Garage Kids is a short pilot episode made in 2001 that was the original concept of Code Lyoko, which was officially produced in the year 2003.
Original concept and Plot
- From the Garage Kids Promotional Documents
A group of kids whose adventures take place in the real world but also in a parallel and virtual world, Xanadu. A boy of about twelve, Odd, arrives one day in his new neighborhood and quickly understands that his three new friends are gifted with extraordinary abilities of their own- Yumi possesses unusually strong telekinetic powers, Ulrich is gifted with the ability of superhuman speed, and Jeremie is extremely smart and highly intelligent; being capable of inventing complex gadgets and machinery from scrap with ease.
These kids have in fact penetrated the secret of Xanadu, the fruit of the labors of a research group whose laboratory, set in an environment inspired by the old Renault automobile factory on the Île Seguin at Boulogne-Billancourt, is now abandoned. Created by the Professor, a learned eccentric who gradually sunk into madness, the virtual world of Xanadu and its multiple disturbances threaten to destroy the real world.
Built on the model of a soap opera which unfolds through the series, Garage Kids offers in each of its 26 episodes of 26 minutes a complete story in which Odd and his friends – Yumi, Ulrich and also Jeremie, a computer wizard – try to end one of the disturbances in the computer network caused by Xanadu's exuberance. While the idea of clandestine natures and hidden identities should seduce the children while feeding their imaginations, Garage Kids rests on the fascination that video games hold for kids today. A confrontation between the real world and Xanadu fully vindicates that of 2D and of 3D. Influenced by the poetry and the visual impact of Japanese animation, the series proposes a graphic universe that's particularly original and strong.
Thomas Romain and Tania Palumbo originally made Les enfants at Gobelins, as the introduction to an animation festival. Based on this, they were hired at Antefilms by Christophe Di Sabatino and Benoît Di Sabatino. Initially, the plans were to have the show be made completely in 2D animation, but Antefilms desired work for their 3D department, and thus the scenes in the virtual world were to use CGI imagery instead of traditional. From there, the duo produced Garage Kids as a prototype.
Originally, it was hoped that the 26-episode series slated for production would be structured as a continuous story-line, with fairly dark themes in mind, but the executives, after reviewing the pilot and concept as a whole, requested the following changes: To emphasize more of the video game elements of the series, establish a stronger boundary between the real and virtual worlds, lighten the tone, and finally, that plot progression be scrapped for ease of syndication and re-runs. Under these requests, the project evolved into Code Lyoko's Season 1 literary and graphic bibles, and was renamed as such.
Thomas Romain, frustrated by the changes in the story's tone and structure, as well as the budget being much lower than desired, left at this time to work on Oban Star Racers. Sophie Decroisette would ultimately be introduced to the project to help organize the scattered elements of the series, resulting in Season 1 of Code Lyoko, which, after the unexpected success of this first season, would see the literary and graphic bibles revised for the second season onwards.
- Here, Ulrich's name is spelled differently: as "Ulrick".
- Here, Ulrich's katana blade is made of binary code.
- Superpowers, such as Yumi's exceptionally strong telekinesis and Ulrich's superhuman speed, are capable of being used in the real world as well as the virtual world of Xanadu.
- Odd seemingly intended not to go to Xanadu; afraid of being virtualized.
- Neither Aelita nor X.A.N.A. are present in this version; Xanadu is instead haunted by monsters who activate towers and are not controlled by some higher power. And seemingly to deactivate a tower, one must kill the monsters haunting the tower.
- The Return to the Past function did not seem to be present in this version. Interviews would confirm that it was created to serve as a way to preserve the status quo of the series, catering to the executive request to scrap plot progression. Due to the plans for Garage Kids to be serialized, it can be assumed that it was not in the original proposal.
- Ulrich's pants are much poofter, unlike in Code Lyoko. This is due to them being modeled after real-life hakama.
- The virtual world's name, Xanadu, might have helped Antefilms make the name of the villain in the TV show; a malevolent, rouge artificial intelligence/multi-agent system named X.A.N.A.
- The 2D animation in Garage Kids & Les enfants is much more fluid than the ones in Code Lyoko.
- The character art that appears during the credits were reused in the credits sequence for the first season of Code Lyoko, in addition, the scenes where the characters are virtualized were recycled throughout the first three seasons, as well as episodes of Season 4 that used the old style of clothing.
- While not seen in 3D, Odd and Yumi's virtual designs have been seen in concept art, Odd's design is virtually unchanged in Garage Kids, aside from a more disco-esque design of his shoes, and Yumi had longer sleeves.
- There are 2 pieces of music that play in this short.
- Promotional artwork from Les enfants was used during intial promotion of Garage Kids as a series, perhaps hinting that the characters featured in the short were all planned to have some sort of role in the series at that point. Aside from the characters that would form the basis of the Lyoko Warriors, as well as Milly and Tamiya, these remaining characters were removed by the time the concept evolved into Code Lyoko proper.
- The unknown Professor character seems to be a prototype of Waldo Schaeffer, who was officially named Franz Hopper in the Season 1 bible, albeit with his backstory altered to be less dark in presentation (His proposed madness and building the supercomputer was changed to him simply disappearing while researching a supercomputer that he had found). Interestingly, the Season 2 graphic bible revisions would bring Franz's backstory in Code Lyoko proper closer to his original prototype's background in spirit, wherein he did build the supercomputer, and went insane due to over-using the Return to the Past function.