I like Sgt Frog. I hate Keroro.
That seems a bit contradictory, I know, but let me explain:
One of the cornerstones of comedy is the unsympathetic protagonist, someone who for whatever reason behaves in a way that would not be tolerated in real life situations. Maybe they’re a slob, maybe they’re a complete dick, maybe they’re just someone you’d punch if you met face to face. But when placed in in the right situations, with the right writers backing them up, you can honestly like this character and get some real good laughs out of their antics.
Keroro is neither likeable nor funny. He’s just unsympathetic.
Everything about the character that I think is being played for laughs just rubs me the wrong way. His selfishness, his obnoxiousness, his sarcasm, his over-enthusiasm for his stupid toys, and his complete disregard not only for his job and his friends, but for anything and everything. Under any other character, these would all be pieces of a perfect UCP. But there isn’t a word out of Keroro’s fucking mouth that doesn’t make me think my personal-favourite Giroro should say “fuck the court marshall” and shoot him.
This isn’t the fault of Funimation, who do a fine job of adapting the show, nor is it the fault of Todd Haberkorn, who’s a top VA regardless. All of Keroro’s problems are right there at the core of his character, which is present in the Japanese dub and the original manga. In fact, the only real moments I enjoy out of him are the more gag-dubby pieces Funimation threw in for fun (E.G. quoting The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry”). Very little of Keroro’s more character-based moments are funny to me and aren’t grating.
Watching through my DVDs of the first two seasons (add to that the series-jumping I’ve done throughout SFA’s lifetime), I was struck by the realization that I would like this series so much more if its own titular character was not in it. I think it could carry itself if it played out more or less the same, just minus Keroro; it has a solid cast. I mean, I’ve never been a fan of the original series’ Kululu, and Tamama grates about as much as he does, but even they have more entertaining personalities than Keroro. And thinking about it, some of my harder laughs from Giroro were probably “Rule of Funny” dub-isms as well, but at least Giroro has a good personality and approaches situations with the more straight-man aesthetic that I actually find infinitely funnier than the spazzy cunt working above him. Same for my other favourite, the narrator; his “what the fuck is going on?!” observations are so much funnier than what’s actually going on.
An otherwise good series that would be funnier without its own protagonist, and is funnier when it’s discussing what happens than when something actually happens. I can’t think of any other series like that that.
I guess what it comes down to is that he’s a karma Houdini of the worst kind: he gets away with way too much, and the only real punishment he gets is slapstick. No dishonourable discharge, no brain matter discharge; just some burns and a kick in the face. As much of a proponent of cartoon-and-not-realistic violence as I am, that’ll just never be enough for me. Keroro needs a real punishment for me to be satisfied that everything’s been accounted for: only his complete and utter death will make up for my dislike of the character.
And for those curious, yes, I would write my Keroro out of SFA if I had the option. But even then, I still like our Keroro more than the original.
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