Ahsoka Tano

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Ahsoka Tano
Star Wars character
Ahsoka Tano.png
First appearanceStar Wars: The Clone Wars
Created by
Portrayed by
Voiced byAshley Eckstein
In-universe information
Alias
  • Fulcrum
  • Ashla
NicknameSnips (from Anakin Skywalker)
SpeciesTogruta
Occupation
Affiliation
MasterAnakin Skywalker
HomeworldShili

Ahsoka Tano is a character in the Star Wars franchise. Introduced as the Jedi Padawan of Anakin Skywalker, she is a protagonist of the 2008 animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the subsequent television series. Ahsoka reappears in Star Wars Rebels, where she uses the codename Fulcrum, and as a voiceover cameo in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Ashley Eckstein voices Ahsoka in these appearances. Ahsoka is also the main character of the eponymous novel Star Wars: Ahsoka, which has Eckstein narrating the audiobook version. Ahsoka will have her live action debut in the second season of The Mandalorian, portrayed by Rosario Dawson.

Although initially disliked by both fans and critics, Ahsoka eventually developed into a more complex, well-rounded character, and ultimately became a fan favorite. Serving as a foil for Anakin Skywalker, she has been highlighted as a strong female character of the franchise.

Creation and development[edit]

Concept[edit]

Ahsoka was developed to illustrate how Anakin Skywalker develops from the brash, undisciplined Padawan apprentice in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) to the more reserved Jedi Knight in Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005).[1] Star Wars creator George Lucas, who had two daughters, also wanted the character to appeal to girls.[2] Early in development, Ahsoka's name was "Ashla".[3][a] Lucas renamed her after the ancient Indian emperor Ashoka; the spelling was then altered by screenwriter Henry Gilroy.[5]

The Clone Wars supervising director and writer Dave Filoni wrote a fable about Ahsoka's early childhood to help develop the character. He imagined the discovery that she has "the right stuff" to become a Jedi would be a cause for celebration in her hometown.[6] Filoni said he is protective of the Ahsoka character.[7]

Giving Anakin responsibility for a Padawan was meant to place the character in a role that forced him to become more cautious and responsible. It would also provide him with insight into his relationship with his own master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and depict how their relationship matured. Ahsoka and Anakin's relationship was seen as an essential story arc spanning both the animated film and the Clone Wars television series.[8]

Writing[edit]

Filoni initially struggled with writing Ahsoka because he had "zero perspective" on what it was like to be a 14-year-old girl.[9] He, therefore, shifted his focus and instead wrote Ahsoka primarily as a Jedi who just happens to be an adolescent female.[9] Filoni said he "has always had a story in mind" for Ahsoka's overall development.[10] He began thinking about the final confrontation between Ahsoka and Vader ever since he created Ahsoka;[11] different iterations had different endings,[12] including one in which Vader kills Ahsoka just as she slashes open his helmet to reveal Anakin's scarred face.[13]

Ashley Eckstein, who primarily voiced Ahsoka, said she and the writers were aware that audiences initially found the character annoying, and that there was a "fine line" between Ahsoka being bratty and becoming endearing.[14] Because production was a year ahead of what was broadcast, with Ahsoka developing over that time, Eckstein implored fans to be patient with the character's growth.[14]

Although Ahsoka leaves the Jedi Order at the end of The Clone Wars' fifth season, the storyline initially had her return to the Order.[15] Filoni said this would be the "normal" arc and suggested to Lucas that she instead remain expelled; Lucas agreed.[15] Lucas believed Ahsoka survived Order 66, the command that led the Republic's clone army to murder the Jedi.[12]

The Fulcrum character introduced early in Star Wars Rebels was always understood to be Ahsoka.[16] Filoni, who served as executive producer and co-creator of Rebels, worked with Lucas on identifying what Ahsoka would know about Anakin's fate.[12] Filoni also collaborated with executive producer Simon Kinberg and season one executive producer Greg Weisman on developing Ahsoka's role as a Rebel agent.[12]

The show's writers were excited for Ahsoka's return in the second season, and Filoni was anxious about Rebels instead becoming "The Ahsoka Tano Show".[12] Consequently, Filoni required that Ahsoka play a role in service of Rebels' main characters, Ezra and Kanan;[12][17] he saw Ahsoka's new role as similar to the one played by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars.[18] Although Ahsoka is more mature in Rebels, Filoni wanted "aspects of that kid who was there to shine through".[19] He initially envisioned Ahsoka as a more "passive player" not engaged in combat, but later decided it was more appropriate to see Ahsoka as a warrior during a turbulent time.[12] Ahsoka's presence was necessary to allow Darth Vader to encounter the show's lead characters without the latter being destroyed; Ahsoka can stand toe-to-toe with Vader.[20]

