Skyland [2006] 26 Episodes

From the same house that animated the admirable Iron Man Armored Adventures, Luxanimation, came the stylish Skyland.  It combined unique visuals with a decent 26 episode story arc.

The world of Skyland in one sentence:  In the 23rd century the world has (inexplicably) fragmented into floating chunks of land where water has become scarce and peoples are bullied by the evil Sphere organization, fly around in “air-scooters”, develop telekinetic powers from sunlight and wear strange clothing like “space overalls”.

"Chicks really dig my air-scooter and matching space overalls."

"Hey Bro, I do not want to get my space overalls dirty. Do you think that bench I sat on had wet paint?"

Skyland has a daringly deliberate pace.  They let some beauty shots linger for a long time with just a slowly approaching ship and calming music.  Very different from the non-stop, empty-headed, in-your-face, slapstick drivel one might see on the present day Disney channel.

There is a decent supporting cast that touches on all the classic but lovable stereotypes:

  • The pretty, wise-cracking pirate girl who against her will develops feelings for the male lead.
  • The crusty veteran pirate with a gruff exterior but a heart of gold.
  • The brilliant but slightly absent minded scientist.
  • The spunky kid who is really good at fixing things and only wants a chance to prove himself.

"What about me? I have attitude. See my tattoo? Anyway, remember when I told you how these collars would come back?"

Many a drama have included similar characters.  Many. But we accept it because these stereotypes touch us.  We can relate to them in some way, or at least easily understand them.  They were not fleshed out very much during the season, partially because there were a good many guest characters that took up screen time.

Guests like this creepy mechanical spider. Why is it that most computer animated series at one point or another need to include a mechanical arachnid?

Okay, we acknowledge that in the future there may be TRANSLUCENT projected displays. But doesn't anybody think that TRANSPARENT may be just a little... distracting?

The voice acting was hit or miss.  It was hard to tell if that was because the voice actor was whiny, the lines were written whiny, or a combination of both. The lead duo’s mother had a great voice (apparently she came from a chunk of land that must have been part of England – although she did not pass her accent on to her children…)

Which of these two is the noble and powerful mother of our two protagonists Mila, and which is the internally weak and unscrupulous meanie Diwan?

In the future, France gives up on its clean nuclear power and goes to an all coal system. The results were mixed...

Yes her two children, our two leads were mostly but not always so likable.  Mahad was sometimes so irresponsible that you would question letting him drive a Vespa much less a powerful fighter.  Laina was young, powerful -and gullible. A bad combination.

"I'm just going to stand here Laina while your mother gives you a pep talk and power-up."

"I'm literally going to stand right here Laina and watch you take a careful and long 20 second shot at my command ship."

Some of the visuals were just amazing.  The camera angles were often carefully thought-out and not stock schlock.  They took full advantage of computer animation flexibility.  Yet some of the 3D backgrounds looked like stylized paintings.  It was pleasingly arty and surprisingly consistent.

Remember the "Snow Miser" from The Year Without a Santa Claus? We think this is where he lives.

Some of the plots were dark-ish.  Like a crazed telekinetic who wanted to suck the power out of others in order to reunify the land.  They left her floating on a rock somewhere.  That brings us to the obvious question, how is it that characters could fall off of floating chinks of rock?  Surely the forces holding up chunks both large and small would hold up people.  Or not?

Laina's powers were sometimes amazing and sometimes amazingly inconsistent. Still, this was a well laid out shot.

Characters seemed amazingly unafraid of heights, while falling was apparently a danger.  Best not to think about the physics too hard and just appreciate this admirable series.   You will also find yourself enjoying the award wining music.  It is tranquilizing and unique.

Did they avoid “Gilligan’s Island” botched rescue plots?  Mostly.  Did they answer all the questions they proffered?  No.  Did they set up a second season?  Yes.  Is there a second season?  Apparently not…

"Sorry about that my robotic minion. I believe I picked up a minor static charge from the carpet."


9 thoughts on “Skyland [2006] 26 Episodes

  1. What a great set of reactions! Fortress Guy, I love your style. You make me want to watch it again.

  2. Ahh, there is the trademark animated gif we’ve come to appreciate from those working hard in the Fortress. It’s shocking! To say the least, heh.

    Nice one-line synopsis. I had to laugh as you guys pointed out the “space overalls” detail since I always raised an eyebrow at their fashion myself. (I can hear the protesters now: “Fashion? It’s supposed to be utilitarian!”) Seriously though? That’s the fashion of the future? *head desk* Laina’s “painted” butt shot though? Priceless. Ha.

