The genre of Animanga always seemed like a special club where I wasn’t invited. It felt almost inaccessible with how my friends would talk about it. However, one day, my best friend, Sam, told me something I believed to be impossible. He had found a manga I might like. Honestly, I scoffed loudly when he told me this. I was ready to put down whatever he came out with next. Then, three words left his mouth: One Punch Man.
I had to admit, the title gained my interest. He continued to tell me about a young man named Saitama.
“He is so powerful he can beat any opponent he goes up against with just one punch.”
A hero bored of being the best and growing tired of his immense power? Now that was a unique take on a superhero. He urged me to let him show me an episode of the anime. I hesitated because I knew it would disappoint him if I didn’t like it. Nevertheless, I agreed, and that’s when everything changed. Now, this once Animanga virgin has fourteen volumes of One Punch Man sitting on his bookshelf. Why? Because One Punch Man is the perfect gateway manga.
One Punch Is All It Takes
Picture this scenario: a monster threatens a city; all hope seems lost; citizens are in peril. Well, here enters Saitama, donning a red-and-yellow, homemade costume and looking bored. With one, swift punch, he vanquishes the terrifying beast and saunters home to the sound of applause. This is the plot of One Punch Man. Simple, I know, but effective.
The world of One Punch Man harbors many costumed heroes. Each hero receives a ranking from a government agency called The Hero Association. Heroes range from Class-S, fully-fledged superheroes, to Class-C, amateur vigilantes. You would assume that any story about a hero called One Punch Man would make every other hero inconsequential. But, you couldn’t be more wrong.
A lot of the volumes center around a collection of Class-S and Class-C heroes struggling to subdue an evil monster. (That is until Saitama reluctantly arrives to save the day.) Exploring these ‘regular’ heroes as they work together to save lives is very compelling.
For example, one character, called Mumen Rider, is just a guy with a pushbike. But when an incredibly powerful monster has taken down every other hero in his path, Mumen stands up to it. He attempts to distract it until someone can take it down, getting severely injured in the process. If that isn’t a superhero, I don’t know what is.
Persistence Is Power
In comic books, superpowers come in many ways, ranging from alien heritage to scientific accidents. Saitama, however, gains his powers through a strict exercise regimen. This consists of 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and a 10km run per day.
He exercises so hard that all his hair falls out! One Punch Man embodies this idea: if you want to do something, and you work hard, you can achieve it.
Black And White
With this being my first manga, it shocked me to discover that the art is in black and white. If not for the anime, I wouldn’t have known the vivid colors the characters’ suits and fight sequences contained. As a comic book fan, color has always been a big part of my enjoyment of the medium. But, I’ve realized that an absence of color allows the artist to hit you with the power of each punch. (As well as the mood of each glance.)
Every punch Saitama makes explodes onto the page, allowing you to see the god-like power this seemingly normal mortal possesses. The title One Punch Man isn’t just for show. The story pulls out all the artistic stops for Saitama to vanquish his enemies with his furious fists.
Is One Punch Man Enough?
It has been incredibly fun experiencing my first Animanga. One of the greatest feelings is allowing a new art form to engross, challenge, and excite you. One Punch Man allows you to celebrate all the things you love about the superhero genre. All the while, it gently welcomes you into the fun and the slightly odd world of manga.