A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show mostly aims to entertain, but astute viewers may notice that the show underscores the value of fighting for a worthy cause and standing up against what you know to be wrong. The idea of government oppression and, alternately, the collective power of the masses to fight that oppression are common themes.
Kids see a group of siblings set aside what makes them different and learn to work as a cohesive group toward a common goal. The process isn't always without calamity, but there's always a lesson to be taken from the experience. Their ultimate mission is to overthrow a tyrannical government system and free their neighbors from the leader's control.
Positive Role Models
Sonic, Manic, and Sonia are devoted to their cause of freedom and strive to help people every chance they get. Others around them also sacrifice to resist the evil ruler's oppression. Dr. Robotnik, on the other hand, relies on intimidation and mind control to exert control over the population he's enslaved.
Violence & Scariness
Cartoon-style violence yields explosions, fires, and some impact, but there's little consequence from it. Slightly more concerning is the evil tyrant's unchecked power over the city's people, which means that people can be arrested and taken from their families for no obvious wrongdoing. Some of the characters have monster features such as claws and sharp teeth.
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Rarely name-calling such as "stupid."
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Products & Purchases
The show is written around Sonic the Hedgehog, a video game character who also stars in two other animated series.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sonic Underground's story line is separate from those of the other series starring the titular character, including The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. In this case, Sonic works as part of a family team to overthrow the oppressive regime of the city's leader. Because he's not a solo act, he must learn along with his brother and sister how to combine their talents and work as a unit, which has positive messages about teamwork. Younger kids may not understand (and thus might be frightened by) the actions of the villain and his underlings, who flaunt their power over the general population by arresting dissenters and turning them into programmed robots. For those who can follow the complex story, though, the heroes' selfless devotion to the cause of freedom for their people has some positive qualities.
Is It Any Good?
For a kids' cartoon, SONIC UNDERGROUND has some surprisingly dark themes more commonly associated with dystopian fiction for the older set. Though the content never feels truly threatening and Dr. Robotnik's evildoing is offset by the quirky trio of heroes and their often-comical escapades, this is still a story about an enslaved people rising up against an oppressive tyrant and his powerful armies to safeguard their personal freedom. Kids who watch may have questions about the characters' actions and their motivations, but if yours are ready for it, this can start some thoughtful conversations about these issues.
Content-wise, there isn't a lot here that will surprise kids familiar with similar cartoons. Violence is more about flash than it is about packing an actual punch, and characters are rarely hurt in the action. Sonic and his siblings learn about teamwork the hard way, but the end result is a good one. And central to the story is the age-old struggle between good and evil that's not easily resolved. The bottom line? Sonic Underground has some good things to offer kids, but only if they're ready for the complexities of its story.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.