The answer to the question posed above is a resounding “Yes.” It has evolved from the childish, colorful, and superficial romp of The Clone Wars theatrical film to a grim space saga. There’s action — lots of action — drama, decent characterization, and ever more beautiful animation. Even though the plasteline look of the characters may be an acquired taste, the Star Wars mood is palpable in abundance. It really feels like Star Wars, but maybe not in the eyes of those who only honor the original trilogy.
There are crime and mystery storylines as the series closes in on the beginning of Episode III. At this point, it’s unclear how many more seasons there will be, but it’s clear that The Clone Wars is becoming darker and less kid-oriented. It’s the same blood-less lightsaber action many love and cherish, but the themes and the atmosphere are definitely more adult.
All the known prequel characters are present in this animated universe, yet the story dwells on Anakin Skywalker’s gradual fall and the damnation of his soul as he inches closer to the Darth Vader he will become. At the end of the series, those who have followed it from the start will have a clearer understanding of Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side in Episode III. Star Wars has always been essentially a family saga, a drama of relations, and family aspirations. The prophecy of good defeating evil is at all times the central moral backbone of George Lucas’ beloved saga.
For reasons unknown to this writer, the prequel trilogy has not been met with excitement. Yes, the acting is not always the best. George Lucas certainly isn’t the world’s best screenwriter, but he’s a storyteller; he sets the stage for wonderfully rich, yet cliched, characters to act out a vast tale. At its heart, Star Wars is old-fashioned, hackneyed, and unoriginal. The Clone Wars is exactly that: an old-fashioned adventure with wars, crime lords, and romance. This is something people should never forget before saying that the prequel turned Star Wars into something too commercial.
Beneath the veneer of special effects lies a story inspired by mythology. The Clone Wars is becoming a solid science fiction series that should be fun to watch for a wide spectrum of audiences worldwide. It’s not just for Star Wars fans or children to enjoy, because it really is a universal story that we don’t usually expect from a Cartoon Network series.
In terms of canon, The Clone Wars will tie in directly between Episode II and Episode III. Everything that goes on in the so-far four seasons is considered official canon. So those who are still hesitating to watch it, or brush it off as prequel material, should give it a fair chance. Truth be told, it doesn’t get really good until the third season. It’s then that the themes become darker, characters more brutal, and the animation more refined. Season four holds all kinds of surprises, including one turn of events that did raise controversy among friends. Without wanting to spoil too much, let it just be said that Darth Maul didn’t perish at the end of Episode I.
In season three, there’s a very interesting story arch on a planet called Mortis. It deals with the Force itself, and the balance between good and evil in the galaxy. No real answers are given as to the origin of the Force, but it’s a highly metaphorical set of episodes. It encapsulates the exact mythology that made Star Wars so popular in the first place. These episodes are also the obvious beginning of Anakin’s torment, which will lead him to his own demise. Later, more prominent characters like Grand Moff Tarkin appear in cameos, also.
Are you a Star Wars fan? Definitely give this series a chance. Do you full-heartedly oppose the prequels? Then you will probably dislike The Clone Wars as a whole, but maybe you can enjoy it as a fun science fiction adventure. Never judge any of the episodes on their own, but rather regard them as pieces of the puzzle that is the Star Wars saga.