Filoni cites fans' passion for the character as one reason for Ahsoka's prominence in Clone Wars and Rebels.[10]

Voice acting[edit]

Eckstein said Filoni wanted her to bring some of her own personality into the Ahsoka character; he told her that her actions and speech between audition takes had a bigger impact on her getting the role than the actual audition.[14] Once production on The Clone Wars began, it took about six months for Eckstein and the writers to understand Ahsoka; consequently, much of the dialogue for the first half of season one was re-recorded to depict the character better.[14] Eckstein also credits the casting of Matt Lanter as Anakin, which occurred halfway through the first season, with helping solidify the Ahsoka character.[14]

Ahsoka wears "pseudo-samurai" armor in Star Wars Rebels, and her lightsabers' lack of color indicates she is neither a Jedi nor evil.[16] Her facial markings differ from those in The Clone Wars due to her age.[18]

Eckstein reprised the role of Ahsoka for Rebels, although she did not do all of Fulcrum's voice work.[16] She learned about Ahsoka's return about a year before the first season's finale aired and said it was hard to keep it a secret.[21] Eckstein said Ahsoka developed a quiet confidence and quiet strength the younger character doesn't possess, but sometimes she played Ahsoka too seriously; she pointed out that "snippiness" and determination are still part of Ahsoka's personality.[14] Eckstein pitched her voice down a bit but, because she and Ahsoka were now much closer in age, generally spoke like herself.[21]

Not knowing Ahsoka's experiences between The Clone Wars and Rebels at times presented challenges for Eckstein's performance.[14] Filoni avoids giving the actors plot details that might inappropriately affect their performance; for example, he did not tell Eckstein whether Ahsoka survives her duel with Darth Vader lest Eckstein telegraph something in her performance that the character would not know.[6]

Appearance[edit]

Ahsoka's design evolved over three years before her introduction in the Clone Wars film.[22] Her appearance was inspired by San in Princess Mononoke.[22] Ahsoka initially appears in what Wired called a "tube-top-and-miniskirt costume." In the third season, Ahsoka and other characters received new costumes. Filoni said the changes were meant to bring the show's aesthetic closer to that of Revenge of the Sith and were made possible by improved animation techniques.[23]

Ahsoka often uses a reverse lightsaber grip, similar to that of the Japanese film character Zatoichi.[24] Along with the costume change in the third season, Ahsoka received a second lightsaber.[23]

Ahsoka's armor in Rebels is based on a "pseudo-samurai look" influenced by photographs of samurai women.[6][16] The armor is meant to appear as if she found it in an ancient Jedi temple, and her lightsabers' colorless blades indicate she is neither a Jedi nor a Sith.[6][16] Filoni said the white lightsabers appear much better than he anticipated.[19] Her facial markings were changed to show that she has aged.[18] It was "new ground" for the production team to shift Ahsoka's animation style to reflect her older age.[15]

Depiction[edit]

Film[edit]

The Clone Wars (2008)[edit]

Ahsoka first appears in the Clone Wars film on August 15, 2008 (prior to the TV series, Clone Wars, which debuted October 2008) as a 14-year-old[25] Padawan apprentice newly assigned to Anakin Skywalker. Yoda assigns her to Anakin to teach him a greater sense of responsibility, and Anakin is initially frustrated by this decision. Their early interactions are "playfully contentious", with Anakin calling her "Snips" for her "snippy" attitude and Ahsoka calling him "Skyguy" as a pun on his surname.[25] After earning Anakin's respect on a dangerous mission, Ahsoka joins him on a quest to rescue Jabba the Hutt's infant son. Her impetuous nature both annoys and endears her to her master, and, by the end of the film, Anakin reveals a newfound affection for his padawan.

