Sonic the Hedgehog (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ Sonikku za Hejjihoggu?) is a two-episode anime OVA based on the video game series with the same name. Produced by Studio Pierrot and General Entertainment Co., Ltd., the anime was originally released in Japan between January 26 and February 4, 1996, with its two thirty-minute episodes over two separate VHS tapes. These two episodes were titled "Journey to Eggmanland" (エッグマンランドへむかえ Eggumanrando e Mukae?) and "Sonic vs. Metal Sonic!!" (ソニックＶＳメタル・ソニック！！ Sonikku tai Metaru Sonikku?). Both episodes were directed by Kazunori Ikegami and written by Masashi Kubota, and featured the ending theme "Look-a-like." The music score was composed by Mitsuhiro Tada, who also did the arrangement for "Look-a-like".
The first half of the anime follows Sonic and Tails travelling to Dr. Robotnik's utopian city of Robotropolis to stop the Robot Generator and defeat Metal Robotnik, who has banished Robotnik from his city. The second half centers around the conflict between Sonic and Hyper Metal Sonic, Robotnik's greatest creation yet. Along with the main characters from games, the anime also features its own exclusive characters, such as Sara, the President and Old Man Owl.
In 1999, A.D. Vision received the licence rights for the North American release for the anime, who dubbed the two episodes and edited them together as a direct-to-video film titled "Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie". The film was released on September 7, 1999, for the VHS and DVD, two days prior to the North American release of Sonic Adventure.
Welcome to Eggmanland
Deep inside Robotropolis, Dr. Robotnik has finished his latest creation, Hyper Metal Sonic, in an attempt to kill Sonic the Hedgehog. However, according to Robotnik, the one thing he needs to complete Metal's AI is to infuse it with Sonic's life data.
On a lonely island located in Land of the Sky, Sonic is relaxing on a beach chair and listening to radio outside the ruins of a crashed Boeing 747 and USS Enterprise, which serves as his house. Tails comes out to test his new, jet-propelled body-board, asking Sonic to give it a try, but Sonic declines due to his dislike of water. While testing the body-board, Tails collides with Old Man Owl who is flying around the island in small aircraft. Being a blind owl, he does not notice his aircraft's engine is on fire. With Sonic being uncooperative, Tails tries to help Old Man Owl on his own. As both Tails and Old Man Owl are about to collide with a steep cliff, however, they are rescued by Sonic. Afterwards, Old Man Owl gives Sonic and Tails emergency news from the President, who wants to meet Sonic right away. Both Sonic and Tails thus promptly fly to the presidential house located in the capital city of South Island.
As they arrive at the presidential house, Sonic and Tails encounter Dr. Robotnik and his robotic guards who hold the President and his daughter, Sara, hostage. On the President's request, Sonic begrudgingly hears Robotnik out, who elaborates on how their planet, named Planet Freedom, is split into two dimensions: the Land of the Sky and the Land of Darkness. The doctor then explains that his capital city in the land of Darkness, Robotropolis, has been seized by Metal Robotnik and his demonic robots, who drove Robotnik and his guard robots out of the city. Robotnik also explains that Metal Robotnik has sabotaged Robotnik's Robot Generator by overloading it with energy, which according to Robotnik's calculations, would release enough excess electricity to create an explosion that would destroy Planet Freedom before sunrise tomorrow. Robotnik thus proposes that Sonic, being the fastest one around, goes into Robotropolis and shuts down the Robot Generator. While Sonic initially refuses, he accepts the proposal upon the President and Sara's insistence. To help them on their journey, Robotnik gives Tails a Navigator that will lead them to the location of the Robot Generator. Sonic and Tails then promptly head off for Robotropolis in the Tornado biplane. Meanwhile, Robotnik and his guard robots remain in the presidential house where they waste time playing video games with Sara and the President. Suddenly, however, a large mech crashes into the presidential house. With Sara exited about it, she jumps into the mech's control room. Robotnik, however, having an evil scheme in mind, attempts to keep Sara from pressing any buttons, causing them to get stuck inside the mech before it takes off.
