Dokonjō Gaeru (ど根性ガエル lit. Gutsy Frog) is a Shōnen manga and anime from The '70s, created by Yasumi Yoshizawa. The manga was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump from 1970 to 1976, then had two anime TV series (in 1972-1974 and 1981-1982), followed by a live-action TV series in 2015. It has reached cult status in Latin America and especially in Chile. Although the series has aired on Japanese-language television in the United States, it has never been dubbed or subtitled in English (until in February 2018 by the fansubbing group GutsySubs), although an American live-action TV movie adaptation was rumored to be in development at one time.
This is the story of a middle school boy named Hiroshi and Pyonkichi, a rather special talking frog. One day, Pyonkichi is jumping around and minding his own business, and then Hiroshi crashes on him. Somehow, Pyonkichi survives... as his soul sorta becomes an imprint on Hiroshi's shirt. Since Hiroshi is very poor and that's his only good shirt, he's forced to keep it as well as Pyonkichi, who becomes a sort-of member of his family and his best friend...
Yep, this is one really weird show.
Dokonjō Gaeru has the following tropes:
- Animal Motifs:
- Belly Buttonless: Being a frog, Pyonkichi naturally doesn't have one. This is pointed out a few times, even used as part of a lyrics in one of the ending songs.
- Birds of a Feather: Both Pyonkichi and Hiroshi are Hot-Blooded Big Eaters who won't give up ever.
- A Boy and His X: A boy and his talking shirt! ... Sorta.
- Break Her Heart to Save Her: At some point, Pyonkichi's frog girlfriend Pyonko appears. Pyonkichi treats her real badly, which greatly upsets Hiroshi; when he asks why would he do such a thing, Pyonkichi cries and explains that he doesn't want her to suffer due to his special situation so he'd rather have her hate him.
- Chef of Iron: Umesaburo is a somewhat odd Supreme Chef... and a rather badass martial artist.
- Cool Shades: Hiroshi is never seen without a pair of shades on his head.
- Disappeared Dad: Hiroshi's father is explicitely mentioned to be deceased, so he lives with his House Wife mother.
- Expressive Shirt: Sorta, again. Because this "shirt" not only is expressive, but it talks and eats and...
- Foreign Remake: Apparently a live-action American remake is currently in the works. And it stars one of The Jonas Brothers. Seriously.
- In-Series Nickname: Everyone calls Umesaburo "Ume-san."
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gorilla-Imo frequently bullies Hiroshi, but he does have a soft-side, such as his love of cats.
- Hiroshi himself, as said eloquently by his mother more than once.
- Live-Action Adaptation: Aired on Nippon Television (the same TV channel that broadcast the 1980s anime) in 2015 (the 1970s anime aired on TBS), featuring a grown-up Hiroshi and Kyouko and a CGI-animated Pyonkichi.
- In 2013, a live-action American TV movie version was announced to be in production (presumably as a TV series pilot), featuring Frankie Jonas as Hiroshi (or whatever his name was to become in English). As of 2017, it has yet to materialize.
- No Name Given: The sushi parlor owner/Umesaburo's boss, Hiroshi's mother.
- The Ojou: Kyouko Yoshizawa is middle to high class.
- Older Than They Look: Goro looks like a grade schooler. So does his future girlfriend, Misako.
- Perpetual Poverty: Almost everyone in the series, starting with Hiroshi. The series itself is located in what seems to be the poorest part of the middle-class district of Nerima, and the popular Shakujii Park appears more than once.
- Plucky Girl: Kyouko is this, too.
- Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Yoshiko-sensei is pursued by Minami (hinted to be from a rich family) and Umesaburo (Hiroshi's Big Brother Mentor who works as a sushi chef). She barely seems to notice their interest in her. Averted in the second anime series; Umesaburo's character is unchanged, but Minami, despite still being a teacher, is presented as living in a tiny and squalid apartment, where he has trouble making the rent, and having to subsist on instant ramen.
- Running Gag: Mr. Machida will reference his 25 years' teaching experience in nearly every episode, usually with something along the lines of, "In my 25 years as a teacher, I have/have never..."
- Sailor Fuku. Kyoko's Iconic Outfit, despite her and the younger cast members being just elementary students.
- Slice of Life
- Supreme Chef: Umesaburo, justified as he works as a chef in the local sushi bar.
- Training from Hell: Parodied when Hiroshi subjects Pyonkichi to this, hitting him with a baseball bat among other things... to withstand being inside Hiroshi's mom's new washing machine.
- Kyouko is a Type B.
- Also Yoshiko Yamanaka.
- Tunnel King: Mogura, the local bully's sidekick, whose name is Japanese for "mole". As his name implies, he can dig underground.
- Work Off the Debt: Happened with Hiroshi at a ramen restaurant. He sent Pyonkichi to get the money, but it took so long for him to return (he lost the money and had to earn it back by helping other people for reward money), that by the time he came back Hiroshi washed every dish at the restaurant, making his hands sore. They don't take this lying down, however: they give the store owner the money, then proceed to take the clean bowls outside and dirty them again with dirt water, much to the owner's dismay.
- Yamato Nadeshiko: Hiroshi's mother.