What does it mean to be a hero?
Is it someone who strives for what is right and what is just?
Is it someone who takes heart in the face of overwhelming adversity?
Is it someone who believes in their own path of righteousness despite the chaos and entropy of the world?
Or is it something much, much greater?
Am I over-analyzing things right now?
Only one man has the answers.
The hero that everyone deserves, and definitely the one we need right now….
…….AHEM, sorry, got a little philosophical there.
Soooo……One-Punch Man, eh?
In terms of the level of hype that any anime got throughout the entire year, perhaps none have been able to quite catch up to the level that One-Punch Man got. Everyone has been on edge since the anime was announced, and people have been eagerly waiting for its arrival.
And hark, once the anime descended upon the mortal plane, everyone collectively fell on their knees, tears in their eyes as they said, “The savior of anime has come.”
After which I facepalmed myself so hard that my past self from 7 years ago felt it because people actually believed that anime needed saving.
We saw what happens when certain shows, i.e. Kill la Kill and Sword Art Online, receive MASSIVE amounts of expectations MONTHS before they even air. We eagerly await for their arrival, and then once they start we sing of their praises, and then as it moves on the hype just dies as quickly as it rose, and it is immediately replaced with dissatisfaction for not “meeting up to its expectations”. Hype is both a positive and a negative thing: it riles you up for the show, making you excited for whatever it has to offer, but it makes it so that anything it presents that is average and below will automatically be deemed as a disappointment.
So now the questions remains: does One-Punch Man live up to its hype?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: You’re gonna have to read on.
What’s up, everyone, my name is Ken, and today, I present to you my two cents on the hardfisted, hardcore, herculean hero show: One-Punch Man.
Story & Characters:
City Z, a metropolitan city in Japan known for its many monster attacks. Day in and day out, unspeakable horrors ravage the city, fiends that seek only carnage and destruction. Who shall be there to save the day when “the strongest man in the world”, underground rulers, giant muscular fush hulks, and purple Piccolo attacks? Why, Saitama, of course! The man who defeats his opponents with a single punch,, this “hero for fun” actually has a major dilemma: he just can’t seem to find an opponent who can challenge him.
Well, uh….sooo……..how do I describe the plot of the show…….
….well, I guess, for one, it’s a unique take on the classic superhero genre.
Many things, such as the fact that Saitama is ridiculously over-powered from the beginning of the show (instead of getting stronger through experience), as well as the sort of mundane, commonplace world in which he lives in (instead of a tragic/violence-filled background) really makes this anime different from pretty much every other shonen out there, which is one of the reasons why this show is as hyped as it is. This uniqueness keeps things fresh and allows the viewer to take in something new for a change.
But is the story any good? Well, for the most part, yes. Right off the bat, the show’s main plot is Saitama finding an opponent with whom he can have a satisfying battle with, all while living his daily, carefree life. As such, the entire show consists of episodic stories, sometimes spanning more than one episode, in a “monster-of-the-week” kind of story, with Saitama hoping that said monsters would be a bit of a challenge for him.
Fortunately, almost all (if not all) of the stories are great to watch on their own, almost as if you can show anyone who’s never seen the show ANY episode, and they would be just fine without much context. And that’s essentially what this show focuses on.
Now, normally, I would express my worries that this sort of episodic format would eventually go stale. Surprisingly, however, I didn’t feel that way at all with this show. And there are three reasons for that.
One of the reasons is that each new episode reveals something, be it something about the setting, or the characters, or the theme of heroism that this show tackles. The episodes do more than just reveal a gigantic threat only to have it one-punched by Saitama: it aids with world-building and sometimes character development, and that’s really what episodic shows should be doing. In addition, the show handles the topic of being a hero rather well, providing many legitimate points that can be thought-provoking at times.
Another reason is that each episode is RIDICULOUSLY FUNNY. Seriously, how could an episode that has any sort of conflict with a VERY expected outcome (which is essentially Saitama beating the shit out of things) be this funny every single time (at least, IMO)? Comedic timing, animation shifts, and Saitama’s nonchalant attitude towards everything, among MANY OTHER THINGS, all contribute to just how amusing each episode was, making each and every one of them hella fun to watch.
And finally, the action. I will explain more about it in the “Animation” department of this review, but to make things short:
It’s bloody amazing.
Unfortunately, the characters and their lack of development are somethings that I have to criticize the show for. Most of the other heroes, with the exception of maybe 5 out of like 30, are completely unremarkable and forgettable, and the ones that have most of the focus on don’t really get that much development at all, with 2 exceptions:
Our savior Mumen Rider, and Saitama.
Mumen Rider is the most painfully relatable human out of all the heroes in the Hero Association. A C-class hero who doesn’t really have any foreseeable powers (except for, well, a bike), in theory he should be the most pathetic one out of the whole lot.
But the show doesn’t necessarily treat him that way.
Instead, to me he seems to be the embodiment of the best of human nature. He knows he’s powerless, he knows that he’s not the most well-known hero, and he knows that every single monster/villain out there is WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY beyond his league, and yet, he fights. He continues to try to be useful, whether it’s giving a good ‘ol JUSTICE TACKLE/CRASH, or helping to carry civilians out of harms way with his, uh, biking abilities. He has fiery determination and strength of spirit, even more so than some of the higher-ranked heroes with obviously more abilities than him, and although laughable at times, he is a character that you’d want to cheer on and hope he pulls off some “heart-of-the-cards-super-saiyan-level-3” bullcrap, but alas that moment has yet to come, but it defintely doesn’t make him any less heroic.
