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"Clone Wars" Returns in Explosive Premiere

Fans of Star Wars were skeptical when the word of an animated series first broke. What they found over the course of six months were twenty action-packed episodes culminating in a tense battle between Anakin Skywalker and Asajj Ventress and in the introduction of General Grievous.

This new batch of episodes, five in all, are more than double the length of the previous chapters. Coming in at twelve minutes each, fans will be able to get an hour of animated Clone Wars goodness in a mere five days.

Chapter twenty-one opens right where twenty left off. Clone troopers rush to the scene where Ki-Adi Mundi and General Grievous are still engaged in battle. Dropping remote mines into the army of super battle droids, the clone troopers land inside the wreckage and fan out to look for survivors. They quickly encounter Grievous, who manages to dodge the troopers’ hailstorm of weapons fire.

After the action wraps up, we see a few touching scenes with Anakin and Padme, a humorous “strip” from C-3PO, and Anakin’s knighting ceremony. The episode ends with Anakin boarding his Jedi Starfighter and blasting off, R2-D2 and a hologram of Padme in tow.

The new chapters sport the same animation style fans of the original series and Tartakovsky’s other great action work, Samurai Jack, have come to love. Gorgeous backgrounds and great character animation all accompany the designs to make one well-tuned twelve minutes of action animation.

The music fits the mood well. Most of it is from previous Star Wars recordings, but a few bits I didn’t recognize may have been new. The voice acting on the series has always been a bit sketchy. I admit I’m used to hearing the movie actors, and while most of the animated series’ VAs do excellent jobs, others come off sounding a bit forceful. One scene between Padme and Anakin in an alley sounds particularly strange. Padme’s lines in particular are delivered in a strange and unnatural way. Fortunately, this stiff dialogue is kept to a minimum, and the visuals tell just as much of the story as the words do.

The best thing about the new chapters is the aforementioned extended run time. The previous series did feel a little bit too “micro,” and often the episodes seemed to end before they could really start. With twelve minutes not only can we see more story, we can really get swept up into the world the series so meticulously creates. By the time the first episode ends, you’ll feel that you’ve watched more than just a quick clip of animation. The new series feels like a genuine part of the Star Wars saga and it’s a real treat to see some major plot points that won’t be revealed in the movies.

With the DVD collection of the first twenty chapters hitting a day after the premiere of Volume II, next week will be chock full of Clone Wars. The new chapters promise great things. If you even moderately enjoyed the original, you’ll enjoy these new episodes even more.

Star Wars: Clone Wars Volume II premieres next Monday, March 21 on Cartoon Network at 7 PM E/P and runs nightly until Friday, March 25.

See Toon Zone’s other reviews of the new series:
“‘Clone Wars’ Series 2: Everything You Loved And More” by Karl Olson
“‘Clone Wars’ Series 2: WOW.” by Matt Wilson

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