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”.
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.
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.
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…)
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.
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.
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?
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…