Even before he started to suck, there were times when Sonic wasn’t on top of his game. This is (not) one of them.
I was going to do a post for my new blog regarding that Sonic the Hedgehog adaptation that got released in America under the title: Sonic the Hedgehog The Movie. You know, the one with that godawful English dub that made you miss Jaleel White and had that stupid tagline of “Scrape your Knuckles. Catch some Tails”? Or maybe you don’t because according to my MAL, I’m the only one amongst my friends who saw the thing as a kid. I enjoyed it at that age, but I figured it didn’t hold up over time and went into the thing with every intention of ripping it apart.
The problem is that when I got to actually watching it, the movie turned out to be actually good and I didn’t have much material to work with beyond the insanity of the premise. which isn’t really sufficient enough to use. So I figured I’d write about it here instead.
Combining two separate 1996 OVAs and given the additional “The Movie” title upon its American release, this Sonic the Hedgehog adaptation is regarded next to Street Fighter II: The Movie as one of the few times where a video game successfully translated to a different medium. It keeps to the spirit of the original games whilst doing something creative with the premise more successfully than that Super Mario: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach OVA did, yet is no less insane than the latter in the process. I mean Sonic can now apparently fly when he spin dashes. How surreal is that?
The plot of the anime is pretty damn simple: Dr. Robotnik (or Dr. Eggman if you want to treat all of Sonic’s post-Sega Genesis stuff as canon…you monsters) tricks Sonic and Tails into going to his home dimension in order to stop a bomb from blowing up the planet whilst holding the kingdom hostage. Running into Knuckles on the way, the trio reach the bomb only for Sonic to get captured in order to create Metal Sonic. With the realization that there can only be one Sonic, the two hedgehogs fight in order to see which one can be the real Sonic and that’s pretty much it.
So you know the drill. In order to make that sort of main plot intriguing, you have to put some care into the minutiae. Thankfully, this adaptation of Sonic does. Most of the video game stuff (the springs, the spikes, etc.) is only thrown in as a quick in-joke whilst the rest of the anime is weird in a way that you’d expect a product about the blue guy to be weird, especially since this thing was made before the Dreamcast existed and thus there isn’t much source to draw on besides the Sega Genesis/Game Gear games – which have not aged well at all by the way. I tried playing them recently and it’s way too spastic.
There are only three original characters – and no background ones, which can be weird – and they’re used effectively without drawing attention away from the main trio most associated with Sonic, even when they added bumblefucks like Charmy the Bee. And the main trio themselves are used effectively too. Sonic gets most of the attention of course, but Tails and Knuckles get their chance to shine without being thrown into the background like they were in SATAM or Sonic Underground. Plus, I love how all three of them can fly with no explanation (well Tails has one, but I digress). That’s beautiful.
Whilst the anime probably won’t appeal to too many non-Sonic fans, if you’re looking for a simple short action anime (it’s not even an hour long) with cartoony logic, you could do far worse than this film. Animation is decent and the action is fast and furious whilst throwing in a little humor into the mix that doesn’t detract from anything. Give it a shot if you’re curious. Just be aware that I’m not kidding about the English dub. I guess Knuckles isn’t terrible, but holy shit does Sonic and Tails sound like coke-dealers.