Meanwhile, Sonic and Tails enter the Land of Darkness by flying through a large, storm eye-like entrance. After a rough landing that damages the Tornado, the duo proceed through the Land of Darkness on foot while encountering robots, such as a Crawlton and a swarm of Buzz Bombers. Eventually, they enter a warp zone which takes them to the ruins of an ancient abandoned city. There, they encounter Metal Robotnik. Having no time fight Metal Robotnik, Sonic and Tails try to escape it, only for the robot to chase after them.
Along the way, Sonic and Tails get attacked by Metal Robotnik's glue projectiles which get Tails stuck on a fence. Meanwhile, Sonic manages to direct one of Metal Robotnik's missiles back at him, damaging the robot. However, Sonic gets stuck on a piece of road covered in Metal Robotnik's glue as it slowly sides into the sea. Before Metal Robotnik can finish Sonic though, Knuckles enters the battle and frees Tails from the glue projectile before telling him to go help Sonic. Knuckles then tries to fight Metal Robotnik, but is eventually grabbed by the robot. Fortunately, Tails saves Sonic in time for him to use his Spin Attack to cut off Metal Robotnik's hand and free Knuckles. Being outnumbered, Metal Robotnik tries to retreat, but Sonic, with help of Tails and Knuckles, manage to destroy Metal Robotnik completely, with its remains falling into the sea. After a little conversation with Knuckles, Sonic and Tails notice a large amusement city in the far distance which can only be Robotropolis. As Sonic and Tails continue their journey towards the Robotropolis, Knuckles join them on their quest.
Sonic VS Metal Sonic!!
Entering the core of the Robotropolis, Sonic, Tails and Knuckles come under attack by Snail Blasters. With Knuckles handling the Sail Blasters, Sonic and Tails locate the Robot Generator which is about to explode. While Sonic manages to shut down the generator in the nick of time, he gets caught in a force-field that electrocutes him. The Robot Generator then crumbles into pieces, with Sonic getting saved from a bad fall by Knuckles. As the dust settles, an ominous figure comes to life inside a sphere in the center of the room. This figure turns out to be Hyper Metal Sonic much for Sonic's, Tails' and Knuckles' obfuscation. Metal Robotnik's husk then teleports into the room, only to crumble into pieces, revealing Dr. Robotnik and Sara in it. Knuckles falsely accuses Sara of being behind the scheme, and in tears, Sara replies that "the robot going haywire were all part of Robotnik's evil scheme", which Robotnik does not deny, proudly admitting story about the Robot Generator was a trap. As Sonic tries to take down Robotnik once and for all though, Hyper Metal Sonic interrupts him. Robotnik proceeds to explain that the true purpose of the Robot Generator was to copy Sonic's DNA for his Hyper Metal Sonic, thereby creating the ultimate robot that would let the doctor kill Sonic and destroy the Land of the Sky.
Telling his friends to stand back, Sonic engages Metal in a fight. Metal however, proves to be a formidable foe, easily keeping up with Sonic's speed whereas Sonic struggles to avoid Metal's attacks. As the battle proceeds to far above Robotropolis, Sonic and Metal end up on the top of a mountain. However, when Sonic loses sight of Metal, Metal appears out of nowhere and kicks Sonic off the mountain and down to the valley below. With that, Robotnik assumes that Sonic is now dead and heads for the Land of the Sky with Metal. Meanwhile, Tails and Knuckles decide to head back to the Land of the Sky. As morning dawns, Sonic wakes up in the forest where he gets a vision of Metal on a rampage, prompting him to set off to stop Metal.
