Sgt. Frog – Season One, Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)
September 8, 2009 by Dennis Amith
“Unique, fun and gut-bursting humor! “Sgt. Frog” is probably one of the most odd and crazy anime series you’ll ever see. Hilarious in Japanese but the writing for the English dub definitely takes things up a notch! Highly recommended!”
Image courtesy of © Mine Yoshizaki/Kadokawashoten, SUNRISE, TV TOKYO. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Sgt. Frog – Season One, Part 1
DURATION: 13 Episodes (325 Minutes)
DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound, Japanese Stereo
COMPANY: Sunrise TV/FUNimation Entertainment
RATED: TV PG
Release Date: September 8, 2009
Based on the manga by Mine Yoshizaki
Chief Director: Junichi Sato
Director: Yusuke Yamamoto
Series Composition by Mamiko Ikeda
Script by Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Kuniaki Kasahara, Mamiko Ikeda, Masahiro Yokotani, Satoru Nishizono, Yasuko Kobayashi
Character Design by Fumitoshi Oisaki
Animation Director: Asako Nishida
Sound Director: Yota Tsuruoka
Anime Production by Sunrise
Featuring the following voice talent:
Akiko Hiramatsu/Jamie Marchi as Aki Hinata
Chiwa Saito/Cherami Leigh as Natsumi Hinata
Houku Kuwashima/Leah Clark as Fuyuki Hinata
Haruna Ikezawa/Monica Rial as Momoka Nishizawa
Kumiko Watanabe/Todd Habekorn as Keroro
Etsuko Kozakura/Brina Palencia as Tamama
Jouji Nakata/Christopher R. Sabat as Giroro
Takehito Koyasu/Chuck Huber as Kururu
Takeshi Kusao/J. Michael Tatum as Dororo
Keiji Fujiwara/R. Bruce Elliott as Narrator
Mmiko Noto/Carrie Savage as Angol Mois
Keroro is Sergeant Frog – the leader f a platoon of warriors sent to conquer planet Earth. But when the amphibious invaders discovered how much humans enjoy dissecting their comrades, the troops were scattered, the mission was aborted and Keroro was abandoned. Now, this once proud soldier spends more time wielding a vacuum than he does the weapons of war. It’s a far cry from the glory of battle, but hey, at least he’s got his own room. And though the invasion may have slowed to a hop, Sergeant Frog still occasionally yearns to overcome his karaoke addiction and reassemble his troops. Watch out world, the frogs are taking over.
Unique, fun and gut-bursting humor! “Sgt. Frog” is probably one of the most odd and crazy anime series you’ll ever see. Hilarious in Japanese but the writing for the English dub definitely takes things up a notch!
Since 1999, the manga series “Keroro Gunso” (aka “Sgt. Frog”) by Mine Yoshizaki (“Arcade Gamer Fubuki”, “Chibi Kero” and “Seven of Seven”) has been entertaining readers. Since 2004, the anime series has been entertaining viewers and both continue to be popular long-running series in Japan. Now the award winning series gets its first US anime DVD release with the first 13 episodes now arriving in the US.
The anime series is directed by Yusuke Yamamoto (“Welcome to the NHK, “Sakura Taisen”, “Mobile Suit Victor Gundam” and Arjuna”) and features character designs by Fumitoshi Oisaki (“Romeo x Juliet”, “Ontama” and “Kaleido Star”). The series is known for its use of parodies of pop culture and in the Japanese case, you will see a plenty of pop culture references to anime and video games. While, the English dub features a slightly different script than the Japanese and utilizes American pop culture (which I will describe more in the video and audio segment of this review).
The series revolves around an alien race of frogs who have come to conquer the planet Earth. But somehow along the way, things didn’t go as expected and the leader of the platoon, Sergeant Frog finds himself living with the Hinata family. Always up to mischief and trying to find a way to conquer Earth, he is befriended by the weak and paranormal/supernatural obsessed boy Fuyuki, beaten to a pulp by his strong sister Natsumi and given a place to live by their mother (and manga editor) Aki who uses him as a source of ideas for her new manga.
