I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s the 15th Anniversary or what, but Iâ€™ve been on a crazy Sonic the Hedgehog binge, lately.Â Aside from playing the video games like mad and pouring over any issue of the Archie comic I can get my hands on, Iâ€™ve been re-watching episodes of the various Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons from over the years.Â Some were awesome, some were better than others and some are best left forgotten.Â Hereâ€™s an overview of Sonicâ€™s numerous outings in the world of limited television animation, original video animation, Japanese animation and whatever else heâ€™s popped up in.
Adventures of Sonic the HedgehogÂ
The first of the â€œDiC Trilogyâ€ of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons, and not typically one fans remember very fondly.Â This was aired, at least in my area, on UPN after school, following reruns of Garfield & Friends.Â Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog was the â€œsillyâ€ Sonic cartoon, or at least, it was the silliest of the bunch.Â Dr. Robotnik and his minions (Scratch, Grounder and Coconuts) would attempt various evil schemes to destroy Sonic and Tails, always being foiled in the end, typically by their own stupidity.Â Sonic had a â€œBugs Bunnyâ€-thing going, usually outsmarting the villains by dressing up in ridiculous outfits and tricking them into blowing themselves up.Â The animation in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog was so bad, it hurt.Â On the more interesting side, the art style for the series was down right psychedelic, with Mobius being a Bizzaro World of sorts, with stationary objects floating in the air and a plaid sky.Â I have a hunch this Sonic cartoon was meant to appeal to the wacky tobaccy-abusing crowd.Â Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog also introduced Jaleel â€œDonâ€™t call me Urkelâ€ White as the voice of Sonic.Â He would continue to voice the character through all 3 DiC cartoons and define the character for a generation.
Personally, I loved the show when I was a kid, even if the plots were predictable and the animation was abysmal.Â The show wasnâ€™t trying to be anything more than a wacky, kid-friendly Looney Tunes cartoon starring Sonic the Hedgehog.Â Still, as an adult, I have a hard time sitting through a single episode.Â The Chaos Emerald multi-parter was actually pretty good, though.
Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM)
Usually, when people remember the DiC era of Sonic the Hedgehog animation, this is the cartoon they remember most proudly.Â It aired on Saturday mornings on ABC and lasted a whopping 2 seasons (a third season was planned but never green-lit).Â The fandom refers to it as â€œSonic SatAMâ€ as a means to differentiate it from the other Sonic cartoons out there.Â While very light-hearted, Sonic SatAM had a distinctly darker edge to the plots as well as a number of story arcs that were carried through-out the show and eventually resolved in the series finale.Â In this show, Mobius is being dominated by the evil Dr. Robotnik and his armies of Swat Bots.Â Laying waste to the planet, Robotnik traps civilians and â€œroboticizesâ€ them into mindless robot slaves.Â Sonic leads a band of Freedom Fighters from their secret base, Knothole.Â Along with Princess Sally Acorn, Bunnie Rabbot, Rotor, Antoine and Tails, Sonic gradually takes back the planet.
If the plot synopsis sounds familiar, itâ€™s basically the same plot and cast of characters from the Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog series.Â While the plot may sound very dark and moody, it was typically a pretty goofy show, with plots about robot girlfriends and one episode where Antoine captures Dr. Robotnik by dropping him in a hole in the ground.Â The mood fluctuated, though, and while some episodes were almost as silly as Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, others were sincerely dark, particularly Sonicâ€™s Uncle Chuck getting roboticized.
An overall good Sonic cartoon, it also had a dangerously catchy theme song youâ€™ll probably have stuck in your head for the next six months.Â Now if we could only get a DVD box set.
Remembered as â€œthat *other* Sonic cartoonâ€, typically, Sonic Underground borrowed ideas from Sonic SatAM but not any of the good ones.Â In this series, Sonic and his siblings, Sonia and Manic, were constantly in search of their Mother while at the same time over-throwing the tyranny of Robotnik, as they were the chosen ones or something.Â Not as goofy as Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, but never as dark as Sonic SatAM, Sonic Underground was just pretty bland.Â The show had a few more serious problems than lack of originality, though.Â Jaleel White voiced all three Hedgehog siblings, including the girl.Â Heâ€™s a decent voice actor, but having him do all three characters was just lame.Â The major problem of the series, and this is agreed by most, was the mandatory musical numbers in the middle of each episode.Â Each of the Hedgehogs had a necklace which they could use to activate a magical musical instrument and belt out cheesy fake rock music when the plot called for it.Â This was very, very bad.
Probably the only other thing people remember about the series was that it was the first American Sonic cartoon to have Knuckles in it.Â He only appeared in a couple episodes, and was presented pretty accurately to his video game counterpart (he started out as an enemy of Sonicâ€™s and eventually befriended him).Â My only problem with Knuckles was his voice; he sounded like a wimp.
Sonic Underground should really be forgotten, yet for some unfathomable reason itâ€™s the only DiC-produced Sonic cartoon to get a DVD release.Â What is wrong with you people!?
Not a television series or anything, but probably the first *good* piece of Sonic animation ever produced (at least in the animation department).Â The opening and ending to the Sonic CD video game had beautiful animated segments featuring all of Sonicâ€™s trademark moves and personality.Â Some very cool animation which you can even watch on the Sonic Mega Collection without having to actually beat the game.Â The style of the animated cut scenes was then imitated for the Sonic the Hedgehog OVAs; released as Sonic the Hedgehog: the Movie in America.
Sonic the Hedgehog: the Movie
Thereâ€™s a lot I can say about this awesome piece of animation, but to be honest, Iâ€™ve already said it in a review I wrote.
The first piece of Sonic animation produced since the Sonic Adventure redesigns, members of the fandom seem to be torn as to whether they like this series or not.Â It never takes itself seriously, with Sonic addressing the audience on a number of occasions (the 4th Wall means little to this show) and a constant barrage of movie and anime parodies.Â At the same time, it adapts the storylines from numerous contemporary Sonic the Hedgehog video games and does an admirable job of it.Â Their adaptation of Sonic Adventure 2 contained all the dark elements from the game, even adding a few new angles, and never pulled any punches.Â Well, the American version edits the Hell out of the show, but thatâ€™s a separate issue.
The animation is produced by TMS, the same people who brought us Tiny Toons, Animaniacs and the prettiest episodes of Batman the Animated Series.Â So the animation in the series is rather good, bland some times since it is television animation, but always lively during the action sequences.Â On the downside, the cast of the show is humongous.Â So big, in fact, the title character seems to be more of a background filler-upper.Â Sonic has little personality in this series outside his 2-dimensional â€œattitudeâ€ and gets less development overall than the butler, Mr. Tanaka.
Still, itâ€™s easily the most sophisticated of all the Sonic television shows, as well as one of the funniest.Â They dedicated an entire episode to parodying the Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner shorts.Â That was awesome.