The Rise of Skywalker (2019)[edit]

Ahsoka Tano makes a vocal cameo in The Rise of Skywalker as one of the Force users' voices that help her old master's son's apprentice, Rey in the battle against Sidious.[26]

Television[edit]

The Clone Wars (2008–2014, 2020)[edit]

Ahsoka is a lead character in six of the seven broadcast seasons of The Clone Wars. She is a padawan-commander of the 501st Legion in the Grand Army of the Republic and continues to learn the ways of the Jedi as Anakin's apprentice. The two develop a mutual fondness, at times taking great risks to protect or save one another. Some of Anakin's actions taken out of concern for Ahsoka expose his darker tendencies, such as his torture of prisoners who may know her location when she goes missing.[27] Ahsoka also finds mentorship from Captain Rex, a clone trooper with whom she and Anakin serve throughout the war. During the final arc of season five, Ahsoka is framed and imprisoned for a deadly explosion and a subsequent murder. Although eventually exonerated, she becomes disillusioned with the Jedi Council and leaves the Jedi Order in the season finale.[28]

Filoni said an initial finale concept for The Clone Wars would have had Rex escape Order 66, and his and Ahsoka's presence elsewhere would have explained both characters' absence from Revenge of the Sith.[12] Ahsoka returns in the seventh and final season of The Clone Wars, which aired in 2020 on Disney+.[29] She is the focus of two of the three story arcs featured in the season. The second one, set during the events of Revenge of the Sith, sees her briefly reuniting with Anakin and acting as an advisor to Rex (promoted to Commander) in the 332nd Company (split from the 501st Legion) during the Siege of Mandalore to capture the former Sith Lord Maul. When she confronts Maul, he reveals that Darth Sidious intends to make Anakin his new apprentice and offers to join forces to prevent this, but she doesn't believe him and fights him. Ahsoka defeats and captures Maul, but as she is preparing to take him to Coruscant, Order 66 is issued, causing Ahsoka's clone troopers, including Rex, to turn on her. She escapes and manages to remove Rex's chip controlling his brain, while also freeing Maul to create a distraction. When the Star Destroyer they are on crashes on a small moon, Ahsoka and Rex survive and bury all the deceased clone troopers, along with the former's lightsaber, before parting ways. The final scene of the series depicts Darth Vader leading a search on the planet and walking up to the remains of the ship. He notices Ahsoka's blade on the ground, picks it up, and ignites it. Vader then walks away with the saber, assuming that his former Padawan has perished.

The series also revealed that Jedi Master Plo Koon discovered Ahsoka as a child; full episodes were reportedly planned to explore this backstory, but they were scrapped with the 2013 cancellation of the series.[30]

Rebels (2014–2018)[edit]

Ahsoka is a secretive rebel agent in the first season of Star Wars Rebels, which takes place 14 years after The Clone Wars concludes.[31] Operating under the codename "Fulcrum", she provides the rebel crew of the Ghost with intelligence and supplies. Until her identity is revealed in the season finale, she disguises her appearance by using an altered voice and appearing as a hooded hologram.

She becomes a recurring character in the second season, continuing to help lead a group of rebel forces and working with the Ghost's crew. Having assumed that Anakin died like most other Jedi at the end of the Clone Wars, she is overwhelmed to recognize her mentor under "a layer of hate" in Darth Vader.[12] Later in the season, a vision of Anakin blames her for leaving him and allowing him to fall to the dark side. In the season finale, Ahsoka duels with Darth Vader inside a Sith temple on Malachor-V allowing her friends from the Ghost to escape Vader and the temple's destruction. As the episode concludes, Darth Vader is shown injured and leaving the temple, watched by a green and white owl. The owl, previously a companion to Ahsoka in the show and an avatar of the Daughter of Mortis, then flies back into the temple to witness Ahsoka seemingly walking deeper inside its walls. Filoni said Ahsoka's fate is ambiguous and "a bit open-ended" though Eckstein believed the character to still be alive.[6][32][33][34]

In the fourth-season episode, "A World Between Worlds", Ahsoka's fate is finally revealed. Ezra Bridger, having ended up in the realm "between worlds and time" within the Jedi temple on Lothal and guided by Ahsoka's convoy Morai, pulls her out of the moment before Vader could deliver the deathblow and thus altered her fate. Ahsoka is updated on what occurred to the Ghost crew while convincing Ezra to not prevent Kanan's fate as he would risk losing his own life. Palpatine then makes his presence known as he attempts to force Ezra into bringing him into the realm. Ahsoka helps Ezra escape while returning (with Morai) to her timeline moments after the Sith temple collapsed, vowing to find Ezra and the crew again. Ahsoka makes a return appearance in the epilogue of the series finale "Family Reunion and Farewell", returning to Lothal following the events of the Battle of Endor to join Sabine Wren in her quest to find Ezra, who disappeared during Lothal's liberation.

