Review: Star Wars Rebels--Empire Day Pt. 1

Mama Fisi
Mama Fisi's picture

I tend to nitpick stuff that I generally like, but wish were better.  So I guess you could say that I do like "Star Wars Rebels."  I...just wish it were better...

This week's episode opens with Kanan trying to teach a sulky Ezra something about "becoming one" with the universe in general, and a pissy little jackal cat thing with a Cheshire grin and a hinged face specifically.  The character design on this critter is so bad that whoever came up with it should be forced to spend eternity being licked by it.   Ezra must share my opinion because he resists finding anything redeeming in the beast and after Kanan shows how simple it is to get it to calm down and smile at him--and seriously, this thing's got a frickin' creepy smile--Ezra says he's just not in the mood for Jedi training because it's Empire Day.

Well, it turns out it's also Ezra's birthday, and the Imperials ain't throwin' no parade for him.  What they are doing is celebrating the roll-out of a new design in TIE fighter, to be produced in the Lothal shipyards.  Of course Kanan & Company need to, you know, blow up the prototype.

This, of course, really doesn't sit well with the Imperial dignitaries, who order the entire town put on lockdown so they can catch the Rebel scum who made their TIE go boom.  Ezra leads Kanan and Sabine to a blasted, quarantined house, which he seems to posess a key for; inside, in a secret basement room, he finds an old friend of his late parents hiding out from the Empire as well.

Tseebo is one of those Rodian critters--you know, like Greedo, who seems to have been the sole "bad seed" in the species--who went to work for the Imperial shipyard, and has had a cybernetic device attached to his head, which is causing him to have some really schitzoid reactions due to the sheer volume of information he has been forced to "remember."  The Imperials have been searching for him, undoubtedly because he's gone missing with the schematics to all of their tech and their five-year development plan for the entire Outer Rim.

Obviously, Team Ghost has to get him off Lothal to safety, but for the moment, they have to work on getting out of the city.  With Agent Kallus and the Inquisitor on their tail, they steal a troop transport and go barrelling up the freeway with several other transports and speeder bikes in hot pursuit. 

They barely make it onto the Ghost, and are immediately set upon by a handful of TIE fighters.  A jolt from a cannon blast sends poor, confused Tseebo sprawling, and suddenly he has a flash of lucidity, in which he tells Ezra "I know what happened to your parents!"

To Be Continued...

To fill you in now, though, Ezra's parents tried to bring him up to care about others.  They made secret broadcasts speaking out against the Empire, and eventually, they were arrested and taken away, leaving their seven-year-old son to grow up on the streets. 

Now, I opened by saying I nitpick this show.  Well, I wish they'd come up with some new character designs for the aliens.  Greedo and Hammerhead and the Ughnaughts were amusing in their context, but having them all over the place just doesn't feel "right," like putting gorillas in a show about Canada or pandas running wild in Montana, just because "people like pandas."  Sure, maybe they're colonists just like the humans, but to me, it looks like a lack of imagination.

The animation still hasn't settled into whether it wants to be good or is content to be mediocre.  Today's episode had the characters bouncing a little too much--for realistic-looking models, bouncing around when they talk looks really bizarre.  On the plus side, a lot of the walking and other motion cycles must be done with either motion capture or really talented animators, because it looks real.  Back on the negative side, the lipsynching is terrible. 

I've also started watching reruns of "Kim Possible," and it's interesting to compare the animation, insofar as "Kim Possible" has really simplistic, almost crappy-looking character designs with a lot of really impressive animation, while "Rebels" has bery nice designs with crappy animation, and both are Disney products.

I told you I get nitpicky.