Sonic the Hedgehog is a two-part OVA based on the video games with the same name. The OVA was originally produced in Japan during 1996, where it was simply titled Sonic the Hedgehog (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ Sonikkuzahejjihoggu?) and its two thirty-minute episodes, named 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?), were released over two separate VHS tapes. ADV Films dubbed it into English and released both episodes edited together as a direct-to-video film in North America on 7 September 1999 as Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie.
The story follows a giant mecha known as Metal Robotnik who appears in Dr. Robotnik's utopian city of Robotropolis and banishes the doctor. The mecha takes control of Robotnik's robotic army to lure Sonic, Tails and Knuckles into the Land of Darkness. Once there, the blue blur defeats Metal Robotnik, who turns out to be Robotnik himself who lured Sonic to his base in order to copy his DNA for his new robot Hyper Metal Sonic, an evil, Sonic-shaped robot who shares Sonic's memories and feelings, and essentially lives the same life as Sonic himself.
The OVA's main characters are Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Doctor Robotnik and Metal Sonic (named Hyper Metal Sonic in OVA). All characters are based on their game counterparts with some minor alterations. Several Badniks from the games also appear in the OVA, such as Crabmeat, Crawlton, Buzz Bomber and Snail Blaster. The OVA also features several original characters, including the President of South Island, his daughter Sara, Old Man Owl, and Metal Robotnik. Minor characters include the President's aide, and Robotnik's guard robots, who are unnamed and are present in several scenes including in the President's office. Other unnamed humanoid cyborgs are seen as well, firing at Robotropolis during Robotnik's narration.
The animation for the OVA was produced by Studio Pierrot. Sonic is closely animated in the same style as in the intro and ending cinematics of Sonic the Hedgehog CD, although the animation for that game had been produced by Toei Animation in co-production with Studio Junio. The ending theme of the OVA is "Look-a-like", sung by Riu Konaka, who also wrote the song's lyrics. The OVA's catchy 90's soundtrack was composed by Mitsuhiro Tada, who also did the arrangement for "Look-a-like".
It has long been rumoured that the OVA was originally planned to be a full series, but due to Sonic VS. Metal Sonic being unsuccessful, only two episodes were produced.
Unlike the official games' continuity, the OVA takes place in a world called Planet Freedom, which is divided into two regions: the Land of the Sky and the Land of Darkness. However, in a reference to the games, one part of the Land of the Sky is called South Island, which is the setting of the original game and several other spinoffs in the series. Like many anime series, Planet Freedom appears to be a cross-breed of a fairytale land and Earth. In the English dubbed version, the two regions are referred to as being separate dimensions, most probably due to a translation error.
The story begins with Sonic relaxing in a beach chair and listening to electronic music outside the ruins of a crashed Boeing 747 and USS Enterprise, which serves as his house. When Tails comes out to test his new, jet-propelled body-board, he asks Sonic to give it a try. Sonic declines due to his great fear of water. Tails' body-board, however, encounters a flying ship driven by Old Man Owl, an old and harebrained anthropomorphic owl, and almost collides with a mountain before being rescued by Sonic. Afterward, Oji-san gives news of the President being held captive by Dr. Robotnik. Sonic and Tails race to the Presidential Palace (Presidential House in the dub), where they encounter Robotnik and his robotic guards holding the President and his daughter, Sara.
Robotnik tells Sonic that his city at Robotropolis (Eggmanland in the Japanese version) in the Land of Darkness, is being held by a metal version of himself called Metal Robotnik, who attacked his good people with a battalion of demonic robots and sabotaged the Robot Generator by overloading it with energy, which would then (supposedly) malfunction and release excess electricity and destroy Planet Freedom within a few hours. Unfortunately, when Robotnik finishes his speech, he notices everyone has fallen asleep including Sonic, Tails, and his own robots.
