Wednesday, December 19, 2012
25 Days of Anime - #7: Sgt. Frog
When Sgt. Keroro and his ARMPIT Platoon land on Earth, they have no idea just how far their conquering of the planet will be set back. Keroro initially sets up shop in the Hinata household with school-agers Fuyuki and Natsumi, and their mom Aki. The Sarge would have the audience believe he rules the home with an iron fist, but the opposite is true - Keroro performs daily chores for the Hinatas and has had his nefarious jack-of-all-trades Kero Ball taken from him for safekeeping.
Even after he manages to get in contact with the other members of his platoon, Keroro's plans on conquest either fail in spectacular fashion or simply take a backseat to his obsession with Gundam model kits. Neither scenario does much to please gung-ho Giroro, but has the complete opposite effect on Kululu, who revels in the misfortune of others. Meanwhile, Tamama wants to prove his worth to Keroro but finds he gets plenty of pampering and attention in his new mansion home (owned by Momoka, resident rich girl who has an unhealthy crush on Fuyuki as well as a split-personality). Dororo, the ninja frog who believes in harmony and reason over violence, is constantly left out of plans and forgotten by his squadmates.
The cast is plenty quirky, and their interactions set up for plenty of humor in themselves. But it is the writing that really makes Sgt. Frog a standout comedy anime. Keroro's portrayal as an incompetent commanding officer who has a thousand excuses as to why he can't conquer Earth (or Pekopon, as he refers to it) today, makes him an immediate target from both his platoon and his adoptive family. If he tries to make any progress, he's bound to get punished, but a lack of ideas means his troops will grow restless and the Keronian military will not look favorably upon his leadership skills (or lack thereof).
Most episodes are parodies of other works - some more direct than others - and include nods to Mobile Suit Gundam, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Saturday Night Fever, and Dragon Ball Z, just to name a few. Meanwhile, both the cast and the cynical narrator (whose role in the series is more involved than most) crack jokes regarding the ridiculous plotlines of certain episodes and reference/poke fun at other works like Indiana Jones and Macross. Sgt. Frog is a hilarious romp through one pop-culture reference after another. At the same time, though, Sgt. Frog does well to identify itself as a new and separate series from the previous works it draws comedic inspiration from, and to that end it is one of the most original and consistently funny anime I've ever watched.