The Mandalorian (2020)[edit]

Rosario Dawson expressed interest in playing Ahsoka Tano in early 2017, with some fan support.[35][36] In March 2020, Dawson was reported to be appearing as the character in the second season of The Mandalorian.[36] The next month, Dawson said the casting was yet to be confirmed.[37] In October, the German Disney+ Instagram account published a story naming Dawson as part of the upcoming season's cast.[38]

Other media[edit]

Filoni said he does not want Ahsoka thought of as an animated character, but rather as a Star Wars character who can exist "in all forms of media".[6] Ahsoka appears in the Star Wars Forces of Destiny series,[39] in the comic Touching Darkness,[40] and as a collectable, playable character in the video game Disney Infinity 3.0.[41] At Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016, Filoni, Eckstein, and Lucasfilm Story Group member Pablo Hidalgo held a panel about Ahsoka's "Untold Tales" that occur between The Clone Wars and Rebels.[6]

Ahsoka (2016)[edit]

Star Wars: Ahsoka is a young-adult novel by E. K. Johnston published in October 2016. It is set between the events of The Clone Wars and Rebels, and makes several references to Ahsoka's "Untold Tales".[6][42] Filoni was heavily involved in developing the novel, and the cover art by Jason P. Wojtowicz is based on a sketch Filoni created several years prior.[6] Eckstein narrates the audiobook version.[43]

A year after the events of Revenge of the Sith, Ahsoka gains work as a mechanic and freighter pilot with the powerful Fardi clan on the planet Thabeska. However, she is forced to go into hiding after exposing her Force powers while trying to save the life of four-year old Hedala Fardi, the youngest Fardi daughter. Ahsoka settles down on the agrarian moon of Raada, where she finds work as a mechanic and befriends several local farmers, including the teenage sisters Kaeden and Miara Larte, and their guardian Vartan. The Galactic Empire subsequently establishes a presence on Raada and forces the farmers to plant new crops, which leach the moon's soils. Ahsoka becomes the leader of a resistance movement. However, the planned uprising goes awry and Ahsoka exposes her Force powers during a skirmish with Imperial forces. In response, the Empire dispatches a Jedi-hunting Inquisitor known as the Sixth Brother to hunt Ahsoka.

Having attracted the attention of the Empire, Ahsoka is forced to leave Raada. Alderaanian Senator Bail Organa takes an interest in Imperial reports about Ahsoka and decides to find her. Returning to the Fardis, Ahsoka resumes work as a pilot and mechanic. She learns that a "shadow" (who turns out to be the Sixth Brother) has been stalking the Force-sensitive Hedala. With the Empire tightening its grip on Thabeska, the Fardi patriarch advises Ahsoka to leave. Ahsoka's ship is captured by two pilots in the service of Organa. Mistaking the pilots for threats, Ahsoka knocks them unconscious. She encounters R2-D2 and convinces him to smuggle her aboard Organa's corvette. Ahsoka forges an alliance with Organa in return for his help in protecting Force-sensitive children from the Empire. Returning to Raada, she finds Miara and learns that the Sixth Brother captured her older sister Kaeden. Following a lightsaber duel, Ahsoka defeats and kills the Sixth Brother, and takes his Kyber crystals to forge her new twin lightsabers. After freeing Kaeden, Ahsoka organizes an evacuation of Raada's population with Organa's help. Ahsoka then decides to join Organa's rebellion while the Larte sisters and the other refugees settle down on Alderaan. Meanwhile, the Empire dispatches the Grand Inquisitor, a perennial antagonist from Star Wars Rebels, to hunt down Ahsoka.

Critical response[edit]

A cosplayer portraying Ahsoka

After her introduction, some critics called Ahsoka annoying and predicted the character would die before The Clone Wars series ended because she does not appear in Revenge of the Sith.[27][44] The Los Angeles Times called Ahsoka a "carefully calculated-to-be-cute" character in The Clone Wars film.[45] Wired criticized Ahsoka's "half-naked" appearance in The Clone Wars' first two seasons, calling her third-season costume change "more appropriate".[23] Blastr said Ahsoka's initial immaturity gives the character room to grow, saying she becomes "a well-rounded and complex character in every sense".[44] Ahsoka's youth aided her in being a point-of-view character for younger viewers.[27] io9 called Ahsoka's development arc one of the best aspects of The Clone Wars, highlighting the character's role in exploring the nuances of war and the flaws of the Jedi Order.[27] According to Tech Times, Ahsoka's maturation and development mirror the show's, and the producers chose wisely in making Ahsoka the audience's "entry point" to The Clone Wars.[46] Chris Taylor called Ahsoka's decision to leave the Jedi Order "the show's most shocking cliffhanger".[2] Ashley Eckstein was nominated for the 2012 and 2013 "Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series - Action/Drama" awards from Behind the Voice Actors.[47][48]

