Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion over Sonic’s Hollywood debut and how the trailer makes it look like absolute rubbish, particularly with the horrific design for the character himself. Because that’s how Hollywood does adaptations. They think they can do better and make things more marketable if they just ignore the source they’re adapting from completely. But I digress. In early 1996, The Blue blur got an anime adaptation in the form of a two episode OVA from Studio Pierrot. And I’m going to look at it to provide some background into Sonic adaptations.
We open with a shadowy figure in a laboratory. He rants about his Hyper Metal Sonic and how he just needs “his” data to complete him. We cut to Sonic & Tails enjoying the beach when an old owl flies up and sends them to the President who needs them as he is going to attend a furry convention and needs feedback on his suit. Actually, there’s an emergency. They arrive to find Doctor Eggman sitting at the President’s desk with robots holding the president and his daughter hostage. He tells Sonic that his kingdom, Eggmanland, was taken over by a mysterious Black Eggman and his army of robots. Furthermore, they’re abusing his generator in such a way that it may destroy the planet. Sonic says Eggman almost always lies but reluctantly agrees to go in case this is one of those rare exceptions. Thus Sonic and Tails begin their adventure.
I would say that the big story issue is that the whole thing is kind of predictable, but it’s also based off of the old Sonic games and those all had the same plot. So, I’m not sure the predictability can be called a big flaw. What is definitively a flaw is that the plot points don’t always make sense. For example, Metal Sonic knows everything Sonic knows from copying information from his brain. Fair enough. Somehow he also knows things Sonic learns after that fact. How does that work? Are their brains supposed to be connected by wi-fi? Does Sonic’s mind also have apps and Minesweeper?
I will credit the OVA with giving its characters enough sense to make the obvious points. Which should be a given, but frequently doesn’t happen, especially in works meant for children. But here, Sonic brings up Eggman’s dishonesty every time it’s relevant and there’s always a good reason why they have to act any way. So, at least the plot doesn’t revolve around carrying the idiot ball. The OVA also does have the occasional funny moment. Which makes it pretty watchable.
There isn’t much to the characters in this. Sonic can really move, he’s got an attitude. He’s probably the fastest thing alive. Tails is a playful kid who follows Sonic around and pilots a plane. Knuckles is a wandering treasure hunter who considers himself Sonic’s best friend. Eggman wants to conquer everything. They’re all simple, but serviceable enough. But that brings us to the new characters in the OVA. We have a senile old owl and the big joke surrounding him is that he awkwardly mimics the young people. The President is boring. But the real problem character is Sara, the President’s daughter. She throws tantrums, cries and is just generally annoying. All without contributing anything meaningful whatsoever. Yes, she’s one of those characters they could replace with a dog and it would only improve the work.
The art looks decent enough. Knuckles wearing a cowboy hat for no reason is a bit odd. It’s like the folks at Pierrot were inspired by Fang the sniper. But at least they had the good sense not to ruin Sonic’s iconic design by making him look bizarrely humanoid. A studio would have to be completely and utterly made up of morons to do that. Hi, Paramount.
The actors do pretty well. Particularly Kikuchi Masami & Matsumoto Yasunori. Kanai Mika is probably the worst in terms of performance but that’s more how her character is written than it is a reflection of her skills. The music is really well done with some tracks sounding like they came right from the Megadrive game. Maybe they actually did and I’m just not recalling the exact music from those games at the moment. Either way, it works.
There isn’t any.
Areas of Improvement:
- Lose Sara. She doesn’t contribute anything to the narrative. Her scenes are just annoying.
- Have Metal Sonic learn Sky World’s weakness through means that make sense. He could overhear it by zooming through or he could plant a bug on Sonic when he has the chance. In either case, it would work better than him still being connected to Sonic’s brain through wi-fi.
- Develop the Relationships with Sonic, Tails & Knuckles a bit. We get some small sense of how the trio interact and things work between them, but it could pretty easily be strengthened.
Honestly, I think this OVA is going to turn out to be significantly superior to the upcoming Paramount film. Is it a good OVA? Well, no but it does have a basic understanding of the Sonic characters and it faithfully follows the iconic designs that have kept the blue hedgehog relevant in spite of a long line of Sonic ’06, Secret Rings, Unleashed, Black Knight and other rubbish titles. And it’s not a bad OVA by any means. It has its enjoyable moments, in spite of its glaring flaws. In the end, it’s pretty average. If you were comparing it to a Sonic game, it would be at roughly the level of the first Sonic Adventure. So, my final rating is going to be a 5/10. If you’re a huge Sonic fan, consider checking it out. If you aren’t, you probably won’t get anything out of it.