Analysis: A look at Sonic & Friends: a big step in Sonic’s “transmedia” future

While not the only “transmedia” initiative for Sonic out of SEGA of Japan (the other being VTuber Sonic), Sonic & Friends – or “QSonic” internally at SEGA – has raised some eyebrows in the Sonic community for its “chibi” design.

Some fans have criticized the look as being too “cute”, a stark contrast to Modern Sonic’s appearance in The Final Horizon DLC for Sonic Frontiers. But, what exactly is QSonic then?

Who produces QSonic?

While this used to be mostly unclear, Shuji Utsumi, who is in charge of games at SEGA, revealed that AKA Virtual was behind the initiative at Lisbon Websummit in November last year. The series has made its way to TikTok, X, and Instagram via Sega Japan’s social channels.

Attractive IPs and characters will strengthen out strategic position. We firmly believe AKA Virtual plays an important role, allowing us to strategically expand.

Shuji Utsumi, now President & Chief Operating Officer of Sega of Japan

AKA Virtual is a Tokyo-based multinational company that has a knack for marketing, 3D animation, and VTuber technology. The company is young – at just two years old, but it secured investment from Sega Sammy Holdings in 2022.

What encompasses the Sonic & Friends / QSonic initiative?

Sonic & Friends, referred to as “QSonic” by AKA Virtual CEO Jia Shen, was created and 3D animated using AKA Virtual’s motion capture technology. The series is aimed at young adults and younger users in general, explaining the “cute” designs used in the series.

For longtime fans, these designs may remind you of Tomy’s Sonic Boom line of plushies.
According to SEGA and AKA Virtual, the series has already amassed nine million views on TikTok, which was “thrilling” for both parties. The publisher has also used the Sonic & Friends designs on stickers given at promotional events in Japan.

Closing off

With a renewed focus on multimedia expansion across SEGA franchises, Sonic & Friends is yet another one of these initiatives. While not exactly something that gels well with core Sonic fans, QSonic could definitely contribute to a growth in awareness of the Sonic brand.

In order to reach a younger audience, SEGA will post short stories and trendy dance-based videos under SONIC&FRIENDS on TikTok, the most popular platform for Generation Z.

Press release from AKA Virtual

The Sonic & Friends series is still getting regular installments on SEGA of Japan’s official TikTok account, featuring TikTok song and dance videos, and the occasional South Island escapade.

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