Sonic Underground title card
|Created by||Yuji Naka
Hirokazu Yasuhara (original characters)
Jean Cheville (adaptated to TV)
|Directed by||Marc Boreal
|Voices of||Jaleel White
|Theme music composer||Robby London
|Opening theme||"Sonic Underground"|
|Country of origin||France
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||40 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Andy Heyward
|Running time||21 minutes 48 seconds|
|Production company(s)||DIC Productions L.P.
Les Studios Tex
Sega of America, Inc.
Suzhou Hong Ying Animation Corporation Limited
|Original network||TF1 (France)
First-run syndication (U.S.)
|Original release||6 January(France) – 23 May 1999|
|Related shows||Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic Underground is an animated series that follows the adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and his siblings, Sonia and Manic. The cartoon follows a main plot separate from all other Sonic the Hedgehog media, where Sonic had siblings that were collectively part of a royal family who were forced to separate from their mother, Queen Aleena, upon Robotnik's takeover of Mobius due to a prophecy told by the Oracle of Delphius. The series was produced by DIC Entertainment and TF1, and first premiered in France on 6 January 1999 on TF1, and then premiered in the United Kingdom on 2 May 1999 on ITV1 and finally in the United States in syndication on 30 August 1999. It was the first Sonic the Hedgehog television series to be sold on the iTunes Store. The series ran only for one season, consisting of forty episodes.
The show is also DIC's last Sonic animated series.
The show takes place in a separate canon and continuity than any other Sonic the Hedgehog media. Queen Aleena, the former ruler of Mobius, was overthrown by Dr. Robotnik and his sidekicks Sleet and Dingo. Robotnik seized control of the planet and forced Queen Aleena into hiding. To preserve the dynasty, Queen Aleena separated her three children: Sonic, Manic, and Sonia after the Oracle of Delphius told her of a prophecy, proclaiming that one day, Queen Aleena would reunite with her children to form the "Council of Four," and overthrow Robotnik. Meanwhile, Dr. Robotnik did his best to set up an autocratic government, and legally turned anyone who stood against him into robots devoid of freewill, and forced the nobles into paying large amounts of money to him as tribute.
When Sonic, Manic, and Sonia grew up, the Oracle of Delphius revealed the prophecy to them. After that, Sonic, Manic, and Sonia decided to go on a quest, searching throughout Mobius for Queen Aleena. Dr. Robotnik, with the assistance of the Swat-Bots and his bounty hunters Sleet and Dingo, tries constantly to capture the royal hedgehogs and prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled.
The Oracle of Delphius has assigned the three siblings powerful "medallions" that can change into musical instruments, and can also be used as weapons. Sonic's medallion is an electric guitar, Sonia's medallion is a keyboard that functions as a smoke machine, and Manic's medallion is a drumset that can be used as an "earth controller" with cymbals that can deflect laserfire. All of the medallions can be used as laser guns. The three use the amulets not only to fight Robotnik's forces but to also as instruments for their underground rock band, "Sonic Underground."
- Sonic Hedgehog: The lead singer of many songs performed by the Sonic Underground. His medallion turns into a guitar, which can fire laser blasts. As fast as the speed of sound, Sonic can easily outrun danger. He is a big fan of chili dogs. He also has hydrophobia, being terrified of water as he cannot swim. Sonic wears anti-gravity sneakers that allow him to hover over the ground while running. His voice was provided by Jaleel White. His singing voice was provided by Sam Vincent.
- Sonia Hedgehog: The only female member of the Sonic Underground and the sister of Sonic and Manic. Unlike her brothers, she was raised by an aristocratic foster family, giving her an upper class mentality. She hates getting dirty, is skilled at gymnastics and karate, and possesses superhuman strength, a photographic memory, and the ability to spin in a cyclonic manner similar to the Tasmanian Devil and Espio the Chameleon. Her medallion turns into a keyboard, which can fire laser blasts from one end, or create a pink mist when the keys are played. Sonia has a pink motorcycle which can travel as fast as Sonic's running and Manic's hover board (it was destroyed in the 36th episode). She also is the one that does research on Robotnik's plans and provides the technological innovation for the Sonic Underground. Of the siblings, Sonia is the only one to be seen involved in any romance, displaying feelings for her childhood friend Bartleby, despite his snobbishness, as well as other men encountered in her travels. Among these is Knuckles, whom she develops an attraction to during the series' Flying Fortress saga. She was also voiced by Jaleel White. Her singing voice was provided by Louise Vallance.
