Star Wars Rebels Season One
We still have a little over a month to wait for the second season of Star Wars Rebels to start up, but thankfully, fans can now enjoy the first season on blu-ray. Even if you’ve been following the show since it’s debut, there’s plenty of reason to pick up this set. Come inside to read my full review.
If you’ve been following me on any of my social feeds, or just read any Star Wars Rebels related article here on the site, there’s a good chance you already know my feelings on Lucasfilm’s newest cartoon series. I love it. That’s pretty easy to go with at this point, and having watched the series through another time thanks to this new blu-ray set, I can say it with more certainty than ever before.
I’m not going to recap every single episode in this review...that’d get a little tedious and would take away the fun of an overall set review. I will talk about it in general terms, however. On one hand, I can’t say that it’s currently better than The Clone Wars series turned out to be, but comparing them at this point probably isn’t fair. Clone Wars had six (technically) seasons to improve and wow audiences, where Rebels is only at 15 episodes so far. I will say that I think Star Wars Rebels’ season one is better and more engaging than the first couple seasons of The Clone Wars.
This is a good sign. Whereas it took time for Clone Wars to really hit it’s stride and feel relevant to the overall mythos of Star Wars, Rebels has managed to do that within its first season. So going forward, it can become something even better, and go beyond all expectations. At least, that’s what we hope, and there’s plenty of reason to think that’s the case.
The characters in Star Wars Rebels are almost immediately likeable, and their introductions are handled in unobtrusive ways. While we still don’t know much about their pasts (something we hope/expect to see in time), you get a sense of what they’ve been through and what has brought them all together. This combined with their dynamic personalities, makes you latch on to them quickly and want to know more about them.
The ease with which you become attached to these new characters speaks volumes to the writing and directing talent behind the series. Many of the endearing character moments feel subtle and realistic (despite it being a cartoon). Where The Clone Wars felt like it was forcing a lot of things onto the viewer, the growth of the characters and story feel way more natural in Rebels.
Not to mention how FUN the episodes are. Even with the action getting hot and the themes getting heavy, the show is a blast to sit and watch. It’s ultimately entertaining, and offers up plenty for the kids to enjoy in that department, while allowing older audiences the chance to nitpick through the deeper messages in the story. It’s what a great cartoon should be, and reminded me of some of the older Saturday morning cartoons I used to watch (with much more refinement of course).
Watching them all in order via the blu-ray set gave me the chance to see how interconnected the story is throughout the 15 episodes. While watching them from week to week was fun, it was possible to miss some of the overarching story that ties everything together neatly. Each episode is basically a self-contained mission for our group of heroes, which keeps the pace of the show up high without any “filler” type episodes dragging it down. But seeing them all lined up makes the bigger story more clear and shows how deftly the storytellers have been in this series so far. So yeah, even if you’ve seen the show before, it’s worth re-watching.
The difference between broadcast quality and the blu-ray transfer is obvious and impressive. All of the episodes look absolutely gorgeous in this new presentation (yes, even if you were watching them in HD at the time). It’s nice to see them presented in such high quality and doing so makes the animation look even more polished than it already does. Other than that, it’s fairly bare bones of a set. There’s no audio tracks for fans to listen to over the episodes, or more specific featurettes that delve into the making of the show. But that doesn’t mean the features present on the disc aren’t worth your time. In fact, they’re a lot of fun and add to the overall Rebels series in a few ways. Here’s what’s included:
• Rebels Recon: 14 behind-the-scenes featurettes
• Star Wars Rebels – The Ultimate Guide
• Star Wars Rebels Season 2 – A Look Ahead
• Star Wars Rebels – Shorts
• Rebels Infiltrates Star Wars Celebration
– “The Machine in the Ghost”
– “Art Attack”
– “Property of Ezra Bridger”
The Rebels Recon episodes played on Star Wars.com after each episode was released, and offered some behind the scenes information on that specific episode. They’re neat little insights to the show, and if you missed out on them, it’s nice to see they’re included. The episode length feature The Ultimate Guide, narrated by Freddie Prinze Jr., recaps the first season characters and where the story is, while also showing the impact of the show on the Star Wars fans at large. It’s a neat little thing, and handy for fans to watch right before diving into Season Two next month, but aside from fans...I don’t see it having a mass appeal.
The look ahead to the next season offers some behind the scenes information on the new season, with new footage in what basically amounts to one big trailer. It’s definitely cool, however, and offers up details for fans of the show and characters. Details like the fact that the Inquisitor in the first season was the “Grand Inquisitor” (basically the top dog of Vader’s enforcers), and so the two new baddies in the upcoming season are just regular Inquisitors.
For me, that’s a really neat and important piece of information. I’m not sure whether or not that’ll come out in the new season, but it’s a key detail for that character and adds to the lore behind the show overall. Little things like that are what make all of these special features worth watching, but in the end, I don’t know how many times I’m going to watch them beyond the first viewing.