It’s a wonder that I’ve managed to stave off the webbed wiles of Sgt. Frog for so long. I was really close to picking up the manga at some point, but for whatever reason it evaded my grasp, so here I am finally soaking in the pint-sized comedy of the anime’s first thirteen episodes. If you can’t tell by now, I’m officially a convert to the ways of planet Keron and its small amphibious soldiers. Earth be damned, I fully support their invasion of my home.
When the Keroro Platoon first landed on Earth—which folks from space refer to as Pekopon, a slight change from the more derogatory name used in creator Yoshizaki Mine’s manga—the mission was clear: Take. It. Over. However, us Pekoponians have a penchant for slicing and dicing little froggies, so the platoon scattered, and Keroro, AKA Sgt. Frog, wound up a permanent resident in the Hinata Family household.
His relationship with the family—consisting of the son, Fuyuki, the daughter, Natsumi, and their mother, Aki—differs greatly from one to the other. He gets along best with Fuyuki, who begins to consider Keroro a friend and is also fascinated by all mysteries beyond our stunted reach. Aki enjoys his presence, too, especially considering her interest as a manga editor always looking for that great new premise. Natsumi, however, constantly tortures Keroro, wary of any ulterior motives, and is happiest when she has him assigned to whatever grueling housework she has on her slate.
But whenever Keroro is finally pushed to the edge, he’s reminded of the dissect-and-study fate that awaits him outside of their comfortable abode.
Since the anime moves at a much more rapid pace than the manga, the five members of the Keroro Platoon have been introduced by the time the last episode of this set closes. While this presents some of the differences between the two, it makes for a perfect hook to the rest of the series. Each member of the platoon—from Keroro’s absent-minded laziness and gunpla obession to the gruff, still-at-war attitude of the dark red Giroro—has their own distinct personality that guarantees no situation will ever be the same.
There are also a slew of other interplanetary invaders that make visits to Pekopon, as if the frogs opened up the floodgates of alien intrusion. Ultimately, they’d still like to take over the planet, but between the bumbling nature of 4/5 of the platoon and the protection offered by the Hinata’s and some of the other respective frog-soldier-abetting citizens, there’s always some reason to put it off for another day.
Like Clarissa Graffeo said in her feature (see the December issue of Otaku USA), there are loads of references in Sgt. Frog, but they never get carried away enough for them to intrude on the story or alienate viewers that may not be as well-versed in shows like Gundam or Evangelion to understand them all. Those that do will definitely get a kick out of them, though, especially the more indirect moments that mimic specific scenes.
With that relative accessibility in mind, Sgt. Frog needs to be on television in America. I don’t care what channel it’s on, just get it on and let the good times roll. The anime has been toned down to be more age-appropriate than the manga, but people of all ages will find something to like here, even if they’re just in it for some of the cuter moments.
Don’t let that born-to-be-marketed plushie exterior fool you. Sgt. Frog and his soldiers may be lazy and somewhat dimwitted, but they’re still here to round us all up and make our planet into a humid paradise for their squat citizenship. At least we know there will never, ever be a shortage of Gundam model kits when that finally goes down.
© Mine Yoshizaki / Kadokawashoten, SUNRISE, TV TOKYO, NAS