Espio the Chameleon (エスピオ・ザ・カメレオン Esupio za Kamereon?) is a fictional character from the Sonic the Hedgehog series. He is an anthropomorphic chameleon, who mainly serves as an intelligent ninja warrior and a member of the Chaotix Detective Agency alongside Vector the Crocodile and Charmy Bee. Together, the trio solves whatever cases they are given, where Espio is able to put his skills to good use. He possesses as well the ability to blend in with his environment.
Espio is a calm and quiet chameleon, but also overly cautious and disciplined. However, his wariness and soulful character makes him a vital member of Team Chaotix, where his presence plays an important role as a restraint among his coworkers, who tend to be optimistic and energetic. Espio likewise thrives on the dangers of his missions, and although he is quite confident in his ninjutsu, he feels it is aesthetically pleasing to stay in the shadows as a ninja should.
Espio is an anthropomorphic purple chameleon with a yellow horn between his eyes. His muzzle and the heart-shaped pattern on his torso are as well peach. He also has a ridge of three spikes going down his spine and a coiled tail.
During his early years, Espio was shorter and stubbier. His purple skin color was also somewhat darker and he had black eyes. He also wore green, black and yellow shoes and simple white gloves. In addition, his back spikes were teal/green in color.
In the present day, Espio's skin is a brighter shade of purple and his eyes are gold-colored, with subtle black accents along their outer edges. He also wears dark purple shoes with black accents, metal-reinforced arm bracers, and white gloves with dark purple pads on the backs. Around his wrists and ankles are also bandage-wrapped cuffs with gold studs on the lower bands. The spikes on his back are also black in color.
A straight-laced detective committed to his job, Espio is serious, practical, intelligent and wise. He has a militaristic discipline despite being quiet, calm and laid-back. Espio is additionally portrayed as being stubborn, opinionated and self-obsessed. Despite this, he has an excellent drive to all that he does and flourishes off of peril, getting himself into threatening situations to flex and polish his ninja skills, and, due to his extensive training, he can confront these troubles head-on unconcerned by danger.
Among his colleagues, Espio's opinionated attitude serves a key role in Team Chaotix, allowing him to reign in and balance out the more optimistic and zany behaviors exhibited by Vector and Charmy.
Beneath Espio's reserved demeanor lies a burning sense of justice and an absolute refusal to let evil have its way. As such, Espio gives the impression of a rather ruthless demeanor when facing villains; when encountering Dr. Eggman during the Neo Metal Sonic incident and the Black Arms incident, the usual civil and soft-spoken chameleon would make threats at the doctor's life. Espio is also seen as a ninja-based character; his battle poses and shuriken stars support that portrayal. Also in the Japanese script, the pronouns he uses to refer to himself is usually ware, and the more archaic onushi pronoun for referring to others.
Powers and abilities
Using speed and stealth to overcome his enemies, Espio is a powerful adversary (by his own accords), as he says it would take no less than a "mighty foe" to outclass him. He is likewise a fierce foe in direct combat, as he has been able to face skilled opponents like Rouge the Bat and Knuckles the Echidna on even ground during the Ifrit incident.
As a Speed Type, Espio possesses a great deal of speed. As demonstrated during the Ifrit incident, he can run at speeds compatible to Sonic and Shadow's, and his swiftness is potent enough to let him fool his enemies and appear in different spots nigh-instantaneously. Also, while having not demonstrated power on a superhuman level, Espio has impressive physical strength too, enough to shatter obstacles and smash Badniks using only hand chops. Espio also has very impressive durability and endurance, having been able to withstand Sonic's Homing Attacks indefinitely and keep on fighting during their duel amidst the Time Eater incident. Espio also has extreme acrobatic skills, being capable of doing complex and nimble jumps even in midair, leap between walls with ease, pull off Spin Attack techniques at high speed, and grind on Grind Rails without any trouble.
Espio possesses a unique stealth camouflage trick that lets him change the hue of his skin to match his environment. His camouflage is so effective that he is rendered completely invisible to the naked eye, capable of passing through photocells, and able to pass by foes unnoticed. Combined with his keen mind, this ability makes Espio a very sneaky and effective spy.