With his obsession for Mobile Suit Gundam models, television and snacks, Sgt. Frog gets too used to human life, that is until his fellow platoon finds out that he has been neglecting his duties.
The main characters of “Sgt. Frog” are:
The Hinata Family
Fuyuki – A boy who just wants to be best friends with Sgt. Frog (Keroro) and always sees the positive in him. An odd kid who is obsessed with paranormal and supernatural things, really doesn’t have any friends and runs a high school club based on the paranormal and supernatural with no members. Possesses Keroro’s weapon of mass destruction (because his sister told him to hold on to it).
Natsumi – Athletic and very intuitive when it comes to what is going on in her home. Natsumi is hot tempered and not very appreciative that her mother let Keroro live with them. Whenever Keroro (and the other frogs) misbehave, she’s quick to beat him to a pulp.
Aki – The beautiful mother and a manga editor who lets Keroro live with the family. Not for kindness but mostly to get ideas for her new manga. She also gives Keroro one of the rooms to the house for him to live in but mainly because a ghost has been inhabiting the room and also because it’s messy and expects him to clean it up.
The Armpit Platoon consists of:
Sgt. Frog (Keroro) – The green frog is the leader of the platoon. Despite being the sergeant of the platoon, he is quite a daft and lazy frog. He enjoys building Mobile Suit Gundam models, eating and watching television. He knows that each time something breaks, Aki and Natsumi Hinata will be on his case so he is somewhat mindful of the Hinata family. Also knowing that if he does chores at home, he can use his allowance to buy Gundam models. But he knows his role in Earth and that he and his platoon needs to conquer the Earth but most of the time his other hobbies get it in the way of that.
Corporal Giroro – The red frog with a scar on his face who happens to be a weapons expert. Loves combat and is a gung-ho type of character. He is the main person in the Platoon who has a disdain of Sgt. Frog’s leadership and is the one often yelling at him to remember their goal. But he also has a soft side and that is the fact that he is attracted to Natsumi Hinata’s strength and temper. So, much that he has fallen for her and will do what he can to protect her. He lives in the back yard of the Hinata’s home and finds friendship in the neighborhood cat Mr. Furbottom.
Private Second Class Tamama – The black frog with a tadpole tail and the youngest and most experienced member of the Platoon. When pushed, he can be quite destructive (shooting beams out of his mouth). Known for his gas problems and also for his major jealousy complex. He lives with the wealthy Momoka Nishizawa and gets everything he wants. But is very jealous of the female alien Angol Mois (who is in love with Keroro) and gets very upset that someone else likes the Sgt.
Sergeant Major Kururu – The yellow frog and the platoon’s intelligence and strategic planning officer. Very intelligent and loves building things but despite being a superior to Keroro, he defers to him because he’s somewhat of a mad scientist. In someways, when testing his creations on Keroro, he enjoys seeing people getting in bad or painful situations the experimenting on those creations. Also, loves listening to music in his earphones. He originally was taken into the home of Mutsumi Saburo but has built a base under the home of the Hinatas.
Lance Corporal Dororo/Zeroro – The blue frog and a member of the Elite Assassin Squad and the Armpit Platoon. Looks like a ninja by the mask he wears and is even more deadlier than Corporal Giroro. When he was younger, he didn’t have any friends and was befriended by Keroro and Giroro (because he was rich and had a large collection of Gundam’s). Each time he went out with Keroro, he would get hurt badly. He is starting to learn that his friends when he was younger really weren’t that good of friends and thus, has resentment towards the Platoon (because they all forgot about him) and thus changed his name from Zeroro to Dororo. Spends his time with ninja Koyuki Azumaya taking on aliens and protecting humankind (Pekopons).
Other significant characters:
Momoka Nishizawa – The daughter of a billionaire and very much in love with Fuyuki. Does what she can to get close to Fuyuki but the emotions that she is feeling, doesn’t necessarily come out the way she wants when she says it. Has a distrust towards any female near Fuyuki and can’t stand it when anyone interferes with her time with Fuyuki. The alien frog Tamama stays at her place.
