Reviewby Chris Shepard
Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie
The brave blue hero is back! And this time, it's more than just fun and games. Sonic's arch nemesis, Eggman (Dr. Robotnik), has been banished from the Land of Darkness by an evil Dark Eggman robot. And if that wasn't bad enough, the devious doctor tells Sonic that the Robot Generator has been sabotaged and will blow Planet Freedom to kingdom come. But what could possibly make Sonic trust his worst enemy?
What would make him risk life and claw? Surely not the words of Eggman. Not even the pleas of the President can get him to move. It's not until the President's beautiful daughter Sara turns on the charm that Sonic springs into action. Does Sonic have what it takes to save Planet Freedom from Dark Eggman and who is this Hyper Metal Sonic that Eggman has been working on?
Who doesn't know who Sonic the Hedgehog is these days? Back in the days when Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo were battling to become the most successful 16-bit video game system, there were two huge mascots that brought in all the sales. There was Sega's Sonic and Nintendo's Mario. While Mario was a crazy jump and shoot side-scroller that could drive you insane, Sonic always seemed to have just a little more style and was always just a little more laid back. Many levels involved simply running forward at breakneck speeds allowing you to relax and just have a good time while being absorbed by the topflight visuals. Watching this anime can be a similar experience.
Before diving into the anime itself, first we'll have a look at the technical aspects. The cover art was rather bland. It shows all of Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles standing around. That's it. There's barely even a background. It fades from light blue at the bottom to dark blue at the top. You'd think something tagged as a movie would have a slightly more complex cover.
This disc is rather light on extras. A little screenshot gallery and a character bios section, which may be useful to you if you've never played a Sonic game, or watched the U.S. TV version before.
The menus are very high-grade, although a little basic. The layout and images were gratifying, nice transitions were used, and the catchy music from the anime itself played throughout. What's best is that the menus hardly slow down at all! Good menu work, ADV.
I think what will disappoint already existing fans of the Sonic series the most is that a totally new story and setting is presented. New yet undeveloped characters are thrown in, main characters like Sonic and Knuckles have different backgrounds than their video game (or even comic/Saturday AM TV version) counterparts, and the evil Eggman (Dr. Robotnik) is nothing but a goofball half the time. This isn't necessarily bad on it's own but it would have been more appreciable if the story and character backgrounds followed the cannon of the video games just a little bit more.
As with most video game conversions, plot almost always take the back seat to the action. It's no different in this anime. Basically, the entire premise is that Sonic has to find the Land of Darkness before the Robot Generator explodes while fighting all of the baddies that can get in his way. And then there's the glimpses of Hyper Metal Sonic in the beginning; just what does Eggman plan to do with him? This anime feature strictly tries to be a fun action-adventure film and nothing more.
Action is the element Sonic the Hedgehog shines best in, fans of the video game are sure to love it. At one point, both Sonic and Tails must run through a huge forest, jumping and flipping over cliffs, hills, and trees, all while avoiding badnik traps set up by Eggman. The detail in the background is smooth and intricate, making it a visual feast. All of this with Sonic the Hedgehog's catchy techno music playing, you'll feel right at home, as if you were storming through your favorite levels on the Sega Genesis once again.
The animation used is good although not quite movie-like since this actually is just two OVA's pasted together. Upon paying closer attention, characters will look flat at times; but if you can allow yourself to be absorbed by the show, you probably won't even notice. As mentioned above, the characters don't simply just run in a straight line; they flip and jump, spindash and fly. If you've ever seen the animation at the beginning of the Sega CD video game, you should have an idea what this is going to be like. These little things make the show much more entertaining and fun.
If you're not already a Sonic fan, you probably won't find this nearly as entertaining as someone who is would. This OVA set already assumes the viewer is familiar with our heroes and wastes very little time trying to introduce them. This is not a complete stand-alone product. However, due to the cartoony look of the characters, the non-traditional form of action, and bright and crisp visuals, this should still remain entertaining for the new comers. For these viewers though, it's going to be much more average than great.
The English dub was very sub-par. Sonic and Tails both sounded as if they had their noses plugged up the entire time and Eggman didn't sound quite as evil as he should have during his evil moments. The rest of the characters' voices were acceptable but no more. It feels as if the entire cast was trying just a little too hard to sound like goofy Saturday morning voice actors, they went way overboard. The Japanese track and voice actors, with Masami Kikuchi (Tenchi of Tenchi Muyo!) as Sonic, was much higher quality.
If you're a hardcore Sonic fan or you just remember enjoying the Sonic video games during some period of your life, this is definitely a title to check out. That's the target audience of this one. The fact that it's so different than most of the other anime available out there will keep it in the average category for everyone else. If you've never heard of the blue hedgehog before or just have no particular interest in him, Sonic the Hedgehog is worth a rental at best.
Overall : B
+ Good non-traditional action. Good for the Sonic fans.
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