|Genre||Adventure, science fiction, comedy, drama, romance|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Hajime Kamegaki|
|Produced by||Matato Matsumoto
|Written by||Koji Miki
|Music by||Yoshihiro Ike|
|Network||TV Tokyo (2003–2004)
Kids Station (2004–2005)
|Original run||April 6, 2003 – March 28, 2004
(last Japanese-aired episode)
|Sonic X, Volume 1: A Super Sonic Hero|
|Genre||Game Boy Advance Video|
|Platform||Game Boy Advance|
|Released||May 5, 2004|
|Sonic X, Volume 2: Chaos Emerald Chaos|
|Genre||Game Boy Advance Video|
|Platform||Game Boy Advance|
|Released||May 11, 2004|
|Released||May 5, 2005|
Sonic X (ソニックX Sonikku Ekkusu?) is a Japanese anime series created by TMS Entertainment, based on the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series published by Sega. Two trailers for the series were produced, after which some changes were made. The series initially ran for fifty-two episodes, which were broadcast on TV Tokyo from April 6, 2003 to March 28, 2004; however, a further twenty-six were aired elsewhere from 2005 to 2006. The show's American localization and broadcasting was handled by 4Kids—who heavily edited the content and created new music—until 2012, when Saban Brands obtained the rights to the series.
The plot follows a group of anthropomorphic animal friends originating in the games—such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails, Amy Rose, and Cream the Rabbit—and a human boy named Christopher Thorndyke whom they meet after warping from their home planet to Earth. While on Earth, they repeatedly scuffle with antagonist Doctor Eggman and his robots over control of the powerful Chaos Emeralds, while also adjusting to their recognition as celebrities. The final story arc sees the friends return to their world with Chris, where they—along with a newfound plant-like creature named Cosmo—enter outer space and fight an army of giant robots called the Metarex.
Sonic X has received mixed reviews. Generally, writers have criticized its English-language localization and incorporation of some of the characters, while being more generous toward its story and aesthetics. However, it was very popular in the United States and France, though less so in Japan. The series was merchandised into an edutainment video game for the Leapster, a trading card game, a comic book series featuring an original storyline, and various toys and other items. The phrase "gotta go fast"—a reference to the show's North American theme song—has survived as a Sonic catchphrase for over a decade after the show's initial release.
- 1 Plot
- 2 History
- 3 Other media
- 4 Reception
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
While Sonic the Hedgehog attempts to destroy the base of Doctor Eggman and retrieve the seven Chaos Emeralds, one of Eggman's robots inadvertently shoots a machine containing the Emeralds, which activates the "Chaos Control" technique and warps Sonic, Eggman, and some of Sonic's other anthropomorphic animal friends—Tails, Amy Rose, Cream the Rabbit (with Cheese the Chao), Cream's mother Vanilla, Big the Cat (with Froggy), Rouge the Bat, and Knuckles the Echidna—to Earth, the parallel-universe version of their world. Police officers see him and chase him until he escapes, but he falls into a mansion's swimming pool and is rescued by a twelve-year-old boy named Chris Thorndyke, who lives there. Chris lives with his movie star mother Lindsey, corporate executive father Nelson, scientist grandfather Chuck, maid and chef Ella, and butler Tanaka, and tries to hide the animal characters from them for some time; however, Cream accidentally reveals them all, and they build up a good rapport with Chris' family and with Chris' friends Danny, Francis, and Helen.
Despite their warm relationships with the humans, the animals want to return home, so they repeatedly scuffle for the Emeralds with Eggman, his robot assistants—the hyperactive, attention-seeking Bokkun and the bumbling Bocoe and Decoe—and his larger, armed robots. Eggman makes plans to take over the world, which catches the attention of the unnamed nation's President. At first only Knuckles, Rouge, and federal agent Topaz work to stop Eggman, but the other animals soon join the crusade, and when Eggman is defeated, they are all hailed as heroes. However, this does not stop Eggman, with whom they continue to scuffle for Emeralds.
Eggman awakens a mutated Chao named Chaos, who shatters the Master Emerald, a large gemstone that Knuckles' tribe guarded for millennia. Knuckles recollects shards of the Master Emerald while the other animals fight an extended losing battle against Chaos to get the Chaos Emeralds back. When it absorbs all seven, it reaches a form called Perfect Chaos and discards the Emeralds, which are now useless to it. With the help of a girl from the past named Tikal, Sonic makes use of the Emeralds to attain his Super Sonic form and defeat Chaos, who becomes placid and returns to sleep.
