Arguably one of the most hyped up series this season comes to a close.
My only question is, what the hell were people expecting?
No seriously, I heard about this series way before the anime was announced by my friends who were talking about it and I gained slight interest in the series, read a few chapters, and the likes. I knew from the moment I heard the title and the concept that this series would be predictable but in a good way, a real cathartic, the bully gets completely blown the fuck out sort of way. What I can’t seem to understand is, what in the world were people expecting this to be?
And why is it so popular?
One Punch Man is set in a world where supernatural beings pop up in alarmingly frequent rates and are dealt by superheroes registered under the Hero Association. Anyone can become a super hero so as long as they’re registered and heroes are ranked by letters, with the highest being the S Class Heroes who wield abnormally strong powers. Enter Saitama, a resident of City Z who became a hero “for fun”, who is the single most powerful fighter in the world with the ability to end all bouts with a “single punch”. Disillusioned for the longest time for not being able to get a good fight after his training period, Saitama lives a dreary life of unrecognized heroism until he meets Genos, the cyborg, who after seeing Saitama eviscerate a villain, pleads to become his disciple and makes him aware of the Hero Association.
The setting itself is fairly simple with the simplicity of the cities being designated with letters instead of actual names. Different varieties of monsters appear and I’m more surprised at how humanity as survived with these threats around when only a good chunk of these heroes are capable of standing up to them. I realize that the more powerful heroes are around but the sheer scale of some of these monsters are staggering. The Hero Association makes no sense whatsoever in their rankings either, scoring badly in the written portion makes you less of a hero apparently.
Saitama is our depressed main character who only wishes to feel the excitement of fighting and generally doesn’t care too much for heroics. While not the most selfless person in the world, he still is generally another person getting by in his life and it’s his casual atmosphere and tone that makes him a pretty fun guy to watch when he effortlessly beats others. Honestly, he’s so simple that I don’t have too much to say in the character portion of this review. Genos is the “actual” main character of the series with his observations, understandings, and misunderstandings of Saitama’s person that entertains me the most. Genos is utterly loyal to Saitama and is one of the few people who truly understand what kind of power he brings and his earnest effort to have his “idol” be recognized for his actions are actually cute and hilarious. As far as the others go, we’ve got the other heroes: Sonic is a running joke who isn’t actually a hero, Mumen Rider got all the points during Sea King’s “fight”, and the other variety of S-Class Heroes.
Honestly, there’s really not much to say about them either. Tatsumaki we barely get to see, her sister even less so. She’s entertaining yes and her interaction with Saitama, while short in the adaptation, was funny but I still think she’s overrated to absolute hell. The only other S-Rank heroes worth talking about are probably the ones I actually remember. Atomic Samurai was cool, I guess. Bang was the only other person in the series that acknowledged Saitama so he gets points for that. Metal Bat confounds me at how someone like him is among the S-Class Heroes, Metal Knight was interesting for the few seconds he was relevant and the others didn’t make impact enough for me to remember.
The strongest points of One Punch Man’s impact was definitely it’s impressive animation and the highly entertaining fight scenes. The soundtrack is fits the series well and the Opening is definitely something that will stick with me for a bit thanks to JAM Project’s memorable tune and hype yelling. The ending was something I didn’t expect but I welcome it’s calm tone to end things off with. On a technical standpoint, Madhouse did an excellent job in making this adaptation and I’ve very little complain about. I haven’t read the manga too much and some of the readers have complained at the lack of detail on some panels but even so, I’d say it was a near perfect adaptation of the things it covered. I particularly enjoyed the more comedic moments with the return to ONE’s style, as well as the overly serious moments with Saitama.
There’s only one problem I find with this series and I think this problem is attributed to the fanbase more than anything: It’s hyped up beyond belief. I don’t know what exactly people were expecting with this series when the title already gives away the joke. Many people now and those who will watch this seem to take this series as an action packed thrill ride with great fights. While I won’t deny the last part, I can comprehend how someone can NOT take this series as a comedy. Granted, the animation is top-notch and the fighting is exciting but in the end, this series is nothing more than a weekly comedy series that I watch to have the superheroes valiantly (and well animated-ly) struggle to deal with the weekly enemy until Saitama shows up, everyone doubts him, he effortlessly deals with it, and things shimmy it’s way back to status quo.
So the reason for me not finding the series so completely, absolutely, balls to the wall amazing was because I don’t think it should be completely taken that way. Yes, the visuals and accompanying animation really make the series hype but at its core, I feel like the series is primarily a comedy with Saitama’s phenomenal strength being at center stage while everything pales in comparison. It’s a series that’s definitely there to awe you but mostly because of a comedic factor of Saitama being overbearingly strong. The hype is understandable in a way but I honestly don’t find anything to be completely blown over by. It’s without a doubt entertaining and wowed me at certain points but in the end, it was just another comedy for me.
One Punch Man isn’t “bad” by too many means of the term and it isn’t exactly terrible but I personally don’t understand the extreme amount of hype going for it. It’s an admittedly entertaining and stunningly made adaptation parodying the super hero concept while also tackling the gag thematic of having one person be the most powerful being alive as well as some sentimentality of what it means to be a “hero”. But in the end, I place the joke above the fights since most of the impressive fight scenes are there to hype up the final boss for Saitama to usually walk in to beat it. Yes, the final fight and a few more fights that prove to be have more punches required are there and our under-developed cast could definitely use it since this series has so much more to offer and really does get better with the challenges and abilities getting more crazy and sometimes more hilarious.
In the end it’s a decent series with a great adaptation that seriously needs more to make use of the interesting characters and setting. At this point however, I’d just recommend to read it since things get more exciting and involved as it goes on. An adaptation that honestly can only get more interesting and as far as it went, we only covered the comparatively the least exciting ones so take that for what you will.