Of all the video game stars to hog the camera, Sonic the Hedgehog seems to have a hard time staying away from the set. This is the fifth time a Sonic cartoon has existed. Before Sonic Boom we were met with The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog (aka Sonic SatAM), Sonic Underground, and Sonic X. What’s interesting about Sonic Boom is its radically different take on the series. No, I’m not talking about the disastrous tie-in game that SEGA pushed out to store shelves in 2014. As much as I don’t want to speak of it, I thought it be interesting to note that the show the game is supposedly based on doesn’t even have much in common with it. For example, there’s certainly none of this in the cartoon show.
Instead, there are moments like these.
Basically this show is a comedy.
Despite what some Sonic fans may think, I believe it works well in its favor. After all, this is a franchise about a talking hedgehog saving the day from a fat scientist. The Adventures of Sonic did try this route way back when but instead of being written well it relied entirely on pure nonsense. Meanwhile, Sonic Boom does have an actual sense of logic behind what it does. That’s not to say there’s nothing silly about what happens in a lot of the episodes. What makes Boom’s execution different from other shows is that it doesn’t try too hard to grab children’s attention. Sonic Boom is more interested in just going with its own flow. It’s actually a good thing since it has a cast of characters that snark at some writing cliches (even if they embrace certain other tropes) and avert using bells and whistles in an obnoxious manner.
The storylines in the show are as episodic as they can get. The writers at least do a good job of keeping things interesting when it comes to what there is for Sonic and the gang to partake in. Some of the episodes that come to mind are Amy helping Dr. Eggman decorate his lair for a chance to have it on a magazine cover, Knuckles overcoming a string of bad luck, Sonic and co. becoming a boy band, and Eggman staying over at Sonic’s shack as his temporary roommate.
Obviously, there’s not that much of an emphasis on action. Nevertheless, the show does provide a good amount of scenes where Dr. Eggman unleashes his legion of robots for evil’s sake. There are also a good amount of plots that do position him in the role of the kind of villain he usually is. It could feel like an unnecessary ad on in some cases. Then again, this is a Sonic cartoon and Sonic and Eggman go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Funnily enough, Sonic Boom itself would acknowledge that relationship at times. Sometimes it’s shown through their shared screen time and other instances there are plot points that draw Sonic towards having to play hero and defeat his nemesis. The show is genre-savvy, and I like that.
Despite that, I do look forward to when there’s an episode that features something a little more. We get to learn there’s a line of prototypes for Eggman’s yellow robot henchman Cubot hiding out in the canyons. An army of frog-like creatures is locked within the likes of newcomer Sticks’s basement. New villains may even take the spotlight instead of the pudgy mustachioed man in certain episodes. I think what I find most interesting about these things is that viewers get to ponder just how much more there is to this little island our heroes live on.
Oh, and Shadow and Metal Sonic are in the show too….That’s cool I guess.
With all that being said, I have to praise Sonic Boom though there are certain things that tend to hold it back. I’m impressed that the creative team pushed out a whopping fifty-two episodes for just one season. However, it does feel like it comes at a cost. One general recurrence for several episodes is that the pacing, while not obnoxious, can get somewhat unorganized. Then there are some episodes that feel like duds altogether. Both Shadow’s and Metal Sonic’s appearances are obviously only there to make fans of the video games turn their heads because the episodes they were written in feel rushed or unfinished. Shadow has no implied reason why he’s at the village, nor does it make sense for him to want Sonic dead. That is, until he suddenly decides to stop fighting for no reason. Metal Sonic’s debut could have been good if all the details were kept thorough and probably beyond a single ten-minute episode. Not everything in Sonic Boom has to make sense of course (After all, Dr. Eggman’s the only human in the show thus far), but I would at least like to have some sort of in-world explanation for the characters doing what they do.
There are also a couple episodes featuring new characters that I don’t feel were done well.
Generally, the new characters for Sonic Boom do a decent job at occupying the roster of secondary characters on the show. Before I get to discussing more abut them, I just thought I’d slam the episode where Tails falls in love with some new girl named Zooey. Now, I’m not going to be unfair towards the character and say she’s written awfully. After all, she has yet to have any other major speaking roles in the show. The episode she debuted in is the most cliched thing the series has put out so far. Boy eyes cute girl, boy gets tips from friends, eventually learns that he must be himself, yadda yadda yadda. The episode is exactly that, played out with no self-awareness whatsoever. That said, I do appreciate the other new characters that have appeared.
You have the dorky types you can’t help but enjoy such as Dave the Intern and the Lightning Bolt Society. Lady Walrus is pretty much a living parody of the careless parent screaming out for her baby. There are also characters that are a bit more straightforward, like Comedy Chimp the celebrity, and news reporter/life coach Soar the Eagle. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see a fairly diverse cast of fellow villagers.
One other thing that bothers me about Sonic Boom is that it does feel restricted at times. Considering this is a CGI cartoon that managed to release so much under a season, one can probably wonder what it would be like had there been a smaller amount of episodes. Maybe the plots would’ve been at least a little grander than they are. With the animation looking kinda stiff in a few areas and various sequences not packing as much punch as they should, Sonic Boom does feel it could use a bigger budget. In fact, I believe the ideal Sonic Boom episodes are in the form of the tragically short-lived Archie comic series.
Just from the panels, readers can see the energy in even simple implied movements and expressions. The comic series also had more dynamic plots like a go-kart race, Tails’s whole house being stolen, and Eggman trying to run an amusement park. More importantly, it shows exactly what’s going on rather just having readers take its word for it. The cartoon show is prone to making the mistake of telling but not showing. One example that comes to mind is one line where Eggman claims he blew up Meh Burger (the fast-food place Sonic and co. often go to), but it’s not shown he ever did that. The closest thing there is to it is Dave kicking a can with a sad look on his face as a result of the offscreen event. Compare that to this comic sequence of Eggman being beaten up by a gorilla.
Despite the shortcomings, I still enjoy Sonic Boom and look forward to its next season in the coming month or two. I just wish they could improve on the areas I have my gripes.