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Akashi

Sonic's Original Personality

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Hey guys, I recently read Yuji Naka's comments a while ago about him and the original team not wanting Sonic to become cute, and I realized I've felt a similar way for a while now. 

In my opinion, Sonic's original personality as seen in Sonic 1-3 and CD is very specific: Cute strictly in looks alone but cocky, witty, and somewhat stoic on the inside, hence the "attitude". 

To me this is very much in line with a common Japanese trope you see in Anime. It's the usual male character who may not look super masculine on the outside but has very "manly" qualities such as confidence, stoicism, and independence. I think this is what the recent games have kind of been missing in terms of how they have been portraying his personality, possibly because of the writers being American and not Japanese, so they may have misunderstood this trope that was linked to his original character. I think this "edginess" is very much the core of Sonic's character and not simply an element of the 90's, as I've heard argued before. I think it could very much still work if he was like this. In fact I think he was exactly like this in OK KO's interpretation of Sonic. 

Anyone else agree or is it just me?

 

 

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1) Modern Sonic isn't 'cute', he's something between brash teen and still-cool adult.  If anything classic-in-modern-games is cute and even that is limited. What, 2 games with limited role for hin, followed by Mania that brings his cheeky persona back on track? Oh the horror.

2) And how can Classic Sonic be 'witty' in game without dialogue or even cutscenes? He had some implications of character (tapping his feet),  but it's everything AROUND the games that told you his personality, allowing to project ideal 'attitude' at hedgehog with maybe 30 different sprite poses.

3) And frankly 'original personality' is a moot point. Original Batman killed people. Ideas change with times, for better or worse. Personally I like Unleashes/Secret Rings Sonic who can be cool and emphatic at the same time, but that's not really "Classic" behaviour.

Sonic has different problems than being 'cute'. Rather it's obvious incompetent 2010-now writing, emotional lock-down Sega is keeping him and the fact that his in-universe popularity seems to grow geometrically, to the point where Sonic is one step from becoming religion in his world (which to be fair happens to many ongoing franchises. Look at Superman & Batman, Optimus Prime or Doctor Who).

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5 hours ago, Akashi said:

Cute strictly in looks alone

I'll just say to me personally he never looked cute even in his first games. In the games themselves, he always had a 'mean' looking expression with his eyes that put him pretty far from 'cute'. It's like calling the SWAT Kats cute:swat-kats-1.jpg.f6cc930f243ec1fb0866939451468f07.jpg
I would say some of the promotional materials probably made Sonic look cuter than he was actually portrayed in the games.

And they definitely went with a more 'cutesy' look in Generations and Forces with the...I guess best way to refer to it as 'other' Sonic.

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Yeah originally, Sonic wasn't meant to be cute, he was meant to be "cool". Even the Japanese versions of him were meant to be a more of the edgy and cool stereotype than most cartoony anthropomorphic animals. His western portrayals played up his trademark "tude" and amped up that image of coolness even further with the cartoons and stuff. Jaleel White's Classic Sonic from AOSTH and SATAM are my favorite versions of Classic Sonic, maybe even moreso than the one from Generations/Forces.

While I do think its fitting for him to have the carefree and laidback yet adventurous personality he was given later on (just a guy who loves adventure),  I still like him to have his cocky, fast-talking "tude" from his old days. It's part of why I'm one of the few people who actually like the writing of recent Sonic games. They get Sonic's personality down right IMO, maybe he's a little on the nose at times, but I kind of like him to be a bit more arrogant and mouthy than most Strong Silent or Goody Two-Shoes heroes.

I don't quite dislike him being a silent character like recent portrayals of Classic either, but I prefer if they keep his tude through body language and expressions (Sonic Mania Adventures did this pretty well. You could tell he was the cocky Sonic we all knew and love despite him not saying a word)

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16 hours ago, Akashi said:

Hey guys, I recently read Yuji Naka's comments a while ago about him and the original team not wanting Sonic to become cute, and I realized I've felt a similar way for a while now. 

In my opinion, Sonic's original personality as seen in Sonic 1-3 and CD is very specific: Cute strictly in looks alone but cocky, witty, and somewhat stoic on the inside, hence the "attitude". 

