The Adventures of sonic the hedgehog
Original Run: 1993 – 1996
Primary production Company: DIC
Based On: The Sonic the Hedgehog Game Franchise
What is it?
Clearly seeing the success of Nintendo’s super Mario bros. Super show, Sega decides to get into the world of Saturday Morning cartoons. And seeing as they already have a mascot that’s sarcastic, perfect for slapstick, and whose surreal art style lend itself to low budget low risk animation, Sega orders up a whopping 65 episodes of sonic.
High energy….at times, maybe a bit too high energy….This thing is out of control. It changes every 3 seconds or so and none of it ever makes any sense….but i’ll be damned if i don’t remember it. The music is definitely based on the actual sonic the hedgehog theme song, but they sample in a lot of other weird songs every now and then to fill in the time slot. A weird choice but it’s still pretty catchy and fun to watch if you don’t mind the chaos. If you waking up to this show on a saturday, it’s sure gonna wake you up quick. The theme mostly consists of multiple attempts to catch sonic or stop him from making a logo. Yeah that fiend. What better way to start a show that trying to thwart….self promotion?
background aesthetics are…par…i guess? I mean this style of ambiguous surreal background was often used in super mario bros super show, but all kinds of shows lucky enough to be cast in fantasy environments used these as a cost saving measure. That said still, I can’t say they don’t push that a bit much at times as often the line between Surrealism and buildings made out of scribble can get uncomfortably thin.
Character design fairs quite a bit better. Sonic and his various side characters, consisting mostly of character defining colors that pop out and are easy to identify helps make the transition to animation a good one. As a sonic show should also, the show looks best when it moves fast. And that’s not just because the backgrounds blur out when sonic runs, but the slapstick, action and pace of the show are at it’s best when it’s kinetic and moving from one thing to the next. Robotnik is really the only character complicated enough to need even small changes from the games, but the changes are small at that. When close up, Robotnik’s iconic mustache is more prominent and his overweight egg shape is definitely more clear and frequently used in the slapstick itself. The same can be said for the designs of Scratch and Grounder. While this series definitely does not hide it’s looney tunes influences, rather than the typical cartoon stretch and contort that injured tons do, these characters both being robots means they can sustain substantial physical damage, bust into a pile of bolts, or contort into ridiculous shapes as they try and put each other back together.
Sonic the hedgehog is a resident and sometimes planetary defender of the alien planet mobius. The evil Scientist Dr. Robotnik has hired bounty hunters from all over the galaxy to track Sonic down so he can finally achieve world domination. Also helping in his schemes is the botched results of a ultimate killing machine experiment, a robot chicken named scratch and a talking tank like swiss army mech named grounder. Together, we follow Sonic and Tails adventures chasing bad guys, solving problems of the people, and maybe catching some one liners and chili dogs along the way.
On the character side however, things start to pick up quite a bit of momentum. Sonic is voiced for the first time by Family Matters’ Jaleel White and despite how gimmicky that sounds at first, it’s become for many the definitive/favorite version of talking sonic. He’s witty, full of himself, and one step shy of annoying asshole. It helps his character a lot that he does show a legitimate interest in helping people, even if he is a bit more begrudgingly when helping is inconvenient for him.
Tales is typical kid sidekick fair all the way down to the whiny attitude and cringe worthy voice. It’s not as bad as most shows by along shot, but it’s the character archetype we’re working with. There’s nothing inherently wrong with tails, but he’s a bit one dimensional. Not that sonic characters are known for their depth, but at times, rather than being the moral compass to Sonic’s rebellious attitude, he can come off a bit like a buzz kill.
Speaking of Cringe Worthy Voices….Oh my god….Scratch and Grounder…by far the two most divisive character in this show, this duo is nails on a chalkboard, loud in your face, and absurdly annoying….And I love them. Despite the annoying voices being a step too far for some people, and i don’t blame you one bit, the chemistry they share is actually really good and the writers have a lot more fun with them than most generic henchmen. They may be abrasive, but they are memorable, unique, and often get the best jokes and plotlines in the series.
Robotnik himself steers more towards typical sneering evil, but the comedic differences between his evil controlled mannerisms and his flabbergasted by sonic slapstick ones keep him entertaining. He carries himself almost exclusively on how badass he thinks he is. Every sentence out of his mouth is congratulating himself on being himself. It’s almost endearing how much toxic self confidence he has in himself. And it’s that same overabundance of self pride that makes it that much funnier when it all comes crashing down in a blaze of blue spiny glory.
The remainder of the characters talk in your typical wacky cartoony borderline annoying fashion. Not to scratch and grounder levels, but traditional talent is not the words i’d use. To be honest though, if this style of over the top cartoon acting was a deal breaker for you, you might be in the wrong book.
Music and sound design
Music for the show is definitely a major positive, in particular, Character themes. Sonic already had one from the games, but the theme they gave Robotnik is a great earworm. Just serious enough to be intimidating, but goofy enough to fit the tone of the show. The show itself has good music overall, but like many of these shows, a lot of tracks are reused several times. It’s not something you’re going to notice unless you watch a lot, but if you’re already watching that many episodes, you likely don’t care.
anything else of note?:
Sonic the hedgehog is far from a groundbreaking show. In fact, when you look carefully, it borrows heavily from quite a few cartoons. Lucky for it, it borrows from some really good ones. Right off the bat, sonic being a super fast character, they realize that working of a coyote and Roadrunner aesthetic works really well for them, especially because Robotic is already an inventor. on top of that, Sonic’s frequent use of Funny voice and random costume gags, although used in all sorts of shows, feels closest to that of Bugs Bunny. Even Sonics obsession with chilli dogs, while to their credit, ended up becoming a staple in the later game series, seemed like it was in direct response to the abundant pasta puns in the above mentioned mario Sat AM cartoon.
I’d also be remiss if i didn’t at least discuss the Sonic Says segments. While this was far from the only show to have these kind of closers, Sonic’s were famous/infamous for just how bizarre some of them got. Most of them were standard stuff like washing your hands, what to do in a fire, listen to your parents, but some got plain goofy like moss grows north, which isn’t true, you can always trust a sloth…..OK…..but also sometimes they were misleading. Thier don’t call 911 episode was incredibly misleading as it almost accidentally says not to call the police if you get mugged. On top of that, as i’m sure their heart was in the right place, their meme inducing episode on sexual Stranger danger may not have been the right venue to discuss that topic.
Great character design
Clever interpretation of source material
Interesting week to week plotlines
Great slapstick and character interactions
music and sound design
Set design and non character animation quality
Reused audio tracks
No consistent supporting cast
Scratch and Grounder will be too much for some viewers
Possibly lays on the Loony tunes homage a little thick
The adventures of Sonic is a very mixed bag, but a show that I happen to enjoy. I’m not denying your result may very, but it’s a show that good and bad balances about 50/50. In many ways, it’s one of the very best in a format of cheap cartoons that are often very bad. The lucky part for you is that although most people are content only watching one episode, most episodes are of the same approximate quality, so while the pilot is actually really good, feel free to jump around to whatever episode premise strikes your fancy. The best thing i can tell you is i’ve tried my best to point out any of the deal breakers to the best of my ability. If nothing bothers you from that, i’d recommend try at least one episode.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
worth a watch.
Guilty pleasure seal of approval*
*The Guilty pleasure seal of approval is an acknowledgement that the show in question borders on or is clearly in Guilty pleasure status. This differentiation is made not to dismiss the merits of a show, but rather to allow the rating system to work better with such a wide variety of genres.
TL DR: it’s a reminder that i rate shows on both quality and enjoyability. Interpret that as you may.