Looking back at Star Wars animation in 2022

(L-R): Count Dooku and Mace Windu from "STAR WARS: TALES OF THE JEDI", season 1 exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Count Dooku and Mace Windu from "STAR WARS: TALES OF THE JEDI", season 1 exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. /

2022 was a relatively quiet year for Star Wars animation. After the big showings of 2021 with the first season of The Bad Batch and Star Wars: Visions paired with the very cute webseries Galaxy of Creatures and LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales, animation felt like it caught its breath this year. That’s not a surprise really as animation takes longer to create than live-action series. We’re not in the days anymore where animation is the only focus of Star Wars television and they can put all resources towards it. That focus is now split between multiple ongoing and upcoming shows. Besides, 2023 is looking to be another big year with the return of The Bad Batch and Star Wars: Visions alongside newcomer Young Jedi Adventures. Who knows what other surprises might pop up too?

Still, 2022 wasn’t idle as we did get four solid entries from Star Wars animation.

Zen – Grogu and the Dust Bunnies

It was just a normal day in November when out of nowhere, one of the most prestigious animation studios in the world drops a teaser tweet. Studio Ghibli was teaming up with Lucasfilm for some unknown project. Social media (myself included) went crazy in speculation. As more and more tweets dropped over the next couple of days, it was finally revealed that it was Zen – Grogu and the Dust Bunnies.

This hand-drawn short was simply adorable. It had all the hallmarks of a Ghibli piece with the Susuwatari or “soot sprites” hanging out with Grogu. The message is a very Jedi one with Grogu drawing an open ensō, a symbol of finding beauty in imperfection (more on that here). Everything about Zen – Grogu and the Dust Bunnies is wholesome and pure. It’s just a nice little piece of Star Wars that left a huge smile on my face.

Though, I do hope this was a test project for something bigger. Studio Ghibli was my front-runner studio when Star Wars: Visions was originally announced. Ghibli also has an important history with Lucasfilm as San from Princess Mononoke was the direct inspiration for Ahsoka Tano. There are many Ghibli-inspired moments across Dave Filoni’s work with the Loth Wolves being one of the biggest examples. I hope one day we get a full feature-length animated movie set in the Star Wars universe from Studio Ghibli.

Galactic Pals

Galactic Pals is probably under most people’s radar, which I totally get. It’s a micro-series tailored for the youngest Star Wars fans that’s not even on Disney+. The entire thing is on YouTube, which I personally love and hate at the same time. It’s the same feeling I get about Jedi Temple Challenge that I wish it was on both platforms. That way these series aren’t behind a paywall on YouTube, but they’re also stored with the rest of the Star Wars collection on Disney+. Still, for what it is, I really enjoy Galactic Pals a lot!

The animation is very smooth and flows nicely. All of the character designs are very cute. Mo Beatty lends her voice to the main character, M1-RE, who is very patient working with all of these little younglings. Their adventures are tailored to each character. Galactic Pals is a nice little series, like a pure injection of wholesome Star Wars content.

If you have a little one or simply need a happy little pallet cleanser after the heavier themes of Andor, pull up Galactic Pals or any of the micro-series on YouTube. They’re a heck of a lot of fun.

LEGO Star Wars Summer Vacation

I love the LEGO specials. It’s always fun to see the voice casts from series like Clone Wars come back for silly adventures. Matt Lanter, for example, getting to play a goofy Anakin is such a treat. Plus, I am always here for Kelly Marie Tran getting the love she deserves. These specials are such a source of joy because they’re a heck of a lot of fun. They’re not inherently deep or groundbreaking. Like the previous specials, Summer Vacation is just an enjoyable little adventure.

This special in particular had many nice surprises like the return of Lieutenant Colvett Valeria from The Freemaker Adventures. I will take any and all Freemaker content. That show is a gem and criminally underrated when it comes to series rankings. We also got a wonderful cameo of Weird Al Yankovic with the banger of a song “Scarif Beach Party.” His interactions with Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader were priceless. Though, Palpatine always steals the show for me.

I find it sadly intriguing how much the LEGO specials give love to the Sequel Trilogy, especially the character of Finn. He has had a more beautiful arc in three non-canon LEGO series than he did in his own movies. I hope Lucasfilm takes note of how much love fans have for LEGO Finn and his story. I want him to have this kind of depth and appreciation in canon.

Tales of the Jedi

Tales of the Jedi was by far the star of 2022. This anthology series was animation’s biggest showing for the year. Focused on the beautiful and poignant fall of Count Dooku and some… meandering stories about Ahsoka because Dave Filoni likes playing with his toys, it was a nice little outing that I hope opens the door for more seasons down the line.

Let me back up a bit and address that previous sentence. Tales of the Jedi seems to be a tale of two series. The general consensus from many fans (each of those are separate links concurring the same thing) is that the Ahsoka stuff is fine. We’ve had so much of Ahsoka’s story and we have so little of Count Dooku on screen that there was definitely an imbalance between the two characters. I kept asking myself that while it’s cool to get these shorts, did we really need to see Ahsoka learn the move that saved her life in Order 66? And did there really need to be a change to the Ahsoka novel? The Ahsoka stuff was okay, which I hate to say because she’s my favorite Star Wars character. There are so many other characters that could be explored from the High Republic to the Sequel Trilogy. Outside of being thematically linked to Dooku, which is the point I guess, the Ahsoka stories weren’t much of anything.

But the Dooku stuff is FREAKING AWESOME. Holy cow, the entire series could have been just about Dooku and I think everyone would have been fine with that. The return of Qui-Gon Jinn both as a padawan and in his final moments with his master during The Phantom Menace was such wonderful storytelling. They got across so much about how and why Dooku fell in an incredibly short amount of time. That’s what I call ‘economical writing,’ where not a single frame or piece of dialogue is wasted because of time restraints. Mace Windu was used to perfection. It was all great.

Especially Yaddle. Holy cow, Yaddle was amazing in the final Dooku short. Such a powerful role to push Dooku past the point of no return. Bryce Dallas Howard knocked it out of the park by voicing her. That was probably the biggest surprise of the entire series.

I really hope we get more seasons of Tales of the Jedi exploring a variety of characters. Personally, I’d like each era delved into. Can you imagine one with Jedi Leia and Finn? Or Cal Kestis? Any of the plethora of Jedi in the High Republic era? There are so many characters who would really thrive in this style of storytelling. I hope this isn’t the last we see of Tales of the Jedi.

What were some of your favorite animated moments of this year? Let us know in the comments.