Mutsumi Saburo – Very intelligent and excels at almost everything. A DJ and a lover of Gundam, he happens to be a guy who Natsumi Hinata likes but her brother Fuyuki doesn’t like him at all. The alien frog Kururu once stayed with him and even taught Saburo some tricks.
Paul Moriyama – Momoko’s butler and guardian. Known to have great fighting skills and has sworn his life to protect Momoko.
Angol Moa – An alien from another tribe. Also known as the “King of Terror” wand was supposed to destroy Earth in July 1999 but arrives 500 years early and thus went to sleep in orbit. She wakes up but finds out that she is five years late. She is known for using a cell phone which she inputs in order to create a major weapon which can destroy the Earth and the ability to shoot powerful blasts. But because of her love for Keroro, she will do what he says and thus, decides not to destroy the Earth. Although she is doesn’t know it, she is the rival to Tamama (who can’t stand Angol Moa’s smile and kindness) and will do whatever she can to protect Keroro.
Koyuki Azumaya – A ninja who joins Natsumi’s school and has athletic ability that rivals Natsumi. Friends with the alien frog Dororo and together they take on aliens who pose a threat to the Pekopons (Earthlings) and also has a thing about sniffing people.
Jessica Harpie – A member of the galactic Interpol and catches criminals around the galaxy.
Omiyo – The ghost that lives in the Hinata house and occupies what is now Keroro’s room.
“Sgt. Frog – Season One, Part 1” features a total of 13 episodes on two DVD’s. Each episode consists of two mini-episodes, most often at times are related to each other. but sometimes you get two different stories per episode. Here is a spoiler-less summary:
- EPISODE 1- Meet the Sergeant! – The introduction of Keroro and how he came to live with the Hinata family.
- EPISODE 2- Bag of Secrets! – We are introduced to Momoka Nishizawa who is in love with Fuyuki Hinata. We are also introduced to the alien frog, Tamama.
- EPISODE 3 – Amphibian On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown – With Tamama getting all the things he wants, Keroro is bored by living at the Hinata home. Meanwhile, a mysterious thing has been spying on the Hinata’s.
- EPISODE 4 – Blood Violence Death Kill! – We are introduced to Corporal Giroro and Giroro comes up with an idea to make Keroro more of a warrior.
- EPISODE 5 – The Day Gundam Cried! – Keroro wants a Gundam at a toy store and needs Fuyuki’s help.
- EPISODE 6 – Ghost Kiss-Perer! – Momoka invites Fuyuki to a private island and next thing you know the Hinata family and frogs are all coming. Will Fuyuki and her butler Paul be able to make Fuyuki like him?
- EPISODE 7 – Apocalypse Later! – The Lord of Terror makes her appearance. Meanwhile, we learn that Tamama is jealous of her.
- EPISODE 8 – Base: The Final Frontier! – Keroro builds a secret base inside the fridge.
- EPISODE 9 – Desperately Seeking Brains! – Mutsumi Saburo introduces a member of the Armpit Platoon… Kururu. Meanwhile, Kururu creates an age manipulation gun that can make anything many years younger and Aki Hinata volunteers.
- EPISODE 10 – Sgt. Frog versus the Cavitians of Cavity 9! – Keroro is suffering from a cavity (alien invaders have taken control of Keroro’s cavity) and Kururu comes up with an idea to take them on.
- EPISODE 11 – Fake It ‘Til You Make It! – Celebrities from a galactic TV show want to do a show on Earth at the Hinata home.
- EPISODE 12 – Pop Startled! – A pop star (a third runner-up of “Galactic Idol”) visits the Hinata home. And Giroro loses his weapon’s sash.
- EPISODE 13 – Viper? I Hardly Knew Her! – The introduction of Dororo and Koyuki.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Sgt. Frog” is presented in 4:3. For the most part, the entertaining part of “Sgt. Frog” are its characters but also the little Japanese pop culture references, especially Keroro’s love for “Gundam” (which the model kits are featured in the anime series). The colors are vibrant and for a television show, the animation works great for this series. Keroro and his members of the Armpit Platoon are frogs with a cool and cute character design, that it’s no surprise that this series has an extensive merchandise collection in Japan.