After he gains the trust of Sonic, Dr. Robotnik gives Tails a navigational watch for his journey, and the two head for the Land of Darkness. Metal Robotnik crashes into the Presidential House, and Sara demands that Robotnik give her a ride in it, entering the control panel and playing around. Sonic and Tails enter the Land of Darkness, encountering Badniks, but they soon get to the abandoned city. There, they get into a long battle with Metal Robotnik, eventually meeting up with Knuckles who helps them destroy the mecha.
Sonic, Tails and Knuckles go into the core of the city, where Sonic is held in a glass container which copies his DNA. The protagonists think that the bomb that Robotnik threatened would blow up the Land of the Sky was a dud.
Metal Robotnik appears, eventually crumbling, revealing Dr. Robotnik and Sara in it. Knuckles falsely accuses Sara of being behind his scheme, and in reply she cries a river and reveals that "the robot and the machine going haywire were all part of Robotnik's evil scheme", which Robotnik does not deny. He shows Sonic a metal version of himself, Hyper Metal Sonic, and the two get into a fight.
Metal charges at Sonic with full speed for a while, with Sonic dodging most of his attacks. However, when Sonic jumps up to avoid Metal, Metal rams into Sonic's back at max speed which knocks Sonic out. As soon as he comes to, Sonic jumps on top of a mountain and loses sight of Metal, and to Sonic's surprise, Metal appears out of nowhere and kicks Sonic's head knocking him off the mountain to the valley below. Tails and Knuckles go back to the Land of the Sky, where Tails learns that Hyper Metal Sonic is out to destroy the world by hitting the Ice Caps and blowing it up. The blue hedgehog wakes up in Green Lake City (a heavenly shrubbery), and thinks about Metal Sonic knowing everything he does, or has done. Sonic gets to the workshop, and hears all about the Ice Cap dilemma from the President (much to the dismay of the President and Tails).
Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles go to the Ice Cap, where Sara is being held captive for marriage at the North Pole. (Dr. Robotnik's main goal in the movie is to destroy the world, leaving only he and Sara to marry and have children). Sonic encounters Hyper Metal Sonic, and the two have a long fight to which Metal gains the upper hand. Tails corrupts Metal's data with the navigation watch Robotnik gave him before, and Sonic is able to do serious damage with his Spin Dash. Metal manages to recover and attacks Sonic again but it is clear at this point that Metal is damaged too badly to win and is severely beaten down by Sonic. At the same time, however, the President's ship is destroyed. Hyper Metal Sonic saves the President and Sonic realizes that Metal does have emotions, as he was programmed with Sonic's DNA.
Metal gets blown into a crack and falls down into the subglacial volcano, where Sonic tries to save him, but Metal tells him that "there is only one Sonic" and is destroyed by falling into the magma, much to Sonic's dismay. While Sonic is smarting from his injuries and mourning the loss of Metal, Robotnik says that he still has Sonic's DNA, and reveals his plans to create a superior, emotionless replica of the blue blur. A design failure of his (a robotic turtle) blows up the CD that the DNA was inside of, thwarting his plans. After, Knuckles hits Sonic on the head because in the fight, Sonic stepped on Knuckles by accident and the two chase each other. The whole cast is seen following behind Sonic before Sonic races off and the movie ends.
Differences between Japanese and English versions
The OVA originally was released in two separate VHS cassettes in Japan, but was later cut and compounded into direct-to-video film as ADV Films licensed and sold it in the west. Besides the opening and end credits, the original two Japanese VHS releases differed in several ways from all the American releases. Many differences may have come about due to compounding both OVA episodes together, translated to be more fitting for the Western audience, or being minor edits. Differences include:
- Separate Japanese VHS releases have sub-titles for each episode. The first episode's subtitle comes after Sonic the Hedgehog logo and gloves while strong sound can be heard. Second episode's subtitle appears during Sonic, Tails and Knuckles are making towards the robot generator. Both sub-titles are removed from American releases.
- Like usual in Japanese animation, there are several swear words that are replaced with more lenient words in American releases.