Shortly, Eggman finds his grandfather Gerald Robotnik's diary and finds Gerald's old project Shadow in a military base. He releases Shadow from his cryogenic capsule; Shadow breaks into a museum to steal an Emerald and is mistaken for Sonic, which gets Sonic arrested. Amy rescues Sonic, but Shadow, Eggman, and the duplicitous Rouge escape to the space colony ARK, where Eggman threatens to use a weapon called the Eclipse Cannon to destroy Earth if the planet does not submit to his rule; he blows up half of the Moon to prove his power. Eggman collects all seven Emeralds to power the Cannon, but this triggers a program set up many years ago by Gerald, which will destroy Earth in hours. Everyone works together to shut it down except Shadow, who is unsympathetic to humanity. However, Chris convinces Shadow to save the Earth, so Shadow and Sonic power up using the Emeralds, defeat a long-dormant creature called the Biolizard, and reroute the ARK away from Earth. This seemingly kills Shadow, and he is mourned.
The Moon remains wrecked and Eggman rebuilds it, citing remorse for his misdeeds. However, its position shifts, creating a solar eclipse, and Eggman manufactures "Sunshine Balls" to replicate sunlight and sells them. Sonic sees through his motivations and deactivates the Balls, and Eggman is arrested. Bokkun activates a robot named Emerl, who quickly allies with the animals, and Eggman escapes prison. Emerl wins an Emerald in a martial arts tournament involving numerous characters of both alignments, but it goes berserk and begins to destroy the city. Cream and Cheese destroy Emerl, tearing up at the loss of their friend.
Later, two government physicists show up at Chris' mansion to announce that the animals' world and Earth were once a single world split into two by a cataclysmic event, but are rejoining, which will stop time irreversibly. Chris blames Eggman, so he finds him and accuses him, but Eggman claims he is innocent and also wants to revert the process. Tails and Chuck begin to build a gate to teleport the animals back to their own world with Chaos Control, but Chris realizes he does not want them to leave. When it is finished and all of the animals but Sonic have left, Chris suddenly shuts the machine down and whisks Sonic into the woods to hide. Sonic is understanding, and Chris is eventually found by his parents, who promise to spend more time on him; with Chris' approval, Sonic returns to his own planet, stopping the merging of the worlds.
Six months later, a race of villainous robots known as the Metarex attempt to steal the Emeralds from Sonic, but Sonic scatters them across the galaxy. Meanwhile on Earth, where six years have passed and Chris is now 18, Chris builds another device to return to the animals' world and regroup with his friends; he is twelve again when he arrives. A sick plant-like girl named Cosmo lands on their planet and they nurse her back to health, so she joins them. They board Tails' new airship, the Blue Typhoon, scour the galaxy for the Emeralds and "Planet Eggs" (objects that allow life to flourish on planets, which the Metarex have stolen to depopulate the galaxy), and fight the Metarex at every turn. Eggman joins the Metarex shortly after. Along the way, the animals meet their old friends the Chaotix, and Tails and Cosmo fall in love. Later, Rouge finds Shadow alive but hibernating in a capsule on Eggman's ship; she releases him and at one point he saves Chris from the Metarex before disappearing.
Shadow reappears and tries to kill Cosmo for an unknown reason, so Tails protects her. Shadow knocks him aside and is about to do it when Dark Oak, the leader of the Metarex, appears. He reveals that the Metarex are related to Cosmo and that Cosmo has been an unwitting spy for them ever since they subversively implanted a tracking device in her brain while extinguishing the rest of her species; this was Shadow's rationale, but Shadow is banished from the ship. Chris, Knuckles, and Tails notice that the device is connected to the area of her brain responsible for sight and hearing and that removing it will likely void those senses forever. Knuckles pushes for it to be removed anyway, but Tails refuses, and they all continue their ongoing battle.
The Chaotix and Shadow meet up and, with the other animals, head to the center of the universe, where the Metarex are ominously controlling a planet made of water and containing a Planet Egg. Sonic is catapulted into it, where he drowns until Amy and Chris rescue him. The planet begins turning into a giant seed; the Metarex reveal that they know they have lost the battle for the Emeralds, so they will destroy the galaxy with this planet. Cosmo sees a vision from her mother Galaxina, telling her that she must sacrifice herself to save the rest. She accepts this role, fusing with the giant seed and instructing Tails to use the Blue Typhoon's cannon to fire Super Sonic and Super Shadow at her and the seed and destroy them. Eggman pressures Tails to do it, so he does, in tears the whole time. The Metarex are annihilated, but Tails grieves for Cosmo. Back on the animals' world, Sonic and Shadow reappear and solemnly inform Tails that they could not revive Cosmo and only found one of her seeds, but Cream and Amy try to cheer him up. With an ephemeral change of heart, Eggman builds a device for Chris to return home, but promptly reverts to his old ways after Chris leaves. The series ends by showing Cosmo's seed sprouting.