Upon getting back home, Tails and Knuckles find Old Man Owl in Sonic's favorite clothes. Old Man Owl states that he was forced to wear his clothes by Metal, who is now causing destruction around the Land of the Sky. Having the idea to modify Robotnik's Navigator to use against Metal since the Navigator and Metal are built from same mechanical parts, Tails gets to work. Meanwhile, Tails explains to Knuckles that they do not have to worry about Metal and Sonic not being in the same place: since Metal was programmed with Sonic's data, the two of them share identical thought patterns, meaning they can predict each other's actions.
Back in the capital, the President is receiving damage reports ´from around the Land of the Sky, many of which show a character rampaging through the cities. Mistakenly, the President identifies the character as Sonic and sends his aide to contact him. His aide succeed, but only manages to tick off Knuckles who is fixing the Tornado. After thee President has been told everything that has happened, Knuckles reveals that if Metal wants to destroy the Land of the Sky for Robotnik, he has to blow up the glacial bridge at the north pole which keeps the Land of the Sky's continent's connected. If Metal can make one of the local magma veins rush to the surface, it will melt all the ice, causing the continents to separate. The gravitational pull of the planet will then hurtle the continents into space, destroying all of civilization. Sonic then reveals himself in the same room as the President, having heard Knuckles' entire story. Immediately, the president gets report of Metal progressing towards the north pole. Sonic quickly gets going, with Tails and Knuckles going after him to stop Metal. Meanwhile, in the sky, Robotnik and Sara are riding Robotnik's hovercraft and watching Metal's rampage. Robotnik then gives a wedding dress to Sara, revealing that he plans for them to get married after destroying the Land of the Sky, thereby leaving only he and Sara to rule Planet Freedom. Needless to say, Sara does not take kindly to Robotnik's idea. Regardless, Robotnik takes both of them to the north pole through a warp zone.
On the north pole, Sonic arrives too late as Metal has already managed to make erupt magma precariously close to the glacier's ice bridge. He then encounters Metal, and the two have a long fight. As Robotnik and Sara warp to the north pole in a haphazard way, Sonic and Metal crash into the Egg Mobile, with Sonic making a painful landing. As Robotnik tries to catch Sonic, Sara falls off the Egg Mobile, but gets saved by Knuckles. Tails, piloting the Tornado, also arrives to help Sonic, but gets shot down by one of Robotnik's Egg Mobile missiles. After saving Sara, Knuckles successfully redirects the flow of the magma away from the ice bridge by digging tunnels beneath it upon Sara's flirtatious request. Meanwhile, Sonic and Metal continue to clash violently. Eventually, Sonic starts to get worn out, allowing Metal to gain the upper hand. However, Tails is able to corrupt Metal's data with the modified Navigator, allowing Sonic to do serious damage on Metal with a rapid Spin Dash. The group then notice the President and Old Man arriving in an air ship which crashes into the ice bridge, leaving the President and Old Man trapped inside. As Sonic and Tails try to save the President and Old Man Owl before the ship can explode, a heavily damaged Metal returns and attacks the duo. Tails tries to use the Navigator against Metal again, but Robotnik manages to destroy it, leaving Sonic to fight Metal again. This time around however, Metal has accumulated too much damage and Sonic is able to overpower him. However, Sonic is too late to save the President and Old Man from their ship before it explodes. In a twist of fate however, Metal saves both of them from the ashes of the aircraft, and Sonic realizes that Metal does have emotions, as he was programmed with his personality and thoughts. However, Metal gets knocked into a subglacial volcano by debris, where Sonic tries to save him by lowering himself down and getting Metal to grab his hand to pull him out. However, Metal pushes Sonic's hand away and tells him that "there is only one Sonic" before he is destroyed by the rising magma, much to Sonic's dismay.
After the incident, the group watches the ice bridge which has been saved from destruction, although Sonic is distracted by Metal's death. As Tails and Sara try to cheer Sonic up, Robotnik arrives, noting that he still has Sonic's data on a small compact disc, and reveals his plans to create even stronger Metal Sonic. Unfortunately for Robotnik, one of his design-faulty missiles blows up the CD, thwarting his plans. After that, Knuckles hits Sonic on the head as payback for stepping on his head during his fight with Metal, and the two chase each other. The whole cast is then seen following behind Sonic, before Sonic races off.