To me this is very much in line with a common Japanese trope you see in Anime. It's the usual male character who may not look super masculine on the outside but has very "manly" qualities such as confidence, stoicism, and independence. I think this is what the recent games have kind of been missing in terms of how they have been portraying his personality, possibly because of the writers being American and not Japanese, so they may have misunderstood this trope that was linked to his original character. I think this "edginess" is very much the core of Sonic's character and not simply an element of the 90's, as I've heard argued before. I think it could very much still work if he was like this. In fact I think he was exactly like this in OK KO's interpretation of Sonic. 

Anyone else agree or is it just me?

 

 

Not to mention somewhat fatherly, as seen well in CD, 2, and AOSTH. Plus that sneeze danger sense thing.

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18 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

1) Modern Sonic isn't 'cute', he's something between brash teen and still-cool adult.

16 hours ago, Tarnish said:

I'll just say to me personally he never looked cute even in his first games. In the games themselves, he always had a 'mean' looking expression with his eyes

Sonic's design including classic & modern style is in fact both "Cute" & Cool. Many people think this and not just me. Huge head & eyes, small body, bright colors and just a overall simple appealing design. All those things can be considered cute. Even Metal-Sonic is fairly cute visually! Hohoo! And it is that balance of cool & cute that makes the series designs so iconic... and a mere grumpy face doesn't stop something from being cute whatsoever. If you fully remove the cute aspects from the designs... odds are you might end up getting ugly looking monsters similar to the old movie design. xD

I do kinda laugh at how some folk feel so insecure with cuteness being admitted as apart of this series.

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35 minutes ago, Lord-Dreamerz said:

Sonic's design including classic & modern style is in fact both "Cute" & Cool. Many people think this and not just me. Huge head & eyes, small body, bright colors and just a overall simple appealing design. All those things can be considered cute. Even Metal-Sonic is cute. Hohoo! And it is that balance of cool & cute that makes the series designs so iconic... and a mere grumpy face doesn't stop something from being cute whatsoever. If you remove the cute aspects from the designs... odds are you end up typically getting awful looking ugly monsters similar to the old movie design. xD

I do kinda laugh at how some folk feel so insecure with cuteness being admitted as apart of this series.

Yes EXACTLY! As i said in the first post what makes Sonic Sonic is very very specific. He's cute (small, big eyes, etc) PLUS tough, edgy, and cool. 

9 hours ago, Kuzu said:

I kinda prefer Sonic when he's equal parts sassy, and empathetic. Usually he leans too far on one side to the point of being kinda one note.

100% agree.

11 hours ago, Sonario said:

Yeah originally, Sonic wasn't meant to be cute, he was meant to be "cool". Even the Japanese versions of him were meant to be a more of the edgy and cool stereotype than most cartoony anthropomorphic animals. His western portrayals played up his trademark "tude" and amped up that image of coolness even further with the cartoons and stuff. Jaleel White's Classic Sonic from AOSTH and SATAM are my favorite versions of Classic Sonic, maybe even moreso than the one from Generations/Forces.

While I do think its fitting for him to have the carefree and laidback yet adventurous personality he was given later on (just a guy who loves adventure),  I still like him to have his cocky, fast-talking "tude" from his old days. It's part of why I'm one of the few people who actually like the writing of recent Sonic games. They get Sonic's personality down right IMO, maybe he's a little on the nose at times, but I kind of like him to be a bit more arrogant and mouthy than most Strong Silent or Goody Two-Shoes heroes.

I don't quite dislike him being a silent character like recent portrayals of Classic either, but I prefer if they keep his tude through body language and expressions (Sonic Mania Adventures did this pretty well. You could tell he was the cocky Sonic we all knew and love despite him not saying a word)

That's actually a really good point, While i used to completely hate the modern writing, I recently watched the cutscenes again and i also noticed that they do seem to get his carefree attitude pretty spot on. I just wish they combined that with a bit more cockyness maybe. I'm curious, how do you feel OK KO sonic compares to say Lost World and Colors? I think they nailed it pretty closely. 

16 hours ago, Tarnish said:

I'll just say to me personally he never looked cute even in his first games. In the games themselves, he always had a 'mean' looking expression with his eyes that put him pretty far from 'cute'. 

I see what you mean there, but that's actually exactly why i said "strictly in looks alone", because by his attitude and mean expression it's as if he's doing everything he can to not come off as cute even though he technically is on the outside, with his big eyes, small somewhat chubby body, short stature, etc. It's exactly that clash of qualities that I loved about his 90's portrayal. 