Creation and development
The show was created by TMS Entertainment. It was the first—and is currently the only—anime series based on the Sonic universe. It was primarily influenced by other anime rather than work from the West, where Sonic was also popular, and was created for a Japanese audience. Yuji Naka, then the head of Sonic Team, filled in as executive producer, and Yuji Uekawa created all of the original characters. Most of the series consists of original content with numerous original characters in addition to established characters, but the second season is mostly based on the plots of Sonic Adventure 1 and 2. While traditionally animated, it includes non-outlined CGI elements for things such as Sonic's homing attack.
Two trailers for the series were produced. The first was produced before Cheese had been given a name with Sonic Advance 2 (2002), as it referred to Cheese simply as "Chao". It was made up largely of footage that would later appear in the series' intro, but also of unused scenes featuring unique anthropomorphic animals. Sega showed off the second, which was narrated in Japanese, at its booth at the World Hobby Fair video gaming event in February 2003. It consisted mostly of scenes from the first few episodes, followed by introductions to the main characters. However, it also showed a still frame of a silver anthropomorphic hedgehog (not identified as Silver the Hedgehog) who never appeared in the series.
Several of the Japanese voice actors had voiced their characters in the games, but they were also given ample information about their characters' roles in the anime. Chris' voice actress Sanae Kobayashi was not sure she would be able to effectively communicate Chris' growth as a person due to Sonic's presence, but found that a worthwhile goal. Chikao Ōtsuka, who voiced Eggman, found him a difficult character to play due to the tension in his voice and Ōtsuka's desire to have children who watched the show recognize the character as a villain but not hate him.
Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka believed that Sonic X and its merchandise, along with the game Sonic Heroes, helped expose the Sonic franchise to a new generation of potential gamers in 2003, and dubbed it a "Sonic Year" as a result. More boldly, Naka hoped that Sonic X alone would cause the popularity of the Sonic series to skyrocket, as that of the Pokémon series did after its anime adaptation was first released.
Broadcast and localization
4Kids Entertainment handled the show's American localization. The episodes were heavily edited for content and length, as 4Kids is infamous among anime fans for doing. 4Kids removed all instances of alcohol consumption and coarse language, instances of breaking the fourth wall, and numerous romantic scenes. However, unlike in some other series 4Kids translated around the early- to mid-2000s, such as Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, no full episodes were cut from Sonic X. Producer Michael Haigney personally disliked realistic violence in children's programs, but had not intended to make massive changes himself. Instead, he was bound by Fox Broadcasting Corporation's strict guidelines, which forbid content such as smoking and strong violence. In 2006, near the end of the show's American production, Haigney stated in an interview that he had never played a Sonic game, read the comics, or watched any of the previous Sonic animated series.
4Kids found new voice actors rather than using those from the games. Auditions began in the spring of 2003. They invited Mike Pollock to audition for Eggman, having known him from his work on Ultimate Muscle and Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, and chose him for his yelling and pitch-wavering talents; Pollock also voiced Ella. 4Kids allowed Pollock to make minor alterations to the dialogue when lines "don't work for some reason." Before starting, the voice actors were given only short samples of their characters' in-game voices—they were not told specifically which games these were—and brief descriptions of the characters' roles.
Sonic X aired in Japan on TV Tokyo's 8:30 am time slot from April 6, 2003 to March 28, 2004. It consisted of three seasons, each of them 26 half-hour episodes long. The series suffered from poor ratings in Japan, so the third season has never aired in that country despite being produced there. 4Kids licensed the series in North America from the beginning; ShoPro Entertainment was made a second North American license holder on December 1, 2003. It aired in North America on the Fox Box block of Fox channels. The series was also localized for other countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. In June 2012, the bankrupt 4Kids sold its Sonic X license to Saban Brands's Kidsco Media Ventures.
The series was released on DVD; in Japan, only seasons one and two were released, and their 52 episodes spanned 13 discs. 4Kids released the "Project Shadow" DVD, covering the first arc that focused on Shadow (episodes 33–38), on November 15, 2005 to tie in with the release of the game Shadow the Hedgehog.
