Sgt. Frog 14

May 15, 2011

Mine Yoshizaki – Tokyopop – 2008 – 21+ volumes

I… I’m still tired of the jokes in this series. I’m sorry. I still have a lot of volumes backlogged, too. I should just stop reading, but I have a hard time giving up on former favorites. It’s why I still read Bleach.

Granted, there are lots of cute stories in any given volume of Sgt. Frog. I can’t fault it that. Cute stories like the Keronians shrinking down to swim in a kiddie pool in the middle of summer, or one where Natsumi and Fuyuki stumble accidentally into the morning exercise routine the Keronians share with other alien creatures… these are why I grew to love the series so much. They are quirky and bizarre, and the characters always act themselves. It’s got the best elements of a sitcom-style manga at its disposal.

It also still does serious stories (the Sargent is mistaken for a cryptid in one story, and almost has to leave Fuyuki) and plot-driven stories (an adorable story where Giroro has to fight a creature with his estranged older brother, or another where Angol Moa is almost revived as the destroyer of worlds). Those are thrown in there to somewhat break up the lighthearted tone.

I can’t quite figure out why reading it is a chore, then. Is it that it uses a lot of the same material over and over again? Is it that I just don’t enjoy reading all the copious details about how the newest takeover attempt works and the science behind it? That’s always original and a little fun, but maybe it can get bogged down in details. The plot driven stories are rarely more than a chapter or two long, too, so maybe it’s missing longer story arcs to break up all the random side material. And maybe seeing the same comedic over-reactions to things is getting old for me. I don’t know.

It’s not doing anything wrong, though. It’s still very adorable and charming, with a fun cast of characters that isn’t too huge. It does a good job of capturing the essence of the everyday with a slightly alien spin, too, and the art has been pretty consistently unique for the whole run, too.

I don’t know. I should stop. I won’t, though. Not until the last five volumes I have are read.

Sgt. Frog 13

July 31, 2010

Mine Yoshizaki – Tokyopop – 2007 – 20+ volumes

Holy crap, the covers to the Japanese volumes of this series are AWFUL. Thank you, Tokyopop, for sparing us that. In English, this volume features a delightful Street Fighter parody with frogs.

Anyway, once again, the formula’s wearing a little thin for me here. I want to like it, I really do. And I have a high tolerance for episodic, formulaic series, and I can look the other way when I know some elements repeat themselves (ie Oh My Goddess). But I just haven’t really enjoyed this series in a long time.

It’s not really Sgt. Frog’s fault. There are still flashes of cute to be found here. I loved the April Fool’s chapter, and I thought the ski vacation and hanami chapters were adorable, and I was very impressed that, so late in the series, introducing Momoka’s mother could still be so exciting. Things like this stick in my memory, and make me want to pick up the next volume.

But then we get the Alisa Southern-Cross chapters. Actually, that was the worst part about this volume, and most everything else was great. I think I just hate being reminded that there are other aliens, and that the Keronians are trying to invade. I know they are. I know they’re bad at it. We’ve had countless variations on this, and… I’m just tired of these stories. Thankfully, this volume doesn’t really have any “failed invasion” stories, and actually twists that expectation twice, with great effect. I’ve had enough aggressive alien action. Give me more giant bread-man fights.

The Keronian fresh baked bread story was by far the best in this volume. It opens with what seems like Tamama and Keroro using the scent of fresh baked bread to somehow take over, but what they really do is bake Keronian bread and make gigantic Gundam-sized bread versions of themselves and fight them to determine a winner.

Giant bread frogs will always be welcome on my shelf.

Damn you, Sgt. Frog, for keeping my interest when I don’t even want to read you anymore.

Sgt. Frog 18

February 8, 2010

Mine Yoshizaki – Tokyopop – 2009 -20+ volumes

I reviewed this for the weekly Manga Minis column at Manga Recon, so you can check out my review over there.

Basically, with nothing but what was offered from the first volumes, I’m pretty tired of the same old thing at this point.  The volumes are always better with a longer story, and while this does have one that spans two chapters, it isn’t quite enough to keep things interesting.  Still cute, still funny, but I would have much fonder memories if this had ended a long time ago, I think.

Sgt. Frog 12

May 18, 2009

Hmm… I was right about my Sgt. Frog prediction.  I kind of had to force myself to read the rest of this volume after the first couple stories.  This series is just better in small doses.  The jokes aren’t as funny if you read too much at once.

There were still a couple good chapters, though.  There’s a really cute New Year’s chapter at the end of the book where it shows how each of the characters spend their New Year’s Day being happy.  The other good chapter is about what happens when Keroro gets sick.  Thankfully, it doesn’t take the obvious joke about being sick with “Gundam Fever” and is better for it.  There’s also a cute chapter about the Hinatas and Keronians enjoying a huge watermelon together.

But again, I’d kind of had my fill of the wacky humor and semi-sweet moments last volume, so there just wasn’t as much of an impact this time.  It probably would have been better if I’d waited a couple months rather than a few weeks.

