Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sonic 'Toons and Me: Part Five: Sonic X

Before I really get into this one, I should say right off the bat that I made a small amount of use of the Sonic News Network wiki to refresh my memory of when, exactly, this was on television. I make mention of this necessity because I'll probably wind up mentioning other things I learned secondary to that. I wanted to be sure of the dates because I had a few other things going on in my life at the time that I'd dare call more important. I did remember it being between when I moved with my parents into their current house in 2001 and when I moved into my own apartment in 2006, but I wanted to be a little more precise about it than that.

That said, Sonic X was a completely different thing from any of its predecessors when it started in 2003. As I understand it, SatAM, AoSTH, and Sonic Underground were all primarily American productions of one sort or another, each with their own relatively separate continuities that sometimes touched or overlapped to a small degree in the Archie comic. Sonic X, on the other hand, was more an anime take on the franchise; a Japanese adaptation of the Sonic Adventure games, from what I gather. To what extent that was the case, and how closely it followed the games beyond use of the characters, I can't say. By then, I'd been into the PS1 era Final Fantasy games for awhile and hadn't really bothered much with anything Sonic related in years. I still followed Dan Drazen's comic reviews, but that was pretty much it.

I only managed to catch bits and pieces of the show here and there during its initial run because my preference at the time was to watch the dwindling number of Mystery Science Theater episodes that the Sci Fi Channel could still air on Saturday mornings instead, and then the movies they put on in its place after that or nothing at all, if the Sci Fi movie didn't sound good, which was an all too common thing. This was mostly out of self consciousness, though I'm not really sure why, as I've come to wonder how much my parents would have really cared what I was watching at the time.

I didn't really catch it in syndication after that, either. This was more a budgetary thing than anything else. Life as entirely my own person in my situation meant, and still does mean, having to choose between Internet access and cable television, and far as I'm concerned, the Internet access always has been the better choice, at least for me. The only down side to it all is that I get really crappy over-the-air reception in my apartment, and even on good days, there are channels I just don't get, even with the digital signal and a receiver meant to handle that. The channel that had Sonic X reruns was one I didn't get consistently, if at all.

The good news in all that is that in the years I've lived where I do, we've come up with these clever little services that stream such things. I've been subscribed to Hulu for years, and that's where I finally managed to catch Sonic X in its entirety. After having given myself some time to think about the experience, I believe the best analogy I can make here is to a somewhat more classic and well-known series: the original Star Trek series from the late 1960s.

The thing about Star Trek in its original form is that it was canceled after the second season, but after a letter writing campaign by fans, was renewed for a third season. Due to that third season's reduced budget, those same fans came to dub it “the TURD season”, for not exactly bad reasons.

Sonic X is similar in that it was set to end after only two seasons, or one series, based on how it was counted by the producers. The third season, marketed as series 2 in many markets, got added later, and wasn't even aired in Japan, initially, only to be streamed through various services available at the time. I'm pretty sure it did get shown on television here in the States, though, as I think I did see some of it there. The impression I got of the third season is that if I were going to make turd jokes, this is the series I'd start with.

From what I can tell, the reasoning for this was that there was a new Sonic Adventure game coming out around the time the third season was set to be made, and Sega wanted to promote it via the anime. Thing is, by then, the big storyline for the first two seasons had pretty much wrapped up, and they needed some way of making the third fit. It really only kind of worked in that I may not exactly want to say that it was bad, but there's no way I'd really want to say that it was good, either.

There was a lesson to be learned there for guys like me, though, and it's similar to the one I talked about in my first full Looking Back article I did about the Digimon anime on Channel Awesome a couple years ago. In this case, the lesson is that there are some times when you have to mean “The End” when you say “The End”. I say this because unlike the Digimon anime, Sonic X had a specific number of episodes planned out and written, and then more got tacked on at the end, and those tacked on ones didn't really work so well.

There's still one more animated Sonic series to go, though I'm not sure I'll ever get to Sonic Boom. I just may, if only for completion's sake. One way or another, I should have my mind made up before long. Until then, stay Sonic, everyone!

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