|Genre||Adventure, science fiction|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Hajime Kamegaki|
|Produced by||Takeshi Sasamura|
|Written by||Hiro Masaki|
|Music by||Yoshihiro Ike|
|Original network||TV Tokyo|
|Original run||April 6, 2003 – present|
|Released||May 5, 2005|
Sonic X[a] is a Japanese anime television series based on the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series published by Sega. Produced by TMS Entertainment and directed by Hajime Kamegaki, Sonic X initially ran for fifty-two episodes, broadcasting on TV Tokyo from April 6, 2003 to March 28, 2004. A further 26 episodes aired only in specific regions, such as the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East from 2005 to 2006. The show's American localization and broadcasting were handled by 4Kids Entertainment—which edited it and created new music—until 2012, when Saban Brands obtained the rights to the series, and in 2015 by Discotek Media.
The series follows a group of anthropomorphic animals who accidentally teleport from their home planet to Earth after attempting to save one of their friends from their enemy Doctor Eggman. Separated, Sonic the Hedgehog is saved by a human boy named Chris Thorndyke, who helps him find his friends while repeatedly scuffling with Doctor Eggman and his robots over control of the powerful Chaos Emeralds, and becoming celebrities. The final story arc sees the friends return with Chris to their world, where they enter outer space with a newfound plant-like creature named Cosmo and fight an army of aliens called the Metarex.
Generally, writers criticized its American localization and some characters, but praised its story and aesthetics. The series was popular in the United States and France, though less so in its native Japan. The show's merchandise included 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", the title of the show's North American theme song, survived as a Sonic catchphrase for over a decade after the show's initial release.
Sonic, Tails and Amy Rose are trying to rescue Cream the Rabbit and her pet Chao Cheese from Doctor Eggman, who has already retrieved the seven Chaos Emeralds. While attempting to destroy his base, one of Eggman's robots inadvertently shoots a machine containing the Emeralds, which activates the "Chaos Control" technique. This teleports Sonic, Eggman (and his robots), Tails, Amy, Cream, and Cheese, as well as Big the Cat (with his frog Froggy), Rouge the Bat, Knuckles the Echidna, and the Chaotix (a detective crew comprising Espio the Chameleon, Vector the Crocodile, and Charmy Bee) to Earth, the parallel-universe version of their world with humans. Sonic is chased by police, escapes into a mansion's swimming pool, and is rescued by a twelve-year-old boy named Chris Thorndyke, who lives there with his movie-star mother Lindsey, corporate executive father Nelson, scientist grandfather Chuck, maid and chef Ella, and butler Tanaka. Chris tries to hide the anthropomorphic friends from his family until Cream accidentally reveals them, but they all build up a good rapport with Chris' family and with Chris' friends Danny, Francis, and Helen.
Sonic and his friends still want to return home, so they repeatedly scuffle for the Emeralds with Doctor Eggman, his robot assistants—the hyperactive, attention-seeking Bokkun and the bumbling Bocoe and Decoe—and his larger, armed robots. Eggman plans to take over the world, catching the attention of the unnamed nation's President, so Knuckles, Rouge, and federal agent Topaz work to stop him. The other anthropomorphic residents soon join the crusade and, when Eggman is defeated, they are all hailed as heroes.
Eggman awakens a creature named Chaos from a huge gem called the Master Emerald. The animals fight a losing battle to retrieve the Emeralds until Chaos absorbs all seven and becomes giant, but an echidna girl named Tikal, who entombed herself and Chaos in the Master Emerald millennia ago, emerges to help placate him. After Sonic uses the Chaos Emeralds to become Super Sonic, he defeats Chaos, who returns to the Master Emerald with Tikal.
Shortly afterwards, Eggman finds his grandfather Gerald Robotnik's diary and Gerald's old project Shadow in a military base. After being released by Eggman, Shadow breaks into a museum to steal an Emerald, which gets Sonic arrested. Amy rescues him, 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 Earth does not submit to his rule; he blows up half of the Moon to prove his power. Eggman collects the Emeralds to power the Cannon, but this triggers a program Gerald set up decades ago, which will cause Space Colony ARK to hurtle into Earth, destroying the planets in less than half an hour. Gerald did this in order to exact revenge on humanity, who he blamed for the death of his Granddaughter Maria after she was killed in a government raid on Space Colony ARK. Everyone teams up and works together to shut it down except Shadow, who is unsympathetic and believes he has fulfilled his purpose of revenge. Chris confronts Shadow, reminding him of Maria's last wish for Shadow to be a protector of humanity, to guide and aid them. Moved to tears and with a new sense of purpose, Shadow teams up with Sonic and both power up using the Emeralds and teleport the ARK away from Earth, though Shadow is seeming killed in the process. Sonic, his friends, and Eggman reflect on Shadow's sacrifice and return to Earth.
