This twelve episode series follows the exploits of Saitama, a regular guy who became determined to become a hero. Through an exhaustive training regimen, he developed the ability to defeat any enemy with only a single punch. Oh, and there is also this hot cyborg guy, a dude on a bicycle, and a ninja named Sonic that just wants to go fast.
Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way…
(LOVE that theme song!)
Okay, I guess you can tell that I liked One Punch Man! I suppose you don’t need to read the rest of this… but I would appreciate it if you stay! So let’s get started.
Yes, One Punch Man is good, but there are a few noticeable flaws.
Firstly, I found that there were so many characters introduced throughout the series that I felt could have used either some more backstory or extra screen time. Twelve episodes to get to know everyone, and the series is still introducing characters in the last moments of the last episode! That’s a bit much, in my opinion, and it makes almost everyone that isn’t one of the ones I mentioned in the summary either forgettable or unfulfilled.
The reason why the characters feel jammed in is because of fault number 2: the series is unfortunately another victim of the dreaded “read the manga” ending. This is why so much is crammed into twelve episodes and why just about every character gets little more than a shoutout.
There is something I want to say about this, though. I think this was a good thing!
Now before you break out your digital pitchforks and flaming torches, allow me to explain.
One Punch Man is, at its core, a parody of the superhero genre. The series is about a dude who can literally defeat anyone with a single punch. To illustrate the problem here, imagine Goku at the end of Dragon Ball Z. Now take him and put him in the very first episode. This is the insanity that Saitama embodies, yet he takes it to an even greater level by not even struggling to win. He is the “One Punch Man,” so he doesn’t have to try. Superman has to try, Batman has to try, the Avengers have to try, but Saitama just throws his fist, crushing his opponents regardless of their size, strength, or tenacity.
This is the crux of One Punch Man: Saitama’s ability to always win. What draws us to superheroes is that we can see them and know that, despite all of their powers, they still have to struggle to fight against evil. You know Superman will win, but you also know that he has a weakness in kryptonite and a fairly strict moral code that he has to abide by. Saitama doesn’t struggle. He doesn’t flinch. He has no weaknesses. While this gag is put to hilarious use throughout the series, I honestly feel that making One Punch Man a longer series would actually weaken it. The short length allows the viewer to marvel at Saitama’s power without ever really becoming bored with the premise.
To be completely honest, I do not mind that it was short compared to, say, Gurren Lagann, or that it chose to have the infamous “the anime is over, but you can read the manga for more” endings because I feel that it should be this way. The series did what it needed to do, and it rested its case there. So I choose to applaud it instead of belittle it.
The reason I can do this is because of just how much detail they put into the series. One of my favorite aspects of this show was seeing Saitama do his One Punch thing, but what I loved was what happened afterwards: collateral damage. In other shonen *coughDBZcough*, the fact that the heroes and villains just wrecked a good fourth of the earth in their epic battle is simply glossed over by the next fight. In One Punch Man, we get to see the ramifications of Saitama’s victories. He can defeat anyone, but that amount of power takes a toll on the surrounding area, be it large pieces of shrapnel to massive bloodstains to accusations of staging the fights in his favor. His strength is a joke, but the series makes sure to treat it with as much interest as possible.
Sadly, this does come at the cost of making all of the other characters look silly compared to Saitama. This is made even easier as all of the side characters are extremely parodied versions of other heroes. Metal Knight is basically Iron Man, for instance. I do appreciate how the series, even if we do not get to learn a lot about these characters, never forgot their existence. Once a character was introduced, they became a part of the story, even if it was a minor plotpoint.
And now it is time for… The Good, The Bad, and the Iffy!
- Wonderful animation with some of the best fight scenes that I’ve seen in awhile
- Amazing soundtrack
- Interesting premise that is expanded upon frequently
- Genos is hot! (Note: this is a pun.)
- The scale of the series increases at a feverish pace, ramping the action up to galactic levels in less than half the time of other shonen series of equal ridiculousness.
- “Read the Manga” Ending that leaves something to be desired
- Too many characters, not enough characterization
- There are a lot of plot threads that are introduced (Genos’s backstory, Amai Mask, etc.), but none of them are resolved by the end.
- Some may feel it was too short, but I actually think it was of appropriate length.
- At the time of writing, One Punch Man is only available subbed, so forgive me, dub enthusiasts.
Recommendation: Once this becomes available for purchase, I have full intentions to Buy It, though due to its length I can see why some people might choose to stream it instead. In any case, I think One Punch Man was a good effort that deserves at least a look. Watch episode one, and see if you find yourself shouting along to the theme song by episode two.
Until next time, I bid you…