I watched the premiere of Star Wars Rebels last night, and have to say that I really liked it. I was worried when I read that the show was going to be more cartoony than Clone Wars (which, admittedly, got really dark at times) but if the tone they set in the pilot is what they hope to maintain then I'll be a happy watcher for as long as the show runs.
The plot of the show aside, it is a lot of the little things in the show that I really liked. Some of which was for "social justice" reasons, and others for more "Star Wars done right" reasons.
this is the standard depiction of the Empire we get in the Rebels premiere. All human, all white, all men. Why would this make me happy when I said that a lot of my reasons for liking these things was social justice reasons? Diversity wouldn't hurt, but the Empire under palpatine was mysoginistic, xenophobic, and somewhat racist. Now, in a Sci-Fi/Fantasy universe with multiple REAL races "humans" is usually enough for that, but in Star Wars canon all the Imperial officers you see are white dudes.
The normal "but what about others" is answered with other characters in the show, but the bad guys being the all male all white dudes who run the whole world is not only canonical but fitting to today's social commentaries where things like white/male and white-male privilege are regularly being spoken about. It is up to the creators to then show that the Empire has nuanced people as well, but starting off this is not only fine, but canonical, so yay.
Compared to the Empire, this group is not only wonderfully colorful but also niftily diverse. I'm bad at determining race, but taking cues from the names Ezra is Jewish, Kanan is Arabic, and Sabine is French German. The ethnic origins of the names match up with the physical characteristics the characters have. Two out of three humans being non-caucasian is pretty good, especially with the third one being a female Mandalorian.
In addition to this we have the female Twi'lek, and the male Lasat. I think the Lasat is made for the show, which is cool, but props for making the twi'lek character a more standard green rather than blue or red which are supposed to be super rare and yet are commonly used for important character twi'leks.
The group in general has an interesting mix with Kanan and Hera (the twi'lek pilot) acting as almost a father/mother combo for the group.
EDIT: The Lasat is based off early concept art for Chewbacca. So Zeb is what Chewie might have looked like at one point.
I mentioned at the top that I was worried about the tone with the promises that the show would be more cartoony. The tone the show sets is great. There are moments of humor, but make no mistake that this is Star Wars and it doesn't shy away from seeing some of the worse aspects of the Imperial Regime. In the pilot we see the mistreatment of aliens, the bullying tactics of the empire, shanty towns, and wookie slave trade complete with wookie slaves being sent to kessel where they're expected to die quickly. We also have the enslavement of a wookie child, and Ezra's "i'm going to be a hero" moment is complete with saving that child from a storm trooper who seems to have no issue with shooting said child.
Beyond that, the show is not-so subtle with it's messages. You do things for people because being selfish leads to a hollow life. Stand up to bullies. Do the right thing. Friends stick together. All good lessons for the young who will watch, and refreshing to see.
If the show continues along this way, I'll be a fan for a long time.