There is also a long story that introduces a new character named Southern Cross (which, of course, I read the same day my roommate attempted to explain the Macross universe to me).  I got kind of excited when I thought she was a gorgon, but the actual explanation and lame ending to what was shaping up to be a pretty epic story kind of wore me out even further on this volume.

Sgt. Frog 11

May 11, 2009

Volume 10 actually had a really awesome, epic story going that spilled over into this volume.  I kind of cheated and read the conclusion to that chapter right after I finished 10, then put the book back on the shelf to languish for a year (!!!).

I like this series for the same reason I like Oh My Goddess, which I also read today.  They’re both comfortable reads.  I know exactly what’s going to happen every time I sit down with a volume of either series.  In Sgt. Frog’s case, I know that Earth will never be invaded, Natsumi will get mad at Keroro for something, Gundam models will come up, et cetera.  I’m not at all interested in the plot development, I just like watching the characters do what they do.  It’s funny enough that reading the occasional volume is quite a pleasure.

But… yeah.  Nothing has, or ever will, change about this story.  The epic storyline last volume was pretty awesome because it was so unlike anything this series would ever do.  This volume settles back into the same pattern as the others.  There’s a chapter where Keroro runs away after Natsumi and he get in a fight, and they make up in kind of a sweet way by the end of the chapter.  One story features two Keronian elementary students showing up and causing problems at the invasion base.  There’s a chapter about Momoka’s crush on Fuyuki.  Pretty much just more of the same stuff.  They’re all fine stories, and if you’re still reading the series at this point, you’ll really enjoy them.  None of them really disappointed me.

After not having read the series for so long, one of the things I had forgotten about is Keroro’s delightfully idiosyncratic speech patterns.  Just his unusual vocabulary would be enough to make me laugh (at one point, when getting dissed by Dororo, he says “Unkind! You make me cry!”), but sometimes his turn of phrase is also pretty funny.

For as much as I like this series, it takes a lot to convince me to read it.  Much to my shame, I didn’t realize it had been a year since the last time I read this, and I only picked this volume up because I needed room on the shelf it was on.  I’ll probably read 12 while I’m at it, but I’m sure two volumes will be a little too much for me to handle at once.

Sgt. Frog 10

June 19, 2008

I seem to only remember this series exists whenever I see a new volume come out. I ought to catch myself up, but it’s not the sort of thing I can read 2-at-a-time, just because the same sort of humor and jokes is used pretty frequently. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but even reading the volumes as slowly as I have been I was kind of worn out and didn’t really like the last volume.

This volume solved that problem in an extremely out-of-character epic battle. Since the Keron Invasion is not moving forward, more soldiers show up and… well, basically invade Earth. While there are still plenty of jokes (the backhanded compliments that Tamama gets in his battle had me going), everyone on Earth basically gets… decimated, including all the main characters. We see a few battles, and while the (unfavorable) outcomes are pretty much repeated throughout the volume, we never actually see the character… you know, lose, though the situations they’re all left in are pretty hopeless. Keroro gets a slightly worse fate than the rest, he being the commander and all. The invaders are pretty humorless themselves, and also awesome, if a half-metal assassin frog is your thing.

Fuyuki, Natsumi, and Mrs. Hinata do what they can, but the invading technology is superior, and it is all the ally frogs can do to send them to safety.  The volume ends on a cruel, cruel cliffhanger, which will probably force me to read volume 11 sometime this weekend.  I liked this story A LOT, it definitely redeemed the series for me.

There were a few one-shot chapters at the beginning of the volume that were more in-character for the series, two of them were pretty spectacular.  One was about a soccer game played just before the invading force left for Earth (Fuyuki is so excited to see alien soccer, which makes the outcome much funnier), and another was about Kururu giving tips about being nice when it’s not expected of you, and that way you get into people’s good graces.  Kururu is still a creep, so I was kind of uncomfortably waiting for the other shoe to drop the whole time.  This kind of leads into the big battle story, which begins with Keroro staying at home and doing the best he can at the chores, only to be reamed by Natsumi and Fuyuki both unfairly for something the invading force was doing to mess up the computers.  It was very sad.

Sgt. Frog 9

January 6, 2008

I was pretty disappointed with this volume of Sgt. Frog, too.  While it had its cute moments, I just didn’t laugh as hard as I did at the first volumes.  Maybe I’m just getting tired of the jokes, I don’t know.  Maybe there just weren’t any truly funny ideas in this volume.  Certainly nothing that matched Wetraman.

One of the stories I liked the best was actually the first, which was a contest of sorts between the female ninja and the rich girl.  One thing I can say about Sgt. Frog is that it treats its side characters pretty kindly, and almost everyone gets brought back into the rotation at some point.  Even Mutsumi gets a chapter in this volume about what he was doing when he found Kururu.

My favorite chapter in the volume actually involved Tamama and a little boy, though.  It was quite touching, and mostly just involved Tamama helping the kid with his soccer while he was practicing out in the rain during monsoon season.  It was pretty cute.

I probably won’t read the next volume for awhile, but I’m definitely getting a little tired out.  It’s sad, since I enjoyed this series so much at first… that and, well, it’s been nearly six months since I read the last volume, so it’s not like I’m just getting too much at once.

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