The first incarnation of Nazo Unleashed was released on Newgrounds a little over 10 years ago as of this month. For a lot of fans, seeing Sonic combined with the action of Dragon Ball Z just clicked. Over the years, Aaron Cowdery a.k.a. Chakra-X, has proceeded to release high definition remasters of the original before eventually opening up a Patreon to support his latest endeavor, Sonic: The Wrath of Nazo. We interviewed Chakra-X and several members of the Nazo Unleashed team about the project, their own history, and what we can expect to see in 2019.
Q: Did any of you work on any Sonic projects prior to Nazo Unleashed/Wrath of Nazo?
Chakra-X: Power of Nazo and a bunch of Sonic sprite cartoons, also did a Sonic collab piece with Sonic Paradox once.
KyleAB5000: Yes actually! I’ve been part of a couple of fan albums, including Sonic Segatenderations, Sound of The Sonic Stadium ’14, and Mobius: Sonic the Hedgehog Remixed. I did some of the music and scoring for the Sweet Dream short film back in 2015, and am one of the active musicians on Sonic Misadventures, which is how Aaron found me!
Senile Snake: I actually have a video on YouTube called “Hedgehog The Sonic” which has over 2 million views. It was also remade into a flash animation which was on the front page of Newgrounds!
Edwyn Tiong: Nope! Nazo Unleashed was my first Sonic-related project! Probably because I didn’t really know the Sonic universe all that well and what characters I did know didn’t seem a good fit for me. Thank god Aaron made up a character for me, otherwise I’d never have done anything Sonic-related!
MickWhiteFire28: Many. In fact, almost all of my first tries at voice over were various Sonic fan projects. Among my favorites were 3 animated shorts I did for Ashman, Sonic: Secret Identity written and produced by my friend TheBlackScepter and I’m still working on it, and last but not least, this one.
Q: What would you say inspired you all to get into animation/voice acting? I.E. favorite shows/movies; favorite voice actors, etc.
Chakra-X: I always saw animation as an ultra specialized skill people at Disney or Warner Bros. did. I never wanted to make comics because I wanted something more “alive.” But seeing typical teenagers make sprite and hand drawn animations on Newgrounds made me learn it myself until I was serious enough about it to go to college for it. Plus, I absolutely love having an audience!
TheBlueEyedFox: I’ve loved doing impressions since I’ve been a child. I always loved doing cartoon voices, but it never hit me that I’d pursue such a career as voice acting until I took some acting courses in college.
Senile Snake: Newgrounds, as well as several other sources such as Little Kuriboh and Arin Hanson.
Edwyn Tiong: I kinda lucked into it, I guess! I was part of a Final Fantasy newsgroup way back in the day and somebody came around asking for people to voice for a Final Fantasy VIII fan audiovisual production thing. It never really took off, but I had fun breathing words into a microphone so I stuck around: visited a couple of voice acting message boards, stumbled onto Newgrounds, did some work there, and now here we are!
MickWhiteFire28: In my younger years, I drew a lot. I loved cartoons, especially Sonic cartoons (Sonic SATam, Sonic X, the Sonic OVA, and, regrettably, Sonic Underground). I have taken drawing back up again in recent years, but that’s besides the point. Back then, I wanted to so badly be an animator. Then, my family finally joined the 21st century and got cable and one of the first cable shows I watched and adored was Drake and Josh. I was always wanting to be in the entertainment business thanks to behind the scenes features on DVD’s, but Drake and Josh ESPECIALLY so. So that sparked an interest in acting, but I wouldn’t act on that impulse until high school and the anime Fullmetal Alchemist, and the shows’ leading man, Vic Mignogna. I did a video with voice acting for a school project, did some impression videos and the rest is history.
Q: So why Sonic? Obviously you’re a fan but is there something more to it?
Chakra-X: I think I found the Sonic games more appealing, first game system I had was an NES but I had more memories with the Genesis that came after. I loved how Sonic looked more badass and had more drive compare to Mario, and I’ve always loved speedy characters. Road Runner was a huge love of mine as a kid, something about those spinning, blurry feet I loved as a kid. And that love of Sonic was reignited with Sonic Adventure 2 Battle. Middle school was shit for me but I was obsessed with Sonic! He was so positive and plowed through anything in his way and I loved he personalities they gave all the side characters.
KyleAB5000: I’ll second that one!
TheBlueEyedFox: Sonic made a big impact on me as a child. I believe it started with the television shows from the 1990’s and then the Dreamcast Sonic Adventure. I’ve never much been a fan of comics, so Sonic was really what got me into the super hero thing.
