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Sgt. Frog: Season 1, Part 1

1 rating: 3.0
Anime & Manga movie

The outré sci-fi comedySgt. Frog(2004) scored a big hit in Japan, running for almost 300 episodes and spawning five theatrical features. A force of alien frogs attempted to conquer Earth (or "Pekopon"), but withdrew, leaving a few of their less … see full wiki

Genre: Animation
1 review about Sgt. Frog: Season 1, Part 1

As Unique as it is Funny

  • Sep 9, 2009
Rating:
+3
Sgt. Frog is one of those rare anime properties that could only be made possible by global cooperation. The look, the feel, the animation-style (heck the main character perhaps most of all) are all of Asian influence but much of this particular set's charm stems from its American dub work. In all honesty, it would seem very easy to screw things up the way Funimation went about combining the artistic influence of two very-different nations but after having just completed this collection, I can state with confidence that they defied the odds with this one! But before we get ahead of ourselves here, let's take a look at the cold hard facts, shall we?

Funimation has recently acquired the rights to the show and has wasted little time in getting the first part of the first season (Episodes 1-13) release out to the North American public for the first time ever. Coming in at a total runtime of 325 minutes, Sgt. Frog Season One Part 1 spans 2 discs and comes packaged as a pair of thin packs within a cardboard slipcase.

The show wears an appropriate if slightly conservative TV PG rating, which is presumably based more on adult-themed references and cartoony violence over nudity, foul language or gore.

Language options are typical sub & dub meaning the option of original Japanese dialog track (stereo) or an English dub (5.1 Dolby Surround) and English subtitles available under either language choice.

Extras include Pekopon Invasion Recon Data, textless songs and a host of Funimation trailers.

The story, which actually works far better than I can possibly summarize here, goes something like this: Keroro is an adorable member of a militant race of Space Frogs (a sergeant in fact) who arrived to earth as part of an early attack squadron intending to conquer the planet. Once the invaders discover that humans aren't quite the pushovers they initially perceived, the mission is aborted and the few frog troopers in the first wave of attack are abandoned.

Of course that first wave includes the title character, Sgt. Keroro and we follow along on the adventures of he and his adoptive earth family which includes a 9-year-old boy nerd, a 13-year old tom boy girl, and their mother- a crotch-rocket riding comic book artist. Best of all they give our hero a room that was a former-bomb shelter beneath the stairway of their house that just so happens to be haunted by the ghost of a tortured young girl.

Keroro isn't quite ready to abandon all hopes of planetary conquest despite the fact that he discovers that he is actually growing quite fond of the human race and worse still, has developed an addiction to anime (Robotech), toys (Gundam models) and of all things, karaoke.

As the show progresses, he discovers that some of his fellow frog troops are actually right in his own neighborhood and have been adopted by human families as well. Their collective mission remains in the hopes that their entire army will one day return to fulfill the goal of conquering earth but in the mean time there is plenty of adventure to be had on the "blue planet".

If this sounds a little goofy to you so far, don't worry it is. Although the overall theme harkens back to the type of animorphic-action that was big here in the U.S. in the late 1980s (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, anyone), the truth is this show works on an entirely different plane. Namely it's funny. No not just witty banter between its lead characters but pop-culture funny with references that come fast and constant. Little things like "Boy this is just like the beginning and ending scenes in all of the Jurassic Parks" or "You're more picky than (David) Fincher!" or perhaps even "This will allow me to become invisible like the conceal option on Facebook" should provide an indication of the tone here. While some may argue the original Japanese dialog is funny enough to stand on its own merit, I must counter that Funimation went the extra mile in the English dub to keep the humor on point!

It's common knowledge that Funimation spent a lot of time screening early versions of the dub to North American test audiences (including making clips available for review on Youtube) before being satisfied with the dub. The good news is that the attention to detail pays dividends. The bright over-the-top cutes-ness of the visuals will keep the younger set interested while the dialog (sociological references especially) will ensure that the adults will be snickering.

This is one of very few times I will go as far as to say that the English dub is superior to the original Japanese dialog track. Yes, it really works that well.

In all I would be exaggerating if I were to say that this is an animated show for everyone but it will certainly appeal to a wide audience thanks to a near-endless succession of little gags and bits that work on many levels. The grand story arc, while in no danger for being mistaken for a modern day masterpiece, is just quaint enough to keep the situations advancing from episode to episode. It's the humor and zing of the characters within (and that includes the narrator and subtitles) that steal the show. Kudos to Funimation for recognizing the potential of the source material and for custom-tailoring it to appeal to its target audience.

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