There’s a lot of buzz in the anime fandom lately. It’s everywhere: on Tumblr, on Twitter, on Youtube… It seems like everybody is talking about one particular show that is here to save anime. And that anime is non other than One Punch Man, probably the most hyped seasonal anime of all 2015.
Let’s start from the beginning. One Punch Man is a Japanese comic web series by an author using the pseudonym ‘ONE’, which began publication in 2009. The success of the comic was immediate and it quickly went viral, later inspiring a digital manga remake by Yusuke Murata in 2012. Excitement and high expectations from comic readers started building the hype ever since an anime version produced by Madhouse was announced in March. And, you know, Madhouse can do no wrong.
So what is it that is so exciting and unique about One Punch Man?
For starters, the premise of the story seems pretty simple: a young bald average-looking man called Saitama has trained so hard that he has become the strongest person in the universe. As a result, he can defeat anyone with just one punch, hence the name. Saitama isn’t too happy about that, though: he is bored and he is looking for someone who can actually challenge him. In a way, the show almost seems like an experiment to see what a shounen would be like after it’s finished and the main character is as strong as he can get.
However, just reading the premise, one could get the impression that the concept of the story is pretty limited and that it wouldn’t last for more than 5 episodes. After that, it would get repetitive. What’s the point of watching an action anime if you already know that the outcome of every battle is going to be the same? However, and I’m saying this with the manga still on my to-read list, comic/manga-readers promise that the show constantly evolves and gets better with the addition of new characters, as we can see in the opening. We are only 3 episodes in and, so far, it has managed to stay fresh and entertaining.
It should be noted that this series is a seinen, not a shounen. There are many ways in which One Punch Man laughs at mainstream shounen, a genre that is known for having become almost a caricature of itself with constant clichés and repeated tropes. For one, it changes the whole ‘we have to see the main character’s evolution through time so he can overcome his enemies’. Saitama is already the strongest being on Earth in the first episode. Even Goku had to undergo lots of training first! It gets even funnier when Saitama later reveals what exactly he did to become so strong (and how he lost his hair in the process).
Saitama’s appearance is also one of the main attractions. He looks so… average. Almost like the random character in the background that you wouldn’t even notice. In that sense, Saitama doesn’t need to have amazingly-styled hair or gorgeous eyes to be a main hero (he is more like One Piece‘s Luffy). And this factor plays in its favour: both for comedic release when he has his basic, goofy face on in a relaxed situation, and for hyping him up when he puts on a more serious look when sh*t is going down.
One Punch Man is also a comedy/parody anime. As as matter of fact, its comedy is probably the main strength, to the point that it has been compared to the likes of Gintama. The majority of the comedy comes from Saitama’s looks and personality itself, but there is also many golden moments from his apprentice and side-kick, the cyborg Genos. After all, we are talking about what could probably be the funniest duo of this year’s fall anime season.
The animation is also as good as we could expect from Madhouse, and then some. The only complaint that I have for this series is that it’s only going to be 12 episodes long. Many people believe that OPM should have gotten 26 episodes instead. However, the fact that there’s going to be little anime material will perhaps end up playing in its favour: anime onlys will be left wanting for more and might even start reading the comic/manga.
All in all, One Punch Man‘s episodes have managed to be the most anticipated release each week, both for manga readers and for anime-onlys who have just discovered the bald hero. If you’re not watching, you are truly missing out on what might be not only one of the best animes of the year, but also probably a classic of its genre in the long run.