4 hours ago, Miragnarok said:

Not to mention somewhat fatherly, as seen well in CD, 2, and AOSTH. Plus that sneeze danger sense thing.

Yeah! I absolutely love how they show him taking care of Amy in CD and Tails in AOSTH. I actually like that show specifically for that reason, they really got his "big brother" quality right.

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4 hours ago, Lord-Dreamerz said:

Sonic's design including classic & modern style is in fact both "Cute" & Cool. Many people think this and not just me. Huge head & eyes, small body, bright colors and just a overall simple appealing design. All those things can be considered cute. Even Metal-Sonic is fairly cute visually! Hohoo! And it is that balance of cool & cute that makes the series designs so iconic... and a mere grumpy face doesn't stop something from being cute whatsoever. If you fully remove the cute aspects from the designs... odds are you might end up getting ugly looking monsters similar to the old movie design. xD

I do kinda laugh at how some folk feel so insecure with cuteness being admitted as apart of this series.

What is 'cute' is not universal to everyone tho. You might look at him and see 'Huge head & eyes, small body, bright colors and just a overall simple appealing design', I see mean, a bit borderline menacing look, hands always clenched into fists and a stance ready for action, lots of pointy aspects in his design (deadly, sharp, pointy quills, as well as pointy ears and nose), cool blue color dominating his body, and an impatient attitude to top it all off.

I'd say Sonic's environment has way more going for it in cuteness. The bright colors of Green Hill, the small animals you rescue and even the badniks have a cuter design than Sonic in Sonic 1.

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1 hour ago, Tarnish said:

What is 'cute' is not universal to everyone tho. You might look at him and see 'Huge head & eyes, small body, bright colors and just a overall simple appealing design', I see mean, a bit borderline menacing look, hands always clenched into fists and a stance ready for action, lots of pointy aspects in his design (deadly, sharp, pointy quills, as well as pointy ears and nose), cool blue color dominating his body, and an impatient attitude to top it all off.

Not that the things you see in him are really wrong, but I would disagree with him looking "menacing" and would replace that with bratty & determined. However you also compared him to Swat Cats... which he doesn't look remotely visually like them, not even a tiny bit, resulting in a really bad comparison. He is closer to Felix the cat/Bugs Bunny/Mickey Mouse with some good stylish shonen anime style mixed in. Anyways Sonic + many others in the series are both cool & cute and it is pretty obvious to most viewers. However I do think SEGA has not been presenting Classic Sonic correctly lately in new media with them leaning to much on the cute side in personality.

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7 minutes ago, Lord-Dreamerz said:

However you also compared him to Swat Cats... which he doesn't look visually remotely like them, not even a tiny bit, resulting in a really bad comparison. He is closer to Felix the cat/Bugs Bunny/Mickey Mouse with some good stylish shonen anime style mixed in.

First of all, it's SWAT Kats with a K. =P And while you have a point, what I was trying to get at is you'd think because they're cats, and cats are considered cute, you'd think the SWAT Kats would be cute too, but they're not. Just like with Sonic, since hedgehogs are cute, you'd think Sonic would be cute, but I don't see him that way.

Of course it's all down to artistic direction and both SWAT Kats and Sonic can be made to look cute without very drastic changes. But I don't see Sonic's original depiction in the first games being overwhelmingly cute.

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19 minutes ago, Tarnish said:

But I don't see Sonic's original depiction in the first games being overwhelmingly cute.

Never said he was suppose to look "overwhelmingly" cute. Hahaa! Maybe you missed it, but i did edit my post before you replied with me commenting on how I feel SEGA has been treating Classic Sonic to much on the cute side lately in personality. And don't forget I said his design has always been a balance and not just one thing.

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i don't think sonic's design in the original game was menacing at all. it matched the European and Japanese covers for the game. same with the title screen, signpost, and continue and 1up icon. he was young, friendly, small, and fun.  he was cute.  look at his little belly, ha. he was based on mickey mouse and felix the cat after all.

this was also demonstrated in the Japanese commercials where he was balancing on the clock hands, and got tangled up in a badnik.  there was a goofy and somewhat vulnerable side to him. I always interpreted his 'attitude' to be impatient and cheeky, but he never came across as arrogant and uncaring to me. I think sonic 1 and the 'adventures of' cartoon had the best balance of this.  

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On 11/25/2019 at 2:16 AM, MetalSkulkBane said:

3) And frankly 'original personality' is a moot point. Original Batman killed people. Ideas change with times, for better or worse.

