Following the massive critical and fan success of both Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, new Disney series Star Wars Resistance had big shoes to fill. In the build up to its release, the reaction to the show has been mixed, with some people disliking the drastic change in art style, the apparent lack of any Jedi, and some even disliking that the show wasn’t going to continue some of the plot threads left over at the end of Star Wars Rebels.
Despite a lot of vocal fans decrying the show before it had even aired, the reaction to the first episode, entitled ‘The Recruit’, seems to have won audiences over with its bright and beautiful animation, new characters, and sense of fun adventure.
The story is set several months before the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and follows young New Republic pilot Kazuda ‘Kaz’ Xiono (Christopher Sean) as he finds himself being drawn into the fledgling Resistance. Having gotten hold of some intel that hints that the First Order may be planning a strike on the New Republic, Kaz agrees to help Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) by going undercover to find a spy on the planet Castilon.
So, we know what this attack is going to be and how it’s going to come about thanks to the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so there’s no mystery there, but the hidden spy on the Colossus fuelling station is a good enough mystery to get the series started. The platform is a unique looking place, somehow reminiscent of the wider Star Wars universe, yet looking very new.
The Colossus itself is packed with a huge variety of species for the series to show off and dozens of potential suspects for Kaz to have to investigate. There are races from the original trilogy, such as Rodians and Bith, there’s a number of pit droids and an Aleena from the prequel films, to sequel trilogy species like Abednedo and Crolutes. Despite all of these races making an appearance, the show is still able to add its own unique looking designs, with junk shop owners Orka (Bobby Moynihan) and Flix (Jim Rash) being particular stand outs.
There’s little focus on Kaz’s mission in these opening episodes, with time being given over to establishing the world instead. Because of this, there is a bigger focus on racing. It’s hard to know how much a part of the series this is going to be going forward, but considering there’s at least four other big name pilots that Kaz has yet to face, I’d imagine his racing career is going to be intertwined with his spy mission quite a bit. And after two shows about fighting huge foes, along with the Jedi and Sith, a smaller scale story like this is actually a nice change of pace.
The animation style also helps with this too, with the new cell shaded look a big leap away from the previous shows that utilised CGI animation. The new looks makes Star Wars Resistance look brighter and more colourful than either The Clone Wars or Rebels were able to be; and along with some fun comedy moments, helps to create an opening that feels somehow less oppressive and more enjoyable.
I can’t help but feel that this is an intentional choice on the part of the creators, and particularly Dave Filoni. This is set in a time period before the First Order started their campaign on the galaxy, when the New Republic was in power and people didn’t believe war was coming. It was a time of relative peace and harmony, and the tone of the series seems to be reflecting this. If the series continues to the point of the new films, I’d be very interested to see if the visual style alters to show this darker period, especially as Kaz’s father is a New Republic senator, and in theory will die during the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Star Wars Resistance is a bright and engaging new series with some good universe building in a time period we known virtually nothing about. The opening episodes don’t delve too deeply into the series plot, but chose to spend some time building their new world and establishing the new cast of characters. With the previous two Star Wars animated programmes having achieved such great heights in quality, it’s safe to say that this could be the beginning of something special.