Star Wars Rebels – Season 1, Episode 8 – “Path of the Jedi” – The Path Through Fear

Path_of_the_jedi_6     “The Path of the Jedi” is very similar to what Luke faced in Dagoba. It is here we learn that to become a Jedi a Padawan must face his or her greatest fears alone and that it is at the end the Master is there to guide them to safety and to give them words of wisdom before carrying on. It’s a powerful episode, made all the more so by the voice that appears and the fact that we never see the Jedi who is speaking and guiding Kanan and Ezra through their fears.

The episode was directed by Dave Filoni and written by Charles Murray and Greg Weisman.

The story begins with Kanan finding a Jedi Temple on Lothal and reacting angrily to Ezra for missing training again. This leads to him having Ezra find the Jedi Temple using the force. This leads to them entering it together and Ezra having to face the darkness alone to become a Jedi.

The Pros: The Temple on Lothal – I really like the Temple’s design. It is a giant Monolith that opens to reveal a passage and reacts entirely to the force and the mind of the participants. It is also connected to Yoda, which my guess is all the Temples are due to him being on Dagoba or just because is that strong in the force. The setting is wonderful and gives both our characters a chance to grow.

Kanan – Kanan fears letting Ezra down and this leads to him reacting with anger to Ezra and we learn why this is. Kanan left the order for a while and part of it was because he was reactive and angry, much like Ezra. It is this fear that drives Kanan and that Yoda counsels him through so that Kanan can have the confidence to train Ezra.

Ezra’s Fears – Ezra fears being alone and death. He fears being alone when we see illusions of the crew talking bad about him behind his back before them as well as Kanan are slaughtered by The Inquisitor while The Inquisitor continues to hunt Ezra before he finally surrenders and realizes that it doesn’t matter if he dies or not, he won’t fear what he cannot control…this leads to Yoda guiding him with his voice to finish his trial.

Master Yoda – Yoda has a lot of good advice in this. He helps counsel Ezra discover what a Jedi is and that it isn’t in anger and revenge (Kanan never acted that way) and that to be a Jedi is to protect others and to help others to feel alive. It’s a powerful scene since we see Ezra’s need for control and power since he’s been alone all his life asserted initially showing how easily he could cross over to the dark side.

Ezra – Ezra gets a lot of great development in this. We see him make peace with dying and losing all of those he loves but also how he holds onto rage and power in hopes that that will prevent it from happening even as he understands that his role is to help others to heal and to feel alive and that revenge is not the way of the Jedi. When he leaves he grows more connected to Kanan and understands him better too. He also receives a Kyber Crystal and makes his own Lightsaber using things on the ship.

I really liked this episode. It had great direction by Dave Filoni and fantastic writing that went into depth on what it means to be a Jedi. We get the chance to learn more about Ezra and Kanan and see that the Jedi that are still around still have safe havens so that they can still face their fears and come to fully understand what it means to be a Jedi. This is one of my favorite episodes thus far in the series and I highly recommend it.

Final Score: 10 / 10.


Mobile Suit Gundam Wing – Great Character Moments, Good Intent…Not Enough Loss or Focus

msgwE6    I’ve been reviewing “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing” for a few months now, and overall I was impressed it. I get why one of my closest friends recommended the series to me and there is a lot to like about this series and a lot I did like about this series. In this I’m going to go into what worked and didn’t work about “Gundam Wing.”

The things that were strongest about this series were the animation, music, characters and theme.

The animation is absolutely beautiful in “Gundam Wing.” Character and Gundam designs are detailed and solid and the fight scenes flow as well as presenting a lot going on with very little on the screen. This gave a lot to the action scenes and the character moments as it was really good at making a single character the point of focus in a scene and giving us that perspective. “Mobile Suit Gundam” had a better story, but “Gundam Wing” had much more beautiful animation. The Gundams all have beautiful designs. From Shenlong Gundam’s dragon hands, to the black Gundam Deathscythe, to Sandrock’s simple design or Epyon and Gundam Wing’s deadlyness. So much work was put into making the Gundams look unique and amazing.

The soundtrack was also beautiful as well. It had a sci. fi. 80’s feel at times, but other times got instrumental…in all cases the music beautifully complimented what was going on in the scenes.

