Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures (Shorts) Review – Blink and you’ll miss it

April 27, 2023
Jonathon Wilson 0
Disney+, Streaming Service, TV, TV Reviews
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Young Jedi Adventures is a collection of shorts so short that it’s difficult to know what to make of them, and it makes for a weird introduction to a storytelling initiative most will be totally unfamiliar with. Still, the animation is beautiful and it’s very quintessentially Star Wars, so the kids could do a lot worse.

This review of the Disney+ series Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures (Shorts) does not contain spoilers.

There’s a lot about Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures that I don’t quite understand.

Star Wars has always been for families. Despite dorks the world over claiming it as some kind of sacrosanct piece of geek ephemera, it has been a mainstream franchise since the 70s. It’s a story about space wizards, and it’s designed – has always been designed – to sell toys.

How do you make that skew even more kid-friendly? What’s the point if kids are into it anyway? The target demo of kids who’re too young for the rest of Star Wars but are also interested in the cuddlier version must be very small – too small, you’d think, for the first wave of on-screen High Republic content to be marketed directly to it.

Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures (Shorts) review and plot summary

The High Republic, for those not in the know, is a multimedia storytelling initiative that began in 2021 with a wave of comics and novels, telling stories about the Jedi Order in its prime, hundreds of years before the events depicted in The Phantom Menace.

It’s an exciting new period within the established Star Wars canon, the possibilities for it are virtually endless. Those possibilities are not necessarily expressed in The Young Jedi Adventures, a collection of six four-minute shorts now streaming on Disney+ after a run of exclusivity on Disney Junior.

It’s probably important to note that these shorts are intended as a mere taster menu for the full series, which is slated to drop on Disney+ on – you guessed it – May 4, 2023.

Is Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures good or bad?

Are these shorts bad? No, absolutely not. They’re animated rather gorgeously, and they’re quintessential Star Wars in many respects. There’s a sage Master Yoda giving cryptic advice to a cute bunch of Jedi younglings. There are droids and tiny, lovely little alien creatures. There are lessons about teamwork and trusting oneself; about doing the right thing and helping those in need.

But these things are present in lots of Star Wars material. Even the presence of Yoda feels like a bit of a cop-out, a face familiar enough that Young Jedi Adventures doesn’t feel remotely like the opening screen salvo in an entirely new era.

Of the new characters – Kai Brightstar, Lys Solay, Nubs, Nash Durango, and droid RJ-83 – none particularly grate, but none feel especially new or distinct, either. There’s no time in 4 minutes to get to know them, really. This is a problem with the short-form format rather than the show’s writing or voice performances, of course, but it does make one wonder, like everything else here, why Disney elected to introduce viewers to the High Republic with this particular collection.

Is Young Jedi Adventures (Shorts) worth watching?

You don’t need to tell me that the point of Young Jedi Adventures is to introduce very young kids to Star Wars and its fundamental lessons of empathy and understanding without having Darth Vader terrify them. You can argue, convincingly, that even the Star Wars content that is already ostensibly younger-skewing, like The Clone Wars, contains some episodes, themes, and visuals that absolutely would not be suitable for youngsters – the Season 2 episode “Brain Invaders” isn’t ideal educational pre-school entertainment, I’ll be the first to admit.

So, while I get it, I still don’t quite understand it. A tiny collection of shorts too succinct to mean much transplanted from a YouTube channel to a streaming service ahead of a full release on a day entirely dedicated to the franchise just feels like too many layers of cynical marketing to me. And the fact they’re the big introduction to the High Republic – for those who haven’t read the books and comics, anyway – is even more confounding.

Still, I hope the kids like it.

What did you think of Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures (Shorts)? Comment below.

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