The Japanese version was scored by Yoshihiro Ike alone. Its opening theme was "Sonic Drive", performed by Hironobu Kageyama and Hideaki Takatori. The series included three ending themes: "Mi-ra-i" (ミ・ラ・イ Future?) by Run&Gun for episodes 1–13, "Hikari Michi" (光る道 Shining Road?) by Aya Hiroshige for 14–39 and again for 53–78, and "T.O.P" by Uru for 40–52. 4Kids created entirely new background music for the North American release "for both artistic and commercial reasons". The North American opening and closing theme, titled "Gotta Go Fast", was performed by Norman J. Grossfeld and Russell Velazquez. A soundtrack titled SONIC X ~ORIGINAL SOUND TRACKS~ was released in Japan on March 8, 2004; it consisted of 40 tracks of original music from the first two seasons.
Sonic X was extensively merchandised in various forms of media and other products. Two Game Boy Advance Videos of episodes from the first season of Sonic X were released in May 2004. In October 2004, ShoPro licensed four manufacturers to create Sonic X merchandise; they variously produced items such as bedding, beach towels, backpacks, stationery, and pajamas. Six Sonic X novels were published between 2005 and 2007: Aqua Planet, Dr. Eggman Goes to War, Battle at Ice Palace, and Desperately Seeking Sonic by Charlotte Fullerton, Meteor Shower Messenger by Paul Ruditis, and Spaceship Blue Typhoon by Diana Gallagher.
|Publication date||September 2005 – December 2008|
|Number of issues||40|
|Writer(s)||Ian Flynn, Joe Edkin|
|Penciller(s)||Tim Smith III|
Archie Comics, publisher of the main Sonic the Hedgehog comics, started a Sonic X series in 2005. It was originally set to run for only four issues, but was extended to 40 issues due to high demand. The last issue was released in December 2008, and it kicked off the Sonic Universe arc of the comics. The comics were written by Ian Flynn, who also authors the main Sonic comics.
While the comics are set during the Sonic X timeline, their plot is original. Eggman imprisons humans inside robots and tries to use them to kill the animal friends, but they destroy the robots. Eggman uses malicious Chao to destroy Station Square, but Tikal and Chaos arrive from the past, return the Chao to normal, and bring them back to the past. Soon, Sonic finds a machine in the desert and thinks nothing of it, but after fighting with Eggman in Paris and a bizarre world created by the doctor, Eggman reveals the desert machine was his and it begins to wreck Station Square. Sonic defeats it, but he (along with Eggman) is locked up for supposedly working with Eggman. Nelson bails Sonic out of jail, and he saves Cream and Chris from some ghosts.
After more malicious schemes based on the holidays Christmas, Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's Day, Eggman temporarily fires Decoe and Bocoe and creates replacements, Dukow and Bukow, who kidnap Sonic and give him to an organization called S.O.N.I.C.X.; he escapes with ease, but S.O.N.I.C.X. repeatedly tries to ruin his reputation. Meanwhile, the animal friends take on Eggman in his various schemes—including becoming a wrestler and creating a circus—to keep the Emeralds from him. In the final issue, Metal Sonic appears and allies with Eggman to defeat Sonic, but Shadow steps in and warps himself and Metal Sonic to another dimension.
In 2003, McDonald's packaged five different single-button dedicated console games, mostly based on various sports, with Happy Meals to promote Sonic X: two featuring Sonic and one each for Tails, Knuckles, and Shadow. Another Happy Meal game based on Big the Cat fishing arrived the following year.
LeapFrog Enterprises released a Sonic X educational math game for its Leapster handheld game console; it was released in 2005 in North America and 2007 in Europe. The game stars Sonic and Chris, who must rescue Tails, Amy, and Knuckles from Eggman. It is a fast-paced platform/action game in which Sonic runs and jumps through levels and destroys Eggman's robots along the way. Periodically, Sonic must answer math questions to continue. The game features three levels, each with its own math concepts: the city Station Square (sequencing, counting in increments); Angel Island, the home of the Master Emerald (addition); and Eggman's base (subtraction). There are also math-based minigames unrelated to the levels to supplement these skills.
Trading card game
Score Entertainment created a Sonic X collectible card game for two players, released in 2005. Players battle for Chaos Emeralds; whoever gets three first wins. Each turn, both players lay out five cards face-down and flip over one at a time; whichever card has a lower number value is eliminated. Eliminating the other player's cards and combining the special abilities of one's own cards allows one to score rings; whichever player has the most rings at the end of the turn wins an Emerald. As the game does not emphasize collecting rare cards, a few booster packs are enough to build a competent deck. KidzWorld gave a positive review, praising its ease of learning, low cost, and inherent strategy, but also noting that it feels more like a generic card game with Sonic characters than like a wholly Sonic-based product.