He is a character with an unwavering desire for justice despite the odds against him. Who wouldn’t cheer for an underdog like him?
And then, we have Saitama.
In Saitama’s case, it’s not really character development, but rather, it’s character insight that we get from the show. He is pretty much the complete opposite of what a traditional superhero is: his only motivation for being a hero is “to have fun”, his outfit is HORRENDOUS, he is not as “attractive” as other heroes, and he isn’t really famous, nor does he necessarily want to achieve fame. These qualities alone make him an interesting character already for breaking the mold and being a unique personality.
However, what makes Saitama a truly loved character is his outlook on being a hero. He didn’t become a hero for fame, fortune, or social status. He did it because he wanted to have fun, to get away from his mundane life as a salaryman, and to help people in need. As seen in multiple episodes, he doesn’t care if nobody ever knew who he was, , or if he takes the metaphorical hit just to make the other heroes who also risked their lives look good even though they lost, or if everybody hated him, or if unjustifiable blame is put on him: he will continue to be a hero because he simply wants to do good things, and as long as he’s doing what a hero should be doing, he doesn’t care at all if every single one of his efforts go unappreciated.
THAT’S HOW MUCH HE CARES, DAMMIT!
……………………………………sorry, got a bit too emotional there…..
But yeah, that’s why we love this guy so much. It not just his expressionless face, or his bald head, or his wacky Ronald-McDonald-lookin’-ass costume, but it’s the morals that he lives by and his carefree and yet caring nature that really makes his character astounding in many ways.
That, and also he’s just plain badass.
Animation & Sound:
From the studio that brought you BTOOOM!, Death Note, and High School of the Dead, Madhouse actually seemed like they were on a decline lately, having average animation on things that aren’t on a film budget. Although to be fair they really didn’t make a lot of high-profile shows to invest a lot into in the first place (see Overlord and Magical Warfare)
BUT THIS SHOW. OH HO THIS SHOW. THIS SHOW DOESN’T SKIMP ON ANYTHING. IT IS JUST PERFECT.
Well, I would be lying to myself and every one of you if I said that. The animation isn’t perfect, and there are certain parts of the show where the animation quality dips, but, more often than not, they use it in a comedic way, so I guess I can’t fault them too much.
BUT WHEN THEY WANT THE ANIMATION TO LOOK GOOD, AW HELL YEAH DOES IT LOOK HELLA GOOD.
I’d also like to commend the animation staff for their character designs, from Genos to the various monsters in the show. However, I would like to personally sing praises to them for bringing Saitama’s character to life, keeping his designs (all of them) from the source material. It being a part of the comedy, I am glad that Madhouse was able to maintain his emotionally neutral face, and then seamlessly change that to a more intense and determined look
For the sound department, I’m going to have to say that it does its job really well, but there aren’t really any stand-out tracks from the OST. They certainly do a great job in hyping up the action scenes in the show, it’s just that there really aren’t many tracks that are memorable, maybe one or two, and even then they aren’t really worth listening to on their own IMO. If anything, it’s a perfect fit for the show.
The opening theme however, is definitely worthy of note for being one of the most epic and hyped-up songs not only of this year, but definitely of all-time. Listen to it and I dare you not to get pumped up by the heavy-metal vocals.
Soooo, in essence, what can I say?
Great comedy. Entertaining story. Enthralling main protagonist. Fitting soundtrack. Amazing animation.
These all lead back to my answer of whether or not One-Punch Man deserved its hype.
Hoooooooooooooooooooowever…..it is not perfect by any means.
Most of the characters get shafted.
Sub-plots that don’t get explained.
Element of surprise kinda lacking.
And worst of all…
It hasn’t ended yet. Even though the last episode did a nice job in wrapping-up the actually story for the last 2-parter, there are still a whole bunch of plot holes that should be covered hopefully at some point. What’s scary is that there’s a chance that it might not continue, because Madhouse (although given its apparent success, it’s probably a very slim chance) has a knack for never continuing shows that have plenty of source material to work on (i.e. BTOOOM! and High School of the Dead).
And yet, none of those things are of any major hindrance to ANYONE’S enjoyment of this show, nor does it detract from the show’s multiple good points. It’s not just mindless action and punching and fire-blasting and all that wonderful stuff, but it’s also a modern take on what heroism really is, and shows us that looks can definitely be deceiving.
Except for this show. It looks awesome, and it is awesome.
Now with all that’s said and done, I give One-Punch Man a generous Yay for being a superb twist on the classic superhero genre that is in EXTREME NEED OF A SECOND SEASON PLEASE GO MAKE A PETITION TO MADHOUSE OR SOMETHING PLEASE JUST PLEASE I WANT A SECOND SEASON OF THIS PLEEAAASSSE.
One-Punch Man is available, at the release of this review, for legal streaming over at daisuki.net, where all the episodes are available and no subscription is necessary to view the show in its entirety.
As per usual, leave a comment down below pertaining to your thoughts on this review, on the show itself, or if you would like me to review anything. And, speaking of liking, give the review a thumbs-up if you enjoyed it.
Aaaaaaand, with that, I bid you all adieu. This has been Ken for thebuttonsmashers.com Anime Reviews, and I’ll see you guys in the future!