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Ahsoka Looks and Feels Like a Cartoon

I watched the first episode of Ahsoka on Disney+. This is not a review, but it did make me think of something.

When it comes to recent Star Wars productions: my heart belongs to Andor. I wrote about this earlier this year. I absolutely loved the show and think it’s a landmark.

For me, after Andor, watching the other new Star Wars shows is a step back into “kiddie land.” They are well made, and I would have loved them 30 years ago, but I’m a grown adult now (biologically anyway) and they’re not where my heart is.

So, Ahsoka. I had watched a bunch of the Clone Wars episodes, maybe 10 years ago, so I was loosely familiar with the title character and her related storytelling world.

However, I had stopped watching Clone Wars because, in all honesty, I got bored with it. It wasn’t answering the mysteries of life; it was answering the mysteries of what happened to some character who did some thing that affected some Star Wars plot point.

I found it tedious and juvenile.

Watching this premiere of Ahsoka, I had that same unwelcome feeling: I felt like I was tuning into episode 600 of something (while missing the previous 200 parts).

It was almost all “plot.”

I felt like I was expected to know and care who people were—like my investment in it was taken as a given—and uhhhhh... negative on that one.

Also, having not paid much attention to Ahsoka, within the opening three minutes, I found myself asking—“Why does this look like a cartoon?”

And I don’t (just) mean that the characters acted two-dimensional...but that it literally seemed overlit and designed like animation come to life:

Whereas Andor was more cinematic—and felt more “real”:

Everything in Ahsoka gave me a bad flashback to Cowboy Bebop, where they tried to make the costumes and even the hair resemble the animation...and it just didn’t work.

I do understand that because many of the characters were designed for animation, they wouldn’t lend themselves to a more naturalistic presentation. You might as well lean into their artifice, because they’re the stars—and it would be strange to combine them with more naturalistic sets and backgrounds.

It’s also, on the other hand, probably why Andor had so few aliens, to feel more grounded—which also made it feel so much like the original 1977 Star Wars, which had fewer aliens for budgetary and technological reasons.

As I’ve said many times on this blog, I don’t want to set “time bombs” to blow up my career. But having been unaware who was directing Ahsoka, and looking it up halfway through the pilot—it’s Dave Filoni, who comes from the animated Star Wars shows (more recently, he has done The Mandalorian with Jon Favreau).

I understand Ahsoka is being very well reviewed and well received, so I’m glad. Dave Filoni is a very accomplished and successful creator who, I understand, loves and lives and breathes Star Wars, and is now living the dream of creating it himself. Bravo!

But I just want to say, I remember very well when I was 16 years old and the most important thing in my universe was...Star Trek: The Next Generation. So much so that I tried to write my own TNG scripts and submit them to the show (a story I’ve told).

I put in a ton of work, circa 1990, to learn the screenplay format, and I worked for months on some of my scripts. This was before screenwriting software, so I had to laboriously use Microsoft Word with all the annoying, custom-created tab stops.

A few times during that process—in occasionally reaching out to or crossing paths with professional screenwriters—it was sometimes suggested to me (in the hopes of being encouraging) that I become a writer, “when I grew up.”

As in, write other shows or movies. A writer writes!

But that seemed insane to me! I truly had no interest in writing anything other than Star Trek.

I specifically wanted to write Star Trek because the boundaries and rules of Star Trek storytelling were comforting to me.

It was a way to make things safe for myself: to limit myself to warp drive and transporter technology and Enterprise procedures and first contact protocol—things I could understand.

The thought of writing stories and humans in the real world, without those Star Trek boundaries, seemed like, yuck!

I remember that feeling very well—even though, 30+ years later, I am loving writing things set in the real world, or at least with what I hope are considered “real people,” and I would not be particularly interested in writing Star Trek.

But, boy, is that not the feeling I get from watching Ahsoka. It feels like the whole thing is hermetically sealed, narratively and thematically and in every possible way, within Star Wars.

Like Star Wars is the only thing that matters, or even exists as a storytelling model. All the characters, plots, fights, scenes and even lines are just remixed from previous Star Wars installments.

In that sense, it’s the complete opposite of Andor.

So, I’m glad people are enjoying it, and I’ll continue to watch it...but at a fundamental level, it feels like something a 16-year-old would create.

And that’s kind of weird.

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7 comentarios

Karim Elmahmoudi
Karim Elmahmoudi
25 ago 2023

I think it's worth adding that all these shows seem to be slow burns. Andor got way better late in the series and can't be judged on just the early episodes. Same with Mandalorian. So I'll presume the same here.

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Robert Knaus
Robert Knaus
25 ago 2023

I truly wish I could see the brilliance of Andor, but it practically put me into a coma. If that's "Star Wars for adults", stick a pacifier in my mouth.

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You talk about cartoonishly overlit and then mention TNG...

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Lukas Kendall
Lukas Kendall
24 ago 2023
Contestando a

A good point!

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Popa Razzie71
Popa Razzie71
24 ago 2023

I watched it and thought it was like YouTube fan stuff at times and was good better than what has been and hope they don't throw in any other characters in it, I will have to get rest on iTunes if feasible

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I mean it's leaps and bounds better than the latest season of Mandalorian (not hard) which had a "seaweed pirate" in Ep 1 - but I think the first two eps are really catching people up on Rebels (which was better than Clone Wars imo and much more story/character driven, worth checking out - especially post Season One). i can definitely see it being a bit meh/exposition heavy for people who haven't seen Rebels, but I suspect it will get better once it gets going (hence dropping 2 episodes at once) bc its really another series of Rebels and not a new show called Ahsoka - and yeah Andor made a lot of Star Wars really pale in comparison I…

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