Some people think that Superman is a boring hero, because he is so powerful. I can only imagine what they would make of Saitama, the bald headed protagonist of One Punch Man. The Man of Steel is at least weak to Kryptonite and magic. Saitama on the other hand is nigh on invulnerable and can down any foe with a single thump. As it turns out boredom is a two way street. Easy victories are not only dull for viewers to watch, but also for the hero as well. A crime-fighting career may sound exciting, but it really isn’t when evildoers take less effort to dispatch than earning a platinum trophy on a Telltale video game.
IT TOOK ME A FULL 3 YEARS TO GET THIS STRONG
One Punch Man is a thirteen-episode anime based on the manga created by the chap responsible for Mob Psycho 100. This comical take on the superhero genre stars a caped crusader who possesses herculean might. Forget super soldier serums, mystical mallets or getting zapped by lightning. Saitama earned his strength by following a strict daily regime of squats, push-ups and ten kilometre jogs. Sounds exhausting and not worth the hassle when you consider that the physical strain will make your scalp resemble the chrome dome of Captain Jean-Luc Picard.
The series takes place in City Z, a metropolis that is routinely harassed by giants, humanoid chimeras and effeminate sea dwellers. You’d think the citizenry would appreciate how Saitama protects their homes from danger, but alas his efforts seldom get noticed. It’s tough to make the local news when you reside in an area boasting an overabundance of vigilantes. There’s so many of the buggers that a union has been established to coordinate their activities. Media coverage is normally reserved for S-Rank guardians of justice. Saitama meanwhile is a lowly C list hero, because he flunked the written portion of the Hero Association exam.
I’M JUST A GUY WHO’S A HERO FOR FUN
Despite the lack of recognition Saitama manages to earn the admiration of a teen cyborg named Genos, who he eventually takes under his wing. Genos is for all intents and purposes the show’s Vegeta. He’s a powerful fighter in his own right, but more often than not gets beaten up by the villain of the week – in order to illustrate how mighty the antagonist is. Saitama can then step up to the plate and save the day with one uppercut, whilst the scrap pile that is his protégée looks on in awe. Over the course this collection Genos is “killed” so many times that he may as well wear a parka and start calling himself Kenny.
If the series was nothing more than a cour worth of one joke tales, were Saitama knocks out baddies, it would quickly lose its lustre. Thankfully the script is consistently funny thanks, in part, to the quirky support cast. Characters of note include an arrogant esper named Terrible Tornado, a high-speed ninja called Sonic and Puri-Puri Prisoner the camp strongman. Most of the heroes are goofballs, although I have to say that Mumen Rider succeeded in earning my respect. He may just be a regular Joe who travels to crime scenes on a BMX, but his heart is in the right place. Wow. It’s not often that someone with a driver’s licence has a good word to say about a cyclist. You should be proud of yourself.
My rating for One Punch Man is four stars. One of the funnier UK anime releases of 2017 and the opening theme song is a contender for manliest OP of the year. Given the current popularity of Marvel movies I imagine this satirical take on superheroes will be a big hit with many viewers. Action plays second fiddle to comedy in this series, but the fisticuffs we get are decent. Akira Toriyama clearly influenced Studio Madhouse both in terms of enemy character design and the high-octane nature of the show’s brawls. Unlike DBZ, One Punch Man does however resolve conflicts in a speedy manner. Evidently the duration of a fight is directly proportional to the length of the hero’s locks.