Anime Review | Skylanders Academy: Pilot (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 26.10.2016 1

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Skylanders Academy: Pilot Episode (UK Rating: U)

Ratchet and Clank may have made the jump to the big screen, but the final product was quite disappointing. Instead of heading to the big screen, Spyro is getting a Netflix Original Series thanks to Blizzard Activision studios, with a writer from Futurama penning the tale. All of the ingredients seem promising, but can it live up to the hype? With Season 1 due to kick off on 28th October, Cubed3 was given a chance to see a special early preview, watching the entire pilot to find out how it's shaping up.

This series gives fans a glimpse into the story previous to the games, starting right at the beginning with Spyro hatching from his egg and being discovered by Master Eon. Quickly jump to four years later and Spyro has become the typical cliché arrogant hero. Filled with power and promise, he stopped trying and became something of a celebrity to the other trainee Skylanders at the Academy.

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This pilot is very much a stand-alone story with most of the plot all wrapped up by end of the 44 minutes, but it serves its purpose as a nice preview of what's to come, at least. The focus is Spyro and his housemates/best friends, Stealth Elf and Eruptor, who are on the verge of graduating from Skylander's academy and becoming full-fledged Skylanders if they can pass their final test. Things can never be quite that simple, though, and the series' villain, Kaos, is on-hand to keep the heroes on their toes as he plots to steal the "Book of Skylanders," an artefact linked to every Skylander in a voodoo doll type setup.

It's a simple enough story and indeed enjoyable enough, although it was originally pitched as being a Futurama meets Gravity Falls type comedy series. It's hard to see the Futurama aspect as this is certainly aimed at just the younger viewers. There's plenty yet to come, though, and that may change. Plenty of little story threads are set up for the rest of the season, too, with hints that each of the individual games' themes and elements might be playing a part in this series, as well, with glimpses of SuperChargers, Giants, Imaginators, and more.

With this being produced by a relatively unknown studio, there are always worries about the quality. This is certainly not on par with the big hitters like Pixar and Dreamworks but it's decent enough. The characters and world have been faithfully recreated in the same style as the games and nothing in particular looks bad, other than the "special" effect… the fire, ice, lightning, and so on, all look just slightly off. While the visuals are okay, the voice acting is top tier, for the three main characters, especially. Spyro is voiced by Justin Long, Stealth Elf by Ashley Tisdale, and Breaking Bad's Mike - Jonathan Banks - provides a suitably gruff voice for Eruptor, a Volcanic Skylander who can blow his top, quite literally! These three are clearly the heroes of the show, but there are plenty of other Skylanders here like Jet-Vac & Pop Fizz and there will almost certainly be a cavalcade across the season from the considerable roster.

They may be the heroes, but the stars of the show are clearly the double act of villainous Kaos - by the always superb Invader Zim himself, Richard Steven Horvitz - and his permanently suffering Goblin minion, Glumshanks, voiced by Norm MacDonald in a voice very similar to his performance as Death on Family Guy. Just like the game, Kaos is a complete joy; Horvitz is at his scenery-chewing finest and it's perfectly counterpointed by MacDonald's deadpan Glumshanks.

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
A very promising start to the series, filled with lots of humour. There are a few bumps along the way, Spyro is not the most likeable of characters, and the writing can be a bit trite, but this was just the pilot. There is plenty of time for Skylanders Academy to build upon this impressive foundation and improve over the course of the entire season. Kaos and Glumshanks really steal the show and, hopefully, they will continue to be a big part of the series. Are you a Skylanders fan? Then be sure to head over to Netflix to watch this from 28th October onwards.

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This made me laugh far more than expected. Has anyone been watching it since launch?

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
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