- Manic Hedgehog: Manic is a calculating hedgehog that was raised by thieves, and is a master of their trade. When Manic met his siblings, they disapproved of his thieving tendencies, but his skills as a lock-pick were greatly appreciated. Manic possesses neither Sonic's speed nor Sonia's spin-attack, thus making him the only member of the Sonic Underground who relies on entirely on his medallion for superpowers of his own. Despite his lack of superpowers, his thieving skills proves himself extremely useful to the group from time to time. Manic is the drummer of the Sonic Underground. His medallion turns into drums, which can cause earthquakes; the Oracle of Delphius claims that his drums are the most powerful instruments of the three. He also has a hover board that is as fast as Sonic's running and Sonia's motorcycle. His medallion's string is blue. Like Sonic and Sonia, he was voiced by Jaleel White. His singing voice was done by Tyley Ross.
- Dr. Robotnik: Robotnik is the evil dictator of Mobius, renamed Robotropolis under his rule, having conquered it with his army of Swatbots. He captures and roboticizes anyone who opposes him, transforming them into robotic servants. Though he is depicted as a bumbling villain, one of his goals is to find Sanctuary - where Freedom Fighters hide their children - and exterminate all the children in it. Robotnik's primary minions are Sleet and Dingo, two bounty hunters that will do anything to capture Sonic and his siblings. His voice was provided by Garry Chalk.
- Sleet: One of Robotnik's canine bounty hunters. This cunning wolf leads the bumbling Dingo about on missions to capture the hedgehogs. Sleet has a morphing device that can transform Dingo into anything Sleet wishes. Sleet is constantly being crushed by Dingo and is usually the one who suffers the most from their combined failures. Sleet was voiced by Maurice LaMarche.
- Dingo: One of Robotnik's canine bounty hunters. Dingo is a huge, muscle-bound blonde canid with an Australian accent, and is also very ignorant. He is partially roboticised in his hands and his left leg from the knee down, which is never explained. Dingo has a relentless crush on Sonia, but remains fiercely loyal to his partner, Sleet. Dingo was voiced by Peter Wilds.
- Queen Aleena Hedgehog: The mother of the Sonic Underground group and former ruler of Mobius before Robotnik's takeover. She had to give them up in order for the prophecy to become true. She spends the series on the run from her own children, until the time is right to reveal herself. Her character has many allies, including the Oracle of Delphius and Knuckles. She also does a bit of narrating in the start of every episode. She is voiced by Gail Webster.
- Knuckles the Echidna: The guardian of one of the chaos emeralds and the Floating Island, and an acquaintance of Queen Aleena's. He is very protective of his island home, and has set many traps about the island. He has a pet dinosaur called Chomps, and like his game incarnation is shown to be somewhat gullible. His great-grandfather Athair warns him that he must stay on the island in order to play his part in the freedom of Mobius. He turned against the Hedgehogs twice-first being tricked into thinking they were thieves and later thinking that it was the only way to save their planet-but came around and worked with them against the threat of Robotnik and his henchmen. During the Flying Fortress arc, he showed signs of a growing affection for Sonia, including a particular guilt over the prospect of betraying her. He was voiced by Brian Drummond.
- Oracle of Delphius: An odd, wart-covered, reptilian anteater in a cloak. The Oracle prophesied that when Robotnik invaded Mobius, Aleena and her children would form the Council of Four to overthrow Robotnik and free Mobius. The Oracle lives in a cave somewhere in a cold region of Mobius, and is quite good at making chili dogs. He is named after the Oracle at Delphi. He is voiced by Maurice LaMarche.
- Sir Bartleby Montclair: A posh, cowardly mink who is one of Robotropolis' richest aristocrats. Bartleby is Sonia's former fiancé. He dislikes her brothers and is often forced to fund Robotnik's schemes - although in secret he still supports Aleena. He speaks with an upper-class English accent. He is voiced by Philip Maurice Hayes.
- Cyrus: Cyrus is a lion and a technician for the Freedom Fighters. He is an old friend of Sonic. In his first appearance he was working as a spy for Robotnik, but quit upon discovering that the Freedom Fighters' Sanctuary was a hideout for their children. Cyrus's father was roboticized. His voice was provided by Ian James Corlett.
- Trevor: Trevor is a mouse who is a friend of the royal siblings and Cyrus. He dresses like a hippie. He is an ace pilot and helps build and fix mechanical equipment. He is voiced by Matt Hill.
It is often claimed that SEGA contacted DiC Entertainment to make a new Sonic cartoon, which would help gain interest in buying their new console, the Dreamcast. Sonic Underground started production in early 1997, around the same time the development of both the Dreamcast and Sonic Adventure had started.
When the show was in development, two episodes per week were produced, and the writers felt that they were not given enough time to "tie everything together" in the plot, being limited to a three-part "Origins" saga for coherency. DIC used cattle calls to generate episode plots. Periodically, about twenty unaffiliated writers were brought into the studios to learn about the established characters and brainstorm possible plots for episodes, after which about one or two would be selected.
While it was once believed that 65 episodes were made of which only 40 aired, Ben Hurst, a main writer from Sonic the Hedgehog (dubbed SatAM by fans), who was also involved in Sonic Underground's production, stated in a chat at the Sonic Amateur Games Expo 2008 that only 40 were produced.
