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Sonic Fan J

Sonic Role Type Preference

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While I comically don't remember what set this thought process into motion (it might be because of information on the LAM), I have been thinking a bit about the types of roles that Sonic typically cycles through from story to story, and canon to canon.


The most common one that I see, and from what I can tell seems to be the most popular, is the "Reactive Superhero". In this role Sonic is typically presented as relatively easygoing, ranging from relaxed to downright lazy. He typically is seen sleeping or otherwise inactive until some event happens that spurs him into motion. Typically the events that get him going are usually spontaneous and unexpected, and usually instigated by Eggman. It is a role that suits the games well as they typically focus on Sonic and his encounters with Eggman, in which Sonic is typically reacting to something that Eggman has done.


After the above, the next most common role that I see Sonic play is that of the "Anti-Tyrannical Rebel". In this particular role Sonic is usually presented as constantly stimulated and is quick to act to the point of coming off as hasty and jumpy even. Conversely, when their is downtime or a lack of action he seems to anxious and easily bored creating scenarios where Sonic is likely to jump into and cause trouble just to stave off his own boredom, even if his overall choice of action is possessed of good intentions. This role benefits strongly from serial narratives that are able to better explore Sonic's personality and how he fits into the world around him as well as how the world directly affects him and responds to his actions. Not surprisingly this particular role flourished in the Archie comics before SEGA really bit down hard with their mandates as a lot of the stories in Archie explored the characters and their motivations in the ever changing world.


Lastly, the role I see least explored beyond the odd Japanese game manual is the "Adventuring Drifter". In this role, Sonic drifts somewhere in between being reactive and needing to keep engaged. As a result, he spends a great deal of time simply traveling and seeing what is out in the world with a certain ease and carefree attitude. When he does encounter anything that resembles a more intense adventure, or simply someone in need of aid, he typically switches gears in a blink and fully involves himself in whatever he has come across and just as suddenly switches back and heads off in search of his next adventure once the situation is resolved. It is a very dynamic role, but has not been particularly explored to date. It is a role that lends itself more to an episodic narrative but has the potential to expand into longer stories as well.


Now while there are more roles that Sonic has fallen into (love interest, role model, protector, shounen hero, etc...), these three in particular have always stood out the most to me. No matter where I go in the franchise these are the three that are most commonly discussed and analyzed in some form or another. Unfortunately, they are typically broken down and examined when directly addressing another topic and rarely get any real focus. So for this particular topic I would like to ask; which of these roles is your personal favorite and why? When has it worked best? When has it failed to be executed?

For me personally, I have always been partial to the "Adventuring Drifter". My reasons vary for the most part, but they usually boil down to the diversity of the role and the sense of adventure that it brings in both slow and intense scenarios. It's hard to put into words sometimes, but as I also perceive Sonic as an introvert I find Sonic's encounters with varying locals, peoples, cultures, and even traces of past civilizations results in a very unique and almost relaxing way to be engaged with his character and world. It's partly why I prefer character like Mighty and Amy who are also both globetrotters in their own ways in contrast with characters like Shadow and Silver (who really should be adventuring globetrotters IMO) as well as Blaze and Knuckles who are more goal driven then anything else. I also find that despite the directionless nature of the "Adventuring Drifter" role that also provides Sonic with significantly more agency then the other primary roles that I listed above. He adventures because he wants to, not in response to some other factor but by his own simple desire to see what's out there and test himself. As someone who finds travelling relaxing I appreciate Sonic's drive to go see what's out there just as much as I enjoy seeing him show off and put his abilities to the test. It's probably another reason on a whole while I still love the Sonic CD intro so much. Sonic may just be off to see Little Planet, but he still engages in his typical showboating and self challenges just running there even with an audience. You see his love of running on full display and knowing that he's off on a self decided adventure just adds to it. It's to an extent one of the things that I like about 06; Sonic did not go to Soleanna to fight Eggman and save the day, but to see the Festival of the Sun, which even after the reset, he still does. Sonic just exploring his world fills me with a sense of wonder and whimsy that I just love more than anything and as a result I could enjoy a Journey-like Sonic game where the whole point is just to go from point a to point b. I've even said it elsewhere before, but also because of that sense of wonder and adventure I'd even love a Sonic game that is pretty much just an Outrun clone but with Sonic running through the locals instead of driving. 
Wrapping this up a little though, the adventuring and self challenging of the "Adventuring Drifter" role is just never replicated in the others to a degree that brings about that sense of wonder and whimsy that I love and is why it is personally my favorite. But what about everyone else? which role is your favorite? One of the ones I listed above or is it another? Are there any roles that you've observed that you feel needs further explored or just personally have a fancy for? Please, feel free to share and discuss. I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts.

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