Sonic Underground: Sonic’s least favorite cartoon

Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the most popular fictional characters of the modern era, but there’s a curious generational nature to Blue Blur’s fan base. Kids and newcomers to the franchise love the current abundance of quality content featuring their favorite character, but not every release has been a complete hit.

Sonic has starred in no less than six anime series, all of which had radically different art styles and approaches to the character. Even with two feature films and countless games, animation is one of the most common places new fans find the iconic hedgehog. Some of these takes have aged better than others.

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It was 1999. The Blue Blur had just begun its long and messy transition to 3D gaming with Sonic Adventure and two anime series had already been launched and concluded. The first, titled The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehogwas a goofy comedy series modeled on looney tunes. This series is less than fondly remembered for its sense of humor. The 1993 follow-up, officially called sonic the hedgehog and colloquially known as Sat AM, has held up much better over the years. Its darker story and more action-oriented presentation made it a fan favorite past and present. Sat AM only lasted 26 episodes, leaving fans without a Sonic animated series for a few years. However, when the character returned to the small screen, he did so in a different form.


Sonic Underground, like the first two versions of the character, was produced by DIC Entertainment. DIC was responsible for the overwhelming majority of video game cartoons in the 90s, from Super Mario Bros. Super Show at Dual Dragon at Captain N. Like previous Sonic cartoons, clandestinely was primarily pitched as marketing for the latest game and, by extension, the recently released Sega Dreamcast. Unlike today’s viral marketing campaigns or celebrities, video game companies in the 90s preferred full-length anime series to sell their games. Production was extremely rare. Two twenty-minute episodes were created per week, often pitched by huge groups of writers who had never heard of the characters before. The whole show kicked off with incredible speed, often leaving songwriter Mike Piccirillo to piece together pieces with no idea of ​​the plot. With animation outsourced to Taiwan and dozens of writers auditioning for their scripts, the show was a bit of a mess.


Sonic Underground is almost completely unrelated to the traditional Sonic canon. It takes place on another Mobius, ruled by a monarch named Queen Aleena. The series’ villain, Dr. Robotnik, overthrows Aleena’s peaceful government and installs himself as a brutal dictator. Aleena hides, with the help of Delphius’ powerful and seemingly clairvoyant Oracle. The Oracle tells Aleena that she must separate her three children and hide them, in accordance with a prophecy that foretells their reunion. After years of living in secrecy, Aleena’s three children have been reunited, told of their fates, and sent on a quest to overthrow Robotnik and find their mother.


The heroes of Sonic Underground are Sonic, portrayed in much the same way as his other cartoon appearances, his sister Sonia, and their brother Manic. It’s those hilarious Sonic OCs that charm the show from the first moment. The oddly disturbing story is quite thin, seeking to follow Sat AM‘s lead, but the main characters aren’t likable. Sonia and Manic did not survive much of Sonic’s continued fame. They show up occasionally in the comics, but they’re at the low end of his circle. Sonia is described as the traditional cartoon “cool girl” archetype of the era, often seen riding a motorcycle and doing karate. She is the only character with a romantic subplot, shown with a crush on Knuckles. She is eerily similar to recent portrayals of Amy. Manic is almost hilarious, probably the peak of the franchise’s 13-year-old energy prior to Shadow’s release. He is a brash criminal who rides a hoverboard and speaks with constant sarcasm. It doesn’t help that all three siblings are voiced by Jaleel White, struggling to differentiate themselves while remaining similar.


Sonic Underground leans in the more action-oriented direction of its direct predecessor, but goes about it in a very different way. Rather than the typical dash and homing attack, Sonic and his siblings fight while playing in a rock band. Each hedgehog is armed with a medallion that transforms into a musical instrument, which they use to play at least one song per episode. Sonic plays the electric guitar, Sonia the keyboard and Manic the drums. Maybe with the release of Sonic Adventure just before, someone doing the show realized how integral butt rocking was to the character. It’s hilarious to add rock stars to the already monstrous list of cool ’90s traits that Sonic embodies, but it’s not interesting to watch cartoon characters play instruments on the requisite killer robots.

Sonic Underground only lasted 40 episodes, and frankly, that’s more than enough. It’s a fun show that contributed very little to the overall Sonic canon. Fans who complain about how the Blue Blur is handled in movies or upcoming ones Prime Sonic must look to the past and have hope for the future.

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