MickWhiteFire28: Not really, no. I had been a fan since I was a child. Of course, I enjoy performing and playing with characters, and I have no plans on stopping that. The kinds of projects may change, the medium may even change but my love for storytelling won’t, I can promise you that much. Now, for this in particular project, I was recommended to Aaron through a mutual friend (thanks, Loor!) Knuckles wasn’t really a character I thought about doing impressions for up until a few years ago, namely because everyone was doing their deepest voice possible to try and impersonate Scott Dreier. Nobody apparently wanted to try the Travis Willingham/Dan Green approach. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the Scott Dreier voice, but I thought people at least deserved the option, and that lead to me doing “Unleashing Hope” for Loor, and that, in turn, lead to Nazo.
Q: What are some of the influences behind the Nazo series itself? It’s obvious there’s a huge Dragon Ball vibe behind it but are there other series/shows that have influenced the series/animation/story?
Chakra-X: Nazo Unleashed had a tremendous DBZ influence, but the art style is a mix between Sonic X and the Sonic Adventure 2 2D art (I think the SEGA artist is Yuji Uekawa?) The fighting styles were a mix of DBZ and 2D fighting games, such as when Sonic and Shadow use Light Speed attack or when Hyper Shadic and Perfect Nazo are fighting inside Super Chaos Control space, where the camera is pulled out and you see combos bouncing across the screen. I made sure that every move used by each character came from the games: Shadow’s small blue chaos arrows from Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic’s Sonic Storm from Sonic Battle against Nazo’s Chaos Torrent, Tails’s arm cannon from Sonic Battle, still… mostly DBZ. I even, admittedly, traced over the Trunks vs Cell fight for when Super Shadow fights Nazo, but I tried to make it…make sense? Like Hyper Shadic’s Billion Ring Chaos Wind, very similar to Spirit Bomb, I saw it as giant magnetic shield built in to his form that allowed him to attract every ring in the world.
Q: Why Nazo? There’s obviously nothing concrete about him other than one picture, what made you decide to run with the character?
Chakra-X: So back when I was making sprite movies, I tried different enemies. Mecha Sonic, Metal Shadow, Eggman’s robots, Sonic and Knuckles, and hell even Vegeta and Goku! When I finally gathered the resources to make my first animated short (tiny Wacom drawing tablet and Flash MX,) I wanted the villain to be different. I didn’t want to fight Eggman, I wanted a humanoid to fight them with. I saw an image floating around, a mysterious hedgehog from Sonic X and I thought he would appear eventually in the series. I wanted to be one of the first ones to guess his purpose and I tailored him to be the villain in my series. I was heavily inspired to make a hand drawn animation after seeing Jeff Yandura’s Sonic X: Chaotic Battle, which was also a DBZ-like Sonic fight and Nazo seemed like the perfect DBZish villain! Spiky hair, glowing aura, he was the perfect “target”, so to speak. I changed some things around, like making his aura red instead of white to be more evil (plus red is my favorite color.) If Nazo was not around, I have no idea who the villain would have been! Maybe Metal or Mecha Sonic? I think Nazo was revealed before I started thinking of ideas so he was the only villain I had in mind.
Q: In that regard, what would you say Nazo is based around the most? As in where would you say you wrote the character from or on?
Chakra-X: Nazo is definitely based on Perfect Cell, one of my favorite Dragon Ball Z villains, in terms of personality. I really wanted someone with confidence and evil delivering the lines. That’s what I loved about Perfect Cell. He had a handsome, mature voice, who was well spoken but entirely evil as well. Nazo isn’t quite as playful though. For Perfect Nazo, I wanted a more sinister sound so Omahdon and I went with a more demonic sound to differentiate the voices, he sounded more diabolical and power hungry. This time around, the new form, Chaos Nazo, will be the same voice but deeper, overflowing with confidence fueled by his need for revenge. Also, Cell was so articulate for a villain so strong, a perfect blend of intelligence, cockiness, and rage. Even if Cell wasn’t from DBZ, I would still use him as inspiration because I don’t quite think there has been a villain in the Sonic games to match that. Mephiles was manipulative and nefarious, Eggman is a bumbling mad scientist villain, and Metal Sonic is a robot.
Q: So last question: got any new clips, screenshots, anything you can share with us?
Chakra-X: Here is a screen shot to use and confuse everyone hehe…
Senile Snake: Sonic’s got that perfect “BAKA” face going!
Chakra-X: “I FOUND YOU FAKER!”
Senile Snake: “Whoa hey chill out, I mean you’re the fake hedgehog around here but that’s alright man, take it down a notch.”
The Wrath of Nazo is expected to release sometime in 2019. Clocking in at about 30 minutes, fans can expect to the sequel to be just as long as the original. If you’d like to keep up with Chakra-X and the Wrath of Nazo updates, make sure to check out his Twitter, YouTube and Patreon.
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