|Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea|
The Inquisitors of the Living Crystal from episodes 2 and 28.
|Created by||Nina Wolmark|
|Country of origin||France|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||52|
|Running time||20-26 minutes|
|Original channel||Antenne 2|
|Original run||September 17, 1985 – 1987|
Note: In some cases the names of characters, places, and things were changed for the English version. The original name will be in parentheses.
Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea is the English title of the French animated series Les Mondes Engloutis ("The Engulfed Worlds", also known as Shagma and Arkadia in other languages) created by Nina Wolmark. The series consists of altogether 52 episodes, each between 20 and 25 minutes in length, divided into two, 26 episode seasons.
The story concerns a fictional lost city, Arkadia (named after the poetical fantasy land of Arcadia), resembling a small Alderson Disk. This ancient civilization escaped a Great Cataclysm by relocating deep within the Earth, and was not aware life continued on the Earth's crust. Hoping to keep them safely away from the surface, their elders sealed all records of their past in the city's Archives. They survive by the light of an artificial sun, the Tehra (Shagma), but it is dying, and something must be done. With no other options, a few Arkadian children defy the law and enter the Archives. Armed with information about the world above, they create a messenger, Arkana, and send her to find help.
She encounters two siblings from the surface, Matt (Bob) and Rebecca, and brings them back through the underground strata to save Arkadia. They travel in a living spaceship called Tehrig (ShagShag), along with Spartakus (a wanderer) and Bic and Bac (a couple of pangolins).
Arkana : The Arkadian children created her out of stone with the help of the Tehra's rainbow light. As she was made in the image of the surface dwellers, she has legs, unlike the Arkadians themselves. She is a well-meaning but naïve magician, capable of projecting illusions and telekinetic feats. Her mission is to seek help from above in repairing the Tehra. She is referred to by the show's villains as the "supergeophysical gal."
Bic and Bac : Among the oldest living things in Arkadia, these two happy little animals are the best of friends, and enjoy dancing to their song, the "Flashbick." They are a kind of pangolin, but unlike their real-life relatives, they have no scales or claws. They are affectionate, clever and playful, and can make fire by rubbing their noses together.
Matt and Rebecca : Brother and sister, these children from above ground join Arkana and Spartakus on their quest to save Arkadia. Matt (Bob) is the older of the two, and tries to protect his overeager sister, whom he affectionately calls "half-pint."
Spartakus : Formerly a gladiator in the city of Barkar, this young man escaped slavery following a revolt. His gauntlet conceals a magic crossbow and grappling hook, and can cause reactions when in close proximity to Arkadian artifacts. He remembers very little about his past, but often hums the songs his father taught him. His character is based on the historical Spartacus.
Tehrig : The only creature allowed free access to the Archives was Tehrig (ShagShag), an intelligent robotic vehicle vaguely shaped like a giant trilobite. It secretly helped the children of Arkadia gain entry to the records and serves Arkana and her friends as a transport. Though its computer-brain dates back to before the Great Cataclysm and possesses an encyclopedic database, there are large holes in its memory. It also contains a number of tiny robots called Triggies (Shagies) that it can mobilize to repair itself and sometimes distract enemies.
The Pirates of the Seas : Members of the Interstrata Marine Pirate Federation, these "punk pirates" roam the strata seeking helpless voyagers to rob or enslave, and they frequently show up to menace the show's heroes. Their appearance is often marked by a recurring theme song and dance performance. Their society is structured in the guise of a democracy controlled through mass media.
Brigands of the Fjords : The Pirates of the Seas' rivals throughout the series. The only identified member is their leader, Ringmar, who frequently competes with Nasty Max for leadership of the nested worlds' rogues.
Shagmir and Loria Are the two of Arkadias elders who have the highest say. Arkana was presented to them and sent on her quest to the surface world. They tended to not believe the existence of any life on the surface.
The Inquisitors of the Living Crystal This three-person tribunal of blue-skinned judges is first seen in the second episode of the first season, "Le cristal vivant" (The Living Crystal). They try to make Galileo renounce his claims of a world beyond the Living Crystal and go as far as to have the group captured and psychologically "tested" to convince them that they are beings who were caught in the Living Crystal and are suffering "a deformation of time" and are even prepared to re-crystallize Tehrig if Galileo would not renounce his beliefs.
They are so dogmatic in their beliefs, that they simply declare, while watching the Tehrig flying away into safety, that the event is against nature and therefore never happened.
They are seen again in the second episode of the second season "L'échiquier des mondes" ("The Most Dangerous Game" in English).
Emperor Qin The ruler of a Chinese-like empire within the strata. He marched out to conquer Arkadia, however was eventually killed amongst his army of clay robot-like warriors.
Galileo A strata version of the real-world Galileo, who lived in the Living crystal. When he discovers the group imprisoned in a crystallized Tehrig, he breaks them free, however their existence proves the prohibited theory that there is life outside of the living crystal - he was forced to deny his statement - originally, he was allowed to leave with the group but at the last moment returned back home.
Gog and Magog two monstrous creatures sharing the same body, they are released to rage havoc on Arkadia, unintentionally, by Arkana, who is mislead by the Phoenix to use her powers and place a special auracite in place. However, in the end they are both forced back into their world.
Demosthenes A famous spokesmen, kidnapped by Nasty Max in order to help him learn the art of speaking and beat Rignar in the votes for leader of the Interstrata Pirate Federation. He is banished from his country because he did not have the protecting walls repaired, however he succeeds with the aid of the group and his unnamed opponent, who was fiercely speaking against him, must leave, ashamed.
The Mogokhs A nomadic warrior people, who oppress and steal from others. They are notable for their nigh invincibility and for the fact that they do never get down from the animal carrying them, because they are known to hate their riders so much that they will trample a Mogokh to death immediately. In the finale their leader, Baatu, is revealed to be Spartakus's father.
Méo and Myra A grandfather and his granddaughter, who live in a village pillaged by the Mogokhs, who are stealing their rations and seek aid from the group, eventually overcoming the Mogokhs.
Starkus A scientist and Star Healer on board a space ship, he investigates and tries to "cure stars". He met with Rebecca and Matt (Bob) and welcomed them, however upon hearing that they were accompanied by Spartakus and Arkana, he immediately disappears. Later, when the group leaves back to their own time and place (see "Star Healer"), he contacts them via Tehrig (Shagshag) and informs the surprised Arkana and Spartakus that they are his ancestors.
Thot A strange creature that lives in the ancient ruins of a long-destroyed city. He kidnaps Arkana, but without the intention to hurt her. He is shot by Spartakus with one of the arrows from his warrior armlet, but only slightly wounded, when Spartakus tries to protect Arkana.
Rainbow Spartakus's younger brother, he grew up in the lap of luxury as the adopted son of the lanista (trainer of gladiators) of Barkar. Unlike his brother Rainbow is cruel and nihilistic. After the lanista was overthrown Rainbow began to wander the nested worlds.
The English version aired on the American cable television network Nickelodeon from 1985 to 1987 and in reruns on early Sunday mornings through 1990, and also on the British Cartoon Network which broadcast the series around Europe. It also aired on YTV in Canada around 1989, and the Menudo closing song was never used for this version.
Beside the French original and the English dub, the show had the following versions: