Characterization in the Sonic Franchise

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Beamer the Meep, Apr 2, 2021.

What style of characterization do you prefer?

  1. Classic Era Characterization

    59 vote(s)
    58.4%
  2. Adventure Era (SA1 - SH) Characterization

    54 vote(s)
    53.5%
  3. Dark Era (ShTH - SU) Characterization

    13 vote(s)
    12.9%
  4. Modern Era (SC - SF) Characterization

    13 vote(s)
    12.9%
  5. Other

    12 vote(s)
    11.9%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Nova

    Nova

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    Do you guys want to keep going? Please, shut the fuck up and get back on track.
     
  2. In any case, to bring this back on topic.

    The Sonic and Dragon Ball comparisons are pretty funny. We came to the conclusion that Goku has no character arc and changes the world around him within Dragon Ball.

    The interesting part is that some believe that's not who Sonic is, while others feel the opposite. So it begs the question of how much of a static character is Sonic, and how does his character work within his own setting? Is he similar to Goku in that he changes the world around him wherever he goes, and if not, how do others feel Sonic's character should has been handled.

    Cuz personally speaking, him being similar to Goku in having a static character is pretty spot on to me.
     
  3. E-122-Psi

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    I generally see Sonic as one of those characters that maybe doesn't require an arc that heavily reshapes his character, but he is a sort of character that we do learn new things about depending on the circumstance.

    While I think maybe western routes like the comics maybe go a little too into Sonic for what his archetype allows, I also think eastern ones like Sonic X generally keep him too one dimensional, like too infallible and void of flaws. He maybe shouldn't be TOO vulnerable and given excessive backstories and melodramas, but I do think there should be more to him than just the surface level.

    I feel like even just something along the lines of Sonic Boom or the movie works in terms of making Sonic feel like a static character that is still three dimensional. Hell even Lost Worlds, despite its slapdash handling, I commend for trying to put games Sonic in a more flawed light without betraying his normal characteristics. Like he doesn't need an arc, but still be clever with him, try deconstructions and new circumstances.
     
  4. So what's your opinion about the Goku comparisons?
     
  5. E-122-Psi

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    I'm gonna be honest and say I haven't really watched much of Dragonball at all.
     
  6. Aerosol

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    Sonic's not really like Goku at all besides having a flat character arc. Learning new things about him doesn't equate to him having an arc
     
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  7. Xiao Hayes

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    Most comparisons you can do between Sonic and Goku are pretty standard comparisons where you could throw a lot more sample protagonists from other series and you'd get quite the same. Goku giving importance or preference to good fights and Sonic doing the same with adventures or foiling Doc's plans isn't specially original either. The core that makes them special and individual characters, however, it's quite different:

    - Goku is a simple man with a simple interest and is usually in good mood and pleasing his wife and friends with no much more complaints than being eager to train his fighting skills in a way a kid would prefer to go play something instead of going to school but goes anyway because that isn't that bad. When a chance to fight's ahead, yeah, then he gets too passionate and doesn't think that much, but he isn't dumb either, he just isn't that perfect. I think that's the "poison" Toriyama talks about, he is a guy with a regular personality and priorities instead of the paradigm heroes like Superman are. Goku is not that much of a hero, he's just himself.

    - Sonic is also himself, and also does enjoy the challenges ahead, but he's not a fighter, he's a wanderer and a bit of a hedonist in that he's always doing what he wants or saying clearly when he doesn't want to do what others ask him to. He's more attached to his freedom than anything else. That's why he's even less heroic than Goku: even Eggman can do what he wants and Sonic can enjoy fighting him as long as things don't go too far, both because he enjoys their game and because Sonic doesn't see things in black and white; he's more about everyone being the owners of their lives, with the conflict only born through a clash of interests or, specially in his case as that does take him out of his nerves, when someone actively threatens others' freedom.

    So, essentially, while they may belong to the same carefree, hero-by-default kind of protagonist that doesn't judge anyone, Goku is more about messed proirities and Sonic about being a devote of freedom. And they don't change because they're kind of the point of stability of their respective worlds: you can count on them not because they're heroes, but because what you see is always what you get.