Batman killed early on since he was based on pulp-heroes like The Shadow and Zorro (who did kill or at least were willing to use lethal force/arrange for the deaths of their enemies) with his key enemies being mobsters and/or serial killers (see the Joker). Him killing less happened so that he could be more child-friendly (with his enemies getting toned down in time). Also even way after he's been shown occasionally to use lethal force to defend others (like in a story where he makes a pile of cars fall on a crooked diplomat to protect Jason Todd).

Anyway, Sonic OVA is the best demonstration on Naka's Sonic as a character. He's a punk kid (note the memetastic "SHUT UP TAILS") who still fights protecting his world, his little brother (Tails), and others.

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I've never been too arsed about Naka's take on the character - I care more about his actual creator's portrayal of him, Naoto Ohshima. Because I feel like the actual character designer would have more of a grasp on Sonic's character than the programmer of the game. T'is why I always get bugged when someone calls Naka "The Father of Sonic" - like, he was in terms of the game, but the character is on Ohshima -  and Schroeder, for that matter. 

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I don't really think Sonic's current portrayal is really that far outside of what was proposed, the writing's just a bit crap. "Stoic" I think only goes so far; and I think it'd be depriving Sonic of being a more animated character to lean in full on the "he's edgy!" role. He's carefree, but can recognise when things are serious. And he can certainly be cute - I don't think it's detrimental to have that angle, especially when he is ultimately a children's character. You want to have a welcoming face, someone who you can look at and be like "that's a friend". He's just not as tightly pigeonholed to that as say, Mario. 

tx0FjHx.png

One of my favourite pieces of Sonic artwork ever is this one. He's certainly cute here, but he also looks curious and inquisitive - which I'd expect a wandering, adventuring Hedgehog to be. I think having that range with Sonic is great, and it makes him really fun to draw too. I prefer it over 'anime trope' at any rate. I'm not saying Sonic has to be cute 24/7 either, but I don't think he is - even Classic, which is I suppose more my personal focus. In Mania he's still got his sass about him in the shorts (and his shit-eating grin of justice in the victory animation), and in Forces he spends half the time just frowning. I have issues with the current 3D portrayal of Classic, but my problem with it really isn't "he's too cute." 

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I feel like there's no "correct" way to portray Sonic. Every continuity te da to emphasize different parts of him that people appreciate.

 

I think it's a testament to the strength of the character that he has so many different interpretations that can appeal to people 

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Sonic has three fathers. In order of impact on the actual character's personality

1. Naoto Oshima -- The design of Sonic is what makes him an enduring character. It's elegantly simple, easy to draw, expressive, familiar but unique. Blue with a dash of red and peach and white. It's beautiful and inspired. Oshima gives you Sonic's form.

2. Yuji Naka -- Sonic's design stems from what his abilities needed to be. Naka was creating a platformer that would incorporate more arcadey pinball physics... like pinball, the more you get into the rhythm of the design of the level (or pinball board?), the more fun it is and the faster you can be on replays. It's an inspired idea and by giving us Sonic's primary actions and moveset, you define how he experiences the world. He's fast and rolly, and a lot of what makes Sonic fun in those games is just the feeling of running through these weird ruins or factories. Naka gives you Sonic's actions.

3. Hirokazu Yasuhara -- often gets underrated by Sonic fans. But without Yasuhara's involvement designing the levels and Directing -- if the game isn't fun to play, none of the above matters. If the world's aren't memorable and evocative and unusual (Spring Yard, Casino Night, Chemical Plant, Aquatic Ruins, Angel Island, Sky Sanctuary)... without that, then it's just Bubsy or whatever. It's not a coincidence that the Sonic games have never been as good as the Genesis games, and that's Yasuhara. He also has the longest career of the three -- being responsible for Jak and Uncharted, as well, plus the underrated Floigan Bros from Dreamcast.  If you squint from a certain angle, you can see elements of Sonic's personality in both Jak and Uncharted, in terms of the adventurer's personality. Yasuhara gives you Sonic's soul. 

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On 11/27/2019 at 4:15 PM, Kuzu said:

I feel like there's no "correct" way to portray Sonic. Every continuity te da to emphasize different parts of him that people appreciate.

 

I think it's a testament to the strength of the character that he has so many different interpretations that can appeal to people 

To me that just sounds like he has no real personality or character. It's just whatever the the current team wants him to be, whether that's an annoying comedian or cool hero.

