Sunday, December 27, 2015

‘One-Punch Man’ Packs a Wallop

I had read some early chapters of the One-Punch Man manga, but I was mostly reserving it to watch as an anime.  The manga’s pretty great, but I felt that it’s something that would be more fully realized as an anime.  That’s why I don’t regularly check on the manga’s chapter updates.  At last, this 2015, the first season of the anime has run – and it’s tremendously enjoyable as expected.

One-Punch Man follows the adventures of Saitama, a superhero who is so immensely powerful that he can effortlessly defeat the villains and monsters he encounters with just one punch (hence, the title).   He achieved such power after training everyday for three years, but at the cost of becoming permanently bald.  He meets a cyborg named Genos, who convinces him to become his disciple, and together, they join the Hero Association.

Despite being more powerful than the superheroes ranked above him and successfully accomplishing several high-level missions, Saitama doesn’t receive the recognition and respect that he deserves.  Others even discount him as a counterfeit who only takes for himself the credit for other heroes’ achievements.  Only a handful of individuals – especially Genos, who adores him greatly – really know his capability and accomplishments.  However, he isn’t much bothered by this, for he simply does superheroing as a hobby, and is more concerned in searching for stronger opponents that he may find challenging.

Characterizations of overpowered characters tend to be one-dimensional and uninteresting.  That’s why many are bored with Superman or, at least, prefer Batman more.  But there’s nothing boring about Saitama.  He’s a very likable and appealing character.  His overpoweredness is presented in a way in which it’s as much as a disadvantage as it is an advantage, thus, making the audience sympathize for the character.  And there’s always something exhilarating and funny in how he dispatches enemies with one blow.

If the attempt is to be a satirized Japanese take on the superhero genre, the premise of One-Punch Man excellently nailed it.  Its monster-filled world, quirky characters, and over-the-top action make it constantly hilarious, entertaining, enthralling, and full of energy.  One-Punch Man is like Dragon Ball Z, Hunter X Hunter, Powerpuff Girls, and The Tick rolled into one.

One-Punch Man is probably the most popular new anime of 2015.   And rightfully so.  For it’s something original and clever – a breath of fresh air from the familiar crop of anime and superhero properties that are out there right now.

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