Having undergone extensive ninja training, Espio is a skilled ninja and a master of ninjutsu. With his ninjutsu skills having been described as "powerful", he is proficient with several forms of ninja-based weaponry. He is especially a master of throwing kunai, capable of striking targets with pin-point accuracy while only barely looking at them. He can also expertly throw shuriken stars for offensive purposes, namely for offensive purposes by throwing them as projectiles at enemies. He is also capable of stealth, which combined with his camouflaging abilities makes him virtually undetectable. Espio's signatures moves are likewise ninjutsu moves that utilize his camouflage trick. The Leaf Swirl lets Espio combine his camouflage with a Ninja Leaf Swirl maneuver to create a tornado to blow opponents away while he disappears, his Chroma Camo maneuver hides himself completely from his enemies' perception while increasing his speed, and his Ninja Arts: Camouflage hides himself completely from enemies' perception while he "warps" between places to disorient his enemy as he attacks them.
Espio also possesses an extremely keen sense of awareness of his surroundings on both the physical and empathic plane, detecting Team Dark nearby despite the group being out his field of vision, Sonic's presence aboard the Death Egg, and the soul of the Time Eater.
Like a real lizard, Espio can climb along any surface and stick to them for an unprecedented amount of time. As seen during the Death Egg II incident, he also possesses a prehensile tongue which he can use as a short-range projectile attack in combat and as a grappling hook.
Espio is also able to perform the Spin Attack, a technique where he curls into a concussive ball or cutting disk and directs himself at his targets. With it, Espio can shred or burrow through just about any substance given enough speed. Adept in its usage, Espio can utilize several variants of the Spin Attack for both ground- and aerial maneuvers, including the Spin Dash, Spin Jump, and Homing Attack.
Espio has as well a keen mind and experience in investigation and gathering intel. However, while having experience in solving mysteries alone, he is not as brilliant a detective as Vector. He also has some limited skill in hacking computers as seen during the Black Arms incident. Among other things, Espio can also harness the power of the Chaos Emeralds to empower himself.
As a ninja, Espio favors and employs ninja-based weaponry, such as kunai and shuriken stars. He uses his shuriken stars as a long-range offensive by throwing them at opponents and can do so in rapid succession. By attaching a rope to his kunai, he can also use it as a grappling hook to latch onto suspended targets and swing between them.
A weaker variant of the super transformation. Espio is capable of using this mode for a brief time on his own by drawing power from the Chaos Emeralds. In Hyper Mode, Espio's speed and attack power greatly increase.
By harnessing different variants of Hyper-go-on from Wisps, Espio can use specific Color Powers to transform into a certain form, such as a drill, a laser or even a planet, each one possessing its own unique abilities. So far, Espio has been able to transform into the Cyan Laser, Yellow Drill, and Indigo Asteroid. However, these transformations require a steady supply of Hyper-go-on to be maintained.
Espio's camouflaging ability, while practical, is not perfect. Its maintenance is tied to Espio's concentration, meaning it will falter should he lose focus due to things such as being blinded by light, sneezing, coughing, or being covered in a visible substance. His stealth is not flawless either as Rouge the Bat was able to detect his movements thanks to her heightened sense of hearing. He is also not mechanically-minded.
Vector the Crocodile
Shadow the Hedgehog
The relationship between Espio and Shadow the Hedgehog has changed very much since their first meeting. During their first meeting, they fought against each other without a question due to their assumption that the other was the enemy. However, they put their differences aside and helped each other stop Neo Metal Sonic and his plan to rule over the world.
During the Black Arms incident, their relationship is more friendly. Espio gladly thanked Shadow for opening the portal to Eggman's computer and after Eggman claimed that he created Shadow, Espio told him to not believe Eggman and aided him in his battle against the doctor. Overall, Espio has put more faith in Shadow since their meeting and the two appear allies in most regard.
Silver the Hedgehog
When Espio first met Silver the Hedgehog, his mission was to find evidence that Silver was behind the kidnapping of several Chao. As such, Silver was a subject of doubt for Espio as he did not seem like a bad guy despite his actions. At first, Espio treated Silver like an enemy, but as he learned that Silver was working to save the world, he decided to follow his instincts and help him with his mission. During their adventure, the two of them built a good relationship as Espio proved his trustworthiness and helped Silver on many occasions. After finishing their mission, they gladly thanked each other, showing the great admiration and faith they had gained for one another.
