If you enjoyed Disney's Atlantis or Studio Ghibli's Castle in the Sky, here is a great show for you! The animation even feels like a mix between these two companies' styles, as well as the family friendliness they series emit. We also love to embrace the kiddy overall moral: never quit following your dreams, and they will come true.
STORY Jane loves her brothers George (a typical circle glasses ancient legend enthusiast) and William (the mad-at-the-world adopted boy) unconditionally and can't believe it when George has been reported as executed just months after the start of his travels to the East. William isn't getting along with their father much and had simply disappeared as well. Life is pretty lonesome for Jane... Years pass. Only when a letter with some familiar handwriting arrives does she get inspiration to find out for herself what happened to George - and what was this mysterious cerulean sand she'd been sent?
Thus begins quite a simple adventure story with twists anyone over 12 will see coming. (As expected lol!) However it's thrilling enough to keep you seated. There is a lot of traveling, but hectic events caused by sinister spies, street rats, dangerous environments, and fast flying bandits keep things well paced. The looming mystery of Floating Liquid and dreams of being able to fly are ever present and delightful to unpack too as see what new worlds unfold for the pampered Jane.
ANIMATION A lot of the enjoyment you get from this series is from its visuals, particularly in the concept designs of the sand ships and flying machines. As a steampunk sucker I'd have family-friendily killed to watch this growing up. It's the early 2000s so you know you got some not-so-subtle cgi thrown in, but it was never so terrible that I gagged or whatever.
CHARACTERS Nobody is that dynamic, but we're not getting deep into people's consciences in a PG series ok? Like, the most personality we get from St. Bellan is his obsession for fishing poles - just POLES, he never catches anything. ...It's like he didn't know he'd be in a desert 75% of the show. His old age takes up his other main character trait of always being exhausted and sickly - which is actually pretty realistic given the circumstances. A fine man, a fine mustache...
Jane herself is super handy and inventive. They make it very clear she breaks the stereotype of "girls stay in the kitchen, men do the hard labor" very early on. You can often find her skipping her studies to design and build her own "flying" machines. Her good-toxic trait is always wanting to be helpful.
George feels almost like a replacement mother to Jane to me. He got her a birthday gift and makes all sorts of sweet promises to her. We love him. Little genius, better not be dead...
William has HUGE glow downs - I can't say them all safely, but mainly when you see him age 5 years he somehow sproutsd up 3 feet and all his caloric intake went to his chin. He's a greedy Chad who's also mad not enough people love him. Jane loves him, so he keeps her close to his heart in a near obsessive way, going as far as having a replacement Jane when she wasn't around for him... He's got problems.
Sabri is an orphan Jane picks up as a desert guide. He eats a lot. He escapes easily. His dental hygiene is on unparalleled. That's all there is to him.
OVERALL For its younger target audience this series does an amazing job of telling a puzzling plot in a simple fashion. I experienced enough attachment to the cast that I miiiiight of cried just a tad in the end... I felt oddly nostalgic watching it even though it was new to me - I think because it felt so much like the Disney productions I grew up with. The musical scores also had more of a movie soundtrack vibe to them somehow, I can't explain it. Anyways it's a solidly satisfying show with a darn near perfect length - give it a go! On the candy scale this is a fun-sized Midnight Milky Way.