Differences between Japanese and English versions
The movie was originally released as two separate VHS cassettes in Japan, but was later cut and compounded into a direct-to-video film for the United States by ADV Films. Besides the opening and end credits, the original two Japanese VHS releases differ in several ways from the North American releases. Many differences may have come about due to compounding both episodes together, translations that were more fitting for the North American audience, or other minor edits. Differences include:
- The separate Japanese VHS releases have subtitles for each episode. The first episode's subtitle appears after the Sonic the Hedgehog logo and gloves. The second episode's subtitle appears during Sonic, Tails and Knuckles descend towards the Robot Generator. Both subtitle shots were removed in the American releases.
- Swear words are used in the original dialogue. Those were replaced with more lenient words in the American releases.
- In the original release, Hyper Metal Sonic's prologue scene has background music playing - the same music track is later used in the scene with Metal's demise. In the American releases, the music is muted and only the background sound effects and English dialogue are heard.
- in the Japanese version where Old Man Owl and Tails almost crash in the cliffs, Old Man Owl screams despite not opening his mouth. In the English dub, it is Tails that screams.
- In the English dub, the two planetary regions are referred to as separate dimensions, probably due to a translation error.
- In the Japanese version, one of Eggman's smaller servant robots hold a sign with the line "Goodbye Sara!" (さよならセーラ！ Sayonara Sēra!?). In American releases, the line was written as "GOODBYE SARA!!" with a blue font.
- The first episode on the Japanese VHS concludes with the end credits that shows footage from first episode. The American releases concludes with end credits that mostly shows footage from the second episode. Footage from the first episode include:
- There is a seconds-long shot of the camera zooming in on Robotropolis at the beginning of the second episode on the Japanese VHS. This shot was cut in the American releases.
- In the original translations, Knuckles was classified as a mole and not as an echidna; it also stated that he is an "accomplished flyer" when he can only glide (although he does appear to be flying in the movie). This mistake even reoccurs on the character bios featured in the DVD release. In the movie, Knuckles is seen in a whack-a-mole parody and is even called "Mr. Mole" (モグラちゃん mogura-chan?) by Sara.
Screenshots from Japanese VHS releases
Between January 26, 1996, and February 4, 1996, the anime was first released in Japan as two original video animation rental-only VHS tapes distributed by Taki Corporation. Both VHS tapes were released for retail sale several months later on May 31, 1996. The Journey to Eggmanland VHS also features the beginning advertisement for NiGHTS into Dreams....
The series was licensed by A.D. Vision in North America, and was first released on two VHS tapes in March 1996, each containing a single episode with English subtitles. The subtitled VHS versions were released between March 29, 1996, and June 12, 1996. Years later, the anime was dubbed into English and compounded into a direct-to-video film. The English dub was first released in North America on September 7, 1999, a few days before the North American release of Sonic Adventure, albeit with several scenes cut out.
The movie was later re-released on DVD on January 13, 2004, although it still had small edits. The later DVD releases featured the fully uncut version of the movie. The extras on the DVD included character bios and a picture gallery. Since the sale of assets and dissolution of the distributor in 2009, A.D. Vision's licence for the film has expired.
Deleted scenes from 1999 release
The original 1999 VHS release and early copies of the DVD release have scenes that were edited or cut out due to its suggestive imagery. These scenes were later brought back for the uncut DVD version in 2004.
- One scene includes Sonic giving Metal Robotnik the finger. The earlier VHS release edited the scene to make it appear as though Sonic was actually showing his index finger.
- In the scene where Robotnik and Sara are trapped under the debris of Metal Robotnik, Robotnik gropes Sara; Sara exclaims, "What do you think you're doing with your hands?!" In the Japanese version, Eggman replies, "They feel so nice."
