Over the past couple weeks, I’m sure everyone had fun getting into fights over THE LAST JEDI. However, the excitement doesn’t have to end there. Believe it or not, there’s an ongoing canon STAR WARS television series that’s going to end sometime in early 2018. Taking place in between EPISODE III and EPISODE IV, STAR WARS REBELS is about a group of, well, rebels. Specifically, it’s about the crew of the Ghost, a misfit band of freedom fighters striking back against the Empire.

So, if you’re still in the mood for STAR WARS, is STAR WARS REBELS worth checking out?

Short Answer

As a casual Star Wars fan, I actually liked STAR WARS REBELS more than I expected to. Granted, it starts out a bit slow, and it takes awhile for the story arcs to take hold. But, once it does, STAR WARS REBELS becomes a solid sci-fi fantasy series that takes itself seriously. This isn’t just a kid’s show coasting on a familiar name.

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Long Answer

I think I’ve made my opinions on STAR WARS REBELS clear. What it’s like to actually watch the show, however, takes a bit more detail to describe. STAR WARS REBELS is a CGI animated series airing on Disney XD. That in itself is enough to turn people away, though, for reasons I’ll explain below, I don’t think that’s fair to the show.

Image courtesy of Lucasfilm/Disney

So, if you’re still uncertain about watching STAR WARS REBELS, here’s a breakdown that should help you figure things out. First things first though; I am talking about kids’ cartoons online here, and you can’t do that without getting nitpicky about…

Art Style and Animation

Admittedly, I do prefer my cartoons to be 2D, so I am a bit biased against CGI animation. So, if you’re like me, STAR WARS REBELS isn’t going to win you over on visuals alone. It’s a CGI show on a TV budget; the movement is floaty at times, and the art style looks a bit awkward on the surface. To be fair, the art direction’s not as off-putting as, say, BEWARE THE BATMAN or even the 2012 TMNT series. Still, some character designs might throw you off.

Image courtesy of Lucasfilm/Disney

However, once I got into the story, it was pretty easy to get accustomed to the visuals, and I do think the animation works well when it needs to. Also, regardless of how many dimensions you’re working with, animating a show on this scale is difficult. After all, a Disney XD show tasked with recreating the look and feel of the STAR WARS universe isn’t going to be visually on par with mainstream theatrical movies.

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At the very least, it’s not RAPSITTIE STREET KIDS. Speaking of kids…

How Childish is this Children’s Show?

Besides the visuals, there’s the fact that STAR WARS REBELS is aimed at children. Now, if you consider yourself to be a STAR WARS fan but you think watching a kids cartoon is beneath you, I’d like to remind you that STAR WARS as a franchise isn’t as “mature” as you might think. The original trilogy alone is the source of kid-friendly mascots like R2-D2 and the Ewoks. Last I checked, children aged 7-12 weren’t buying any BLADE RUNNER Lego sets.

Still, for the sake of argument, let’s put the merchandise and comic relief aside. STAR WARS is a series about war and death: soldiers get shot, civilians get killed, main characters get maimed. Surely, a kids cartoon wouldn’t dare to touch on those subjects, right? Well, STAR WARS REBELS features all of those things and has a TV-Y7 rating.

Image courtesy of Lucasfilm/Disney

Of course, given the TV-Y7 rating, there’s a bit of censorship involved. There are scenes of murder and maiming in the show. However, the gore is offscreen, so it passes broadcast standards.

The point is, STAR WARS REBELS is not SUPERFRIENDS with lightsabers. The first season has a light-hearted, kid-orientated tone to it. But even then, there are still plot points like prisoners dying in slave mines, and the Empire using the mummified corpse of a dead Jedi Master. Awkward censorship aside, while STAR WARS REBELS technically aims at kids, it really aims more at general audiences. Though, to be more exact, the audience the show has in mind seems to depend on the episode.

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Plot Progression

As mentioned earlier, STAR WARS REBELS started out as a fairly lighthearted show. A crew of trigger-happy do-gooders fighting against the empire adopts a force-sensitive orphan named Ezra Bridger. During the first season, the team spent most of their time putting one over the bumbling Imperials in charge of the planet Lothal.

