One Punch Man anime review

I’d heard a lot about One Punch Man before watching the show. I figured it was just the usual internet hype about any slightly good show and basically ignored it for a while, but eventually the title sounded intriguing enough that I eventually tried an episode. And then another episode. And then another. I was kinda busy so it took me several sessions to get through the first 6 or so episodes, then I marathoned the last few in a night. Verdict: One Punch Man is actually really good!

Story summaryOn an Earth-like supercontinent planet, strange monsters have been mysteriously appearing and causing disasters resulting in the world’s superheroes rising to combat them. Saitama, the protagonist of the series, is the strongest hero alive who easily defeats the monsters or other villains with a single punch. However, due to his immeasurable strength, Saitama has become bored with his power and is constantly trying to find stronger opponents who can present a challenge to him.

one-punch-man-saitamaThe show is exactly what it says on the tin: superhero beats villains and monsters alike with a single punch. You might expect a show like that to get boring pretty quickly, seeing as you know the end of each monster even before it shows up, but they managed to keep it fresh at least for 12 episodes. Much of that “freshness” comes from sub-protagonist Genos and other superheroes who act as cannon fodder to show how strong the villain-of-the-week is before Saitama smashes it to show how much stronger he is. If you’ve watched Dragonball Z you know the whole mechanic.

Part of the fun of the show comes from the variety of monsters and superheroes. What kind of bad guy is going to show up this week and what ridiculous powers is s/he going to have? A Godzilla clone, a skyscraper-tall bodybuilder, a giant beetle, a gang of lazy slackers in power suits, and on and on. Of course their doom is assured, but it’s fun watching them have their little day in the limelight before they’re polished off. As a bonus they often get to voiceover the next episode’s trailer for some final lolz.

As an action show, One Punch Man doesn’t pull out any big surprises and doesn’t contain much tension due to the aforementioned foregone conclusion. What little excitement comes is from watching the supporting cast attempt and (usually) fail to deal with the problem. Then Saitama comes in and ends things with a single punch. The viewers who will get the most out of this show are those who enjoy destruction on an absolutely massive scale – cars overturned, buildings sliced in two, half the city blown up every episode and, of course, the giant blood splatters and ludicrous gibs that come with the territory when you exterminate a giant monster with a single punch. There is some good choreography on some of the fights, but really it’s usually people jumping around and somersaulting and getting smacked to the curb repeatedly, not much more than that.

Rather it is as a comedy and a parody of superhero shows that One Punch Man comes into its own. After all, genre savvy viewers know that no matter how many blows the hero takes, he’s always going to vanquish evil in the end. So why not cut to the chase once all the messing around with minor lackeys is done? As a result, the viewer ends up watching the ridiculous hijinks of the villains with a kind of spiteful glee. Oh boy, you’re really gonna get it now, just wait till Saitama gets here!

one-punch-man-mangaAs a result I’m a little on the fence about the show’s occasional attempts to humanize Saitama and the rest of the cast instead of just letting them be delightful caricatures. Things like the weaker heroes trying to stand up to the bad guy didn’t really add anything because of the foregone conclusion. Though I was a little touched by the unlikely camaraderie between Mumen Rider and Saitama, it was offset by Saitama’s unusual… niceness, shall we say, when it came to taking the blame and making the other heroes look good. Like, was it established already that he’s the kind of guy to care about such things? His character is a little hard to pin down, and the excess focus on Genos’ point of view of things doesn’t really help.

But anyway, I’m not here to analyze One Punch Man, just to wax on and on about how much and I enjoyed it and how you should totally watch it or read the manga. I think the anime is more fun, but the manga covers way more ground and the show will only leave you wanting more (Season 2 can’t come quickly enough) so go for both if you can. It’s a great show, memorable characters, funny premise, lots of actions, good ending, the works.


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