- When Sara regretfully imagines her future as Robotnik's wife, it is shown that Sara is pregnant and breastfeeding a baby.
- Sara called Hyper Metal Sonic a pervert because of him looking up her dress. Sonic (who basically sees, thinks, and feels everything Metal does) has an adverse reaction to this event.
- During the same scene, Sonic lands painfully on his crotch on Eggman's Egg Mobile.
- When Sara, Knuckles, and Tails crash after being rolled up into a giant snowball, Tails is shown holding onto Sara's breasts. Knuckles tells him to "Get off!" and later comments, "I'd never thought you'd stoop that low!"
Henry Gilbert of GamesRadar approved of the concept of a colorful, fast-paced anime adaptation of Sonic, praising the fights between Sonic and Metal. However, he would also criticize the movie for its "scenes of slapstick humor, anime clichés, and childish voice acting" as well as the "perpetually annoying" Sara. Chris Shepard of Anime News Network praised Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie for its non-traditional action and said it was "good for the Sonic fans". He called the English dub poor however, and said the story "strayed from the video games a little too much" and it was "very basic".
A short review of the movie was featured during the "Games vs Hollywood" segment of the Computer and Video Games magazine in 2001, where the writer Lee Skitrel criticizes the move's English voice acting and describes the movie in general as forgettable.
- Sonic: Martin Burke / Masami Kikuchi[Note 1]
- Tails: Lainie Frasier / Hekiru Shīna[Note 1]
- Knuckles: Bill Wise / Yasunori Matsumoto[Note 1]
- Robotnik / Metal Robotnik: Edwin Neal / Junpei Takiguchi[Note 1]
- President: Edwin Neal / Yuzuru Fujimoto[Note 1]
- Sara: Sascha Biesi / Mika Kanai[Note 1]
- Metal Sonic: Gary Dehan / Masami Kikuchi[Note 1]
- Old Man Owl: Charlie Campbell / Chafūrin[Note 1]
- President's aide: Akimitsu Takase[Note 1]
- Executive Producer: Haruki Nakayama
- Production Manager: Kyoichi Mori
- Producers: Koichiro Sugie, Akinori Ohno, Takayuki Sugizaki, Naoharu Hokutani
- Production Directors: Sonic Team, Yuji Naka, Naoto Oshima
- Music Production Director: Junji Fujita
- Music: Mitsuhiro Tada
- Ending Theme "Look-a-like":
- Storyboards: Sadayori Sekijima
- Original Story: Masashi Kubota
- Production Design: Kazunori Ikegami
- Character Designs & Director of Animation: Tsuneo Ninomiya
- Assistant Animation Director: Fumie Muroi
- Mechanica Coordinator: Haruo Miyakawa
- Key Animation: Fumie Muroi, Minoru Kibata, Junichi Hayakawa, Toshiya Washida, Masaru Yoshioka, Koji Itou, Nobutaka Itou, Shiro Kudaka, Hideaki Sakamoto, Fumie Muroi, Fujio Oda, Junichi Hayakawa, Masaro Yoshioka, Masahiko Matsuyama, Koji Aso, Minoru Kibata, Hiroyuki Yoshimura, Junichi Takaoka, Hideaki Sakamoto
- Art Director: Seiko Akashi
- Backgrounds: Studio Uni, Masaru Amamizu, Takashi Nakamura, Akira Suzuki, Reiko Ikeda, Kaori Nishikawa
- Animation Check: Reiko Yamada
- Animation: Anime World Osaka, Tezuka Production, Yoshiyuki Naritaka, Studio Pierrot Fukuoka Annex, Studio Pierrot Art Division, Tezuka Production, Yoshiyuki Naritaka
- Color Designation: Yoshiko Takiguchi
- Finishing: Anime World Osaka, Tezuka Production, Studio OM Aomori Works, Yoshiyuki Naritaka, Studio Pierrot Fukuoka Annex, Tezuka Production, Studio OM Aomori Works, Hiroyuki Naritakara, Studio Run Run
- Digital Animation: Junya Koshiba
- Special Effects: Kenji Ikeda
- Finishing Check: Toshio Kaido, Izumi Murasaki, Yoshiko Shimizu
- Director of Photography: Motoaki Ikegami
- Photography: Studio Cosmos, Katsunori Mahara, Noriko Suzuki, Tetsuo Ofuji, Yoichi Kuroda, Hiroshi Noguchi, Shinji Ikegami, Naohisa Kijima, Takashi Shimada
- Recording Director: Fusanobu Fujiyama
- Mixing: Akiyoshi Yoda
- Sound Effects: Daisuke Jinbo, Swarer Production
- Recording Studio: Studio Echo, Jinnan Studio
- Sound Effects Production: Jinnan Studio, Hiromi Kikuta
- Editing: Seiji Morita
- Film Processing: IMAGICA
- Titles: Maki Productions
- Production Coordinators: Hiroyuki Fujiware, Daisuke Nishioka
- Production: General Entertainment Co., Ltd.