Sonic Underground first premiered in France on 6 January 1999 and aired on TF1 on the TF! Jeunesse block on Wednesdays and Sundays. The show later premiered in English in the UK on 2 May 1999 and aired on ITV1 on Sunday mornings. ITV1 aired the first 18 episodes in the original UK run before cancelling the show.
In the United States, Sonic Underground premiered on 30 August 1999 (one day after the show was cancelled in the UK) and aired on the Bohbot Kids Network syndication block on weekday mornings at 6:00 AM Central Time. It ran for one season from 30 August 1999 to 22 October 1999. On the Sci-Fi Channel (formally part of the Bohbot Kids Network), the episodes that were supposed to air on Fridays were skipped because Double Dragon and later King Arthur and the Knights of Justice were airing instead, therefore only airing 32 of the 40 Sonic Underground episodes.
Sonic Underground was later rerun. In the United Kingdom in 2005, Sonic Underground aired on Pop, which has also aired Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog on its sister station Kix!. Between 2005 and 2006, it aired on ITV2 on the Action Stations! block. On 19 January 2006, CBS announced a multi-year deal with DIC to broadcast some of their shows on the "CBS's Secret Saturday Morning Slumber Party" segment, including Sonic Underground. In 2009, reruns of Sonic Underground aired on Firestone Communications' Sorpresa, a Hispanic children's station (Channel 850 on Time Warner Cable) in the United States, were broadcast audio-dubbed Latin Spanish episodes. In 2011, the show was broadcast by KidsCo. Re-runs of the series aired on Disney XD starting 11 June 2012. This makes it the second time a Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon airs on a Disney-themed channel with the first being Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog on Toon Disney.
The complete Sonic Underground series, comprising all 40 episodes on 10 DVDs, was released by Anchor Bay in the UK, compatible only with region 2 players. The entire series was re-released by Delta, who released a 4 disc DVD set with a 5th DVD containing bonus features for region 0 players. In return the entire series was re-released by GO Entertain, in the UK, compatible only with region 2 players.
Shout! Factory and Vivendi Entertainment have released the complete series on DVD in Region 1 (NTSC) in two volume sets. Volume 1, simply entitled Sonic Underground, was released on 18 December 2007. It contains the first 20 episodes of the show on three discs; a bonus fourth disc is an audio CD containing eight songs from the series, including the opening theme. Sonic Underground: Volume 2 was released on 17 June 2008, featuring the remaining 20 episodes. In May 2013 NCircle Entertainment released Volume 1 along with many of the older SEGA and Nintendo cartoons that were already released by Shout Factory. Most of the newer NCircle's releases are copies of the Shout Factory versions.
Sonic Underground was praised for its catchy music, but criticized for its complex plot. David Cornelius of DVD Talk said "While many Sonic fans did not take too well to all the changes, preferring the original "Sonic" cartoon to this stranger, sometimes darker, sometimes sillier incarnation, the series did win a small but loyal cult following. I fall more on the side of disappointment - for all the cleverness that went into crafting an all-new backstory, the episodes themselves are uninspired - but acknowledge the simple fact that it scores well with its target audience." GamesRadar called the show as one of "the absolute worst Sonic moments", criticizing the extra characters and the complex plot, but complimenting the catchy intro. Comedian Chris Hardwick commented on the show's theme song, composed by Mike Piccirillo, claiming that "that guy sounds like he's trying to win his exwife back." Susan Arendt of Wired said "The songs are actually kind of catchy in a Saturday morning cartoon kind of way, but the band thing still seems a bit out of place, especially when the instruments turn into weapons." Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media said "Sonic Underground has some good things to offer kids," complimenting its low violence and ability to entertain children. Mick Joest of Cinemablend called Sonic Underground one of the "5 Best Cartoon Bands Of All Time."
The Sonic the Hedgehog comic from Archie Comics featured a story in one of its special issues in which the Sonic Underground continuity was featured. According to the comics' plot, the reality in which Sonic Underground takes place is one of many parallel universes that share elements with Sonic's own. In the story, Sonic Prime-hailing from the main universe in the comic series-joins forces with his counterpart and siblings to stop Dr. Robotnik, who has managed to assemble a monstrous battle machine known as the Giant Borg. Robotnik obtained the pieces for this machine due to being mistaken for one of his own counterparts by Evil Sonic, an evil counterpart of Sonic's who later came to be known as Scourge the Hedgehog.
The Sonic Universe spin-off comic was originally scheduled to feature an epilogue to the unfinished Sonic Underground for its 50th issue. However, for unknown reasons this was replaced with a story focusing on one of Sonic's long-running enemies, Metal Sonic. The Underground Epilogue has apparently been put on hold indefinitely, possibly due to its lack of relevance to current Sonic games and the comic series as a whole.
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