Then, a series of events leads to them leaving Lothal and joining up with the larger rebellion movement. From there, REBELS goes back and forth between lighthearted episodic adventures, character-centered episodes that explore their personalities and pasts, and dramatic status quo changing episodes that push the show’s various story arcs forward, with the latter taking increased prominence as the series goes on.


For me, the main appeal of STAR WARS REBELS is watching the show evolve in scale. What starts out as fairly basic episodic series becomes a narratively-driven exploration of the STAR WARS universe. Characters working for both the Rebellion and the Empire develop in surprising and interesting directions as their fight continues. This leads to some plot points that I wouldn’t have expected. We learn about Force users outside of the Jedi-Sith paradigm, what happened to the clone stormtroopers after Order 66, and there are more in-depth looks at the cultures of non-human species like Twi’leks and Lasats. The most interesting part of STAR WARS is the setting itself, and it’s nice that the show takes advantage of that instead of just focusing on the usual Jedi/Rebellion vs. Empire plots.

Image courtesy of Lucasfilm/Disney

Imbalances in the Force

However, as the show develops, there are some growing pains involved. As mentioned earlier, REBELS likes to jump back and forth between heavy, ongoing story arcs and lighthearted adventures-of-the-week. It’s the kind of show where one episode is about the last remaining Jedi trying to find answers in an abandoned temple, and the next episode is about comic relief robots goofing around. This leads to situations where about half the episodes don’t really move the plot forward, but you still need to watch everything in chronological order to follow the overarching plots. To make things worse, even if you watch every episode, there’s still a chance you won’t understand what’s going on. You see, REBELS is actually kind of a sequel to another show called THE CLONE WARS.

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Remember The Clone Wars?

Image courtesy of Lucasfilm/Disney

Prior to Disney buying Star Wars, the last truly canon Star Wars installment was THE CLONE WARS, a CGI animated series that aired on Cartoon Network. The show was on a different network and had a different art style coupled with a different tone as well. REBELS is about plucky underdogs motivated by hope, whereas THE CLONE WARS focused on the doomed Jedi fighting it out during the waning days of the republic. So, it’s a bit off-putting that from season 2 onwards, plot threads and characters from THE CLONE WARS appear in REBELS, with the seeming expectation that you’ve already seen THE CLONE WARS.

Now, to be fair, at the end of the day REBELS is about the crew of the Ghost. So, THE CLONE WARS stuff doesn’t overtake the show. For the most part, they do give you enough information to follow the plot; it’s just that there’s this nagging feeling that you’ve missed out on a huge chunk of backstory.

However, without getting into spoilers, there is a major character from the prequels that shows up in Season 2, and he has drastically changed from what he was in the movies. As it turns out, the character went through a lot during THE CLONE WARS series, and it’s unclear how much of that we’re supposed to know in REBELS. He’s still an interesting character to watch, even without the full backstory, but I do think the show could’ve done more to explain where he was coming from.

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STAR WARS REBELS’ Place in the STAR WARS Universe

Truth be told, hiding that character’s name might’ve been unnecessary. As of now, the promotional materials for REBELS has his face plastered all over them. He’s even in the first picture that comes up when you look up the show on Google images. Still, for whatever reason, I didn’t know he was going to be in the show. In fact, surprising the audience might’ve been the original intent.

Speaking of which, major characters from the movies do show up in STAR WARS REBELS. They’re not there for long, but it does remind you that REBELS is a canon STAR WARS installment even if the chances of the movies referencing the series are zero to none.

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I think the show could’ve benefited from some tighter plotting, but it’s a solid fantasy-action series overall. Admittedly, the first season isn’t that great, but the stakes and the status quo do end up changing in dramatic and interesting ways. I’d recommend sticking around until “The Siege of Lothal” to determine whether or not you’ll drop it. Personally, the episode that really sold me on the show was “Twilight of the Apprentice,” but I think that might be too far ahead if you’re just testing the show out.

Hopefully, this article helped you figure out if STAR WARS REBELS is worth your time. The first two seasons are available for free on DISNEY XD’s website; if you like what you see, make sure to catch the series finale sometime in early 2018.

One Comment

  1. Tyler Patrick

    Tyler Patrick

    December 31, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Rebels has been the greatest Star Wars experiences. It connects the prequels, the clone wars, original trilogy and even hints at the sequel trilogy


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