When I was a teenager in the 90s, there was a terrific Dark Horse comic book series coming out entitled Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi, which was set thousands of years before the Original Trilogy. Since that series ended in 1998, I’ve wondered if we’d ever get more official Star Wars content under the Tales of the Jedi subheading.
Now, nearly 25 years later, the answer has come in the form of the Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi animated series from Lucasfilm Animation and creator Dave Filoni. But instead of being set millennia before the Skywalker Saga, this series of shorts takes place just prior to and during the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
Attendees of Star Wars Celebration 2022 in Anaheim got a first look at this new Tales of the Jedi thanks to a panel presentation with Filoni himself and a screening of the first installment in the series, the aptly titled “Life and Death,” which showcases a very young Ahsoka Tano (heard only in the goos and gas of a baby’s voice in this particular episode) as she is brought into the universe and named by her mother Pav-ti (voiced by Janina Gavankar of Star Wars: Battlefront II fame). A year later, the village elder Gantika (Toks Olagundoye from the recent DuckTales reboot) watches as Pav-ti takes Ahsoka hunting in the woods for the first time, evidently part of a tradition. After demonstrating the cycle of life and death for the young Togruta, mother and daughter are attacked by an enormous tiger-like creature who knocks Pav-ti aside and kidnaps Ahsoka, intending to eat the youngling (you can tell because it licks its lips as it approaches her). What happens next is what first indicates to the denizens of the planet Shili that Ahsoka has been born with Force sensitivity– she manages to soothe the creature– much like we saw little Grogu do with the vicious Rancor in The Book of Boba Fett– and rides on its back toward the village.
Upon Ahsoka’s return, Gantika labels her “Jedi” (I think she’s still got some training left before she quite earns that title, but we’ll let it slip) and the episode cuts to credits. There’s not a whole lot of story here, but what this animated short lacks in plot it more than makes up for in setting a mood and atmosphere for what we can expect from Tales of the Jedi going forward. Director Nathaniel Villanueva (Star Wars: The Bad Batch) has brought a subtlety and deliberate pace to A Galaxy Far, Far Away that we haven’t seen in any of the franchise’s animated projects before. And Dave Filoni, as a writer, has certainly matured since his early days on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, having learned that silence often speaks volumes more than constant dialogue and action– I should mention that Lucasfilm’s animation has improved quite a bit since then as well. And while these shorts are indeed short (this first one clocks in at a little over 16 minutes without credits), I feel like we’ve already learned plenty more about Ahsoka’s past and character just from spending this brief amount of time with her as an infant. Sometimes simplicity in storytelling can go a long way.
All six episodes of Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi are now available to stream, exclusively via Disney+.