper look into Dooku’s character and why he made the decisions he did. After watching these episodes, there’s a good chance you will agree with his decision to join the Sith. On the plus side, Qui-Gon Jin is here both as an apprentice, voiced by Liam Neeson’s son, and as a master, voiced by Liam Neeson (I’m so glad he’s back).
One of the aspects of Tales of the Jedi that I enjoyed was how it added to the world-building of the prequel era. During the films and the other series, there isn’t a lot of detail about how things got to the way they are. Sure, you have characters like Qui-Gon, Anakin, and Ahsoka, who routinely went against the orders of the Council, but Star Wars never dove too much into it. It was often used as a joke or a way to keep the plot moving (except for Ahsoka leaving the Jedi temple, that one was sad). Tales of the Jedi shows why the Jedi Order isn’t the best during this time. We see this in the Dooku episodes with neglected citizens, people believing the Jedi only serve the Republics’ interest, and the councils’ obliviousness to a Sith lord vibing right next door. Yeah, the Jedi weren’t the greatest at this point in Star Wars history.
Aside from making the Jedi Order look bad, Tales of the Jedi gives older characters more time to shine. My favourite character that fits the old, forgotten character description is Yaddle, the female Yoda with barely any screen time and no lines in Episode 1. The series can give this gender-swapped Yoda some actual character and importance to the Star Wars story. The series also confirms that Yaddle doesn’t talk in riddles, which makes Yoda just a little weirdo, even among his species. We also see more of young Qui-Gon, a young Mace Windu, and Dooku being friends (I think), and the introduction of another dope-looking inquisitor. Even Kanan Jarrus makes an appearance (he shows up a lot for a dead guy). These little things go a long way in making the Jedi Council of this time feel more fleshed out. Instead of just a bunch of guys and gals sitting around making bad decisions.
Tales of the Jedi is the 3rd animated series from Star Wars that uses the same Clone Wars art style, and it still looks gorgeous. I may be biased, as I grew up with the Clone Wars series, but this style will never get old. Over the years, Lucasfilm has continued to refine and polish this style to make it look better with each new release. Tales of the Jedi is no exception to this because it’s without a doubt the best-looking animated Star Wars show we’ve gotten in recent years. The details of the characters, the lighting, the environments, even the random background characters, everything is top-notch.
The visuals aren’t the only thing Lucasfilm has been refining. Their action scenes have also seen a jump in quality. While there isn’t anything as spectacular as the Ahsoka vs Maul duel from Clone Wars Season 7, the action scenes in Tales of the Jedi still had me glued to my screen. From Ahsoka’s mother fighting a space tiger to a lightsaber duel between old friends, there’s a wide variety of these action set pieces that ensures you’ll never get bored. If I had to pick a favourite, it would be the final fight of the series, where Ahsoka takes on an inquisitor. While not the fanciest duel (or the longest), the cinematography, lighting, and dialogue are all excellent (fun fact, this new inquisitor is voiced by long-time Mr. Krabs voice actor Clancy Brown).
Tales of the Jedi is an excellent addition to the Star Wars universe. Seeing new aspects of Ahsoka and Dooku gives a great insight into the Jedi and Republic of the time. Combine that with a great art style and beautiful animation, and you have an enjoyable six episodes of Star Wars goodness. Even if it does make you question if the Jedi are as good as they say they are.