Sgt. Frog Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 188
  • ISBN: 1591827035
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Sgt. Frog Vol. #01

By Mike Dungan     December 31, 2004
Release Date: March 01, 2004

Sgt. Frog Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Mine Yoshizaki
Translated by:Yuko Fukami
Adapted by:

What They Say
Close Encounters of the Green Kind! Sgt. Keroro, commanding officer of Planet Keron's invasion force, has a problem. After blowing his cover and losing his top-secret weapon, the frog-like alien has been cut off from the bomeworld. To make matters worse, he's lost communications with the rest of his platoon. Now he has taken cover in the Hinata household, where in exchange for doing his share of the chores, he gets his own room from which to secretly devise new plans for world domination!

The Review
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Fuyuki Hinata is a fairly ordinary 6th grader. He lives with his older sister who attends middle school, and his mother, who is a busy manga editor downtown. He loves anything involving the supernatural and draws his own manga stories. Then one day, he and his sister discover an alien hiding in their house. He's Sgt. Keroro of the planet Keron's invasion force. Unfortunately for him, his cover is now blown, and the invasion is called off. Now he's stuck on Earth and at the mercy of the Hinata children. Fuyuki loves having a real live alien living with him and treats Keroro like a friend. Fuyuki's sister Natsumi is not nearly so enthused about it. She's a no-nonsense kind of girl and does not trust this alien invader. Even if she were to allow Fuyuki to keep Keroro as a pet, there's the very big obstacle of their mother, Aki Hinata. She's a stunningly beautiful woman with long flowing black hair, the body of a centerfold and little round glasses perched on the end of her nose. She's very friendly and outgoing, but she also hates pets. If she sees Keroro, it's over for everyone. Instead, she susprises everyone by embracing this new member of the household.

We soon learn that Keroro isn't the only Keronian left behind on Pokopen (the Keronian name of Earth). Other members of Keroro's platoon were left behind as well. One of them is Private Tamama. He's a young, friendly Keronian still sporting his tadpole's tail. He's totally devoted to Keroro to a rather unhealthy degree. He's living with Momoka Nishizawa, a classmate of Fuyuki. Momoka's from a very wealthy family and has a secret crush on Fuyuki. She's sweet and timid until pushed, at which time an almost psychopathically violent personality emerges. She does her best to keep this "Dark Momoka" hidden, but it's pretty obvious to everyone she has a split personality. Since Tamama has almost exactly the same personality trait, the two of them make a perfect team.

The question of where Keroro is allowed to live in the house is settled by "General Mom" as Keroro refers to her. There is a room in the house that is being used only for storage and Keroro is allowed to move in and remodel it to suit him. There is a catch he's unaware of, though. There is a rumor that the room is haunted by a young woman. Fuyuki, being the paranormal and occult enthusiast he is, is both excited and worried at the same time. However, he soon learns it's nothing to be worried about.

With summer upon them, it's time for a family vacation to the ocean. Momoka invites the Hinata family to her family's private island to spend some time alone at a resort hotel before it opens to the public. It's fanservice ahoy as Aki Hinata shows off one of the sexiest figures and swimsuits in the history of manga. It's obvious Natsumi is following in her mother's footsteps physically, though she doesn't seem too thrilled about it. The vacation is just an elaborate plan by Momoka to get closer to Fuyuki, but with the frogs there, things don't go according to plan. Later that evening, the traditional "courage test" of walking to a spot on the island and back without getting scared is put to the test when they discover the remains of a downed Japanese fighter plane from World War II.

In the last chapter, Fuyuki meets a very cute girl with dark skin and short blonde hair who literally falls out of the sky in front of him. He takes her home, but when she revives, it turns out she isn't what she appears. She's Moa of the Angol Tribe, aliens who are allied with the Keronians. She's the Lord of Terror who was prophesied by Nostradamus 500 years ago, and she's come to destroy the Earth. Surprisingly, it turns out she knows Keroro, whom she addresses as Uncle. She adores him as much as Tamama and will obey everything he says. Fortunately for mankind, one of Keroro's hobbies he's picked up on Earth saves the planet from destruction.

Sgt. Frog has to be one of the funnier books out on the market. I had no idea what to expect when I picked this title up, but I found myself laughing repeatedly as I read it. Yoshizaki's characters are all very well thought out, with great personality traits that add to the humor. I love Keroro's fascination with Gundam model kits, Natsumi's embarrassment at her own increasingly sexy figure that's so at odds with her tough girl personality, and the charming will of iron that Aki Hinata uses to keep the household in order. Yoshizuki favors thick precise linework that shows his characters off to their best advantage. He draws both great action scenes and some of the sexiest characters in manga.

Editor Paul Morrissey has gone all out with Sgt. Frog. The first two pages are in full color, with the next 8 pages in two-color, just like the Japanese release. While not all of the sound effects are translated, quite a few have a translation in the gutter between panels, which is very welcome. Honorifics, such as -san, -kun, -chan and -sama are retained, which is another big positive vote from me. The back of the book has quite a few extras, including two pages of "Sergeant Sightings...In The States!" which is hilarious. The cover has the three Hinatas with Keroro striking a dramatic pose in the foreground. There's a chrome-finish highlight to it that really makes it stand out. The logo is a sci-fi update of the traditional military stencil look that is very attractive and appropriate to the title, while the back cover has a blue-chrome finish with an image of Natsumi in her school uniform enjoying an icecream cone. The adaptation by Carol Fox is one of the better ones I've seen from Tokyopop. She handles all the sci-fi technobabble with grace, while still keeping the story moving smoothly and naturally. I especially like how each character has a unique voice that works perfectly for them. I'm also quite pleased with the use of different fonts for speaking, narration and the occasional visits from Dark Momoka and Dark Tamama. The fonts selected work very well and add to the comedy. The only negatives I can come up with is that not all color pages are reproduced (there are four pages at the beginning of the beach chapter that, considering it features Aki and Natsumi in swimsuits, would have been nice to have in color), and the art reproduction could have been a little better. Screentones came out nicely, but dark tones seem to bleed together just a bit too much. Still, it's better than usual for a Tokyopop title.

Aki Hinata, the editor at a manga publishing company, complains early on that there aren't enough stories out there with impact and action and a character that embodies both. Well, Keroro fits the bill perfectly. The stories are written and illustrated with the confidence of someone who knows they're on to something good. Tokyopop's excellent treatment of Sgt. Frog reflects their own confidence that they're on to something good as well with this title. If you're looking for a story with impact, action, and a healthy dose of fanservice and comedy, you owe it to yourself to pick up this title.


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