Scratch, Grounder, Coconuts – but most of all that essence of nastiness Doctor Ivo Robotnik! This cartoon reveled in its own corny nature and turned Sonic into an odd mix of Bugs Bunny and the Roadrunner. AoStH’s Robotnik was a total goofball and his badniks spent most of their time playing Wile E. Coyote and being victimized either by Sonic or by Robotnik himself.
This was the only DiC cartoon that put much effort into following the games at all, as 2 of the badniks were from Sonic 2 (although they had little resemblance to the originals) and a remixed version of Sonic’s theme song played in the opening. It was also the only DiC Sonic cartoon to feature Tails in a prominent role. However, the art & animation were very, very bad, and the writing was often even worse.
This 65-episode cartoon was supposedly intended to run on ABC Saturday mornings, but ABC rejected it. This is why 2 vastly different Sonic cartoons came out at about the same time. DiC made a 2nd Sonic cartoon for ABC and released AoStH in syndication. It’s the only Sonic cartoon that’s been consistently on the air since it debuted.
Often referred to as “SatAM,” the 26-episode ABC Sonic cartoon actually created a very large fan base all its own, including many people who hadn’t had any previous interest in Sonic. Archie also borrowed many elements from this cartoon in making their Sonic comic. SatAM boasted an impressive voice cast, including Tress MacNellie, Rob Paulsen, Jim Cummings, Cree Summer, and Tim Curry. The art & animation were also well above average quality. It was practically an antithesis of AoStH – emotional, dramatic, and extremely dark. SatAM also featured a continuing storyline.
However, it irked some fans with just how different it was. In fact, the cartoon title and the presence of Sonic, Tails, and Robotnik were just about the only things that hinted at the fact that it was a Sonic cartoon. Sonic, Tails, and Robotnik had all been given huge makeovers in both look and personality, the dark settings were very contrary to the stylized zones generally associated with Sonic, and Tails generally took a back seat to the Freedom Fighters (who were EXTREMELY loosely based on the animals Sonic rescued in the games) until the last few episodes.
SatAM unfortunately ended on a cliffhanger. The planned 3rd season was to include a new villain and an expanded role for Tails. Its time slot was shifted constantly in the 2nd season to avoid competition with the Power Rangers, and ABC rarely let a Saturday morning cartoon last over 2 seasons anyway. Some information on the 3rd season can be found in the episode guide. However, while new episodes aren’t planned, SatAM is on its way back – several episodes are slated for an upcoming release on DVD.
The french-animated “Sonic Le Rebelle,” DiC’s 3rd Sonic cartoon, featured Sonic as one of 3 long-lost triplets who meet and decide to create a band to cheer up citizens opressed by Robotnik, who usurped the rule of their mother, Queen Aleena. Their weapons are magic instruments that transform and they ride around in a giant van in a sort of world tour. Combine this psychadelic premise with 2 new villains, Sleet and Dingo, who are basically canine versions of Scratch and Grounder, and you have the plot of Sonic Underground.
Sonic’s siblings are Manic, a green thief with “punk” spikes, and Sonia, a pampered, prissy, fashion-conscious pink hedgehog. All 3 are voiced by Jaleel White (who also voiced Sonic in both previous cartoons), which, in Sonia’s case, is disastrous, to put it mildly. Tails isn’t even in the show, but on the plus side, it’s the first DiC Sonic cartoon to feature Knuckles, and it has a cameo by a radically redesigned version of Archie’s Athair.
Sonic Underground had an extremely limited release in syndication – in many large areas of North America, it never went on the air, and those stations that did show it played its 40 episodes out of order. However, those that missed its syndicated run got an extra chance to catch it when it appeared on cable for several months. Although many Sonic fans dislike this toon, its uniqueness has developed a small but loyal fan base.
Sonikku! Teirusu! Nakkurusu! – known to Americans as: The Triple Threat! This 2-episode anime was the first Sonic cartoon to feature Knuckles The Echidna and the ONLY cartoon to use Metal Sonic. “The Sonic Anime,” as many fans call it, kept its characters truer to the originals than its American counterparts, although it definitely uses some significant artistic license, too. The art & animation are very impressive as well.
The anime was finally released outside Japan on September 8, 1999, to roughly coincide with the release of the Dreamcast. Both episodes were combined under the title “Sonic The Movie” in the English dub.