The last Star Wars movie tried to tell you that every Jedi who ever lived, lives in you and when that didn’t fly, it’s trying to bring those Jedi to Disney+ ’s latest short animated series, Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi.
Not to be confused with the comic series of the same name, Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi is an anthology of six animated shorts based on the popular Star Wars franchise. Focusing mainly on the Jedi, the series is set during the prequel era and spotlights important moments in the lives of two fan-favourite characters that fans know of – Ahsoka Tano and Count Dooku, as they embark on respective paths towards heroism and of course, villainy.
The series, created by current Star Wars architect Dave Filoni, who also serves as supervising director, is done in the art style of Filoni’s other series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Each episode runs for about 13 minutes and charts two paths for both characters, and certain episodes brings in other familiar Jedi, from Anakin Skywalker to Qui-Gon Jinn..
For instance, episode one of Tales of the Jedi tells a story of how Ahsoka’s family learn that the newborn baby and Padawan-to-be to Anakin Skywalker, is force-sensitive, while episode five focuses on Anakin Skywalker and how he chooses to train his Padawan, Ahsoka. And despite the title of the series, viewers can expect to see non-Jedis make an appearance throughout the series too.
Out of all the episodes, the path following Count Dooku is the stronger narrative and a personal favourite. The Jedi Master turned Sith lord has always been one of the more interesting and most underutilised characters in the Star Wars franchise, and Tales of the Jedi provides a closer and empathetic approach to understanding the character.
Viewers get to see how Dooku earned his respect as a Jedi Master with all his charm and persuasion, and then slowly notice the little cracks that begin to form as he realises more and more differences between his values and the values of the Jedi Council. And as long-time fans would know, Dooku was a ruthless terrorist and warlord whilst serving Darth Sidious so seeing the moment when he finally flicked the switch and joined the Dark Side and how that affected one particular member of the Jedi Council was chilling.
The character-driven narrative in Tales of the Jedi helps viewers understand the basic traits and characteristics of a Jedi, the values they uphold and finally, explores the notion that Jedis are born, not made. It effectively answers some questions about a character that otherwise wouldn’t be answered in the prequel movies, or even in previously-released shows like Rebels and Clone Wars too.
Aside from the character-driven narrative in each episode, Tales of the Jedi is an enjoyable watch because it shines a light on arguably one of the most interesting eras in the Star Wars timeline. The series takes place during an era of Star Wars at its most diverse – you’ve got the Republic and the Jedi before the collapse, you see how the galaxy operates during a time of peace and how the Jedis helped to upkeep that, followed by the eventual fall of the Republic and rise of the Empire.
That said, one can expect Tales of the Jedi to be quite political. It questions the methods of how the Jedi chose to maintain peace during that era and exposes the politics that happened internally within the Jedi council. Tales of the Jedi inspects and provides a closer look at how the Jedi council works and makes the viewer think about what it means to actually be good or on the light side of the Force. The prequel era has a lot of depth and whilst six 13 minutes episodes are definitely not enough to appreciate the rich storytelling and characters Star Wars has to offer, Tales of the Jedi does contribute to the breadth of stories pertaining to the prequel era.
Seeing how Tales of the Jedi is focused on fan-favourite characters or obscure characters that may not necessarily be popular to mainstream audiences, Tales of the Jedi’s intended audience seemingly skews towards existing Star Wars fans.
Each episode is short and character-driven so there’s very little context provided given to new audiences. Tales of the Jedi being an anthology series that attempts to cover over 30 years of politics and character development may also pose a challenge to new viewers who are not familiar with all the Star Wars films, characters and timelines.
The episodes also don’t explicitly denote when the story is taking place but the series gives little subtle hints here and there that only fans will be more likely to spot and understand though some are very subtle that even a fan can miss for the unattentive.
An example of a subtle hint is when one of the episodes opens with the funeral of a woman. She was not named in the entire episode, and we don’t get to see a full frontal view of her face, but fans would easily be able to identify that the woman is Padme Amidala.
That’s not to say that Tales of the Jedi can’t be enjoyed by non-fans though. Despite some of the challenges posed by the lack of context, viewers will still be swept away by the story and the characters regardless.
All in all, Tales of the Jedi is an enjoyable watch for fans of Star Wars, particularly fans of the prequel era who want some insight into the Jedis of that time. With plenty of stories and diverse characters to focus on, it’s a crime that the series isn’t longer.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Do or do not? Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi is a do for fans who share a great love for the prequel era and its characters.
Story - 8/10
Direction - 8/10
Characterisation - 9/10
Geek Satisfaction - 9/10