You may be wondering, “Why January 29?”. Well, it’s because Ahsoka was first unveiled to the public on January 29, 2008. Let’s, erm, try to ignore the fact that it’s already been nine years since that announcement was made.
This year I’d like to commemorate Ahsoka Tano Day by looking back at my first impressions of this much-loved fan favourite Star Wars character.
First of all, I’ll admit that I didn’t learn about Ahsoka Tano or Lucasfilm’s plans for a new 3D animated Clone Wars series until well into 2008.
Granted, this wasn’t entirely intentional. I was still adjusting to life in a new country, getting to grips with a new job, and dealing with not one, but three deaths in the extended family. Star Wars was, unsurprisingly, quite low on my list of priorities in early 2008. But, thankfully, the year improved with each passing month and when I finally got to see the trailer for the then-upcoming Clone Wars film, I was filled with a mixture of joy and cynicism.
On the one hand, I was ecstatic that we were getting a brand-new Star Wars film and TV series. It had been a few years since Revenge of the Sith had been released and there had been no clear signs that we’d ever get a follow-up to Return of the Jedi. This seemed like the perfect time to breathe some life back into the franchise. On the other hand, I was somewhat skeptical of Lucasfilm’s intentions. We had already had an animated series that had been set in that exact time period so part of me wondered if this new series was simply a cash grab. Did we really need another Clone Wars series so soon after the last one?
As for Ahsoka herself, well, my first reaction upon hearing of her existence was “But… Anakin Skywalker never had an apprentice. How did he have time to train a Padawan between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith? And why hadn’t we heard of her before?”
I’ll admit that I was pretty fond of the character design from the get-go – even if I had some reservations about the boob-tube – and I was thrilled that we were finally going to get a female Jedi protagonist (which was a big deal at the time). It was obvious that Lucasfilm had created Ahsoka as a way of appealing to the younger female fanbase (and quite rightly so) but I was worried that she’d end up being a dreaded “Mary Sue” or, worse, an insufferable brat.
August 2008 finally arrived and my husband and I got a group of friends together to go and see the film at our local cinema. None of us were entirely sure what to expect – I’d read a couple of early reviews that dubbed Ahsoka Tano “the new Jar Jar Binks” – but we went in there with open minds, hoping for the best.
The animation style took some getting used to, especially on the big screen, but we were soon whisked away to that galaxy far, far away. The film ended up receiving mixed reviews from my group of friends, some of whom (like me) found it a passable and enjoyable romp in its own right, while others declared it to be “even worse than the prequels”, a claim I didn’t really dignify with a response.
The scathing reviews I read online the next day did little to dampen my overall enjoyment of the film but I still couldn’t make up my mind about Ahsoka. She was by no means anywhere near as irritating as many critics had claimed and she wasn’t the Mary Sue I had feared but I wasn’t sure if I was ready to invest in her as a character simply because I didn’t know if she’d survive the first season of the TV series, let alone multiple seasons.
“She was great, if a little bratty at times”, I thought, “But I honestly don’t see her lasting very long. It doesn’t even sound like she’s very popular with the Star Wars fanbase so Lucasfilm will probably kill her off after a few episodes to give Anakin another reason to turn to the Dark Side”.
Fast forward to 2017 and, boy, were my assumptions well off target, though I imagine I’m not the only person who feels this way.
Thanks to the captivating storytelling by the Lucasfilm writing team, the breathtaking animation, and the voice talents of Ashley Eckstein, Ahsoka Tano not only grew as a character with each passing episode but became an inspiration and role model to an entire generation of fans. If you’d told me years ago that I’d be running a fansite devoted to her or that she’d turn out to be one of my all-time favourite Star Wars characters, I would have thought you mad.
And yet here we are. Almost a decade after she first graced our screens, Ahsoka Tano has gone from a character that was almost universally hated to having a passionate fanbase that rivals even that of the Original Trilogy heroes.
Not bad for a character that has yet to appear in a live-action Star Wars film.
You’re also welcome to share your first impressions of Ahsoka in the comments section below. Was it love at first sight? Or did it take you a while to warm up to her? Let us know!