Donkey Kong Country was weird. It was a short-lived production that aired from 1996 – 2000 and apparently gets the credit for being the first French-Canadian show animated entirely in CGI. And it shows. My memories of watching DKC are comprised of sitting on the floor for video game TV show that had an awesome electric guitar theme song and 3D character models with interesting facial expressions and movements.
It was an experimental show, one arguably held together by the surprisingly awesome songs. The rest of the show was enhanced, nay, graced, by the scaly soldiers who so fiendishly failed to take over Kong Island. While DK and friends swore to protect the Crystal Coconut, these green fellows schemed in the background, keeping watch and waiting for an opportunity to strike. They were the infamous Kremlings, and not only were they fun to watch, they were also funny.
I’ll admit it—I’m a goody-goody. I prefer the heroes almost every time. But DKC was one of the first things ever where I preferred the villains. It was partly because I liked reptiles more than primates, and found the Kremling models cooler than the Kongs’s. But the main reason I liked these guys is that they were funny! Their plans always failed so comically and they had great dynamics. They viewed much of their operations as militaristic if this military were constantly buffoonish and used mine carts for transportation. It would be easy for K. Rool to blame it all on his henchmen, but he was fodder for slapstick and melodrama too.
The Kremlings had the heart too. All of them looked forward to the Kongo Bongo Festival of Lights, where they could take some R&R to see their families in the swamps—all except Klump, who had no family to go to. This turned out to be a sadder story than expected from such a silly show. And sometimes the Kremlings fell to foibles of the domestic soul, like K. Rool becoming a movie star or Krusha wanting to dance at a wedding. I also love how they can alliteratively insult everyone without outright calling them idiots. Creativity is not lost on these Kremlings.
Also, they were pretty awesome. In the middle of the theme song, the rad guitar music and chanting that pumped us up for another DK adventure would be suddenly hushed into ominous military drumming. Then the Kremlings made their appearance, marching across the bridge and making plans in their secret base. They get defeated in comedic ways afterward, but for that time, they have their 15 seconds of fame.
This doesn’t even begin to mention the pirate Kremlings, led by the hot-tempered and vengeful Kaptain Skurvy. He was additionally interested in having the Crystal Coconut stolen from his ancestors. The pirates were all business and slightly more successful than their land-dwelling cousins. They’re awesome too. They’re even awesome when they’re singing. It’s not easy to belt out a tune in a scratchy, intimidating voice. Heck, all the actors in DKC were good at singing and speaking.
So while DK and his crew are solving problems such as frozen time and turning into robots, the Kremlings plot to steal the powerful Crystal Coconut. Only they’re hilariously bad at it. And that makes them great. So come one, come all, to give your respects to the Kremlings.