Sonic Prime Review: Cheerful, Energic, And Bland

Sonic Prime is a show made for babies, but that is no excuse. Some of the most influential media of the past ten years have been shows made for babies. Even the recent movies were primarily aimed at kids, but were wonderfully written and acted regardless. So why is it that Sonic Prime rejects so many of these advancements in the kid show genre, and tries to do its own thing?

Unlike previous jaunts with the blue blur, Sonic Prime wants to tell an overarching story. It doesn’t know how to, but goddamnit, does it really want to try. It also wants to tell a non-linear story, even if that does nothing to serve the plot.

The first episode of Sonic Prime is 40 minutes long and establishes that 1. Sonic gets trapped in the multiverse (sorry, shatterverse), and 2. He can be a bit of a twat to his pals. No, this did not need to be this long, but it is. After this, the episodes shoot down to 20 minutes, but the plot still awkwardly stumbles along from joke to joke, multiverse to multiverse. The pace at least picks up after the first three episodes, letting us throw more things at the wall to see what sticks. But unfortunately, there’s a fair amount that doesn’t stick.

Whether it’s the animation, the jokes or the new characterizations of the Sonic gang – which now thankfully includes Rogue – there’s just something missing from Sonic Prime. All of these ingredients are so close to being good, and there was even a subplot with alternate-universe versions of Amy and Rogue that I thought was great. But it’s held back by its awkward structure, and before we know it, we’re onto the next shatterverse.

This structure is a blessing and a curse. At the beginning of the show, we spend multiple episodes in the dystopia shatterverse where the world has been taken over by the Chaos Council – a bunch of Eggman clones of varying ages. There are five of them, ranging from a baby to an old man, and that’s four too many. The show thinks they’re the funniest characters you’ve ever seen, but they’re just pale imitations of other kids’ show tropes. So in this instance, the shatterverse gives us a very welcome escape into a subplot with a lot more going for it. The downside is, of course, that we eventually have to see the egg council again.

The moments we escape from this unfunny band of villains are much better, at least. Here, we instead focus on the different iterations of Sonic and friends, with each shatterverse focussing on Sonic’s relationship with Tails, Amy, and Knuckles respectively. It’s a good concept, and a narrative framework with a lot of potential for someone as cocky as Sonic, but it’s held back by an overarching plot about restoring the multiverse that never quite knows where it’s going. And as we reach the finale, it doesn’t feel any closer to reaching a conclusion.

But perhaps the most frustrating thing with Sonic Prime is that most of the ingredients are there, as well as the clear drive to make something great. The animation work is fun, energetic and incredibly creative at times, but is brought down by a lack of polish as if the team were rushed. Similarly, the writers clearly want to explore the Sonic gang in more depth, but have to do so in multiverses because of Sega’s infamous issue with any character development in the series. The most disappointing example is Shadow, who is here, but he may as well not be for all the good it does his character.

Sonic Prime seems to be gearing up for a season 2, and for the writers' sake, I hope they get it. They want to do something new with the series, and they need to be given the freedom to pull it off. They’ve also got the best Sonic voice in years thanks to newcomer Deven Mack, and that would be a criminal waste of talent. The boisterous charm Mack gives Sonic is the best thing Prime has going for it, and ties the better subplots together perfectly. Put him in the games, please.

As it stands, Sonic Prime doesn’t do anything to halt the Sonic renaissance, but it isn’t pushing it forward like the movies are. It’s fun, impressive in areas, and completely inoffensive. But at their best, Sonic shows can set how the fanbase views characters for years to come. Prime definitely won’t be doing that anytime soon.

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