Regarding Sonic Underground
Sonic Underground, henceforth referred to as SoUnd, is a relatively recent Sonic cartoon. It was produced by DiC France in 1998, and was first shown in that country. From May 1999 it began running in Britain on Sunday mornings, at 8:20 on ITV, although the show was cut after one year; before all 40 episodes of the season were shown. From Monday, 30th August 1999, it started showing in the US, and it has been shown in various places worldwide since then.
This page is a distillation of the content from our previous site -- The Underground Zone -- which was the world's first Sonic Underground fan site. Our priorities have altered since then, but although incomplete, we felt the content deserved preservation simply as a museum piece. We still like Sonic Underground, and you may see updates to this section in the future, although they are more likely to be in the nature of fan works than series data (for which there are many excellent sources).
About the Show
SoUnd is a completely new continuity to anything that has gone before. It certainly has similarities to both SatAM and AoStH in its style, but brings in ideas of its own as well -- it is certainly more than just "a cross between" the previous cartoons.
Sonic is the only main character (barring the Good Doctor) who spans all three cartoons, although there are some occasional appearances of characters from the other Sonic universes. For a change, Tails doesn't feature anywhere, although the Red Rodent crops up as a guest character in a few episodes. SoUnd introduces four new main characters, namely Sleet and Dingo, Manic (Sonic's brother), and Sonia (Sonic's sister). The other important character SoUnd introduces is Queen Aleena. All except Sleet and Dingo are hedgehogs, although other characters encountered during the freedom fighters' travels are of a variety of species.
Where SoUnd takes influences from AoStH, they are not from the worst points of that cartoon, but the better. For instance, Robotnik, or at least his lieutenants, take a more active role in the plot. In SatAM all he did was sit around admiring his moustache and scheming. His counterparts sat around in a forest moaning about his scheming, and then went and blew something up. In SoUnd he, and certainly his assistants, get out and about a bit more.
The art is "quality" as opposed to AoStH's "sod perspective, we'll make everything and everyone out of rubber" approach. In fact, the quality of the artwork in SoUnd actually exceeds that of SatAM, particularly with the cel art and animation. On the other hand, this quality (both art and scripting) is somewhat less consistent between episodes, which is partially responsible for the show's poor reputation amongst some, sillier, Sonic fans, who are quick to judge a show by a single episode.
If you wish to see more evidence on which to judge the show, a quick search on Google will lead you to many more up-to-date Sonic Underground resources.
The plot of Sonic Underground is governed by the Prophecy, which promises a post-Doctor rule by the Council of Four -- Queen Aleena and her three children, Sonic, Manic and Sonia; who before the first episode had never been aware of each others' existence. This was because Robotnik made a concerted effort to capture them when he took over, shortly after their birth, to ensure the Prophecy would never be fulfilled. Therefore, Queen Aleena sent her children into hiding in different parts of the planet, and she herself left home, and to this day is still on the run from Robotnik's forces.
Whereas Sonia was placed with an aristocratic family, and as such can be very muzzle-tilted, Manic was brought up among the dregs of society, learning vital life skills such as the noble art of shoplifting. In contrast to both of them, Sonic started fighting our favourite round dictator early, in the companionship of a (never seen) freedom fighter group, although his upbringing appeared conventional.
After they meet up in the first episode of the series, the Sonic Underground begin to travel around Mobius in a bulbous futuristic van performing songs, helping Mobians and fighting Robotnik's forces, in the hope that one day they will find Queen Aleena and overthrow Robotnik's reign once and for all.
The voices for Manic, Sonic and Sonia are once again done by Jaleel White. It was a rather unfortunate choice to have Sonia voiced by Jaleel, and indeed it does sound like Jaleel has a clothes peg over his nose until you get used to it, but I would imagine they made that choice to hammer home the fact that they are related. Strangely, there are different voice artists involved in producing the song sequences -- either Jaleel's singing is terrible, or he simply refused to do such a thing.
We all know Sonic. Or do we? The first new thing SoUnd brings to the Blue Rodent is a truly biting attitude. You've never seen Sonic this sarcastic and full of schadenfreude; the mean little rodent laughs at misfortune and acts refreshingly callously in a number of situations. If you have ever seen Sonic as a rodent with a dark side, you will be most interested! Perhaps the nearest comparison is the Sonic Anime, but even there he was not as bitter. What it boils down to is a Sonic who feels substantially older, more experienced, and hence more of a bastard than, for example, his dopey SatAM counterpart.
This new attitude carries over in some degree to his siblings who, however, take it in different directions; Manic is milder than Sonic, but his upbringing has left him with a beautiful disrespect for the law, especially that regarding to property ownership. Sonia, by contrast, can be pleasant, but is also narcissistic, demanding, and highly muzzle-tilted.
These three trouble-makers are involved with a selection of interesting secondary characters, ranging from the infuriating Bartleby, to the afro-ridden Cyrus. Most of the characters are fire-and-forget, but a few such as the notorious twosome named are resilient enough to survive song after song. These more interesting cast members are usually linked to the pre-series life of one of the royal rodents.
SoUnd takes a number of influences from SatAM -- for instance, there is a "thread" connecting the purposes or plot of each episode. It is a lot closer to SatAM's "seriousness" than AoStH's "silliness", particularly in terms of character development. More specifically, there are plot and character similarities; Robotnik's look is basically the SatAM model, his dictatorship franchise involves "Swatbots" and "Roboticizers", and Sonic & co. are involved in terrorist missions, to name a few.
In fact, Uncle Chuck makes an appearance at one point, as does King Acorn, albeit in statue form. Although SoUnd is clearly a different universe to SatAM, there are some striking similarities -- Sonic at one point mentioned "the Freedom Fighters" in the episode "Beginnings", before he had even met his siblings, hinting towards the fact that he spent his time with the SatAM gang before the series began.
The show even makes some more blatant thefts, in the form of a few SatAM cels; especially with Robotropolis backgrounds. This is excusable, since no other artist could possibly hope to capture Robotnik's Twisted Organic Dreams with the same nightmarish precision.
Speaking of our Good Doctor, he initially appears to have been cut and pasted, control room and all, from SatAM. However, there are some distinct differences. The vocal change is obvious. Unlike the AoStH Robotnik, who just wasn't taking his job seriously, or Mr. 100% Reverb Controller from SatAM, who had hidden a Soundblaster Live! in his moustache, Underground's dictator is just loud. He sounds like the SatAM Robotnik with a packet of cough sweets and a megaphone. Unlike in SatAM, where Robotnik just sat in his chair and smashed vital equipment (e.g. Snively), this one seems a bit more proactive and prone to storming around the place. Equally different is his motivation, which is much more political than SatAM's Doctor, and is demonstrated in his different approach to conquest. We can assume he rose to power more smoothly than in the SatAM blitzkrieg (aided by Aleena's Prophecy-driven abdication), using the Roboticizer as a weapon of civil terror rather than a means of destroying the populace.
A final refreshing (and somewhat irrelevant) fact is that the entire series has been produced at 50 frames-per-second (one time division per field), which results in some rather impressively smooth camera pans around the scenes. This is due to the show's computerised production; unlike SatAM and AoStH, which were made using traditional techniques involving a stack of glass coffee tables and a cheap film camera, SoUnd seems to have been produced entirely with the aid of a computer animation suite. It is refreshing to see computer animation come into its own after witnessing its shaky start when the Taiwanese pirates and their Amiga hand-scanners ruined the second season of SatAM, at least for those of us with good TVs.