Riding off the momentum of then-recent games in the Sonic the Hedgehog series like Sonic Adventure and Sonic Battle, Sonic X is the blue blur’s first animated outing to closely follow plots from the source material. Starting and ending with original storylines but squeezing in the narratives of several Sonic games in between to give an experience that’s familiar, yet unique.
Side characters are among the Sonic fandom’s biggest points of interest, and for good reason. Their designs are all very simple, but in a way that visually communicates their key personality traits, so almost anybody can identify with at least one even at only a glance.
That’s why it’s so great that just about every notable character to have been established in the Sonic games at the time is represented here. Not everyone is present, of course, but while it would have been nice to see a few deep cuts like Fang the Sniper, the show’s cast covers all the essentials with a healthy serving of smaller side characters. If you want to see your favorite Sonic the Hedgehog character animated, this show is most likely your best bet.
Any seasoned netizen can—and most likely already does—enjoy the hefty number of Sonic the Hedgehog memes that have graced the online sphere before we even knew what a meme was. The comedic fan edit set to Parry Gripp’s Do You Like Waffles, the scene where Sonic swears in English on the Japanese track, and the infamous dub theme song are all among Sonic X’s many contributions to the early internet meme culture, with some having had resurgences in popularity since, and we still enjoy watching the show to this day because of them.
X-Traneous Setting and Characters
When you want to watch a 72-episode TV series all about Sonic the Hedgehog, you might expect the story to be set in Sonic’s world, right? If you said yes, not only are you firmly in the majority, but you have much better judgement than the team at TMS Entertainment behind the show, who, despite choosing to directly adapt several Sonic games, pulled a reverse-isekai and transported Sonic to the “real” world as early as the first episode for no apparent reason. This means putting up with badly written human characters who fill already taken roles in the show like Sonic’s surrogate little brother (you know, like Tails) or an inventor (again, just like Tails) or a Mexican maid stereotype (definitely Tails).
Another downside is not the fault of the production per se, but rather a pitfall of adapting any game for television. Namely, the fact the entire interactive element is stripped away, leaving a major gap in the adapted material. That gap can be filled by adding more detail to the plot and giving the story more depth, but Sonic games have never been known for having great stories, so there’s only so much that can be done while staying even remotely faithful to the franchise and what Sonic X offers in that department does little to distract from the fact that viewers are essentially watching redone game cutscenes for a game they aren’t even playing.
Nobody was expecting this show to look like One Punch Man season 1, but Sonic X’s presentation is so dull it makes One Punch Man season 2 look like a masterclass. Shots are framed as two-dimensionally as a Genesis game, characters created for the show are in a constant visual clash with Sonic, and his friends and the animation is stilted and lifeless. By far, the show’s biggest failing, though, are the many times it fails to properly convey speed through its animation. That should be the first thing to get right when putting Sonic in an anime, but it’s apparently too much for the show to handle.
Things take a noticeable turn for the better starting with episode 53, but that’s a lot of ugly anime to watch in order to get to 25 episodes that look slightly above average. Combine that with a soundtrack with far too few Crush 40 songs and you have a presentation that’s sure to disappoint Sonic fans.
Holding fan appeal is important to any adaptation, especially for such a popular franchise. While Sonic X is able to live up to that expectation to a certain extent, more attention needed to be paid to the show’s other aspects, as they undo a lot of the goodwill built up by the show’s fanservice. That fan service is still available in spades though, so franchise fans will have reasons not to spindash away.