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22 hours ago, Tarnish said:

To me that just sounds like he has no real personality or character. It's just whatever the the current team wants him to be, whether that's an annoying comedian or cool hero.

Yes but I would say that's more of an example of range, and in the right hands even depth, rather than lack of character. Sonic's inherent original character/personality has definition but flexibility, being closer to Batman than Mario or Link. Part of that would be because Sonic and Batman have both been passed around by many more creators than Mario or Link, who've had the unusual path of remaining closely connected to the IP's original character guiding the vision. 

The brand quality for Mario/Link products is more consistent and higher quality than Sonic / Batman's, who've had more peaks and valleys, but Mario/Link also have almost no characterization at all -- they are purely tools for gameplay, and they've had fewer extra media portrayals of the characters. 

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On 12/7/2019 at 7:00 AM, Prince the Cat said:

Sonic has three fathers. In order of impact on the actual character's personality

1. Naoto Oshima -- The design of Sonic is what makes him an enduring character. It's elegantly simple, easy to draw, expressive, familiar but unique. Blue with a dash of red and peach and white. It's beautiful and inspired. Oshima gives you Sonic's form.

2. Yuji Naka -- Sonic's design stems from what his abilities needed to be. Naka was creating a platformer that would incorporate more arcadey pinball physics... like pinball, the more you get into the rhythm of the design of the level (or pinball board?), the more fun it is and the faster you can be on replays. It's an inspired idea and by giving us Sonic's primary actions and moveset, you define how he experiences the world. He's fast and rolly, and a lot of what makes Sonic fun in those games is just the feeling of running through these weird ruins or factories. Naka gives you Sonic's actions.

3. Hirokazu Yasuhara -- often gets underrated by Sonic fans. But without Yasuhara's involvement designing the levels and Directing -- if the game isn't fun to play, none of the above matters. If the world's aren't memorable and evocative and unusual (Spring Yard, Casino Night, Chemical Plant, Aquatic Ruins, Angel Island, Sky Sanctuary)... without that, then it's just Bubsy or whatever. It's not a coincidence that the Sonic games have never been as good as the Genesis games, and that's Yasuhara. He also has the longest career of the three -- being responsible for Jak and Uncharted, as well, plus the underrated Floigan Bros from Dreamcast.  If you squint from a certain angle, you can see elements of Sonic's personality in both Jak and Uncharted, in terms of the adventurer's personality. Yasuhara gives you Sonic's soul. 

Agree with everything minus maybe the part about post-Genesis games not being good. the Adventure games had some awesome stages, as did Unleashed and Colors in my opinion. But I do agree about level design (more specifically how you're meant to traverse through them) highlight a part of Sonic's personality. It's one of the reasons I love it when some cool cinematic stuff happens when running through levels, (The Gun Truck,  the huge gotem pole in Generations 3DS etc).

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8 hours ago, Sonario said:

Agree with everything minus maybe the part about post-Genesis games not being good. the Adventure games had some awesome stages, as did Unleashed and Colors in my opinion. But I do agree about level design (more specifically how you're meant to traverse through them) highlight a part of Sonic's personality. It's one of the reasons I love it when some cool cinematic stuff happens when running through levels, (The Gun Truck,  the huge gotem pole in Generations 3DS etc).

Don't get me wrong, I like the post-Genesis games well enough — my opinion is: they all are successful to varying degrees... but none of the post-S&K games are as cohesively good as the "core four" games (minus Mania). All of the Sonic games have some interesting ideas, some more than others. 

But when you look at it through the lens of "is Yasuhara is a team leader on this Sonic game?" it becomes apparent how important his contributions were. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hirokazu_Yasuhara  I never played the Jak & Dexter series, or Uncharted, but it seems like they had a degree of polish and cohesion the Sonic series has largely lacked since the golden era. Someone who has played them probably has a better perspective on it. 

It's impossible to know for sure, but had Sega made a greater (ie: any) effort to recognize and reward their talent and keep them together — Naka, Ohshima, Yasuhara — and grown the team around them (in other words, if Sega handled their developers more like Nintendo), then the Sonic franchise would almost certainly have been better for it. 

 

Anyway, not trying to derail the thread —just want to emphasize Yasuhara's importance as a creator (not that he's a one-man savior, just that his contributions can be felt), and how Sonic's environments/actions inform his character/personality.

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