***This article was written for the February ’23 issue of Animation Magazine (No. 327)***
Everyone’s favorite speedy, blue, spiny mammal is back in action. The new Sonic Prime series began its eight-episode first season on Netflix in December and found our popular SEGA icon (voiced by Deven Mack) traveling across the “Shatterverse” after a battle with Dr. Eggman (Brian Drummond) caused reality to break apart.
The new CG-animated series is executive produced by SEGA, WildBrain, Marza and Man of Action. As the show’s exec producer and director Erik Wiese, who has worked on shows as diverse as SpongeBob SquarePants, Snoopy Presents and Samurai Jack, tells us, “Audiences will get a big action series with their favorite video game characters. It’s an epic tale, serialized over multiple episodes. We haven’t seen that before with these characters — or with any cartoon-y show. We want existing fans to have a new adventure where they discover, with Sonic, brand-new worlds, and first-time viewers to immediately connect with him and his crew.”
Wiese and his team worked hard to ensure audiences could empathize with the familiar characters in ways they maybe haven’t before. “Even though this show runs on action and comedy, we also went to some emotional places that hadn’t previously been explored. We hope those moments augment the big, fun action scenes the franchise is known for and give audiences a whole new Sonic experience,” he says.
Fresh and Dead-On Accurate
According to Logan McPherson, senior VP of creative/animated production at WildBrain, the Green Hill characters are all faithful versions of themselves. “They exist in the series as franchise mythology demands,” he points out. “SEGA sent us the geometry for the character models, which we fit into our pipeline, so they are dead-on accurate. We then developed a unique and innovative graphic surfacing style that fits them into the unique worlds we were designing. This gives the characters a fresh appeal that doesn’t push them off the model or make them feel unfamiliar. Slight adjustments to the costumes were also made. In the case of Rouge, SEGA designed a stunning new outfit for her that feels more contemporary and in-line with her character development.”
McPherson and his team set out to bring something new to the White Gloved One’s multiverse. “The mythology is the jumping-off point for the series, fans get a familiar taste of what they know and love, and then we quickly move into an entirely new realm that showcases alternate versions of Sonic’s friends in vastly different worlds,” he explains. “This propels Sonic on a hero’s journey that truly stretches him to his limits! We think both new and old audiences will love the intrigue and the incredible journey the series takes them on. Other than Green Hill, the environments are all original and unique, which will be new for fans. We worked to push the cinematic depth with mood, lighting, tone and atmospheric depth, which give them a wow factor and appeal for a whole new audience!”
Sonic, who was first introduced in 1991 in the popular video game, has been the star of five animated shows and two blockbuster movies (released in 2020 and 2022). The second film earned $400 million dollars worldwide and holds the title for the highest-grossing domestic opening for a video game adaptation ever. We have a feeling this new iteration is also going to fast track its way to the heart of fans in record time.
The first season of Sonic Prime is currently streaming on Netflix worldwide (netflix.com/sonicprime).