Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures is a collection of shorts aimed at a young audience, their first step into a larger universe. It’s a hard sell for adults, who will see the fact it’s a cartoon and skip it. But is Young Jedi Adventures like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a show that punches above its age-rating? No, no it isn’t.
Ask anyone who Star Wars is for and they’ll say “for kids,” which is right. George Lucas himself said as much. He created the franchise as a fun, light-hearted adventure. But as an adult, there are deeper themes and elements that resonate, the politics and conflict behind all of the pew pew. It appeals to kids and adults alike.
Young Jedi Adventures doesn’t do this. It sticks to simple messages and simple ideas, and just long enough for kids’ attention span to hold. The messages of friendship, working together, found family, standing up to evil and more are undeniably Star Wars, but it never goes beyond that. Even the alien designs are simple.
As an adult though, there are some confusing bits. For one, the episodes are doubled up. There are actually 14 episodes, each around 15 minutes, but for some reason, Disney doesn’t split them up, despite how easily this could have been done.
There is a feeling of cynical brand synergy that creeps in, what with the Star Wars day release date and the fact that Yoda pops up every so often. If this is truly meant to be a kid’s first entry point into the franchise, neither aspect would mean anything to them.
In one instance a character sing awfully, drawing confusion from both the audience and the characters in the show. It is a moment that feels shoved in. Disney is known for family musicals, so Star Wars must become one as well.
This is the first bit of Star Wars media to focus on the High Republic on-screen, which does a disservice to the time period. The era has undergone a massive expansion in books and comics, none of this is used to enrich the world of Young Jedi Adventures.
Its references are ankle deep, contained to Jedi Vector ships and golden Jedi robes. This is one area where there should have been more brand synergy.
Why this is set in the High Republic is a valid question, and one the show’s creators have addressed. They explained the High Republic is a time of hope and optimism for both the Jedi and Republic, which is ideal for kids. Nowhere does this come through on-screen.
If this show was set during The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones, very little would change. And this comes back to the thinness of its themes, there is nothing about them that connects them to the period.
The finale is a huge letdown. The penultimate episode teases a confrontation with the pirate kid Taborr Val Dorn, an antagonist present in multiple episodes. It’s a chance for protagonist Kai Brightstar to demonstrate the lessons he learnt, but Val Dorn isn’t even mentioned in the final episode, nevermind about being present.
This might be resolved in a season two, or in some of the books Disney released that continue the stories of these characters. Oh look, more corporate synergy!
While this is a perfectly acceptable Star Wars show for those aged seven and below, there’s nothing to be found for audiences who are older. From baffling episode choices, the show’s writers’ failure at setup and payoff and the general era of the show, it’s one to skip. For anyone who loves the High Republic, wait until The Acolyte comes out to see the era on-screen.