Shadow the Hedgehog Might Have Been Copied from Dragon Ball – But What Does SEGA Say?! [VIDEO]

According to Iizuka, Shadow the Hedgehog was not inspired by Vegeta, but fans have found evidence to the contrary…



Sega may have declared 2024 as “The Year of “Shadow”, but Shadow the Hedgehog has been enjoying the adoration of preschoolers entering his red-and-black era since he first declared himself the ultimate life form in 2001. And who would blame them? Shadow is like the Platonic ideal of the dark mirror archetype of heroes: A sullen, reluctant hero, constantly proclaiming his superiority while looking cool. Actually, now that I think about it, it looks a hell of a lot like a particular space warrior prince…

We’re not the first to notice the resemblance to Dragon Ball’s Vegeta. A quick search and you’ll find that fans have been debating whether Vegeta inspired Shadow for about as long as they’ve been discussing whether Super Saiyan Goku inspired Super Sonic (probably, though apocrypha says Toriyama never complained about it).

While it may seem obvious to us that Shadow has a bit of Vegeta in him, according to Sonic Team director Takashi Iizuka, this is not the case.

Over the weekend at Anime Expo 2024, Sega held a panel to promote Sonic x Shadow Generations. During this, Iizuka was asked about the inspirations for Shadow’s design and character during the development of Sonic Adventure 2. Answering through an interpreter, Iizuka said that Shadow’s role as Sonic’s dark rival was influenced by ’90s American anti-heroes. He mentioned Spawn in particular, which explains the overall red-and-black edginess. However, panel host Zeno Robinson said he asked Iizuka about the long-standing assumption that Shadow was inspired by Vegeta. Iizuka vehemently denied the latter. He repeated this denial to the audience and corrected the record with a firm shake of his head. Sonic Team is apparently a Vegeta-free zone.


Is there proof that Vegeta indeed inspired Shadow the Hedgehog?!


Unless, of course, you look at Sega’s own concept art materials. Shortly after the panel aired, fans took to Twitter to refute Iizuka’s denial of Vegeta. Besides, they had evidence. In 2017, Sega teamed up with Cook & Becker to release the official Sonic the Hedgehog 25th Anniversary Art Book. The book collected concept drawings and official illustrations dating back to 1991 – including Shadow’s early concepts from the development of Sonic Adventure 2.

On one side of the early concept sketches, some of which were shown at the Anime Expo 2024 panel, are a series of character development notes, the last line in kanji for “ベジータ”, or “Bejīta” – or as we would spell it in English, “Vegeta”.

Even more bizarrely, according to Twitter user @GeoffItaliano, Sega showed off the same concept art at Anime Expo’s Sonic x Shadow Generations event. But there they supposedly placed a small poster conspicuously right above the Vegeta sign! Maybe I can understand them not wanting to publicly confirm that their character was influenced by another IP. But this seems like a particularly clumsy attempt by Sonic Team’s censors. Imagine how Vegeta must feel. Goku is already better at everything, and now even he’s being written out of Sonic the Hedgehog’s story? There is no justice in the galaxy…

Source: YouTube, Sonic Magazine, X

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"Historian by profession, gamer since historical times."

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