The characters were the strongest part of this series, without a doubt. Whether it was the Gundam Pilots who each had very distinct personalities: Trowa – disconnected and trouble feeling, Heero as the empathetic leader, Quatre as the glue of the group who had the most compassion or Duo as the jokester who was always ready be courageous…each had depth beyond their base character traits. This also applied to the antagonists as well. Treize remembered every person who had died in the wars he started, Lady Une had a bipolar personality, Noin cared deeply for her soldiers and the Pilots and Zechs cared but was afraid of his own feelings and vulnerability. All these characters, including the main character Relena were what drove this series and made it interesting.

The theme of the series is that there would always be reasons to fight and that factions and hatred brought about more factions. We saw this with the United Earth Alliance losing to OZ as the Colonies fought for independence and how within OZ arose the Romafeller Foundation who was controlling it, the Treize Faction loyal to Treize who had resigned and that their actions brought about the White Fang in space, a faction of Colonials with an OZ mentality reacting to OZ, Romafeller and Alliance oppression. Throughout the series factions were always changing and characters joined different factions as their own left them. At one point the Colonies abandon the Gundams and join OZ who is ruling through soft power and later on they are working with Treize against White Fang and the Colonies. This theme is fantastic and shows that even within history, even if a faction is destroyed the philosophy behind it will still live on.

The theme of the broken soldier was also prevalent too. For many of the Pilots (who were just children) the conflict breaks them and they have to find themselves again and heal. They start out alone and eventually come together as victims of the war just trying ot make their own path and stop the fighting. It is a beautiful arc in how they realize this theme and come together at the end. They are the child soldiers of the Colonies, forsaken when it was convenient and used by those around them until they were able to make their own path.

The greatest problems with the series were lack of focus, especially at the end…and lack of loss, which was surprising given the sheer amount of war that goes on in this series.

“Gundam Wing’s” biggest problem is lack of focus. We see it early on in how the Alliance is forgotten about, even though an Alliance colony in space is rescued at one point…we don’t see what the world thinks of Treize being under house arrest or how he started building Epyon or the reasons why. The ending just kind ties everything together nicely without showing us how the Colonial and Earth leaders were able to reach a peace accord, or their reasons for doing so. It completely ignores all reasons for hatred that have been building up this entire team, leading to the Great War in space. This lack of focus is also shown in how we don’t see the Gundam Pilots at the end, except Heero…how the Gundam Scientists ended up on Libra and how they knew Quinze or why Zechs was so insecure. His reasons for not admitting his weakness made no sense, but were just a bigger problem of the lack of focus that there was throughout. “Gundam Wing” didn’t have this problem. Zeon was the threat, Zeon put White Base 7 through huge losses and the victory at the end, as well as Char’s change meant something. Not so for “Gundam Wing” in many cases.

The final problem was lack of loss. Relena’s father dies and the Gundam Scientists and the Romafeller leaders do…but the only loss that is really felt is Treize’s death and we kind of saw that coming when Wufei remembered his rematch. This could have been changed by Trowa dying and that death changing Quatre, as it looked like it had, Zechs actually dying at the end or resolving his weakness issues and Lady Une dying to establish the Romafeller’s as a threat. “Mobile Suit Gundam” was not afraid to kill off named characters who we were given the chance to grow attached to, not so for “Gundam Wing.” Most characters who look as if they die, actually don’t…and it just cheapens their sacrifice or the threat of whomever did the act.

For all the problems with the series I have though, it does hold up. I want to see “Endless Waltz” to see what it adds and if it answers any more questions and in regards to the theme, the message was good…it just made peace to simple. The people of Earth and the Colonies were given no reason to care about their fight…Hell Earth probably would have wanted Heero to win since Zechs was trying to commit genocide upon the Earth until he changes his mind and the Gundam Pilots prevent him from succeeding in his plan. This is ignored to bring about an easy solution to peace between Earth and Space and the narrator says it is successful too, unlike “Mobile Suit Gundam” where there is peace but also a question of how long it will last.

Would I recommend this series? Without a doubt. It is a favorite anime and will remain so, even if “Endless Waltz” ends up being terrible. “Endless Waltz” is the film that is a sequel to the series that I plan on checking out later. Good character arcs and the theme of change in politics were both really well executed overall. If you are looking for a good anime that is a classic in it’s own right, check out “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.” It may not have dealt with the consequences of war as well as “Mobile Suit Gundam” but the political intrigue at times make it feel like an anime “Game of Thrones,” and the character relationships and arcs are reason enough to judge this anime as great.

Final Score: 9 / 10.