For a moment back in the ‘90s, Sonic the Hedgehog was the most important cartoon character in the world.
Very, very briefly, Sonic ranked higher in polls than Mickey Mouse himself. It’s hard to remember this time now after so long, but two and a half decades ago, thanks to video games, comic books, and, crucially, a couple of animated cartoon shows, Sonic ended up being a really big deal.
Anyone who was a child during the ‘90s will remember “The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog”, a “Looney Tunes” inspired slapstick cartoon show in which Sonic, along with his pal Tails, repeatedly outwitted a pair of dense robots named Scratch and Grounder, as well as the ever unthreatening villain Doctor Robotnik.
This show wasn’t particularly original, and its animation was often suspect at best, but the show ended up earning an important place in the hearts of many fans. It turned out that Sonic worked really well in this kind of comedy setting.
The following twenty years have seen a series of inexplicably dark and gritty storylines featuring the adorable blue hedgehog. In the intervening time, he’s made out with an Uncanny Valley human princess, been arrested on suspicions of terrorism, turned into a werewolf, and been taken prisoner while the renamed Dr Eggman took over the world.
Sonic’s storylines have gotten really weird.
Now, though, the cute, cunning, slapstick Sonic adventures of old are back, as Sega has begun a new cartoon series that revives the energy and comedy of “Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog”.
It’s gorgeous. Behold, and weep.
This feels like what Sonic was meant to be all along. The only strange thing is that it took Sega so long to bring the character back to his roots like this. Gone are the super-serious storylines and the overly gritty nonsense, and instead, the new show is pure, cartoonish fun.
There’s only one problem with this – Sega, ever unwilling to commit to actually giving its audience what they want, has decided to only commission a few short episodes for YouTube. “Sonic Mania Adventures” is a series of tiny shorts, and this feels like a huge wasted opportunity.
Fingers crossed, the overwhelming popularity of the new short (which is already on over a million views) will help to encourage the bean-counters to consider making this a full animated television series.
In the meantime, it’s worth watching this short clip over and over. If the upcoming “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie (which is currently filming in Atlanta according to some reports) can channel even a tiny sliver of this enthusiasm and energy, it’ll be well worth watching.