Geek Forest: An Intro to the Sonic OVA

Welcome to Geek Forest, my blog for all things geeky, gaming, tech, media or anything else that fits into the category of general popular culture.

I feel the first entry in this series should be fittingly spent talking about my favorite anime movie of any kind, feature or OVA. Sonic the Hedgehog the Movie, otherwise known as the “Sonic OVA” is an original video animation made by Pierrot Studios in 1996. 

The American and Japanese covers, courtesy of Wikipedia and Sonic HQ

The OVA was released in 1999 in the United States and has garnered a cult following ever since. Broken up into two parts, the first half sees Sonic and Tails travel into the deep, dark underworld of their world, Planet Freedom, to fight a giant metal Eggman. The second half features a head to head face off with the king of all metal doppelgängers, Metal Sonic. Both parts come in at around 28 minutes each and no others were ever made. 

What is it that makes this so loved and so favorited by me? For one thing, it’s Sonic as an anime. Sonic’s fans are keen to note that the blue blur is actually animated and drawn well, as is the whole OVA, and the personalities of the characters match their in-game personas well. This is despite creative liberties taken with the OVA, including taking place on a planet different than that of the games and the inclusion of exclusive characters. 

For me, it’s the OVA’s endearing spirit that lets it live on so well many years later. We’re treated to an adventure with Sonic’s attitude and speed on full display. The rebellious nature and freedom-loving ways of this hedgehog and his friends are captured well by the OVA, accentuated by the action and dialogue. Since this was made in Japan, where standards and practices are different, we’re gifted perhaps one of the most infamous scenes in Sonic history, a rare middle finger towards the end of part one.

The infamous middle finger scene

Perhaps it’s the style and aesthetic presented here that also pulls me in. The soundtrack, which was recently discovered and can be found here, is poppy with a new wave vibe, fitting for the mid-90’s when this was released. What stand out to me are the South Island track and the OVA’s theme song, Look-A-Like, which, despite its nonsensical lyrics, has found a loyal following of its own, with a cover appearing on Spotify in 2020. There’s also some great fashion choices here I can’t deny. Most fans will remember Knuckles’ cowboy hat or the Tails’ goggles worn while flying the tornado. But my personal favorite is “Sonic’s favorite clothes” worn by Old Man Owl in part two. 

Tails’ goggles and Knuckles’ hat turn heads, but it is Owl Man wearing Sonic’s ‘favorite clothes’ that are most chic.

I am now absolutely drawn into the cult of this film. It’s humor and innocence are why I keep revisiting this gem. Its simple, fun and a thrill to watch. The film isn’t without its criticisms however. Some people didn’t like the original English dub, which I don’t mind. I feel like the voices actually match up with their personalities. For those interested, you can find the fan dub here or the original Japanese version here. Go ahead, I wholeheartedly endorse all of them. I intentionally left out plot details so people could go watch it on their own if they haven’t already. Stay tuned here for more Sonic related entries during his 30th Anniversary.

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