Not since Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann have I enjoyed an anime as much as One Punch Man. Like many anime series’ before it, One Punch Man started out as a manga [漫画] – but not in the typical sense mind you, One Punch Man started out as a web comic in 2009 (ongoing) created by ONE (a pseudonym obviously), which he serializes on his own website, meaning he doesn’t get paid for it. ONE is a manga artist in a hobbyist capacity, however, he has reached a level of success that many professional manga artists would be envious of after One Punch Man went viral surpassing 7.9 million hits by June 2012.
Yusuke Murata illustrates a digital remake of the manga series which has since been licensed for an English remake by Viz Media, which brings us to the anime adaptation which began airing last month. Currently, 5 episodes have been released and I assure you that each one of them has been awesome.
One Punch Man centres around the story of Saitama, an exceptionally powerful ‘hero’ who battles countless villains and monsters who find their way into City Z, defeating them effortlessly in a single punch. Unfortunately, Saitama’s immense power has made him bored and so he is constantly seeking out stronger opponents in the hopes that they may provide a decent challenge for him.
I have yet to read the manga, and as far as the series goes for the moment, the source of Saitama’s power seems to be a complete mystery as his self-proclaimed source of strength is certainly questionable, as Genos (Saitama’s disciple) points out. Saitama claims that he trained for 3 years (100 squats, 100 push-ups and a 10km run each day) to the point where he became so powerful that he went bald. However, as determined in the series, his training regime is of moderate difficulty for the average person and would certainly not amount to the level of power that Saitama exudes, so I have my suspicions that Saitama is something else all together.
One Punch Man has the perfect combination of humour and action making for an extremely fun viewing experience. For the most part, Saitama is portrayed in an odd, potato-headed style that admittedly took a little while to get used to, but worry not for the moment he starts fighting, the visual style adjusts to match the intensity of the action. The battle sequences are wonderfully animated in a crazy Naruto-esque style which is then offset by gruesome bouts of ultra-violence as monsters get shredded and torn apart indiscriminately in fountains of blood and viscera. The level of violence creates a nice contrast to the subject matter which you’d be forgiven for thinking was purely comedy. On the subject of comedy, Saitama puts out facial expressions that rival Great Teacher Onizuka’s, accentuated by Saitama’s ridiculous costume and overall attitude to any given situation.
Interestingly enough, Yusuke Murata entered a competition at age 12, in order to design Mega Man villains and won twice, and it’s interesting because like Mega Man, Genos is a cyborg-type character having been developed by a very Doctor Light-esque type scientist so perhaps it’s just mere coincidence that Murata would find himself involved in such a project. Another key aspect of One Punch Man is that no one seems to know who he is with the result that Saitama receives no recognition at all, and in fact at one point in the series he and Genos enroll in a Hero Test Exam with the result that Genos scores higher than Saitama because there are people after him/monitoring him who aren’t even aware of Saitama’s existence.
It’s worth mentioning that the opening sound track is one of the best that I’ve heard in a long time, composed by the Japanese group known as JAM Project, the opening track, entitled – The Hero!!, is reminiscent of Maximum the Hormone exhibiting the same amount of crazy, unrelenting energy and power synonymous with the band. So do yourself a favour and pick up JAM Project’s single – The Hero!!
In conclusion, the first 5 episodes have really been outstanding and if they can keep up the momentum throughout the course of the series, then One Punch Man is set to be one of the greats. I will make a point of reading the manga too (picked up the first 8 volumes) as it will no doubt be just as crazy as this anime adaptation.
So if you’re looking for something fun, yet action-packed, you can’t go wrong with One Punch Man.