The Mary Sue said Ahsoka's relationship with Anakin is critical in understanding his development between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, and the publication called Ahsoka a foil for Anakin's growth.[49] Blastr commented that Anakin's interactions with Ahsoka help show that he is a powerful Jedi and war hero. Blastr also hypothesized that Anakin's sense of failure when Ahsoka leaves the Jedi contributes to his fall to the dark side;[44] io9 posited that Anakin might have succeeded in reforming the Jedi if Ahsoka had stayed with him.[27] io9 said Ahsoka, more than Anakin, articulates moral guidance in The Clone Wars.[27]

Blastr identified Ahsoka as one of the most important characters in Star Wars, especially for young girls who, until that point, had not seen a potent female Jedi depicted on screen.[44] Erika Travis of California Baptist University said Ahsoka is "compassionate and feminine, without being overtly sexualized".[50] Mara Wood called Ahsoka a feminist icon, adding that Ahsoka is one of several characters that make The Clone Wars superior to the original and prequel trilogies in depicting strong women.[51] Wood added that Ahsoka probably shows the most growth of any woman in the Star Wars canon.[51]

Relationships[edit]

Jedi Order master-apprentice relationship
Yoda
YounglingsCount DookuMace Windu
Qui-Gon JinnDepa Billaba
Obi-Wan KenobiKanan Jarrus
Anakin SkywalkerLuke SkywalkerEzra Bridger
Ahsoka TanoLeia Organa
Ben SoloRey

References[edit]

Footnotes

  1. ^ According to The Clone Wars supervising director and writer Dave Filoni, "I think it was the name given to one of the [younglings] in Attack of the Clones. There was a little Togruta girl. We kicked around the idea that maybe that was ... the same character [but] she was too young in the film."[4]

Citations

  1. ^ TV Guide Article August 11, 2008
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  3. ^ "Legends of the Lasat Trivia Gallery". StarWars.com. Lucasfilm. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  4. ^ Breznican, Anthony (April 24, 2020). "Ahsoka Tano—A Star Wars Oral History". Vanity Fair. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  5. ^ Gilroy, Henry (17 July 2018). "Henry Gilroy on Twitter". Twitter.com. Archived from the original on 8 April 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2019. When we met with George to discuss the [series] bible, he changed Anakin's Padawan from "Ashla" to "Ashoka", after the Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty. I later tweaked it to "Ahsoka" to make her unique.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Ahsoka's Untold Tales Panel | Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016". YouTube. July 15, 2016. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
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  23. ^ a b c Thill, Scott (November 16, 2010). "Jedi Cover-Up: Clone Wars' Ahsoka Gets Less-Revealing Costume". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
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  26. ^ Warner, Sam (April 8, 2020). "Star Wars' Ahsoka Tano actor discusses Rise of Skywalker cameo". Digital Spy. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
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  35. ^ Wood, Matt (April 21, 2017). "Star Wars: Watch Rosario Dawson Campaign To Play Ahsoka In Live-Action". Cinema Blend. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  36. ^ a b Sciretta, Peter (March 20, 2020). "Star Wars Exclusive: 'The Mandalorian' Season 2 Casts Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano". /Film. Archived from the original on March 20, 2020. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  37. ^ Yap, Audrey Cleo (April 14, 2020). "Rosario Dawson Addresses 'Mandalorian' Ahsoka Tano Casting, Talks Wanting to Play Q on 'Star Trek'". Variety. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  38. ^ Nebens, Richard (October 3, 2020). "The Mandalorian: Disney+ Finally Confirms Rosario Dawson & Timothy Olyphant For Season 2 Cast". TheDirect.com. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
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  51. ^ a b Lee, Peter W. A Galaxy Here and Now: Historical and Cultural Readings of Star Wars. McFarland & Company. pp. 64, 74. ISBN 9781476662206.

External links[edit]