It seems like Sonic just can't get a break. He's been a fast-as-sound mascot for well over a decade, traversed 3D as well as 2D, and been incarnated into a number of television shows. It's the television shows we are most interested in this time. "Sonic the Hedgehog" aired in 1993 on ABC and had dark, edgy overtones as sonic led a rebellion of woodland creatures against the evil Dr. Robotnik. "The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog," aired at the same time, had more influence with Bugs Bunny than with the competing show on ABC. Both shows were cancelled around the same time (the same year), but "Adventures" kept rerunning on Saturday morning. Jaleel White, better known as Steve Urkel, took the helm as the garrulous, slightly arrogant blue wonder in both series. His voice made perfect the tone, the raucousness of the hedgehog in both series.
I preferred the darker, edgier Sonic. It had better writing, animation, and felt more mature for it's time. For comparison's sake, "Sonic the Hedgehog" is to David Lynch as "Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog" is to Nickelodeon. But things have not been terribly great for Sonic fans. While both shows had their followings, they were both cancelled (and "Sonic the Hedgehog" was left with a cliffhanger) and Sonic was in the doghouse for a number of years. For what the nineties brought, the shows could have been worse. Today, in the double-aughts, we have "Sonic X," a charming, if not sloppy, show based off the Sonic universe (based on the newer Sonic Adventure 1 & 2 worlds of the blue blur).
"Sonic X" is a derivative of the Sonic heyday on the Dreamcast. You'll find characters like Rouge, Knuckles, Shadow, Chao, and a handful of humans who, in my opinion, don't belong-and never did belong-in the Sonic universe. I blame Yuji Naka for placing them into the games to begin with. Anyway, "Sonic X: Project Shadow" follows the origins of Shadow as he attempts to steal all the chaos emeralds for Dr. Eggman. Dr. Eggman, of course, just wants world domination (what a one-track mind). Shadow swears his allegiance to Dr. Eggman and begins wreaking havoc on the city. And as luck would have it, our blue hero is mistaken for Shadow and gets taken prisoner. Apparently, no human in this anime can see in color or else they'd see that Sonic's imposter is, indeed, black, not blue.
Once you allow yourself to suspend disbelief (and realize that there are talking animals running around with hammers) the story doesn't seem so far-fetched. However, one cannot get past the voice acting without complaining. Amy and Tails are just moderately annoying while the human characters (true to their anime roots) are nothing short of obnoxious. It would have been nice to have more talented voice actors (like Jaleel White) instead of those who make the characters the whiniest.
Given that this Saturday morning cartoon is rated TV Y, I wasn't expecting it to "push envelopes" or "be clever." The generic "we have to get there!" and "we have to help Sonic!" type dialog is thrown in with some tedious, and obvious, plot advancement, so I wasn't let down. "Sonic X" does, manage to keep interests about half-way through when Sonic is taken to Prison Island. Our hero kicks it like a three-time-lifer and scribbles various lines algebra and chemistry on his cell wall. Not that algebra or chemistry really have an impact on the story; it's just to let you know Sonic took pre-calc.
"Sonic X" doesn't do anything interesting with animation. It's jumpy and lacks the flow of other shows. It's similar to Digimon's animation. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the kind of addictiveness of "collecting" that Digimon is famous for ripping off of Pokemon.
"Sonic X" does have flair that no other show quite has. Sonic, of course, is great to watch, and the interesting Shadow rounds out the roster quite nicely. The DVD "Sonic X: Project Shadow" has six 20 minute episodes and previews of other 4K!DS TV shows. I was disappointed that the special features were limited to a computer readable flash animation where Sonic just runs over crimson earth across a black background. Kinda lame. Sadly, if there was anything else to the DVD ROM features, I was unable to find it.
I still recommend the older "Sonic the Hedgehog" show (or even "Sonic Underground") which are far superior to "Sonic X." Problem is, you'll have little luck finding DVDs of those shows. Right now, this is the only way to get your Sonic fix until Shadow the Hedgehog for consoles comes out. Even then, the blue blur isn't the main character. "Sonic X" is a decent series that just doesn't ever come into its own. It's focus is slightly more toward the human characters and those around Sonic. Sonic never really becomes any more dimensional than lined paper. There's potential here, but it was squandered. If you were fond of the Sonic of the 2D heyday, you'll likely find "Sonic X" trite and annoying. But if you're into the new Saturday morning cartoon scene, "Sonic X" might be worth a look.