Back in the young days of the early 90’s, there was a blue, brave, brazen, boy who was the fastest thing alive. And we all loved him because he was way past cool. Who was this blue, red sneaker wearing fellow? None other than Sonic the hedgehog. With his talking smoother than ice, penchant for catchphrases, speed beyond comprehension and a love for chili dogs, Sonic was one rad dude.
I never really played the video games that much, I was way into the cartoons though. Both the wacky slap-stick, Bugs Bunny-esque antics of Sonic and Tails in The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog as well as the Saturday morning incarnation Sonic the Hedgehog (Sonic SatAM to its hardcore fans). With its catchy theme song, slick plots and darker atmosphere, Sonic SatAM was the epitome of post-apocalyptic, environmentalism, nature vs. Machine storyline so common in 90’s cartoons, but it was all this at its best and more.
It had sweet supporting characters who made up a team of Freedom Fighters. They lived in Knothole village and used guerrilla warfare against Robotnik who had already taken over the main city of Mobius, Mobotropolis, where Sonic and pals had once lived peacefully. The band of rebels was made up of Princess Sally, the smart, computer savvy love interest of Sonic, Tails of course, the cute little two-tailed fox and “little bro” of Sonic. Rotor, the random walrus (always thought it was weird that there was a walrus among the little woodland creatures) who was the resident fix-it guy, basically he was the Sonic version of Chewbacca. He even had that over the shoulder tool-belt/tool-bag thing. Then there was Bunnie, a sweet southern rabbit whom Sonic saved before she was completely roboticized by Dr. Robotnik, thus she has some robotic limbs. She was always calling Sonic “sugar,” and everybody else for that matter. Then there was Antoine, the French Coyote. He was mostly cowardly, annoying and included in missions way too often. Honestly Tails even at his young age would have been more helpful and less annoying than him. I guess you could say Antoine was the C3PO/Lando Calrissian of the show except way less lovable.
Both the serious and the goofy versions of Sonic shows had him just the way we like him: full of attitude, pride, and heroics, chili-dog loving, Robotnik hating, speedy, smooth talking, and voiced by Jaleel White (The guy more commonly known for playing Urkel on Family Matters). But he provided the voice of the Sonic we all know and love.
Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog brought us classic bumbling badniks like Grounder and Scratch. Not to mention the lovable though not the sharpest tacks in the box, Da Bearz! And yes they totally were a reference to those SNL sketch about Da Chicago Bears.
Needless to say, as a kid and hey, even now, Sonic was my hero. Although currently, I no longer don sneakers and run around the backyard to see if I can reach the super speeds of Sonic.
Where is our favorite speedy blue Mobian friend now? He’s still hanging around although not quite as popular as he was in the 90’s. ABC canceled Sonic SatAM before their 3rd season due to a new president and the competition from Fox’s airing Power Rangers at the same time. Seriously yet another reason I hate the Power Rangers. (I wasn’t even allowed to watch it back in the day, but I still thought it was pretty lame). I mean lovable blue hedgehog vs. cheesy bad karate acting. I rest my case.
Basically Sonic became more like the Japanese version than the American version as is evidenced by the games. Bleep Bloop addresses that issue here:
In 2003 about 10 years after Sonic SatAM first aired, a new anime show aired called Sonic X. It had a way past cool theme song. However the show itself was rather lackluster. Although I admit I used to tune in every week. It was still Sonic, even if it was now cooky anime.Basically Sonic and friends had been transported to earth, and was no longer on Mobius.
The episodes focused more on a typical random anime kid, Tails being more serious and innovative than the cute little bro we once new him as, and everyone dealing with Amy Rose’s fan-girl drama/obsession with Sonic. She was pink and crazy and her voice was obnoxious especially compared to the intelligent, caring, level-headed Princess Sally of SatAM. I confess, there were times when I kinda liked Amy Rose. Plus when I was a kid, I didn’t like Sally much, but she grew on me, whereas Amy Rose just got more annoying.
Where was Sonic in all of this? Off being aloof and and stoic. His attitude became less endearing, and he kept the speed and gained more angst. He went off alone to fight Dr. Robotnik, err… Dr. Eggman, which apparently he was always known as in Japan.
I have, and always will prefer and love the in your face, bold, impatient “I’m waaiitin'” smart-talking, speedy, “Gotta juice” Chili-dog loving, power-ring wielding, catchphrase using, more American-appealing Hero Sonic who wasn’t afraid to you know, be a big bro, give Tails noogies, work with others, state how he really felt about evil “Take that Robuttnik!” and wasn’t afraid to get the girl.