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Friday, February 26, 2016

Sergeant Keroro: 'Japan's Answer to Pinky and the Brain, Sir!'


Yes, well, I fear today's blog entry is really only relevant to readers across the pond because of how streaming rights work. But apparently I have a few of those, so that's okay, probably.

Not terribly long ago in the grand scheme of things, I finished QC on a little show called Sergeant Keroro (which fans might know as Keroro Gunsou or Sgt. Frog or a variety of other things) for Viewster. I came in mid-project, which had me worried, but fortunately this is primarily a gag show so a couple of episodes and a few quick Google searches had me filled in more than enough within a week or so.

For the uninitiated -- yeah, Sergeant Keroro is essentially Pinky and the Brain for Japan. Five small, vaguely ranine aliens crash-land on Earth (or, as the rest of universe calls us, Pekopon) and set up shop in the home of a working mother and her two children, the temperamental Natsumi and the good-natured conspiracy theorist Fuyuki. Their mission: try to take over the world using a variety of impractical, roundabout methods that invariably fail, interspersed with heavy cultural references that likely only the parents in the room will get.

So. yeah. Basically Pinky and the Brain.

There are tons more characters, of course, because it's several hundred episodes long -- there's Mois, whose job it is (apparently?) to bring about Armageddon at some indefinite point in future, but who spends most of her time supporting the Keron Army and making doe-eyes at Keroro(???). There's Momoka, a rich girl who pours her family's funds into attempts to hook up with Fuyuki. There's Saburo or Mutsumi or something, a DJ Natsumi has a crush on who's hella myserious. There's Koyuki, a ninja girl who's Natsumi's 'gal pal.' There's also a ghost, and a guy voiced by Hiyama Nobuyuki who's basically a Space Sheriff Gavan knock-off and God I could go on forever.

But like I said before. Pop culture references. One reason it pays to have a decently diverse spread of anime geeks on a team for a show like this is because, I don't care how astute you are, there's no way one person will get every single joke. Many times it took until my point in the work flow (I was near last) to catch what a joke was, and then there were plenty that I didn't recognize myself early on that others got. There was also occasional wordplay on these (for example, there's an entire Transformers parody episode), which was equal parts entertaining and mind-bending.

The main constant reference, though? Gundam. Gundam Gundam Gundam. Not surprising, as Sergeant Keroro is brought to you by Sunrise, the studio that makes Gundam and uses it to fund stuff like... well... this. As it turns out, Keroro's focus veers away from world conquest and into Gunpla, sending the in-jokes deep into not only Gundam fandom, but into the mindset of the Gunpla subculture.

This doesn't mean Sergent Keroro is inaccessible unless you are hella Gundam. Yeah, a few jokes will go over your head, but the references fly so fast and furious that even catching one in ten (a likelihood even if you're just getting your feet wet as an anime fan) is more than enough entertainment-wise. It's a cute show, albeit formulaic, and while not every episode is solid gold -- that's a rarity on a show that runs this long -- it's entertaining and gave me some giggles as I worked on it.

EU-side viewers can watch it over on Viewster.