Millennial “Star Wars” fans have likely encountered the moral dilemma of introducing their younglings to a galaxy far, far away while skirting the violence inherent to the series. I mean, it’s got “war” right in the name. Lightsabers are awesome, but maybe your toddler isn’t ready to watch Obi-Wan Kenobi dismember a dude in a cantina. Even the “Clone Wars” animated series is geared to an older audience. “Young Jedi Adventures” is here to answer that problem.
“Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures”
The show follows three young padawans, their pilot friend, and her droid.
Kai Brightstar, Lys Solay, and Nubs are younglings training at the Jedi Temple on Tanoo under the guidance of Master Yoda and Master Zia. They are shown to be capable and kind, with individual strengths and weaknesses that kids can relate to.
Kai is the leader; his bravery and righteousness are evenly countered by a tendency to rush into things without thinking them through. Lys is a wildlife expert with a knack for planning, but she is often easily distracted and struggles with focus.
Nubs is strong, physically and with the Force, but mostly serves as comic relief. His innate cuteness and silly dance moves are scene stealers.
They are aided in their adventures by Nash Durango, who pilots the Crimson Firehawk, and her droid RJ-83. When the shorts were first released, I found Nash to be a weak link, if only because we wondered why the Jedi Masters would let the padawans go off with a child pilot on missions.
Thankfully, the full episodes give this a swift explanation: Nash’s moms run a transportation company, and she’s been training and maintaining her own ship as part of the company. The missions are always approved by the adults, who check in on the younglings with comlinks. It’s still a bit of a stretch, but one that sets a better example.
The show takes place during the High Republic era, which has been contained to books and comics thus far. The official description for the series reads, “Set 200 years before ‘The Phantom Menace,’ during the High Republic era, the animated series follows Jedi younglings as they study the ways of the Force, explore the galaxy, help citizens and creatures in need and learn valuable skills needed to become Jedi along the way.”
There is fighting in the series, but it’s limited to lightsaber battles (against other lightsabers and similar weapons). The characters never strike other beings with their sabers, only other blades. The show has no blaster-style weapons, but the ships and training droids do fire lasers (that never hit anyone).
The stakes are age-appropriate, amounting to situations like a lost Tooka kitten, helping a sick friend, and recovering stolen goods from pirates. Each story contains a typical toddler lesson, like sharing and helping others. A few stand out from the repetition, though.
The first episode is particularly strong. During a training exercise, Kai tries to levitate Nubs to a platform and retrieve his fallen lightsaber simultaneously. When the lightsaber flies back into his hand, he loses focus, and Nubs drops to the ground. Yoda reminds Kai that helping others is the Jedi way and that possessions — even as significant as a lightsaber — shouldn’t be a priority.
Later in the episode, Kai finds himself facing the same dilemma. The pseudo-antagonist, a pirate named Taborr, has stolen Kai’s lightsaber. He wants to get it back, but Nubs is dangling precariously from a cable after trying to jump onto their ship. Kai chooses to abandon his lightsaber and save Nubs.
Another of the stronger lessons comes in the seventh (and currently final) episode. In “The Jedi and the Thief,” Master Zia realizes that Kai’s rivalry with Taborr has reached unhealthy levels after watching him train against a droid dressed up as the pirate. After a mission gone awry leaves Zia and Kai seeking help from another thief (Ace), Kai learns that even though people have done bad things, they can still choose to do good. It’s a deeper take on “the misunderstood villain” trope, helping young children with the concept of morality. At no point does it try to excuse Taborr or Ace’s actions, but gives them a chance to learn and grow.
Right now, seven episodes consisting of two stories each, plus six shorts, are available on Disney+. The episodes will be released weekly on Disney Junior, with the first two already in rotation. Presumably, there is more to come from this first season, as the episode where the younglings visit Batuu has not been released.
In the post-“Bluey” world, standards for preschool television have risen. “Young Jedi Adventures” doesn’t meet that new high, but it falls in line with shows like “Spidey and His Amazing Friends” as far as action and story morals. It lacks the educational value of “Octonauts” but delivers plotlines and storytelling leagues above “Paw Patrol” and “CoComelon.”
You don’t have to know anything about Star Wars to watch this show, so I would also recommend it to parents who could care less about the saga and just want a break from “PJ Masks.”
I give “Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures” a 7/10.
Check out the Young Jedi Adventures offerings at Disneyland during Star Wars Month below.
- New Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures Photo Op Pops Up at Downtown Disney District
- Jellyfruit Muffin at Kat Saka’s Kettle
- Blue Milk Tenoo Swirl Crunchies Cereal Drink at the Milk Stand