26 May 2004 | Gav_tH
Not the Sonic you grew up with.
There is a great deal of hype surrounding Sonic X, and to be fair I can see why. The use of the same art style featuring in the Sonic game series and using all of the regular cast from the Sonic series is a major plus point, and something that hasn't happened yet as far as all of Sonic's animated iterations have gone.
But sadly, this doesn't cover the fact that the series is severely lacking. While the series does feature the same animation style and characters directly from the games, it also loses the atmosphere of the series by urbanising the entire thing, contradicting the character personalities evident in the series - we're supposed to believe Sonic is fighting against urbanisation and loves natural beauty, living every day with freedom and adventure in mind, he's now also living in a rich mansion on the suburbs of a city with a young pre-adolescent named Chris.
While human characters have been evident in the series since Sonic Adventure in 1999, they've never been as overbearing as they are here. Over 50% of the regular cast is made up of humans (excluding the traditional Dr. Eggman), and the pace takes a serious drop because of it. There's barely anything traditionally Sonic here - Chris goes to school, where he talks with his friends, and the human characters have "adventures" with the Sonic gang. The pace takes a serious drop after the first episode because of it.
The first episode is perfect - blending amazingly fast animation with great character usage and wonderful set pieces - an action scene that continues for around 7 minutes is a wonderful way to kick off the series, and the humour and characters are all around for a purpose. It feels like a direct translation from the video game series. But then Chris is introduced, after the cliche of the characters being "sent to a new dimension", and the series grinds to a halt to develop Chris, and only Chris.
This is the series major fault. The emphasis is clearly on Chris and the humans, and never seems to be about the Sonic cast. None of them ever get a chance to develop. Chris's role is essentially that of Tails' - a young boy who aspires to grow up to be like Sonic, but the fact that he steals much of the other characters' charms leaves them as empty shells who are only background scenery to Chris's homelife. It's a terrible waste, and not only do the regular cast of Tails, Knuckles, Amy and Cream suffer, but also Sonic himself, who spends the series saving Chris with one-shot kill battles in the vain of the weak MegaZord battles of Power Rangers fame. This is a direct contradiction of the game series, where the focus is firmly on speed, and light-hearted adventuring. There is no room for Sonic to adventure, because he has been trapped in a household for a series, and in an unbelievably un-Sonic turn he spends entire episodes asleep on rooftops.
The series also serves as more of a nuisance than anything to Sonic fans, as it destroys the continuity and storyline of the games and instead creates an alternate version where events happen out of sequence. This will only serve to confuse new fans to the series, who will probably be fans for the wrong reasons supplied by this anime. As a series working on it's own merits, it's still poor for it's lack of anything actually happening - the characters talk for five minutes at a time with useless sub-characters, and without a spark of humour or charm the series just feels weak and dull.
It may feature all of the regular cast, but this isn't the Sonic we've known for the last 13 years. The series is dull, inconsistent, and at times features very poor and jerky animation, filled with aesthetic mistakes which suggest the series has been rushed out in order to simply make quick money, without offering anything new - the fact that the series adapts in-game storylines means there's literally nothing we haven't seen before as far as Sonic the Hedgehog goes, unless fans can genuinely bring themselves to care about Chris - a hard task, due to his consistent ways of stealing the limelight from every character.
Fans would be better sticking with the 1993 DiC cartoon Sonic the Hedgehog (or SatAM). While it may not be very accurate as far as storyline and characters are concerned, it translates the feel of the games almost perfectly - combining fast action in dark settings with light-hearted atmosphere and genuine character development. It may only be 26 episodes long, but it's a far superior animation on it's own merits alone, and a very fulfilling alternative to Sonic X.