A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this futuristic cartoon centers on the ongoing struggle between a dominant evil empire and a small group of civic-minded rebels. Some of the characters have special powers like telekinesis that they use to battle their enemies (both human and robotic), and the sky is often filled with warring spacecraft attempting to shoot each other down. Add to this the emotional struggle of a mother separated from her kids when she's kidnapped by the bad guys, and it's clear that this one's not for the littlest viewers. That said, the show's strong characters (especially the female ones) and intriguing, Star Wars-like storyline combine to make this a fun choice for tweens to adults.
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What's the story?
Set in the year 2251, SKYLAND follows a heroic pair of siblings on their quest to help overturn a ruthless government. Known as the Sphere, the group controls the millions of chunks of land that scattered after Earth broke apart (they now orbit a core called Skyland). Mahad (voiced by Tim Hamaguchi), who's 17, and his 12-year-old sister, Lena (Phoebe McAuley), are on a personal mission as well, since Sphere leader Oslo (Juan Chioran) has kidnapped their mother to force her allegiance to him and exploit her special powers. Sensing her impending capture, Mila (Alex Belcourt) reveals to her kids that she's a Seijin -- a master of telekinetic and other mysterious powers. Since Lena also has strong powers, Mila sends her and Mahad to her wise old friend the Vector (William Colgate). The Vector and his team, led by veteran Aran Cortes (Jack Langedijk), head the brave but outnumbered rebellion. Mahad and Lena join the rebels and begin unravel their mysterious past, including their father's long-unexplained absence.
Is it any good?
Beautifully animated, Skyland is packed with drama and adventure, space-traveling action, struggles between good and evil, multi-dimensional characters, and enough mystery to entertain tweens to adults. But frequent explosive battles between humans and robots and subject matter like kidnapping, wrongful imprisonment, separation of families, and supernatural abilities make this one iffy for younger kids.
Star Wars saga fans will find Skyland's plot familiar. Just a few of the parallels: Oslo is a modified human with an army of identical subordinates; Mahad can be hot-headed and impulsive and must be tempered by the older, gruffer Cortes; Seijin powers are similar to the Jedis'; Vector is a little like Obi-Wan; and the Sphere's headquarters is pretty much a rectangular version of the Death Star. But if you can look past the plot cribbing, you'll find that Skyland's well-played mystique, complex characters, and enticing storyline combine with fantastic, cutting-edge animation to make it a highly respectable copycat.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about different systems of government. What does democracy mean? How do Americans participate in our own democracy? How do your kids participate in democracy in their lives? What are some other ways countries are governed? How are the various systems different? What are the advantages and drawbacks of each? Also, for kids who've seen the Star Wars films, how is this series similar to those movies? Do you think that's on purpose?
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