- Team Chaotix
- Mighty the Armadillo
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Miles "Tails" Prower
- Knuckles the Echidna
- Shadow the Hedgehog
- Rouge the Bat
- E-123 Omega
- Amy Rose
- Cream the Rabbit
- Big the Cat
- Silver the Hedgehog (good friend)
- Blaze the Cat
- Classic Sonic
- Dr. Eggman
- Metal Sonic
- Black Arms
- Eggman Nega
- Metal Sonic 3.0
- The Time Eater
- Szczepaniak, John (21 February 2018). The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers: Volume 3. SMG Szczepaniak. p. 303. ISBN 978-0992926083. "Naoto Ohshima: And this one in the middle here, with the horns, was designed by a manga artist named [Takumi] Miyake. He went on to be the art director for NiGHTS."
- ●SonicJPNews● on Twitter (12 November 2019). Archived from the original on 12 November 2019. Retrieved on 12 November 2019.
- Sonic Channel (Japanese). Characters: Espio. Sega. Archived from the original on 26 May 2019. Retrieved on 3 July 2015.
- Chaotix (Sega 32X) Japanese instruction booklet, pg. 6.
- Sega (24 June 2016). Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Wii U. Nintendo. "Mii: Do you know what Espio's favorite food is? It's dango, or sweet dumplings! It figures a ninja would go for a Japanese dessert!"
- Devra Newberger Speregen (2016). Sonic: The Ultimate Character Guide. Scholastic. p. 45. ISBN 978-1338033243.
- Espio at the beginning of the Egg Emperor boss fight, Sonic Heroes.
- Sega (23 June 2016). Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Wii U. Nintendo. Area/Level: Collectibles (Flags). "This straight-laced detective is the voice of reason in the Chaotix Detective Agency, but his reserved demeanor hides a burning sense of justice and a refusal to let evil have its way. Trained as a ninja, this chameleon is a master at throwing kunai, and can vanish using his Leaf Swirl technique."
- Sonic City. Sega. Archived from the original on 29 February 2008.
- Official Sonic Heroes website (Japanese). Characters: Team Chaotix. Sega. Archived from the original on 11 December 2004. Retrieved on 25 May 2021.
- Sonic Heroes (Nintendo GameCube) United States instruction booklet, pg. 12.
- Sonic Team (4 November 2011). Sonic Generations. PlayStation 3. Sega. Area/Level: Collection Room. "Espio's character profile: Espio is a chameleon who is a master of ninjutsu. A skilled ninja who thrives on danger, he uses stealth and speed to fool his enemies. His wariness and soulful character makes him a vital member of the Chaotix Detective Agency."
- Sonic Team (11 November 2011). Sonic Generations. PC. Sega. Area/level: White Space. "Espio: It takes a mighty foe to trap a ninja. Be on your guard, Sonic."
- Sonic Team (11 November 2011). Sonic Generations. PC. Sega. Area/level: Espio: Master of Camouflage.
- Sega Studio USA (15 November 2005). Shadow the Hedgehog. Nintendo GameCube. Sega.
- Sonic Team (4 November 2011). Sonic Generations. PlayStation 3. Sega.
- Sonic Team (6 February 2004). Sonic Heroes. PlayStation 2. Sega. Area/level: Opening Sequence (Team Chaotix's storyline).
- Sonic Team (6 February 2004). Sonic Heroes. PlayStation 2. Sega. Cutscene: Team Dark (Team Chaotix's storyline).
- Sonic Team (7 November 2017). Sonic Forces. Nintendo Switch. Sega. Area/level: Prison Hall. "Espio: I sense Sonic's presence. He's close!"
- Sonic Team (4 November 2011). Sonic Generations. PlayStation 3. Sega. Area/level: White Space. "Espio: Thank you, my friend. Beware, for I have looked into the soul of our enemy and I saw only darkness."
- Sonic Heroes (Nintendo GameCube) United States instruction booklet, pg. 18.
- Backbone Entertainment (13 November 2007). Sonic Rivals 2. PlayStation Portable. Sega.
- Sega AM2 (10 July 1996). Sonic the Fighters. Arcade. Sega. Area/Level: Death Egg's Hangar.
- Sonic Team (11 November 2011). Sonic Generations. PC. Sega. Area/level: Espio: Way of the Ninja.
- Backbone Entertainment (7 December 2007). Sonic Rivals 2. PlayStation Portable. Sega. Area/level: Mystic Haunt Zone. "Rouge: Okay, who's there? I know you're following me. / Espio: Hey, how'd you know I was there... / Rouge: Espio, these ears of mine aren't just for show, you know. What are you doing here, anyway?"
- Sonic Team (18 November 2005). Shadow the Hedgehog. PlayStation 2. Sega. Area/level: Mad Matrix. "Espio: Hey, back off! Data retrieval isn't exactly my specialty"