So the Sonic emblem featured in the older games is an iconic piece of imagery. It features some striking colors, angelic wings, lots of stars and stripes, and almost looks like some sort of patriotic insignia. Well, it turns out that’s because it was supposed to be patriotic insignia.
VentureBeat did a short story on the strange and secret backstory for the Sonic The Hedgehog logo that first appeared with the original release of the game way back on the Sega Genesis. During one of the many fascinating presentations that took place at this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, game designer Hirokazu Yasuhara and character designer Naoto Oshima explained exactly why the emblem is designed the way it is.
Oshima explained during the talk that the emblem was borne from his fascination with flight jackets and aviation. In his original design documents, Sonic was the hero in a fictional tale made up by the wife of a fighter pilot who had acquired the nickname of “Hedgehog” during his days of going very fast as an aviator.
Within this world, the pilot flew a plane that had a painted nose in the design of a blue hedgehog. The pilot fell in love with an author of children’s books and married her. Apparently after the pilot retired, his wife decided to make a story based on the blue hedgehog on the front nose of his plane… she called the character “Sonic,” since her husband had built up a reputation as a fighter pilot who was very fast.
Of course, this still doesn’t explain the emblem around Sonic. Where did it come from and how does it relate to a fictional story about a fighter pilot and his wife? Well, according to Oshima’s design documents, the fighter pilot was known for wearing a bomber jacket with an insignia on it containing wings with the patriotic stars and stripes. Within Oshima’s realm, the fighter pilot’s wife designed Sonic the Hedgehog around her husband’s legacy, and included the insignia on his bomber jacket as an emblem for the Sonic character.
So just to recap here: Oshima’s take on Sonic The Hedgehog’s backstory is that Sonic was actually a fictional character within another fictional world about a fighter pilot and his wife. Sonic was originally a painting on the pilot’s plane, and the emblem was based on an insignia from the pilot’s jacket.
Obviously this historical trivia seems to be little more than backstory that doesn’t actually fit into the chronological (or multi-verse) canon of Sonic games. Sega has never made any mention about this part of the story and I can see why.
Sonic is extremely popular with kids and youngsters, and diminishing the agency of the character by reducing him to a fake character within the life of another fictional character seems like it would do little more than make people feel far less attached to the character. Could you imagine if Nintendo reduced the exploits of Mairo and Luigi to just being fictional tales that some random character came up with who lived outside of the Super Mario franchise? It’s almost as bad as compelling stories being reduced to the “it was all a dream” trope.
Even still, the backstory about the emblem is fascinating.