    What you say about the slow pace is right on, and now I see how apparent it was after you pointed it out. Well, actually a friend pointed it out first, but the Fortress is a close second. ; ) I really enjoyed those beauty shots for beauty’s sake. Like oil paintings. Very classy, artsy, some even breathtaking. (I can hear Disney in response to your criticism: “Yeah, you know…the Fortress is right…”)

    I too don’t mind stock characters if done right. I think the producers of Skyland did a fun job incorporating (in this case) fun stereotypes with a good mix of character and heart. They did what they could in one season and that was satisfying to me.

    Good eye on the transparent display detail they used in the show. Not that I don’t like a good spunky little kid who just want a chance to prove themselves staring me in the eye, but does he have to do it so…intensely?

    Most of the voice acting I did enjoy or eventually grew on me. I also thought the mother’s voice was pretty, especially for the moments where she spoke in memories or telepathically. Then there was the Captain with his own Scottish accent. One of my favorites. (Thankfully they did not feel the need to name him “Scotty”. Ha.)

    “Laina was young, powerful -and gullible. A bad combination.”

    Spot on, that is a problem with people in power. Because with great power comes great responsibility. (Thanks Uncle Ben.) She was still young, but it’s not impossible for her to learn what being responsible and wise mean, and that she has an obligation to make sure those around her are not hurt by her decisions. A particular episode does still irk me, but thankfully it came out alright in the end.

    In many ways because of the detailed backgrounds and less detailed but smooth-moving characters, I often felt like I should be playing a video game. Too bad, because without a second season a video game might be a nice consolation prize. That would be nice if one was mysteriously in the works at this very moment? : )

    The Fortress had some nice things to say, both critical and appreciative, regarding this series. I enjoyed the series too and had a little fun while following Laina and Mahad’s adventures. (Even when they were acting irresponsible. Heh.)

    (But inquiring minds still want to know: what is up with Diwan’s eye makeup and head tattoo?! We really need that season 2!)

    • Thanks for your usual intelligent and thorough comment. Despite a few of our humorous comments we think highly of this show and definitely recommend it.

      True about the Captain’s accent, it did not bother us by being overdone. Oh, who can imagine the fashion whims of such a future? Maybe the fez will also make a comeback. 😉 The designs for ships were fun. They would make a good video game. Sadly, if one is not out by now, it is unlikely there will be one.

      Modern day Disney could learn a thing or two from Skyland about stylized artsy backgrounds as you say. As for Diwan. Hmm. Did you notice the vendetta against baldness and shaved heads? Oslo, Diwan, …the Brigs? In Skyland, tattoos, bald heads, and not wearing space overalls are important clues regarding allegiance.

      We hope to see more stylish series like this one and more similar animation from Luxanimation.

      PS – We know of the episode of which you spoke. The one where Laina was quite irresponsible and used her power in a way that was not true. We definitely understand your feelings there. That episode was a little much.

    • It was the episode when she shuts down their Blue Sky defense grid-thing to get the computer’s power to play back that sphere of her mother’s fake memories, wasn’t it? That really, really irked me, for the same reasons. :3

      • Yeah, we believe that is indeed the one. That episode would have been a besmirch on her character alone, but in combination with other similar but less egregious episodes it got a little much.

  3. Having not seen the series and only read the synopsis, I think this idea would’ve fared better on an alien world instead of earth. I mean, floating rocks? Water becomes a rare resource? I’m a fan of going the Fantasy route and just making up a new world with its own rules.
    Looks interesting, but I can’t get into this art style. The sets and backgrounds look great, but I hate the character design. It reminds me too much of The Sim’s.

    • You are right, there is no doubt that the backgrounds and sets were well designed and easy on the eyes. However we acknowledge that on the character front it is a matter of taste. The gritty high detail painted-look backgrounds and vehicles may in some peoples eyes have clashed with the simplified low-detail characters. We got used to it, coming to mostly (but not completely) ignore occasional flare-ups of character design dissatisfaction. The rest was just so pretty.

      As for the world setting, they really did need to flesh out just what was going on. Was all the water far below? What WAS far below? What is holding up the rocks and ships? Why will it not hold me up too? These and many other similar questions were not answered. If it was set on an alternate fantasy world as you suggested, we may have had an easier time swallowing the physics. They did not really reference old Earth at all, so such a change would have affected very little.

      We understand how art style can turn one away from a production. However there were some amazing backgrounds, quality set designs and unusual situations that are worth checking out if you ever find yourself coming across an episode.

      • There were actually a number of references to old Earth, made by the characters and throughout all the artwork.

      • Yes, you are right, some of the set pieces clearly show it is Earth, like the Eiffel Tower. But the characters never really go into it much as we recall. We suppose that is okay, as it may have been a plot for the non-existent season two. Thanks for the clarification opportunity.

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