One Punch Man centers on Saitama, a bald former businessman who has become super-hero that can win any fight in one punch. No exceptions. The anime is based on a superhero satire webcomic by Japanese artist ONE, that went on to become a smash hit manga when redrawn by Yusuke Murata, author of the smash hit sports manga, Eyeshield 21.
Photo Credit: Mugiwara_Exzilon/ifunny
It Looks Amazing
A lot of anime shows tend not to pace themselves in regards to budget. They’ll burn through all their resources on the first episode and the finale, then leave the rest of the show with mediocre quality.
That’s just the opening. The same jaw-dropping visuals pop up at least once per episode in One Punch Man. The show can flip between a cartoony to hyper-detailed and stylized without missing a beat. It’s not backed by a massive budget either. The One Punch Man team works within the same stipulations as most shows in the industry today, which makes their artistic accomplishments all the more incredible.
It’s Incredibly Funny
For being such an artistic wunderkind, One Punch Man also has a great, laid-back sense of humor. Whether it’s the premise, the irreverent underachieving attitude of the protagonist, the biting satire, or even just the pure and simple physical comedy, the anime manages to be funny without ever feeling forced. It’s a type of comedy that calls back to the Silver Age of comics, when superheroes and villains were not dark and edgy, but fantastic and silly. A lightheartedness that many superhero shows and anime series seem to have lost sight of. Where you can beat a cocky, hyper-speed ninja by just punching him in the nuts.
It Has Bite
Behind its humor is a razor sharp satire. Saitama may be incredibly talented, but he is also bored and stifled by the politics and rules of the Hero Association. The Hero Association is a bureaucratic mess filled with high class heroes who’ve become more concerned with status than their role as heroes, and low-class crime-fighters desperate for any chance to get ahead. In one episode, Saitama’s attempt to stop a meteor saves lives… but also destroys a town, turning the people who live there against them.
Is it a deconstruction of Super Hero tropes? An attack on corporate (particularly) Japanese culture? One Punch Man manages to be both and more, all while never losing its tongue and cheek humor. It’s the kind of show that makes you laugh, but also leaves you with something to think about.
It Has Heart
Alongside its humor and its smarts, One Punch Man has a strong sense of pathos and heart. While the show doesn’t shy away from mocking the power of friendship or the constant anime mantra to follow your dreams, it also treasures them. The friendship that develops between the cybernetic Genos and Saitama feels sincere, as does Saitama’s understated existential struggle for acknowledgment and fulfillment.
Photo Credit: しばこう(Shibakou)/Pixiv
In a medium oversaturated with faux emotion and melodrama, One Punch Man treats its emotional moments with a pedestrian sense of reality, giving weight to gestures and statements that once felt cliche and tired. When Genos stands up for Saitama in front of a booing crowd, it feels real. When Saitama says that he’ll help people no matter the danger or cost, it doesn’t feel overblown. It’s this sincerity and pathos that make One Punch Man not just a great comedy, but a great show.
Love One Punch Man? Hate One Punch Man? Want to recommend other series that are saving anime? Please give your thoughts in the comments below. Until next time.
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