Eggman rebuilds the Moon, seemingly out of remorse, but its position shifts, creating a solar eclipse, so he manufactures and sells "Sunshine Balls" to replicate sunlight. Sonic sees through his greedy motivations, and Eggman is arrested for fraud. Bokkun activates a robot named Emerl, who quickly allies with the anthropomorphic people, and Eggman escapes prison. Emerl wins an Emerald in a martial arts tournament involving numerous hero and villain characters, but he goes berserk and begins to wreck the city, forcing Cream and Cheese to destroy him.
Later, two government physicists show up at Chris' mansion to announce that Sonic's world and Earth were once a single world split in two by a cataclysmic event, but are rejoining, which will stop time irreversibly, and the only way to stop it is to send the anthropomorphic people back home. Tails and Chuck begin to build a gate to teleport Sonic and company back to their own world with Chaos Control, but Chris does not want them to leave. When it is finished and all their friends but Sonic have left, Chris suddenly shuts the machine down and whisks Sonic into the woods to hide out of fear his parents will return to never being home once Sonic is gone. Sonic is understanding, yet teaches Chris that as a fellow person neither can force the other to feel a certain way and that their friendship is free will. Chris tearfully acknowledges that he bound Sonic's freedom today and stopped his friend from going back home and remorsefully asks for forgiveness while Sonic tells him he'll be able to be strong even without him being there. Chris' parents find him and promise to spend more time with him. Chris having learned his lesson and grown as a person goes for one final run with Sonic before they mutually part ways and Sonic returns to his own planet, stopping the merging of the worlds. However, Chris vows that one day, he will see Sonic again.
Six months later, a race of villainous robots known as the Metarex attempt to steal the Emeralds from Sonic, but he scatters them across the galaxy. Meanwhile, on Earth, where six years have passed and Chris is now eighteen, Chris builds another device to return to his friends' world; 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, and they all board Tails' new spaceship, The Blue Typhoon. On the Typhoon, they 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. Along the way, Tails and Cosmo slowly fall in love with each other. Rouge finds Shadow alive in a capsule on Eggman's ship and he is later released (though he has lost his memory.) At first, he and Rouge assist Eggman (even saving Chris on one occasion) but after Shadow witnesses the death of resistance fighter who reminded him of Maria, both he and Rouge go off on their own to fight the Metarex independently. Eggman eventually joins the Metarex though this is a ruse to gather more information. After discovering the origins, methods, and goals of the Metarex, Shadow reappears and tries to kill Cosmo, much to Tails' anger. The Metarex's leader, Dark Oak, appears and reveals that the Metarex and Cosmo are of the same species and that they secretly implanted a tracking device in her brain while extinguishing the rest of their kind; she has been an unwitting spy ever since. It was for this reason Shadow wanted Cosmo dead. Chris, Knuckles, and Tails notice that removing the device will likely destroy her sight and hearing forever. Knuckles pushes for it to be removed anyway (In the Japanese version he stresses to find a way to remove it without damaging her), but Tails can't make any decisions at the present time so the surgery is called off and the battle against the Metarex continues.
The heroes, along with the Chaotix and Shadow, head to the center of the universe, where the Metarex are ominously controlling a planet that is made of water and contains a Planet Egg. After Sonic almost drowns in it, the planet begins turning into a giant seed; the Metarex reveal that, because they have lost the battle, they will destroy the galaxy with this planet. The Metarex then proceed to fuse together, forming a dragon-like plant monster that attaches itself to the giant seed. Sonic and Shadow use the chaos emerald to become Super Sonic and Super Shadow but are still unable to defeat the fused Metarex. Cosmo sees a vision from her mother Earthia, telling her that she must sacrifice herself to save the rest. She fuses with the giant seed and instructs Tails to use the Blue Typhoon's cannon to fire Super Sonic and Super Shadow at her and the seed. Tails hesitates, torn between saving the galaxy and killing Cosmo, but eventually finds the inner strength and annihilates the Metarex along with Cosmo, whose seed disperse throughout the galaxy along with the Planet Eggs stolen by the Metarex which return to their original planets. Dark Oak has a moment of repentance before dying while having a vision of being greeted by Earthia as he passes away. Shadow then apparently sacrifices himself to contain the ensuing explosion. After the battle, Sonic reappears and solemnly informs a heartbroken Tails that he could not save Cosmo and hands him one of her seeds. Back on Sonic's planet Eggman builds a device for Chris to return home, later claiming that this was done to reduce the strength of Team Sonic. The series ends with Chris returning home and business as usual for Sonic and his friends as they joyfully gear up to once again put a stop to Eggman's schemes. The final shots show Shadow on an alien planet and Cosmo's seed sprouting in Tails' workshop.