- The first episode's Metal Sonic prologue scene has a soundtrack known as "Mixed Emotions" playing in the background - the soundtrack later used in the scene of Metal Sonic's demise, while in American releases the music is muted while only background sound effects and English dialogue are heard.
- In the English dubbed version, the two regions are referred to as being separate dimensions, most probably due to a translation error.
- The stele which is held by one of Eggman's smaller robots bears kanji writing. In American releases it says "GOODBYE SARA!!" with blue font.
- The robot probably knew Eggman's plan and that Sara would not have returned.
- The first episode in the Japanese VHS concludes to the end credits, while it shows different footage from first episode. The American releases used footage from the second episode of OVA in the end credits. Different footages from the first episode include:
- Sonic saving Tails and Old Man Owl.
- First conformation with Metal Robotnik.
- Chase scene on roadway bridge.
- Sonic defeating Metal Robotnik.
- Sonic, Tails and Knuckles looking to the sunset and Robotropolis.
- In the scene where Old Man Owl and Tails almost crash in the cliffs, Old Man Owl screams in the Japanese version, despite not opening his mouth. Tails screams in the English.
- There's also a seconds-long shot of the camera zooming towards Robotropolis at the beginning of the second episode in the Japanese VHS. This small shot was cut in the American releases.
- In the original translations, Knuckles was presented as a mole and not as an echidna; it also stated that he is an "accomplished flyer" when he cannot fly but can only glide (although he does appear to fly in the movie). This mistake even reoccurs in the character bios featured in the DVD release. In the movie, Knuckles is seen in a whack-a-mole parody and is called "mister mole" by Sara.
VHS and DVD Releases
The OVA was first released at Japan in 31 May 1996 as two separate VHS tapes by Taki Corporation as distributor. There exist rental and store variations of both VHS releases. The first VHS also features the beginning advertisement for NiGHTS into Dreams....
The OVA was years later dubbed into English, compounded into direct-to-video film, and then released in North America and Europe on 7 September 1999 by ADV Films, one day earlier before the U.S. release of Sonic Adventure with several scenes being cut. The movie was later re-released on DVD in 13 January 2004 as earlier releases still had small edits. The later DVD releases featured the fully uncut version of the movie. The extras on the DVD includes character bios and a picture gallery.
Deleted scenes from 1999 release
Warning: The following points contains suggestive topics and may offend some readers. Read at your own risk.
The original 1999 VHS release and early copies of the DVD release have scenes that were edited or cut out due to its offensive imagery. These edits are also not included during television runs of the movie. These scenes were later brought back to the uncut DVD version in 2004.
- One scene includes Sonic showing the middle finger at Metal Robotnik. The earlier VHS release edited the scene to 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 Robotnik proposes to Sara, as she regretfully imagines her future with him, it is shown that Sara is pregnant and is 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 Eggmobile.
- When Sara, Knuckles, and Tails roll up into a giant snowball, they crash and Tails is shown holding on to Sara's breasts. Knuckles tells him to "Get off!" and later comments, "I'd never thought you'd stoop that low!"
- Tails' new, jet-propelled body-board has similarities to the Extreme Gear from the Sonic Riders series.
- 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".
- In the movie, agreeing with official information from the actual games, Tails has a severe case of astraphobia, which is a fear of thunder and lightning.
- The hat Knuckles wears never appears in any Sonic game, but it is a minor plot point in the Sonic the Hedgehog comics published by Archie Comics. In that series, it is 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 finishing move that Sonic used with the help of Tails and Knuckles to defeat Metal Robotnik may have inspired their Team Blast in Sonic Heroes.
- 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 seems to have been inspired by Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
- Another tie-in to the Archie Comics universe, they may have based the demise of Metal Sonic being buried alive in lava and rock on this movie, where Hyper Metal Sonic is destroyed in the lava at the North Pole.
- This movie's art style has an almost identical appearance to the Sonic the Hedgehog CD intro and outro.
- It is the only SEGA-sponsored Sonic animated material dubbed in English not to have Mike Pollock in it.