Review of One Punch Man

onepunchman

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.

VERDICT

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.

15 thoughts on “Review of One Punch Man

  1. This show is pretty huge here right now. It airs on Cartoon Network’s Toonami block, and has amassed a large following. I haven’t seen every episode, but I’ve enjoyed the combination of action, and humor in what I have seen. One of these days I have to just get around to binging it.

    • I’ve heard some people say that airing anime on TV doesn’t matter because the fan base just watch everything online. One Punch Man increasing its popularity thanks to Cartoon Network would disprove that. Heck, I wonder how much lower DVD sales would be in the UK if people hadn’t discovered anime years ago when Toonami introduced the nation to shows like DBZ and Gundam.

  2. I still giggle, even a two weeks later, at Mumen Rider showing up on his bike, rushing in to play hero then getting splattered by a single blow from a gargantuan foe! 😀

    But beneath this sardonic humour, this was a nice satire on how being a hero can be a thankless job and the fickleness of the public that has just been saved when occasionally things don’t go so well.

    • Poor Mumen Rider. Maybe if he takes 10km bike rides every day he can grow in power level like Saitama?

      The show’s visual gags are funny enough, but yeah if you look beyond that there are several layers to the humor. We already know from daily news how fickle the public can be. Thankless job reminds me of my own work. Management (rank S) gets all the glory, even if it’s really the lowly peons (rank C) who saved the day.

  3. to be honest the Saitama fights were the main reason I tuned in to the series whereas the serious stuff is stuff I’ve seen in other modern superhero media outside of Marvel and DC. Not that I didn’t care for the serious stuff. It was good, no doubt about it…but I was more interested in seeing if Saitama would ever find a worthy opponent. Also as you mentioned the humor was pretty good.

    • He didn’t find an adversary to rival him in this series. I am curious if Saitama has found an equal in the manga. Apparently the Association’s top hero (Blast) is meant to be similar to him. Tornado versus Saitama could be interesting too. If she lifts him off the air, with her ESP, wouldn’t that render baldie’s strength mute?

  4. I agree completely that Mumen Rider proved that not all cyclists can cause you duress on the road. Truly the one part of the show I remember the most was Mumen Rider’s impassioned speech and his determination as a hero. I fell in love more with ONE’s other adapted manga, Mob Psycho 100, but it is hard to deny the electricity One Punch Man has to gain such a following these days.

    • Mumen Rder versus the Sea King brought a tear to my eye. Heh, cyclists really are despised by drivers. I used to follow a Facebook group that posted road rage clips and traffic accidents. The comments section was always filled with people blaming the cyclist for the crashes.

      I have heard positive things about Mob Psycho 100, so I’ll have to check it out. Thus far I have avoided it because the art is a little off putting. Everyone looks like Saitama!

      • The art style certainly is something that can be off-putting to some as it feels more distinctly ONE than One Punch Man as an anime does. Studio Bones however does painstakingly create the series to embody the artist/writer in his entirety, yet that does leave some scenes up to interpretation where they create some jaw-dropping visual action. I think it can be worth a shot, even if some characters do really look like Saitama.

  5. I’ve been planning to watch this anime for quite a while now because I find the whole idea quite interesting, plus I heard it’s full of entertaining scenes. Reading your review, I guess I’ll be watching this much sooner.

  6. Mumen Rider is a legend to me, aside from that the show really did a good job making every episode funny. In all honesty, this is one show that could get away without having much a story for me.

  7. I watched this one when it aired on Toonami. Had a good time but what made me really appreciate the show was Mumen Rider. He was what elevated this show for me from just a fun comedy show with some interesting ideas. Ended up enjoying this far more than expected. Later I’d go on to watch Mob with less enthusiasm, but that was pretty great too. So far everything from One has been a hit in my book.

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