If you’re down for a little humility, maybe even to poke fun at your cherished anime world, then these little frogs are just what you need.
2010 TV Series (episodes 40-51). DVD, bilingual, $39.98. Distributor: FUNimation.
Conquering a planet takes time, especially when you’re a Gundam-loving, manga-reading, hardcore party animal like Sgt. Keroro. But fear not, he and his crack platoon of frog-like aliens are on the job. Soon all humanity will croak in obedience to these slippery little creatures.
Yes, I finally sat down with Sgt. Frog. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Even though I’m a staunch devotee of metafictional comedy, I’m the first to admit that not all such anime translate well (e.g. Comic Party). And Sgt. Frog indeed plays with itself – so to speak – in that it knows what it is: anime. Similar to The Simpsons and The Family Guy, hilarity thus ensues from constantly referencing the anime, manga, fashion, and gaming that dominate Japanese pop culture. Dragon Ball Z, Gundam, and Evangelion are particularly favored topics. For anime fans, these jokes are written in the syntax of their beloved language. They work every time.
But there are also numerous instances of comedy arising from wordplay and puns. Obviously, this type of humor is difficult, if not outright impossible, to translate. So, we have to give a tip of the hat to the writing team at FUNimation. Much like Shin-Chan, they do an excellent job filling these gaps with comic material for an American audience. For example, in preparing wine for a special meal, Keroro travelled all the way to Mexico to find the perfect water! Things like that just make the belly shake.
Now, I just jumped right into season two. And frankly, it doesn’t make a difference where you start. This series hangs on one thread: in each episode the Kerons get distracted from their primary mission. This distraction is not just the source of an episode’s comedy, but also happens with a randomness that gives the show a non-sequitur kind of feel. Due to this wonderful lack of continuity, I’ll refrain from any episodic summarization. Let’s just say you’ve got everything from a semi-poisonous dinner, a board game that effects your reality, to a Ghost in The Shell parody. It’s good stuff.
Sgt. Frog is a comic delight made exclusively for anime fans – after all, you need to be in the know. And while sometimes things may get a bit juvenile, Sgt. Frog is still a big win in my book. If you’re down for a little humility, maybe even to poke fun at your cherished anime world, then these little frogs are just what you need.