The show was created by TMS Entertainment, the animation subsidiary of SEGA Holdings Co., Ltd. It was the first anime series based on the Sonic universe. It was primarily influenced by other anime rather than work from the West, and was created for a Japanese audience. Yuji Naka, then the head of Sonic Team, filled in as executive producer, and Satoshi Hirayama designed all of the original characters, basing the designs on Yuji Uekawa's original concept. Most of the series consists of original content featuring new as well as established characters, but the second season is mostly based on the plots of Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2, and Sonic Battle. 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 developed before Cheese had been given a name in Sonic Advance 2 (2002); 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 people. 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 who never appeared in the series. Years later, in April 2015, Sonic Team producer Takashi Iizuka clarified the character was simply Super Sonic in its early contour.
Several of the Japanese performers 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 owing 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 the desire to have children who watched the show recognize the character as a villain but not hate him.
Iizuka believed that Sonic X and its merchandise, along with the game Sonic Heroes, had helped expose the Sonic franchise to a new generation of potential gamers in 2003, and he 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.
4Kids Entertainment handled the show's American localization. The episodes were heavily edited for content and length; 4Kids has been described by Destructoid as being "infamous" among anime fans for this type of overzealous editing. 4Kids removed alcohol consumption, coarse language, instances of breaking the fourth wall, and numerous sexual scenes. Unlike some other series that 4Kids translated around the early- to mid-2000s, such as Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, Sonic X suffered no full episodes being cut. 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 Company'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, with auditions beginning in early 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 "[didn't] work for some reason". He recalled being given only short samples of Eggman's voice from the games—he was not told specifically which game—and brief descriptions of his characters' roles. Beginning with Shadow the Hedgehog, the cast of Sonic X would assume their respective voice roles in all Sonic games released between 2005 and 2010, at which point all the roles were recast with the exception of Mike Pollock as Eggman.
Sonic X aired in Japan on TV Tokyo's 8:30 a.m. 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 was never aired on TV or released on DVD there, but was available through rental streaming services. 4Kids licensed the series in North America from the beginning; ShoPro Entertainment was also made a license holder in November 2003. It aired in North America on the FoxBox 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. In 2015, Discotek Media took over the series' rights and released seasons 1 and 2 on DVD.
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 in North America, 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. Discotek Media released the 8-disc DVD set, "Sonic X Collection 1" in North America, which includes the English dubbed seasons 1 and 2 (episodes 1–52) on November 22, 2016. They later released the 4-disc DVD set, "Sonic X Collection 2" in North America, which includes the English dubbed season 3 (episodes 53–78) on December 6, 2016.
The Japanese version of Sonic X was scored by Yoshihiro Ike. 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 episodes 14–39 and again for episodes 53–78, and "T.O.P" by KP for episodes 40–52. 4Kids musicians John Angier, Craig Marks, Joel Douek, Louis Cortelezzi, Manny Corallo, Matt McGuire and Ralph Schuckett, known for their work on the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, composed a new background score for the North American release "for both artistic and commercial reasons". The North American opening and closing theme, titled "Gotta Go Fast", was composed 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 G. Gallagher.
|Publication date||September 18, 2005 – January 1, 2009|
|No. of issues||40|
|Written by||Ian Flynn, Joe Edkin|
|Penciller(s)||Tim Smith III|
Archie Comics, which published Sonic the Hedgehog comics until 2017, 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 on January 1, 2009, and led into the first arc of the Sonic Universe series. The comics were written by Ian Flynn, who also authored the main comic series. Some issues were published in Jetix Magazine in the United Kingdom and Italy.
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 animals, but the animals 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 is accused of working with Eggman, so he and Eggman are both locked up. Nelson bails Sonic out of jail, and he saves Cream and Chris from some ghosts.
Eggman enacts more malicious schemes based on holidays like Christmas, Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day. Afterwards, he 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. Sonic escapes with ease, but S.O.N.I.C.X. repeatedly tries to ruin his reputation. Meanwhile, the animals 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, a crossover with the continuity of the main comic series, that continuity's Metal Sonic appears and allies with Eggman to defeat Sonic, but that continuity's version of Shadow steps in and warps himself and Metal Sonic to another dimension, leading into the events of the first issue of Sonic Universe.
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.
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.
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." Other comments on the show's aesthetics were mostly positive. Staff of 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. He also found the backgrounds "nice to look at" but did not like the use of CGI for Sonic's homing attack.
The human characters and, to a lesser extent, the animal ones were also criticized. 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 as: "'I'm gonna run around downtown until something exciting happens and use a stinking Ring to defeat my enemies'". GamesRadar bemoaned both the "piss-poor Adventure characters" and the original human ones. 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.
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. Famitsu's first preview called the story profound (重厚, jūkō).
Common Sense Media gave it three stars out of five and, while not commenting further on its quality, stated that it was appropriate for grade-school children but that some violent scenes were inadvisable for younger viewers. A second Famitsu review from later in 2003 called the anime an outstanding success and encouraged readers to tune in.
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 that the third season never aired in Japan, and it inspired TMS to focus on properties that would sell well outside Japan. In April 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 eighteen 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 and other fast-paced video games.
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