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[Sonic X]
AKA: N/A
Genre: Children's video game anime
Length: Television series, 78 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: VHS and R1 DVD from FUNimation; licensed by 4Kids
Content Rating: Y7 (fantasy violence)
Related Series: Sonic the Hedgehog games (mainly the Genesis/Mega Drive and Dreamcast games), Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie
Also Recommended: Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie
Notes: Based on the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series.

The series originally ran in Japan for only 52 episodes due to poor ratings. However, its popularity in the U.S. and the rest of the world lead to the production of a third season. (Despite being produced in Japan, though, the third season has never actually aired in Japan.)
Rating: Two StarsTwo Stars

Sonic X

Synopsis

After yet another confrontation with Dr. Eggman, Sonic and his friends all end up on Earth as result of Chaos Control..and end up in the United States of all places. There Sonic befriends a twelve-year-old boy named Chris Thorndyke, who saves him after nearly drowning in his swimming pool (Sonic can't swim). But what happened to all of Sonic's friends? And where did Dr. Eggman go? Only time will tell.


Review

I'll admit, the idea of Sonic X sounded really cool back in early 2003 when it was first revealed. I've been a big fan of Sonic ever since his debut in 1991, and I even liked the corny weekday show made years ago (not so much the Satruday morning series or the OAV made in 1996).

Still, I'll admit I was impressed by the first episode. It avoided all the mistakes of previous Sonic animated series (stupid new characters, bad animation, pitiful writing, an actual, ongoing plot now, etc.), and turns out to be an entertaining experience. It's all humorous: all the humans keep calling Sonic a mouse, there's lots of random English flown around, and at one point, Sonic even tells the viewers not to do one of his stunts (when he's looking at the window of a F-1 race car while on top of it, followed by teasing the rider).

...but then we meet Chris Thorndyke when Sonic drowns in his family's swimming pool. This obnoxious kid will be tagging alongside Sonic for his most of his adventures for the rest of the series, effectively replacing Tails for the most part. He is such a dull, boring, uninspired character that I can't even criticize him because he's that bland, as are his stereotypical Japanese butler and stereotypical black maid (who, of course, is fat. Can't have any attractive human females in this series, right?). He only serves to slow down the pace of the series and point the obvious to the audience.

So what's the story about? Basically Eggman attacks with a robot, Sonic battles the robot, Sonic destroys the robot, and all the while stupid fluff with Chris occurs. Linse, rather, repeat until an important plot point occurs. The robot of the day formula, by the way, is extremely boring, mostly comprised of lame robots who were no doubt "inspired" by various mecha series and Sailor Moon. If these were revamped robots from old Sonic games, that would be okay, but they're just generic robots TMS threw together, looking completely out of place in the series. *sigh* Meanwhile, the second season (episodes 27-52) is mostly taken from the plots of the two Sonic Adventure games (as well as an obvious commercial plug for Sonic Heroes with the first animated appearance of the Chaotix characters from the ill-fated 32X game in episode 39), and the third season is set mostly in space.

What really annoyed me about Sonic X was how they portrayed Sonic himself. Sonic only shows up at the beginning and ending of each episode for the most part, only showing himself for the most part when Eggman's robot of the day needs to be destroyed. Of course, Sonic always get a ring from Tails, always does a homing attack (why he needs the ring is beyond me), which is always the solution to any problem involving any of Eggman's robots. Yawn. What happened to the take-charge Sonic, instead of the pain-in-the-butt, "I'm gonna run around downtown until something exciting happens and use a stinking Ring to defeat my enemies" Sonic we have now? Man, even the Sonic from the American cartoons was more exciting and entertaining than this.

What about Tails, Knuckles, and the other Sonic characters? Well, the show pretty much abandons Knuckles and Rogue for the most part, and Shadow only appears briefly in season 2. This leaves Tails, Amy, and Cream to be the tag-along characters (along with Chris) on Sonic's misadventures. Why one of the most annoying characters in all of Sonic lore (Amy) is given even a slight role is beyond me, because she's as obnoxious in animation as she is in the games. Oh yeah, and Big's in the series somewhere as well..

Art-wise, the Sonic characters mostly look like their Sonic Adventure-era designs for the most part, though not as well drawn. The backgrounds are typical kids anime fare, but are still nice to look at. The only problem I had was the blatant use of CG whenever Sonic used his Homing Attack. Couldn't they just animate it in 2D, or at least make it look like the Sonic Adventure games' Homing Attack? Oh well, it's pointless to complain, I guess.

The (Japanese) music featured the same rock-style stuff used in the Dreamcast games, though they were times where pretty piano music was used too. It was all good, though. The opening is done by the "legendary" Kageyama Hironobu, and the ending theme is done by the Japanese band RUN&GUN, and they're both catchy. The Japanese voice cast is the same as in Sonic Adventures 1 and 2, so whether or not you liked the voices in those games will affect your liking to the voices in the anime. The 4Kids dub is..well, 4Kids. It's really annoying how all the recent Sonic games use these untalented actors/actresses in their dubs, because they make the original English voices sound like award-winning performers.

I was really hoping for something in Sonic X, in all honesty. Instead I get an annoying human character tagged on to a show that masquerades as Sonic the Hedgehog, but eliminates pretty much everything I liked about his character and adds bad filler and mediocre art on top of that. I'm told the Japanese version picks up the further along you go, but honestly I don't care. Sonic X is a disappointment to the Sonic name, no better or worse than all the other crummy video game anime out there.

A mediocre anime that would be totally looked over if it wasn't for the word "Sonic" in its title.Tim Jones

Recommended Audience: Animated slapstick, mostly. Kids and very forgiving Sonic fans might like it: everyone else can skip it.



Version(s) Viewed: Japanese dialogue without subtitles; R1 release
Review Status: Partial (17/78)
Sonic X © 2003 Sonic Project / TV Tokyo / Sonic Team Ltd
 
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