This is, in fact, the second animated version of the Clone Wars. The first aired between ‘Attack of the Clones’ (2003) and ‘Revenge of the Sith’ (2005) and was a simply brilliant anime-eque version co-created by Genndy Tartakovsky. It had hyper-exaggerated designs and borrowed heavily from things like Tartakovsky’s own ‘Samurai Jack’.
This version is 3D CGI and is on-going, having started in 2008. The designs are a toned down version of that first animated series.
I’m not going to even attempt to outline the plot – the Clone Wars are essentially a long series of internecine battles and political maneuvering between planets. Lucas was quite right to skip them in the films. They’re also the only real expandable area of the mythology – everything else is locked into the story of Anakin Skywalker’s rise, fall and redemption.
One plot element that did surprise me was the introduction of a romantic sub-plot for Obi-Wan. Not because the idea of romance and Obi-Wan is wrong (I stubbornly clung to the idea Obi-Wan was Luke and Leia’s real father until the end of ‘Revenge of the Sith’). Obi-Wan is, in the films, a flawed Jedi.
It might be intended as a deliberate parallel to Anakin’s romance with Padme as Obi-Wan had been tasked with protecting Satine when he was Qui-Gon’s apprentice and he admits he would have left the Jedi order if Satine had asked him. She didn’t, so he never acted on the attraction.
But the key thing about Anakin is that he is a Jedi who loves – making Obi-Wan another one detracts from Anakin’s uniqueness. This sub-plot would make more sense if it had taken place before Anakin and Padme were secretly married – their decision to act on their own love would have been by seeing Obi-Wan and Satine’s regrets,
I have to admit to not loving ‘3D’ animation. It’s good, it renders things like clone troopers and Coruscant beautifully. But, to me, it’s too close to cut scenes from computer games. I prefer the exaggeration of 2D animation, the move away from realistic character design and action.
I do really like the Saturday morning serials element: a breathless voiceover introduces each episode and recalls 1930s Flash Gordon serials. It harks back to what Lucas was doing with the first ‘Star Wars’ film.
These DVDs are ideal for ‘Star Wars’ fans after more detail but aren’t really stand alone material.