Anime Review: Sergeant Frog aka Keroro Gunso (What the Frog?)

Synopsis

Sergeant Frog. Original run: April 2004-2011.

Sergeant Frog, known in Japan as Keroro Gunso, began as a manga series by Mine Yoshizaki. Licensed by Funimation, the anime follows the adventures of the Advance Recon Mission Preparatory Invasion Terror Platoon (aka the A.R.M.P.I.T. platoon), a group of frog-like alien invaders intent on conquering earth. After their army abandons his team on earth, Sergeant Keroro is at the mercy of a human family. He is forced to do meaningless chores and errands. At 358 episodes, this comedy chronicles the platoon’s many failed attempts at taking over Earth. Currently, Funimation is still trying to obtain the rights for licensing a fourth season of the show.

Review

The nature of Sergeant Frog can be very deceiving with its simplistic, child-like animation style. This series is hilarious, clever, and vastly underrated. Although one would think this show  was intended exclusively for a very young audience, it is suitable for people of all ages. It is a shame that this title languished so long under ADV before being passed to and poorly marketed under Funimation. If it were marketed better in the United States, I could see it being a mainstay on Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network’s Toonami.

Each episode of Sergeant Frog plays out like a sitcom, deriving its comedy from a combination of smart wordplay, highly expressive physical humor, breaking of the fourth wall, and many pop culture references (but not in an arbitrary, unoriginal way like Family Guy. Bleh.). Anime lovers will enjoy the many instances when our favorite alien invaders parody other titles such as Gundam, Kamen Rider, Space Battleship Yamato, Dragon Ball, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. Sergeant Frog is much more detailed and direct in its Gundam references, since Bandai does hold rights to the Gundam franchise. However, even with the presence of the occasional otakucentric homage, one doesn’t have to be an otaku to “get” it.

From left: Sergeant Kerero, Corporal Giroro, Private Second Class Tamama, Sergeant Major Kululu, Lance Corporal Dororo.

The personalities of the invading Keronian A.R.M.P.I.T. platoon hit just the right mark. Sergeant Kerero is amusing with his screwball antics, ADD behavior, and Gunpla obsession. Giroro, the serious soldier of the platoon, has an aggressive, militaristic style that plays great for laughs. Tamama is cute, but is also jealous and obsessed. The cold, calculating nature of Kururu is delightful–he can be so perverse and sadistic. Lastly, Dororo is a ninja with a calm nature, who is often at odds with the goals of his friends. There are many other characters that are introduced who complement and interact with our protagonists very well.

The music in this series is very fitting. Unlike other shows of a similar genre, the music has a modest presence and takes a backseat to the action itself. The opening and closing songs are a mixed bag of randomness that change as the series goes on. The first opening, “Ribbit March” is a whimsical, enthusiastic propaganda inspired military march that will be stuck in your head for days. The first closing theme song “Afro Gunso” is a funktastical disco number with dancing CG frogs.

Finally, for those who may not be fond of dubs, Sergeant Frog may be an exception. Funimation did a great job in the English dub. Given the nature of this show, a rewrite of  the script was necessary in order to make it relevant to American viewers. (note: this is not to be confused with the English dub made by Animax for Asian markets.)

In conclusion: Sergeant Frog is a great watch for just about anybody. My baby-boomer relatives, who have never watched anime before, enjoy it. Whether an anime newbie or hard-core otaku, old or young, I am adamant that this series is at least worth a watch. It is exceptionally rare to have a show more effective in its humor or more consistent in belly laughs. Sergeant Frog, although a long-running series, manages to stay fresh. It is a shame this show will likely never make it to a wider viewership.

Keroro used to be a good officer, but since his arrival to Earth, he has lost most of his interest in invasion.

About Anne's Anime Blog

I am an astronomical anime fan. I enjoy watching it, collecting figures & merchandise, assembling models, and attending conventions. California burrito glutton. Let's be friends:)

Posted on May 30, 2012, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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