    Let's add Sonic has changed a bit: he had friends but not a permanent partner until Tails showed up, and he became even more of a team player through subsequent games.
     
  8. Aerosol

    Aerosol

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    Was there anything to imply Sonic wouldn't partner with people before he met Tails? I don't think so. That he didn't doesn't mean he wouldn't have...he just didn't for any number of reasons.
     
  9. Beamer the Meep

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    I'm likewise going to admit I've never seen Dragonball either, so I can't really add anything there. That said, from my understanding, Goku is very much the shonen protagonist akin to the likes of Sora from Kingdom Hearts right? Not entirely sure Sonic fits into that category.

    I do think what @Xiao Hayes says about a potential arc has merit though. While that devotion to freedom is a key part of Sonic, I would say he has evolved somewhat. His interactions with Tails are just one aspect too, his relationship with Knuckles likewise seems to have evolved from 3&K to Heroes and with Amy from Unleashed onwards. I'm not going to imply there was any purposeful intent to evolve those relationships necessarily, but at face value there's progress made.

    While the main antagonism and rivalry was initiated by Eggman tricking Knuckles, I would say Sonic's carefree attitude, larger life experience with the outside world, and somewhat hedonistic devotion to freedom clashed with Knuckles rigid sense of legality, his no-nonsense attitude, and limited exposure to the outside world. By Heroes, the pair seem to actually respect their differences and see each other's point of view a little more clearly. The only problem there is that it was a drastic and sudden change meant to get Knuckles into the plot of heroes and keep him around as one of the core three later on, but is we just look at it from an in-universe perspective, there was an evolution of that relationship.

    With Amy, he was always quite annoyed by how obsessive she was of him, potentially because it's too constricting. During Unleashed, she does find him but doesn't recognize him in his werehog form, and he's visibly hurt by this. Even the girl who chases him the most and arguably loves him the most can't see him beyond the extra fur he's grown, and I suppose in a way it gives him a greater appreciation of their relationship. By Lost World, he's actively working with Amy, and while she's gotten less googly-eyed for Sonic and respected his distance on her own, he's likewise been less stand-offish as he once was. Whether Pontaff and Graff purposefully did that is dubious at best though...

    Extra mention to Tails actually because the main change there would be one of allowing Tails to take the lead in certain situations. Sonic was always the point man in the classic trilogy, but after the events of Adventure, Sonic is like "Ok dude, what's our plan?". Obviously the main problem there is a regressed character arc under P&G.
     
  10. Nova

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    The main difference here for me is that Goku has, in canon material anyway, had one writer. Toriyama.

    Sonic doesn't have that, and while it can be argued there are technically very few inconsistencies across the main line games, can it really be said Sonic's character is consistent? We've demonstrated in this very thread by virtue of bickering over which we like most, that that isn't the case.
     
  11. Forte

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    This.

    It's kinda funny, You know? There are so many Sonics; Archie Sonic, IDW Sonic, SatAM Sonic, OVA Sonic... Heck, even the CANON game Sonic changes ever so slightly between games.

    It's like Crisis on infinite Sonics or something.
     
  12. Xiao Hayes

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    Dunno, I see him somewhat consistent in the games despite the changes. Of course, portrayal varies, and Sonic has been watered down quite a bit with time, but the base is consistent enough to recognize him in every characterization. Probably a bad example, but I didn't like how characters were portrayed in the fangame Sonic GT: I didn't feel those characters were really they, and I thought that just with the text bubbles, not even factoring VAs, who made that worse but is a fangame and I don't expect perfection from them.
     
