With the monsoon of Star Wars Episode VII content, there’s no time better than now to reflect on a forgotten relic in the galaxy far far away. (Also not a bad time to capitalize on the high traffic that Star Wars content pulls.) Some may not remember the Star Wars Clone Wars animated TV series. No, not the CG show with the wooden people, but the one with a unique animation style that reflects the likes of Cartoon Network classics Dexters Lab and Samurai Jack.
So what do Dexter’s Lab, Samurai Jack, and the 2003 Star Wars Clone Wars cartoons have in common? Well, the incredibly talented Genndy Tartakovsky was the brains behind all of them. The Clone Wars bares the closest resemblance to to the action and cinematography of Samurai Jack. This is a intriguing, almost meta, comparison because Jedi draw some inspiration from the classic samurai wanderers of 1950s Japanese cinema.
Much like Samurai Jack, Clone Wars has a charm to it that makes it attractive to younger audiences yet gripping enough to keep older viewers interested. Although, the highly stylistic art may not appeal to the one-thousand-mile-a-minute, flashy action that kids watch on YouTube these days. Still, it’s unique and it feels right at home in the Star Wars universe. In the show, heroes of the Star Wars prequels embark on adventures that add depth and intrigue to the Star Wars universe.
In one scene, we see a Jedi master teaching her apprentice about the crystals that give a lightsaber power. This expands on lore never fully explained in the films. In another vignette, Anakin battles Asajj Ventress, a Sith apprentice with awesome powers and dual, red lightsabers. The standoff between the angsty Anakin and vicious Asajj ends in tragedy; Anakin strikes down Asajj with rage and anger. This moment expands upon the young Jedi’s fall from grace into darkness.
When people complain about the prequel trilogy, they often whine about how the Jedi, even in their prime, were lame and somewhat unimpressive. The best they could do was gently push some cartoon droids over with the force. Fans expected feats of power beyond imagination. The Clone Wars cartoon does exactly that. One example being when Mace Windu singlehandedly takes down an entire army of droids. Honestly, if the prequels had been like this mini series, the films would have been more positively received.
With the recent Star Wars expanded universe purge I’m not sure if The Clone Wars remains canonical. Most likely, it’s been wiped from the Star Wars history books. The more recent CG Clone Wars is still indeed canon. It’s not as good as the 2003 version, but it’s not bad and it has some pretty solid episodes. The Tartakovsky Clone Wars is a gem and an entertaining piece of Star Wars history. Watch the full series below. It’s about the length of a feature length film.