Animation has long been the creative driving force behind the “Star Wars” universe, with the live-action series produced by Lucasfilm for Disney+ focusing more on situations derived from those shows. That relationship continues with “Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi,” an animated anthology that fleshes out the stories of peripheral but familiar lightsaber-wielding characters.
It’s no surprise that this latest addition to the mythology comes from producer Dave Filoni, who oversaw series like “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” before turning his prolific mind to all things “Star Wars” on “The Mandalorian” and other live-action fare.
Filoni wrote five of the six shorts, split between Ahsoka Tano (voiced again by Ashley Eckstein), who will soon appear in her live-action spinoff; and Count Dooku (played by Christopher Lee in the films and voiced by Corey Burton).
Episodes jump back and forth in time, from the eyes of a baby Ahsoka (just in time for holiday gift-giving, kids) to illustrating her home planet and her pack of warriors. This includes additional information about Dooku and his abandonment of the Jedi order to embrace the dark side and Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid).
The anthology format creates the opportunity to enter various turning points scattered throughout the “Star Wars” timeline. The six episodes range from 10 to 17 minutes in length, each deftly adding a nugget to “Star Wars” lore, weaving in key details and events that helped shape these characters. Fans will be particularly intrigued by some of the graduations surrounding Ahsoka, her relationship with Anakin Skywalker, and the aftermath of the Clone Wars.
In that respect, Filoni and company have basically done a condensed version of what Lucasfilm accomplished with “Obi-Wan Kenobi” within this animated package, lovingly wrapping those little stories around the iconic films. Animation has also become a vehicle for greater experimentation, as seen in the “Star Wars: Visions” anime shorts that debuted last year.
Granted, the bump in these productions is a kind of super-service for the “Star Wars” faithful, rekindling old flames and basking comfortably in the past, while Lucasfilm has been relatively cautious about igniting new sparks. .
It’s a fair criticism, in general, but somewhat removed from the question at hand here. Because if you’re going to take it for granted that “Star Wars” is going to indulge in so-called “fan service,” then by all means, do it as smoothly and smoothly as this.
“Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi” premieres on October 26 on Disney+.