  13. XAndrew

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    Facts. It's the same thing with Shadow and Vegeta. I honestly believe the comparison between the characters of Sonic to Dragon Ball are only surface level, because when you see deeply into both franchises? You can see that none of the characters that people compare to each other are nothing alike outside of their placement in the story. Take Knuckles and Piccolo for example. What do Knuckles and Piccolo have in common, outside of the whole first massive rival before the big main one? (The big main ones being Shadow for Sonic and Vegeta for Goku) Last time I checked Piccolo was a villain on the scale of what Vegeta would also be. Where as Knuckles wasn't a villain. He was at best an anti Villain who only had a conflict with Sonic because Eggman tricked him into thinking that Sonic was the one trying to steal the Master Emerald. Nothing to what Shadow would be. Knuckles Had GOOD intentions from day 1, where as Piccolo had BAD attentions to kill Goku and take over the world in the original Dragon Ball, and only really changed because Gohan made him do so in Z. Sorry If this may seem off topic at this point, but you just reminded me of how annoying it is to me when people go like "Yeah man! Sonic And his friends are totally like Goku and his friends" when they are mainly going by surface level comparisons.
     
  14. Aerosol

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    Sonic (?): Coming summer of 2055...?
    I mean Sonic turns blonde and get's spikey when he turns super.

    Lmao what if Super Saiyan Blue was Toriyama's way of saying "fucking stop" by way of making a new transformation that's the same color as Sonic's base form.

    That aside...yea. Characters serving similar story purposes doesn't make the characters themselves similar and it's kind of annoying. That being said, I think Sonic's only actual rival is Jet.

    What does Knuckles want? To be left alone to stare at the Master Emerald in perpetuity. He's not (canonically) as fast as Sonic, and his rivalry if any is completely one-sided.

    What does Shadow want? To be the ultimate life form. Does he actually have any pride in speed when he can teleport? I honestly don't think Sonic gives a damn besides having a fun race partner every now and then.

    What does Metal Sonic want? To be the only Sonic. Or just be a Sonic-shaped badnik I'unno.

    It's only Jet that shares a mutual interest with Sonic. But then Sonic had to go and Gary Stu the shit out of Extreme Gear so I don't know if that even counts now.
     
  15. I feel like it's because Sonic borrows a lot from a lot of pop culture and Dragon Ball in general.

    To a casual gamer, its an apt comparison
     
  16. ChaddyFantome

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    Isn't that verbatim the whole character arc and motivation behind Tails following him and learning to be his own man?
    Amy seeking a life of love, thrills and adventure?
    Knuckles learning to appreciate friends can help him and not be as much of a loner?
    Shadow seeing the potential of humanity to grow and change?
    Elise learning to break out of her shell and become more self determined?
    Merlina learning to accept the finality of life and how it gives it meaning?
    Blaze learning to open up to others and accept support from those around her?
    Chip learning to appreciate the world and its sites and people as he otherwise never would?
    Even the Avatar in Forces is inspired by Sonic to become a hero.
    I was under the impression it was commonly understood to be a consistent theme in regards to how Sonic is written.
    Even early material like AoStH has Sonic acting as a role model of sorts to the audience from which to learn good lessons from via Sonic Says or even just interactions with the odd character of the day.

    To my understanding, the "poison" he refers to in Goku's character is that in his pureness and innocence, Goku is prone to do things that can be considered "bad" or from certain perspectives be viewed as "selfish". Goku while being pure of heart and definitely having altruistic attributes, predominantly still very much acts in ways that aim to fulfil personal satisfaction and fulfilment. To put it in another way, Goku doesn't do good things because "its the right thing to do" so much as he does it because he feels like doing it. Its less about having a strict moral code and more acting on a more carnal level. Or at least, that's how I always understood it.
    As I understand it, pureness of heart refers less to "not having an evil bone in your body" and more the idea that one lives a pure and untainted existence, with the presumption that said existence leads to inherent good outcome for the self and ones surroundings.

    With that said, I would say this very much aligns in principle with Sonic as a character. He's less a hero of justice and more just a guy doing his thing and stopping bad stuff when he sees it happening because he doesn't agree with it.

    Last I checked, wasn't Vegeta literally listed as part of the design notes for Terios back when Shadow was in development?
    I think when it comes to the whole Shadow and Vegeta comparison, its not so much that it is false, but more in that the connection between the characters is misunderstood or presented incorrectly. Like people can "feel" the connection but don't really get it. It doesn't help that people's frustrations with the handling of his character in things such as IDW have given them a sort of desire to find something to focus their ire towards.

