Keroro Gunso - A Frog On A Mission
By Adam "OMEGA" Arnold with Ever Cheung
What would you do if one day, someone told you that Earth was about to be invaded by a race of extraterrestrial frogs? Chances are you would call the men in white coats to take your friend away for telling you that ridiculous story. Well, Yoshigiki Mine's manga Keroro Gunso sets out to show just how insane the situation could become.
The series begins simply enough with Keroro Gunso, the Captain of the Space Invasion Forces Special Advance Team of the 58th Planet of the Gamma Storm Cloud System, on an intelligence mission to collect any useful information regarding the planet Pokopen (aka Earth) and report back to the invasion forces with his findings. Yet, things go awry when Keroro Gunso attempts to infiltrate the Hinata household one morning. Natsumi barges into her brother, Fuyuki's room and tries to wake him up. Fuyuki tries to recall a strange dream he had and goes back to bed. Natsumi gets pissed at him, and then yells and points at something on his dresser. Fuyuki darts out of bed to see nothing... until the wall literally seems to peel away to reveal a terrified frog holding a round object with an antenna sticking out of it.
Needless to say, the teens are stunned. Natsumi captures the little bugger, ties him up, and hangs him from the ceiling of Fuyuki's room. They try to figure out what the frog's deal is and what the strange object he has is. Time passes and the siblings depart for school. The resourceful Keroro Gunso, knowing that his cover has been blown, unties himself and sets out to recover his transmitter before Fuyuki figures it out. The frog lays a trap and ensnares Natsumi when she returns home. As Natsumi dangles helplessly from the ceiling, the creature sets out to probe the young girl, but is stopped just in time by her brother Fuyuki, who seems to have mastered the orb. They tie up the general once again, but Fuyuki accidentally activates the transmitter and a signal is sent back to the invasion forces. Keroro Gunso bargains with the teens, and from then on, the Hinata household slowly becomes a war zone for freeloading alien frogs as more of Keroro Gunso's team appears on the scene.
Keroro Gunso was first in Monthly Shonen Ace 1999 #4 and quickly gained the attention of fans of the magazines other high-profile series, Angelic Layer and Neon Genesis Evangelion, because it's easy to relate to and has a ton of otaku based references. As one Japanese Keroro Gunso fan site puts it, "the main attraction point of the Keroro story is that it resembles some aspects of the old Gundam. This maybe a bit hard for people in their teens to understand, but there are many silly scenes that just make you burst out laughing, which is something I haven't been able to do by just reading manga in a long time."
Well, now you know a bit about the series, but you must be wondering what makes Keroro Gunso so gosh darn funny. Simple, it's a series created with an otaku mindset. The characters could be standing their living room one panel, and in the next they could be reliving a scene from Evangelion... or maybe a character is working on a model kit that just happens to be a Mobile Suit - or better yet, a reference could be as small as a character with a Powerpuff Girls Bubbles keychain on their book bag. Even actual merchandise that is based on the characters from Keroro Gunso appears in the manga from time to time. The most recent occurrence of this was in the July 2001 issue of Shonen Ace where Natsumi comes home to find a capsule machine (yeah, like the kind in Shenmue where you collect all the cool figurines) in her house. She ends up getting a capsule with a figurine and bio card of herself in it, which she leaves on the floor where Keroro Gunso and Kururu Souchou later find it.
The title Keroro Gunso literally translates to "Sergeant Keroro" or if you like the "Frog General", but a clever pun lies within the later. You see, "Kerokero" is the sound that frogs make, for the Japanese anyway, but you get the point. Also worth noting is the fact that there are two characters that could appear in upcoming issues. The first of these is the fifth invader from Keroro's team who was shown in shadow form in the very first issue. The other character is Fuyuki's father who is rumored to have a derivative of the name Haru, which means Spring, because all the members of Hinata household are named after the seasons. Fuyuki is named after Winter (Fuyu), Natsumi after Summer (Natsu), and Aki after Autumn.
So, are you psyched over this series? Wanna see what you've been missing? Well, you're in luck, because there are currently three tankoubon out in Japan from Kadokawa Comics. Happy hunting.
|KERORO GUNSO: CHARACTER DOSSIER
The Leader of the Space Invasion Forces Special Advance Team of the 58th Planet of the Gamma Storm Cloud System. Keroro Gunso is of the alien race known as Heppoko Uchuujin which looks just like any regular toad on the outside. During a intelligence mission to gather intelligence for the upcoming invasion of Earth his camouflage failed him and he was captured by the Hinata family.
An Assault Soldier of the Keroro Team who was buried by a Nora dog and later rescued by Nishisawa Momohana. Tamama carries two separate personalities and has a variety of special skills including eye beams and a special mouth beam known as ‘Tamama - Impact.' He also carries a certain degree of hatred toward Moa.
A trigger-happy Mobile Soldier who tried to carry out a surprise attack on the Hinata household, but was defeated by Natsumi. He has been staying in the Hinata household since the defeat.
The Communications and Strategic Advisor of the Keroro Team who is often referred to as 'the brain of the group.' He likes to invent new things to help out the team, but often ends up making things worse in the process.
A twelve year old who does fairly well academically and in physical strength, but he also has a great ability to see order in chaos as well as to see things that most people miss. He has become good friends with Keroro and is a fairly good tempered person, but he can be scary when he's angry.
Fuyuki's sister who is fourteen years old. She excels academically and has an incredible amount of physical strength. She sees Keroro as her slave and treats him as such. Ironically, she was referred to as 'the devil' in primary school.
The Mother of Fuyuki and Natsumi. Aki is a manga editor and wasn't at home most of the time up until recently. She has a similar personality as her daughter as well as a high level of physical strength.
A girl who went to the same primary and secondary school as Fuyuki and is very much attracted to him. She is a part of a wealthy family, but she seems to have a split personality which is offset by a powerful character which she uses to protect Tamama.
Although she dresses like a Ko-gal most of the time, Moa does posses the power to destroy entire planets which has given her the unique title of ‘The Ruler of Darkness.' Her weapon of choice is Lucifer's Spear.
M-Net: The Official Yoshigiki Mine Web Site
The Official Monthly Shonen Ace Web Site
Okadue: The Informal Fan Page of Keroro Gunso
Union: Keroro Gunso Alliance
Yuhi: Keroro Gunso Fan Site
KE66: Keroro Gunso Himitukiti
Api So: Keroro Gunso Dictionary
Keroro Gunso Post Pet
Keroro Gunso Webring