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Skyland’s premise is original and intriguing – planet earth has been shattered into thousands of floating chunks. Water is now a precious commodity, and a dictatorial Mega Corp called the Sphere has a monopoly on the supply. The Sphere is opposed by a resistance movement of Sky Pirates, who try to scrape by stealing water and stopping their hidden communities from being re-subjugated. Living among the population are Seijins, people with energy-manipulating powers activated by sunlight.
The artwork is great, with beautiful vistas of the shattered earth and its various locations. The CGI is smooth and the designs of the ships and fighters are well done – I’m especially fond of the pirate’s Cool Airship, the ‘’Saint Nezzair’’. After the art, the series’ biggest highlights are the awesome high-speed air battles.
Plot-wise, the show starts of OK – our heroes Mahad and Lena live with their mum Mila, enjoying the quiet life. However, their world is turned upside down when the Sphere invades. Mila sends the kids on the run before being dragged off in chains by the leader of the sphere himself, series Big Bad Oslo, so they join up with a band of pirates and set off to rescue their Mum.
Skyland’s greatest weakness is its devotion to the status quo. The filler-plot ratio of this series is high, and several episodes that do start off relevant to the story arc may as well be filler for all the impact they actually have. For example, in one episode the characters find a chip with the location of their mother’s prison. It ends with them saying how it will help them rescue Mum... after which the chip is never seen again.
Mahad is not a likable character, because no matter what he’s been through and learned, you can bet by the next episode he’ll be the same arrogant, childish idiot he was last week. Lena is slightly more likable but suffers from a bad case of New Powers As The Plot Demands. The rest of the caste is sadly underdeveloped. For example, Dahlia get’s little characterisation beyond “Mahad’s Action Girl love interest” and Pirate captain Cortez exists to be his surrogate father figure.
While some of the mysteries are answered along the way, everything else is just neglected - the “Lady of Light” prophecy, the kid’s long lost Dad, the Sphere’s rise to power – so many potentially interesting plotlines, all barely mentioned, all seemingly forgotten.
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