Sonic X has had a middling reception; Conrad Zimmerman of Destructoid cited its "horrible localization" as a main reason for negativity. Tim Jones of THEM Anime gave the show two stars out of five and criticized the English voice acting: "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." Chris Martin of GamesFirst! said that Amy Palant as Tails and Lisa Ortiz as Amy were only "moderately annoying" but that the human characters' actors were "nothing short of obnoxious." He added that he preferred Jaleel White, who had voiced Sonic in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog—two Sonic-related TV series in the early 1990s—to most of Sonic X's cast.
The human characters—and, to a lesser extent, the animal ones—also came in for some criticism. Among critics, Jones decried Chris as "a dull, boring, uninspired character" and also described Tanaka and Ella as "bland" stereotypes of Japanese- and African-Americans, respectively. Jones also criticized the presence of Amy and Big, but took particular issue to the show's portrayal of Sonic, which he summarized thus: "'I'm gonna run around downtown until something exciting happens and use a stinking Ring to defeat my enemies'". Staff of GamesRadar bemoaned both the "piss-poor Adventure characters" and the original human ones. Martin expressed distaste for some of the humans, but conceded that this was Naka's fault for putting them in the original games. In contrast, writer Gaz Plant of NintendoLife opined that "one of the key successes" of the series was its incorporation of numerous characters from the games, including lesser-used ones like Big and the Chaotix. Fans were divided on the merit of the Thorndykes.
However, the show was well received for faithfully following the format of the games. Famitsu offered a uniformly positive review before the first episode broadcast in 2003, commending the skillful transition of the games' speed and style to animation, and expected the series to continue to grow more interesting. Plant stated that "where Sonic X truly succeeded was in its retelling of iconic stories". Independent of the characters involved, GamesRadar appreciated the idea of following "Sonic's core concept."
The original storylines were also well received. Amidst his criticism of most of the show, Jones praised the first episode in general, especially its humor. Plant acclaimed the character development that built on the stories of the original games, especially Sonic's and Amy's relationship and the Chaotix's newfound viability as comedy devices. Concurrently, he found the show "surprisingly touching", particularly in its "emotional" final climax, and favorably compared the space exploration of season three to Star Trek. Martin criticized the "tedious, and obvious, plot advancement" but conceded that it "does have flair that no other show quite has", and praised one scene where Sonic writes down algebra equations and chemistry formulas on the wall of his prison cell. Tony Favro of Impulse Gamer rated the first DVD box set a 6.8 out of 10, stating that despite the presence of some "fluff", there are "quite amusing points in the series and there is always a sense of morality in place." Famitsu's first preview called the story profound (重厚 jūkō?).
Comments on the show's aesthetics were mostly positive. GamesRadar admitted, "At least the song fits. Can't imagine Sonic listening to Underground's wailing Meat Loaf light rock, but he'd definitely jam to Sonic X." Jones praised the rock music from Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, as well as the "pretty piano music" and "catchy" Japanese intro and outro themes. Martin was unimpressed with the "jumpy" animation, comparing it to that of Digimon. Jones found the backgrounds "nice to look at" but did not like the use of CGI for Sonic's homing attack.
While giving no further comments, Allgame gave the Game Boy Advance Videos of episodes 1–2 and 3–4 each two and a half stars out of five, the same as it did every other Game Boy Advance Video. Common Sense Media gave it three stars for quality, also assessing its appropriateness for children. A second Famitsu review from later in 2003 called the anime an outstanding success and encouraged readers to tune in.
Popularity and cultural impact
The show was quite popular in the United States and France, consistently reaching the number-one position in its timeslot in both countries. By 2007, it was TMS' best-selling anime in the non-Japanese market, despite never airing in Japan, and it inspired TMS to focus on properties that would sell well outside Japan. In 2009, a six-year-old Norwegian boy named Christer pressed his parents to send a letter to King Harald V of Norway to approve his name being changed to "Sonic X". They allowed Christer to write it himself but did not send it until he badgered them further, and the king responded that he could not approve the change because Christer was not 18 years old. Extending over a decade past the show's initial release, the phrase "gotta go fast" has been used in the titles of video game periodical articles to represent the Sonic series, other fast-paced video games, and speedrunning in general.
- Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
- Sonic the Hedgehog (TV series)
- Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie
- Sonic Underground
- Sonic Boom
- F-Zero: GP Legend
- Kirby: Right Back at Ya!
- Space opera
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- Sonic X at Sonic Team's official website (Japanese)
- Sonic X at TMS Entertainment (Japanese)
- Sonic X at TV Tokyo's website (Japanese)
- Sonic X (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Sonic X at Absolute Anime