Ahsoka Tano slowly became a fan-favorite character throughout the course of The Clone Wars when it first aired on TV from 2008-2012. When she was introduced in Dave Filoni's The Clone Wars animated film in 2008, many people instantly thought that she would never work as one of the main characters of the upcoming series. However, with each passing season, Ahsoka became more and more likable and eventually became one of the franchise's most popular characters.
After The Clone Wars was discontinued following Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm, many fans called for Ahsoka to appear in other upcoming projects. She made a surprising return in Rebels, another animated series created by Filoni, where she would have a considerate amount of screentime over the show's four seasons.
In 2020, rumors began to swirl about the former Jedi appearing in Season 2 of The Mandalorian. In episode 5 of Season 2, titled "Chapter 13: The Jedi," she did just that, with Rosario Dawson being the actress bringing the character to life in live-action for the first time.
To make matters even more fitting, the episode was directed by Filoni. Although many fans worried about how her live-action appearance would look, the final product stayed true to the way she was created in animation, even if there were some differences.
Ahsoka's Different Appearances
In a book titled The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian Season 2, written by Phil Szostak and to be published on February 15, 2022, a page is dedicated to the design of Rosario Dawson's character as Ahsoka in the show.
Dave Filoni, who created Ahsoka in 2008 and was also the director of the episode of The Mandalorian in which she showed up, compared the differences between her appearance in live-action and animation.
Filoni revealed that he "had one drawing" of the character from the past that he wanted to include in Rebels, only it was a design that wouldn't "work really well in animation." He then revealed that once it came time to design her character for The Mandalorian, he went back to that drawing "as a possible look:"
"I had done one drawing of Ahsoka a while ago that actually became the inspiration for her outfit in Rebels. It had these more puffed-out samurai pants that were taken in at the lower legs and calves. And they just created a great silhouette. It's not a look that works really well in animation. So, when we came to this, I started exploring that again as a possible look."
Filoni then explained the differences between live-action and animation, saying that in animation, the design "is an exaggeration," such as "making the montrals bigger." Montrals are the horns on the top of Ahsoka's head, which are clearly taller in Rebels than in The Mandalorian.
The director also went on to say "there's a lot of rubbery movement" in live-action when it comes to the montrals, which "works great" if the character is "in the background" but not for someone who is the main focus:
"What if the Ahsoka that we have in animation was actually based on this [live-action] version of Ahsoka? One of the things you would do in animation is an exaggeration, making the montrals bigger. Once they're in real life, suddenly it becomes a little less believable to the eye, at least for me. And if you ever see footage of Shaak Ti (another Totruga Jedi character seen in the Star Wars prequels) in action, there's a lot of rubbery movement in the montrals. That works great for that character in the background, as she was, but if you're talking a featured character, right up front, delivering drama, you have to make it all seem as natural as possible. And I don't want you staring at the montrals and the lekku."
Ahsoka's Clean Look in The Mandalorian
It was only a matter of time before Ahsoka was brought into live-action. The character became so popular during the successful runs of The Clone Wars and Rebels that fans would have tuned in to any project that she was a part of.
Ahsoka's live-action design was something that many people worried about, though. As Dave Filoni said, Shaak Ti didn't look necessarily realistic in the prequel films, especially in the close-up deleted scene that she had from Revenge of the Sith.
Many fans of the character wanted her design to stay true to The Clone Wars and Rebels because that was the version of her that they had gotten used to, and while the final product seen in The Mandalorian was different, it was unmistakenly the same character. The majority of viewers would arguably rather see some changes made to the design so it looks realistic rather than stay completely true to the animated version and have it appear "rubbery."
With an Ahsoka series on the horizon, fans won't have to wait long to see the character in live-action once again. Viewers can expect her to look just as sharp and realistic as she did in The Mandalorian as she continues her journey in a galaxy far, far away.