Friday, May 25, 2012
Anime review: Sgt. Frog (season two)
The hilarious misadventures of Sgt. Keroro and the Armpit Platoon continue into the second season. For those not familiar with the back story, Keroro is the leader of a small team of space frogs whose mission is to conquer Earth (or as they refer to the planet, Pekopon). Fortunately for humanity, Keroro's track record is less-than-spectacular and his motivation is frequently sidetracked due to his obsession with Gundam model kits. He ends up living with the Hinata family under the pretenses that he take care of daily chores, act as inspiration for mother Aki Hinata's job printing volumes of manga, and not attempt to conquer mankind. The first season saw Keroro yelled at by his own subordinates, beaten to a pulp by Natsumi Hinata on multiple occasions, and the Armpit Platoon hatching many plans to conquer Pekopon, each one failing in spectacular fashion.
Season two picks up some unspecified time after the end of season one. The first season made it pretty clear that, while some episodes might chronologically occur after others, it isn't really necessary to view them all in order to grasp the general story of the anime. The same is true with season two. There will be plot points referenced by the ever-amusing narrator, but it's just as easy to pick up season two from the first episode as it is from the halfway point.
As luck would have it, Keroro and his troops have not yet managed to conquer Pekopon. But they still have plenty of half-baked plans to put into action. Some of the funniest moments in the first season were due to the show's tendencies to parody other media, and this carries over to season two. Keroro and company parody a wide range of films and television shows, from Evangelion to Saturday Night Fever. Some of the jokes, like those regarding Macross and Gundam, will only hit home with some viewers, though the general irony of the zany situations the characters find themselves in is sure to hit a funny bone with just about every viewer.
Season two does not carry out as many parodies as season one did, however. This is due in large part to the fact that the show has defined itself and has a more concrete idea of where it is going from start to finish. Because of this, the parodies and satires are not always as direct as in the first season, but are still relevant to the greater plot of whatever episode they are being worked into. The high points of season two may not be as high as the best bits in season one, but the low points are not as low. While the first season only stumbled a few times, they were significant enough to render at least one whole episode practically worthless. Thankfully, not a single episode in season two falls as flat as that particular one did last time around.
Generally speaking, Funimation tends to do a solid job in designating voice actors to their respective roles. Sgt. Frog has a standout English cast, one that is - in many ways - superior to the Japanese cast. Todd Haberkorn is absolutely masterful in his portrayal of Keroro, embodying the frog's persona through each line and delivering jokes with perfect timing. The rest of the cast does not follow far behind, and all of them make the viewing experience so wonderfully enjoyable. The soundtrack is simple but fitting for this comedy anime, while the animation is at approximately the same level as it was last time around. The art style is visually pleasing and each episode presents itself well enough. But it isn't the visual treat of any Madhouse or Studio IG production.
Anyone who might have had qualms about Sgt. Frog's humor dwindling in the second season can lay their worries to rest. While it's true that the best moments are not as great this time around, this is still one of the funniest anime series around - most of the humor remains in territory friendly toward a younger audience, but every once in a while borderline-adult comedy sneaks into the mix, making the show enjoyable for a broad audience. If you enjoyed the Armpit platoon's antics in the first season, strap yourself in and prepare for the zany antics to continue. Season two is just plain fun to watch and laugh at.
My rating: 9 (out of 10)