    For my money, Shadow and Vegeta have a lot of similarities in terms of Shadow's function as a character in relation to Sonic , particularly in regards to his implementation in SA2.
    One of the main points of contrast between Goku and Vegeta was the idea of nature vs nurture, so to speak. Vegeta being the high born Saiyan elite believed in his own innate superiority by virtue of the nature of his birth vs Goku who was a low born cast off who defined himself by his experiences.
    This is very much echoed with Sonic and Shadow with Shadow being believing in his innate superiority as the ultimate life form, looking at humanity as inferior beings to him, while Sonic is the naturally born counterpart who defines himself by his experiences.
    There was also a lot of spiritualism vs technology thematic at play in Goku and Vegeta's rivalry as well, with the Saiyan invaders relying on numbers and technology like the scouters and saibamen, while the Heroes like Goku used their understanding of the spiritual elements of ki as a crutch.
    Sonic's growth in the game I would also say mirrors Goku's in accepting aspects of himself as a Saiyan given his parallels to Shadow and what that means for him as an individual, but maybe I'm going on too long of a tangent with the whole "The ultimate Lifeform might be you" thing and him learning Chaos Control.
    Shadow's distant but noble attitude is very similar to Vegeta's as well as his unrelenting attitude and lack of mercy in pursuit of his goals for what he believes is a greater aim is pretty comparable to Vegeta as well.
    To put it shortly, while I would never say they are a 1 to 1 analogue (Shadow has inspiration from a bunch of other very unrelate things to say such a thing) I do think the parallels exist between the characters. Its just not in the way people often seem to think of frame it.
    Often when comparing Vegeta to Shadow, people seem to think Shadow is this constantly angry entitled jerk that has a perpetual inferiority complex and need to prove himself as superior, when of course that couldn't be further from the truth, but wouldn't be an inaccurate description of Vegeta, and thus the existing parallels invite people to kind of super implant the whole package so to speak without respecting where those parallels begin and end. Its kind of the double edged sword of communicating through comparisons I feel.
    I'd say that comes down to whether you count Kami's character as being grandfathered into Piccolo or not, given that they are effectively 1 character and by the Buu Saga he basically just becomes Kami anyway.
    If one does, there are quite a number of parallels, such as him being a guardian of a floating structure and him and his race being the prominent in universe race directly tied to the main mcguffin of the series. His struggle with maintaining his duty to remain on the look out or intervene. Then the Piccolo element of course come to his gruff but stoic characterization and loner tendencies, as well as his putting aside his animosity to the hero for greater causes, which is very much in line with Knuckles.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2021
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  17. Not sure if anyone here has seen this before, but this was incredibly enlightening to me as a great example for putting the characterization at the time on display.

    Edit: found a sonic adventure one
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2021
  18. Nova

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    In response to the above, the whole point of this topic is 'what characterization of Sonic do you like best' and only now I make the point that Goku is consistent and Sonic isn't, people have to find something to argue about and start saying Sonic is consistent. Then what's the fucking point of the thread?

    Also, the whole point about Goku being pure/impure/poisonous/whatever is far, far too played out now - the only reason I brought up the comparison in the first place was to point out that Goku isn't the kind of character to insult his friends in even a playful manner and very rarely gets annoyed with them, whereas Sonic kind of does and that's fine because Sonic doesn't have to be like Goku. Christ.

    Edit: also, while I think on it @ChaddyFantome, are you conveniently forgetting that all of that character development of Tails 'learning to be his own man' very recently got thrown out completely in Forces and arguably in Colours, when he was relegated to sidekick again?
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2021
  19. RDNexus

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    I'm not sure if this might fit here, since it's more about translation differences (if there's a better thread, please tell me).
    Yesterday, I found this video that shows how characterization can kinda differ with the language employed in certain scenes (even moreso in Colors & Lost World)...
     
  20. Nova

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    This is always going to be the case, as Japanese in most cases cannot be literally and directly translated into English. Languages don't really always work that way - look at how certain words are borrowed from other languages because we don't have a comparable word for that concept. Schadenfreude is the one that immediately springs to mind. The localizers do the best job they can to keep the feel and spirit of the original, but there will always be differences.