Sonic fans have been eating well this year. At the beginning of 2022, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was a worldwide phenomenon that set the entire world on fire, grossing more than any other video game movie and jumpstarting a sonic movie universe. Sonic Frontiers was a massive success and has reinvigorated Sonic fans new and old. Now we arrive at Sonic Prime, which is the culmination of the momentum that Sonic had been building up for this entire year. Is Sonic Prime another great project or does it leave Sonic in the dust? Today, I want to convince you why Sonic’s most recent cartoon adventure is one to tune into.
Zone 1: Greener Hills
I remember the lead-up to the release of Sonic Prime, where we got several small trailers to entice us sonic fans. Concepts and arts were showing the distant future and pre-historic sonic characters, it was a time rife with speculation. Will Sonic Prime be more story-focused like Sonic SatAM, or will it be comedic like Sonic Boom? We did have some clues to piece together.
Man of Action was the studio behind Sonic Prime, which meant that the show would have more of an action focus. In case you don’t know, Man of Action are the lads responsible for Ben 10, Generator Rex, and that Mega Man show that went under the radar. Cartoon Network did you, dirty mega man. The studio was well known for two things, action, and smooth-as-butter animation. The show’s writing was also being consulted by Ian Flynn, a trusted sonic writer from the comics.
The trailers showed snippets of scenes, but they looked somewhat choppy, and many fans were confused about the premise of the show. We saw familiar things like rings, Big the Cat, and Shadow, but we weren’t sure how they connected. Then, we saw a full trailer showing that Sonic Prime was a universe-hopping adventure. Sonic looked sleek and cool, and fans loved it. The animation looked great and all the characters we expected were present. We eagerly awaited December 15 when we could finally watch on Netflix. Was it as good as we all hoped it would be?
Zone 2: Simple Story Done Well
Sonic Prime follows Sonic, played by Devin Mack, during one of Sonic’s routine attempts to foil Eggman going awry. Sonic and their friends are sent across the shatterverse, AKA multiverse, and sonic has to figure out how to get back home and save his friends. The show’s premise is solid and gives the show a sense of intrigue most kid shows don’t even attempt. It leaves just enough dangling to keep you intrigued, so you want to know what happened and how Sonic can save his friends.
The show trickles flashbacks to give more context to the events of the first episode. Sonic Prime dedicates its time to making sure the story has a setup that can set up future stories. As much as I adore the meta-comedy of Sonic Boom, I enjoy stories with stakes. I commend the writing to make a multiverse that is fun and makes sense.
Zone 3: Sonic Heroes Done Right
The strongest part of the show has to be the characters and how well they are written. This isn’t a Shakespearean drama, but each character is represented so well and is very faithful to their gaming roots. Sonic is sarcastic and jokey throughout the season, but he knows when to take things seriously. He even has a character arc throughout the season where he realizes how arrogant he was in the beginning and learns to appreciate his friends more.
Sonic’s friends in the series are Rouge, Knuckles, Tails, Amy, and Big. Each character is very much like their game counterpart. Amy is a compassionate friend, Rouge is a crafty treasure hunter, Tails is a boy genius, and Knuckles is a loveable knucklehead. It isn’t until Sonic starts visiting the different multiverses that we get to learn more about their character and their relationship with Sonic. I love how when sonic talks about his history with his friends, it is portrayed as a classic sonic game from the Sega Genesis.
To play devil’s advocate, I would like to say even though Sonic’s friends are fun, they are not nearly as developed as sonic and lack agency in some instances. For example, when Sonic visited the pirate universe Tails, Amy, and Rouge were pretty interchangeable and were not very involved in the story. Overall, the characters are very good so far, thanks to the character writing and the expressive animation.
Zone 4: Sonic Has Never Looked This Good
Animation is super important for Sonic Cartoon, and very few of them have looked this good. Man of Action has taken all the lessons they have learned from their previous shows and have made an absolute spectacle. Sonic Prime is a 3D-animated show with 2D-animated sensibilities. The action is fluid and expressive, which allows for more memorable action. The animation reminds me a lot of Into the Spiderverse and Arcane with how fast the animation feels, but it’s easy to understand the action.
The facial animation is impressive as well, as it helps sell the comedy the series dabbles in at times. Sonic in particular has a wide emotional range throughout the series, and the animation on his face helps sell his struggles. The Background art is varied and helps sell that every dimension is a variation of Sonic’s original world. Showing key landmarks like the loop de loop in different contexts. It shows that this show cares about the world Sonic lives in.
The voice acting in Sonic Prime was a welcome surprise. We’ve been stuck with Roger Craig Smith for around a decade, so hearing Devin Mack as sonic was a breath of fresh air. He excludes the confidence of sonic without sacrificing his more vulnerable side. The other characters acted very well, and I was dug was Eggman, played by Brian Drummond. All the actors had to be played by Canadian actors since technically it is considered a Canadian production. All in all, great showing by everyone involved.
Zone 5: Almost S-Tier
Sonic Prime is a great show, but there are a few missteps that mire the experience. Even though I love the characters in this show, it is a shame that Sonic is the only character we consistently get development for. The Chaos Council are the overarching villains, but since they are not in every episode, they get very little development. Most of the alternative versions of the core cast seem to just set up the conflict for sonic to solve. Rusty Rose and Nine were the only other characters that felt like more than stereotypes.
For some reason, I have this feeling that the season ended way too soon. The last episode ends on such an abrupt note that I did a double-take. Netflix does this all the time when they release super short seasons. What’s wrong with the tried and true format of 12-episode seasons? I want to reiterate that I did enjoy my time with the show, but I left feeling hungry. It feels like I played the first few hours of a game and the rest of the game will be released as DLC.
Game Cleared: Sonic Is Back and Is Here to Stay
This year has been an absolute smash for Sega and Sonic fans alike. Sonic is a stellar Sonic TV series that is easily one of the best out there. The character is compelling and the action never gets boring. Major issues are an unsatisfying ending and an underdeveloped side cast. If you are a Sonic fan or a fan of animation in general, then this show is the itch that you need to scratch.