- Animation Production: Studio Pierrot Co., Ltd.
- Original Production: Sega Enterprises, Ltd.
- Director: Kazunori Ikegami
- English Language Version Presented by: A.D.V. Films
- Project Translator: Keisuke Okamoto
- International Coordinator: Toru Iwakami
- Executive Producer: John Ledford
- Produced & Directed by: Gary Dehan
- English ADR Script: Jennifer Presto, Gary Dehan
- Production Manager: Lisa J. Miller
- Sound Design: Paul Killam
- Art Director: Laura Attwell
- Logo Design: Kevin Hinnant
- Production Coordinator: Janice Williams
- English ADR Recorded at: Monster Island
- English ADR Recording Engineer: Charlie Campbell
- Production Assistants: Kelly Beard, Maki Nagono, Akiko Yoshii
- Production Secretary: Anna Bechtol
- Confusingly, the official trailer found as extra content in Sonic Jam, mis-advertises both episodes of the anime as being set for release on May 31, 1996, while the "History of Sonic the Hedgehog" gallery section in Sonic Jam mentions that the anime was first released in January 1996.
- Tails' new, jet-propelled body-board bears similarities to the Extreme Gear.
- When Sara and Robotnik are playing the video game, Robotnik's name in the video game reads "Eggman" and Sara's name is spelled "Seira".
- Tails has a severe case of astraphobia in the movie. This is a reference to his astraphobia mentioned on his character bio in Sonic Jam.
- The cowboy hat that Knuckles wears never appears in games. In the Sonic the Hedgehog comics published by Archie Comics however, the hat is seen as a gift from his great-grandfather, Hawking, and a story arc showing a possible future for the characters depicts Knuckles wearing that hat regularly. The cowboy hat was referenced again years later in Sonic Boom #11, where Knuckles is seen with it after buying a pile of hats.
- The abandoned city bears an uncanny resemblance to a post-apocalyptic New York City. This can be further proven as one of the skyscrapers in the city resembles the Empire State Building.
- When Dr. Robotnik notices on the screen in his flying machine that Hyper Metal Sonic has found the point of destruction, the text "SEGA" is seen on Robotnik's monitor.
- The ending climax where Sonic tries to save Metal Sonic may have been inspired by the ending climax of Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
- The anime's art style is similar to opening and ending animated scenes of Sonic the Hedgehog CD, even though the animation is handled by different studio.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 The Green Hill Zone - Museum History (1996). Retrieved on 23 September 2016.
- ↑ Gilbert, Henry (15 January 2013). 15 esoteric game-to-anime adaptations worth discovering. GamesRadar. Retrieved on 23 September 2016.
- ↑ Shepard, Chris. Review. Anime News Network. Retrieved on 23 September 2016.
- ↑ Games vs Hollywood: Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie - 1999 (January 2001). Retrieved on 24 September 2016.