As for audio, the English dub is featured in Dolby Surround Sound and the Japanese is featured in stereo. For the most part, I have watched both in English and Japanese and the voice acting on both are great. As for audio quality, I preferred to watch the series with my receiver setting at stereo on all channels but for the most part, the English dialogue is front and center channel driven if watched via 5.1 Dolby Surround.
Now when it comes to audio and watching it on both languages, there is a difference between the English and Japanese version. For the most part, the English version has a rewritten script that utilizes the same storyline as the Japanese version but features American pop culture references and more dialogue. So, for example, when the Japanese dialogue is quiet, in the English dialogue, you may hear the narrator speaking.
Although I tend to prefer watching anime in Japanese, I have to admit that I found the English dub quite wild and crazy. For example, during one scene in which Hinata siblings and the aliens meet a fellow Galactic pop star, in the Japanese dialogue there is discussion of how popular she is. While in the English dub, they use “American Idol” references to showcase her popularity.
Granted, some people may not be familiar with the American pop culture references (especially since certain situations are taken from that time period, for example the Miley Cyrus and Asians comment) and may easily fly over the heads of those who are not familiar with American pop culture but for the most part, the rewritten screenplay by Jamie Marchi, Jared Hedges and Joel Bergen will easily make people laugh. For those familiar with what Joel Bergen did with “Crayon Shin Chan” will know what kind of humor to expect from the series albeit a more PG rating.
Subtitles are featured in English.
“Sgt. Frog – Season One, Part 1” comes with the following special features:
- Pekopon Invasion Recon Data – Using your remote, you can cycle through various data such as the school uniforms, the vacuum cleaner, the watermelon, afro and more.
- Textless Opening Song – Ribbit March – (1:32) Textless opening theme
- Textless Closing Song – Afro Gunsou – (1:32) Textless closing theme
- Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment upcoming releases
Crazy, enjoyable and just all out fun! I have to admit that I was completely unfamiliar with the story of “Sgt. Frog” before watching this DVD. I knew about the character Keroro and the platoon members through the various merchandise seen at many Japanese and Chinese shops but I really didn’t know anything about the series.
And what can I say, after watching “Sgt. Frog – Season One, Part 1”, I’ve become a fan! I really don’t think anyone can be disappointed with this DVD set as its absolutely fresh, wild and crazy. As people are wanting to find a series that is fun and unique, I think that anime fans that are into comedy-based series can find something to like about “Sgt. Frog”.
Having watched the episodes in Japanese and English, the Japanese version was hilarious but being an American and familiar with the pop culture references in the dialogue and the Japanese pop culture references on the show, I had a great time watching it with the English dub. You can tell there was great care on the American side into utilizing the time of the series to create additional dialogue and of course, coming up with something new to make the characters much crazier for an American audience.
It’s important to note that FUNimation Entertainment went with the original names for the dub, so for those who saw the test episode on YouTube and were not satisfied with the name changes, FUNimation Entertainment did fix that up with only Giroro’s cat keeping the name “Mr. Furbottom” and the voice talent changed for the final cut.
As for the parents who are wondering if the show is safe for children, although the series is rated TV PG, there is no naughty talk or any profanity.
There is only one scene in episode 9 in which a young Aki Hinata (who looks like Fuyuki) is hugged by Momoka Nishizawa and in the process of that hug, Nishizawa who wraps her arm around Aki and her hands on the side of her chest, she wonders why Fuyuki has breasts. And of course, there is a lot of mayhem and some fight scenes but seriously, the series is quite tame and is even aired to children in Japan (as evident by its targeted merchandise towards children in Japan) and various parts of the world. And I also shared the series with my six-year-old son who absolutely loved the series.
Overall, this is an anime series that is worth purchasing! For those who enjoyed “Crayon Shin Chan” (US dialogue version) may enjoy this much tamer but hilarious anime series. But really, this series really can’t be compared to anything. It’s that fresh, wild and crazy. One can definitely expect “Sgt. Frog” to be a series that has cool and fun characters and outrageously written episodes, definitely make this anime series worth the purchase!
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