STAR WARS RESISTANCE at last had its series premiere last night on the Disney Channel. The third animated series set in the galaxy far, far away is set six months before the events of the sequel trilogy, as it follows New Republic pilot-turned-Resistance spy Kazuda “Kaz” Xiono, who’s assigned by Poe Dameron to an aircraft refueling platform called the Colossus, in search of tabs regarding the growing threat of the First Order.
In the case of the first episode itself, Kaz already proves himself to be a bit of a klutz when his desire to be the best pilot in the galaxy is suddenly misinterpreted by everyone else on the Colossus. When he finds himself forced to compete in a sky race where the odds are against him, much like the mission at hand, he can’t back down.
Kaz’s voice actor, Christopher Sean, is following in the footsteps of Tiya Sircar and Kelly Marie Tran as the third Asian American actor to play a lead in the STAR WARS franchise. In addition to being the first Hapa actor in such a role, he is also the first Asian American actor whose character is the central protagonist.
While his character is a bit boisterous and egotistical at times, his background is quite unique. Unlike other central characters in the STAR WARS universe like Luke and Rey, Kaz hails from a privileged background, being the son of a senator. His upbringing is, perhaps, his greatest flaw not only as a person, but also in his personal life. Kaz was initially hesitant about accepting Poe’s offer to join the Resistance, for “[his father] has this whole plan for [him].” The struggle of meeting the expectations placed upon by one’s parents is a relate-able one among many within the Asian American community, and it’s interesting to see a struggle imminent in Kaz’s life. It’s clear that this isn’t the last this subject will be brought up.
The episode itself seems to dwell too long on this race that Kaz has to enter. The build-up to it feels very prolonged; from attempting to talk his way out of it, to finding out the ship he’s being offered to race is pretty much a death trap, to gathering parts necessary to improve it, etc. If anything, the conflict regarding the race could have been dealt with a lot sooner, and have a bit more focus on getting to know the other characters better and also on just what Kaz is up against as a spy for the Resistance.
As many may be quick to observe, STAR WARS RESISTANCE has a different animation style than that of its predecessors, STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS and STAR WARS REBELS. As creator Dave Filoni expressed when the show was first announced, the animation is inspired by Japanese anime. He felt that this would be the best way to capture the thrill ride that is high-speed racing in the STAR WARS universe. Well, from the first episode alone, the animation has done just that. The question is, what other mechanisms from anime is incorporated into the series? Is there more to look forward to other than flying around on starships that can be visually enhanced in this unique style?
It’s a dodgy start for STAR WARS RESISTANCE, but much like the potential Poe sees in Kaz, there’s potential for this series to be a truly fascinating addition to the STAR WARS universe. With Sean the central character in a time before the First Order is at the Resistance’s tail, there is room to grow and evolve going forward into future episodes.