In this article, am going to take a look at the new Star Wars animated series. I shall do it from several perspectives: what did it present in terms of plot, quality of characters (especially with the potential in character-building and relationships between characters) and visuals.
Before saying anything more, I should state that I don’t believe in dividing TV shows (or stories in general) into those “for kids” and “for adults”. At least if we are talking about shows aimed at kids of, say, school age and higher. There is no reason an adult may not enjoy watching Duck Tales. Therefore, the concerns of some fans over Star Wars: Resistance that it would be a “kids’ show” were, from the beginning, beyond my concern. The relevant questions are about the depth of story and characters, and that’s a valid question for both “kids'” and “adult” shows.
Plot, Podraces and the Red Baron
The plot of the first episode is pretty straightforward – and what else would we expect? The young hero gets recruited into the Resistance. He is thrown into an unfamiliar environment and starts by causing more trouble than anyone asked for. We have seen this… pretty much in every show.
That said, the way some plot elements are handled in the episode (such as “the best pilot in the Galaxy”) was really nice and inventive. Otherwise, the fact that the episode (a pilot episode!) was straightforward does not mean it was bad.
Concerning Star Wars atmosphere, I daresay it was preserved – enough to belong to the universe. The strongest callback to the films was probably to Anakin’s podracing experience, and that was very well done. Story-wise, the episode also made sure to foreshadow the encounters with future villains (a nod to the famous WW1 flying ace, the Red Baron, anyone?) as well as possible recurring characters on the Colossus platform, such as all the race participants.
The Hero… Is Back?
I have complained about the choice of main character right after the show’s previews came, and I, sadly, must repeat some of the reservations I have about it. A cocky and at the same time slightly uncertain young guy isn’t really the type of character we wouldn’t have seen a million times before. That being said, Kaz is actually less cocky and more… humble? Scared? Lacking confidence? …than, say, Ezra Bridger.
Where I foresee the potential for some great development is Kaz’s family background and the conflict of, let’s call it classes, for the lack of better word – his father being a well-to-do man who is happy with the current establishment and doesn’t want his son to get into any trouble, least of all with the Resistance. I could see the perfect layout for good old “I gave you everything, I paid for your education, and now you throw it all away for some crazed ideals…”
I also see potential for great character relationships: the pilot episode has already established basic relationships between Kaz, all his new team members and many of the residents of the Colossus. And if there is one thing the show has done well, it is introducing the characters that will, presumably, recur throughout the series (or at least this season). Everyone has made their mark, I found myself remembering everyone pretty well off the bat and later thinking about those whose faces we have only seen on the racers’ roster. I want to know more about these characters… and that alone is an indicator that something was done right here.
The Visuals and the Flight
When it comes to the visuals of Star Wars Resistance, I would talk about three different parts: the characters and their animation, the backgrounds, and the dynamic effects.
The character design really is very cartoonish and “childish”, if you wish. Not only because of the style, but because of their individual appearances. Aside from the main character, especially Neeku and other aliens, such as the brutish Bolza Grool possess very cartoonish faces that look like they may want to communicate their personalities to a three-year-old. Is that bad? I am not sure. I could imagine prettier design, but let’s see what is it going to feel like on the long run.
Backgrounds are quite pretty, both the static landscapes and the details of the interior (Mandalorian helmet on a shelf behind Aunt Z’s bar, flags on the walls of which some look suspiciously like Ahsoka’s patterns, and so on).
The last thing that deserves mentioning is the execution of some scenes and animation of dynamic effects, namely, flight. Which, according to what’s been repeatedly stressed in the announcements for the show, is going to be a major part of the series.
You can see the makers have been paying attention to this part. It is the most notable during the final race in this episode. The use of camera angle combined with the animation really pulls you in, and for brief moments it looks as if you were flying along.
Overall, the design of Star Wars Resistance leaves much to be desired, especially on the level of individual character design. However, I hasten to add, it is not bad and certainly it isn’t anything that would disrupt one’s viewing experience. Personally, I find it roughly on the same level as (early) Clone Wars. And it remains to be seen, if the series continues, whether also its graphics are going to keep getting better in quality (as was the case of for example TCW).
The First Verdict
I have said I am not going to discuss whether Star Wars Resistance is a show for children or adults. But is Resistance a “simple show”? I think it will remain to be seen. The plot of the first episode was such that it could have been Duck Tales as well as Avatar: the Last Airbender, as well as the beginning of something even more “adult”. The question isn’t whether the show is “suitable for children” or “aimed at children” (so far it seems it is both), but the question is whether it contains some depth that requires the audience to show some advanced reflection of their own. I assume the story is going to answer it for us as it progresses.
As far as I can tell, the first episode of Star Wars Resistance is no different from the first episode of Rebels or, for that matter, The Clone Wars (or The Clone Wars movie). There may be only one difference, actually: the minimum of violence, or, specifically, deadly violence (if you don’t count the opening dogfight scene – where nobody dies!). And I don’t think that’s a bad thing, quite the opposite. One of the things contemporary film/TV industry could learn is that you don’t need to have violence and deaths (even, or especially, of random expandable troops) in order to be an “adult show”.