'Sonic the Hedgehog': The origins of a blue speedster and the environmental philosophy at the heart of his world

The character may have been born out of an economic need but that doesn't mean a bit of contemporary politics did not seep into the world of the franchise


                            'Sonic the Hedgehog': The origins of a blue speedster and the environmental philosophy at the heart of his world
Ben Schwartz as Sonic (IMDb)

Nearly 30 years after his inception, Sonic the Hedgehog is a household name. There is practically nobody who has not heard of the iconic video game character but not everybody has given much thought to the philosophy that drives the franchise.

To be fair, Sonic wasn't created to achieve philosophical or ideological goals. The character was born because Sega needed a mascot who could stand on par with Nintendo's Mario, probably the only video game character who is more popular than the speeding hedgehog. While the factors that led to his creation may have been economical, that did not stop a bit of contemporary politics from seeping into the world of the franchise.

Consider Doctor Ivo 'Eggman' Robotnik, Sonic's eternal arch-enemy who is obsessed with controlling the world and preying on the animal protagonists by either trapping them or controlling them with mechanical constructs. Now consider Sonic and his allies, all of them cute and heroic animals who live and fight for the natural world.

When Sonic was created in the 90s, the environmental movement had just about begun gaining ground. Hirokazu Yasuhara, one of the creators of the characters, once explained that Sonic's background was deeply rooted in the time period in which he was conceived.

"It was an era where we began to think about our environment more," Yashuahara said, according to Polygon. "That idea was rooted into (Sonic)."

That fundamental binary between the natural world and the mechanical one has never really left the franchise. And considering how much more pressing the state of the environment is today than it was in the 90s, that narrative is more important now than ever before.

Catch Sonic in theaters this Valentine's Day when the live-action 'Sonic the Hedgehog' movie starring Ben Schwartz as Sonic and Jim Carrey as Dr Robotnik races to screens in the US.

Here is the trailer for the upcoming movie.



 

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