100 pushups, 100 situps, 100 squats, and a 10km run every day! Three years of this and you too can be the strongest hero on the face of the earth, at least according to Saitama, though you may also lose all of your hair.
If you have been traveling in anime circles any time in the past few months, then you have most certainly come across the bevy of opinions related to One-Punch Man. Rather than delving into those, let’s take a look at exactly what this particular anime has to offer. One-Punch Man follows the story of Saitama, a remarkably average Joe in nearly every possible aspect. At least, that is where he started out. Saitama determines that he wants to become a superhero, after his first act to defend someone else, and sets himself on the path to becoming as powerful as he possibly can to that end. As a result, three years after he began his training, he has become so powerful that each and every enemy he faces is defeated… with one punch.
The story for One-Punch Man is all that you could ask for in an action-comedy. The series is almost entirely an episodic affair. Granted, the introduction of certain characters in their respective episodes is important in understanding their motivations and behaviors in following episodes, but even without that background knowledge, each episode stands well enough on their own. In each episode, Saitama is confronted by a new enemy or group of enemies of some kind. Other heroes, including his disciple, the cyborg Genos, are always the first to confront the new threat, but they inevitably fall to the power of the threat, and, in characteristically overpowered main fashion, Saitama appears, wonders what happened to his friends and allies, and utterly destroys the threat. You don’t have to follow each and every episode in order to get a good kick out of any individual episode, and that is what One-Punch Man is all about. There are threads that tie episode to episode and all of the characters together, but it is ultimately the side characters and the villains that are the ones that make the stories move.
There are a number of characters in the One-Punch Man world, but only a few of them are of note. There is, of course, Saitama, our protagonist and the One-Punch Man himself, there is his sidekick Genos, and then there are the bevy of other members of the hero organization that each fill their particular roles and play their parts in the story. There is a good bit of character development for certain characters such as Genos or Metal Knight or even a few other members of the hero organization. The characters work on themselves throughout their appearances in order to grow as heroes and people. They each work to strengthen themselves or to meet certain expectations. Saitama is a different story. He is pretty well fixed as a character by the time we meet him. He is just your typical failed salaryman who became a hero for fun. His driving principle was that being a hero and defeating monsters and evil cabals was challenging and exciting, but he ended up so powerful that he never seems to get hurt and regardless of how powerful the opponent, there is no excitement to be found in a fight when it all ends after one clean punch.
One-Punch Man was something that I have been needing for a good little while without actually knowing it. Sure, there are a number of action-comedy animes out there, Full Metal Panic, Shakugan no Shana, Busou Renkin, Hayate the Combat Butler, but none of them offers the things that One-Punch Man does. The characters are unique and original while still filling the roles that you expect from the typical action anime series. If you grew up on anime or have watched any of the well-known action anime series, you know what it means to have a massively overpowered main character. Yet, somehow, despite the fact that the main character is powerful enough to destroy world, remake galaxies, or wipe all of creation out of existence, every time they come face to face with the big bad, they are drawn into a battle where they get repeatedly knocked down only to rise back up even stronger and the fight is drawn out over episode after episode. One-Punch Man is a kind of tongue in cheek spoof of all of that. We get to see big bad wrecking cities and threatening planets and wiping the floor with hero after here, but rather than having the ridiculously extended fight between our main and our big bad, Saitama shows up, takes a bit of a beating to see how strong the enemy really is, then ends it all with a simple punch, or in the case of the mosquito woman, a slap. It is fantastic fun, great for a laugh, and not overly heavy on the mind. If you want fun and a few laughs, give it a watch, don’t take it too seriously, and just enjoy the ride.