Just a Hero for Fun

Just a Hero for Fun

Gabriel Silvas, Columnist

In an instant, an entire city is wiped out. A purple, humanoid creature that has a passing resemblance to a certain Namekian destroys all it can see, stopping a moment to crush a young girl in its hand. A yellow and red blur saves her, however, and when asked by the creature who it is, a bald man in a yellow jumpsuit and cape with an… interesting expression casually says that he is just a hero for fun. The monster transforms, confident in its power that will crush this puny man, but a fist interrupts his monologue, blasting him to chunks and clearing the cloudy sky. With one punch, this man ended a city-destroying menace without even trying, but his anguished and annoyed scream to the sky laments the fact that he did not even get a challenge from this.

A 2009 webcomic written and drawn by the artist ONE, later adapted into a manga by Yusuke Murata of Eyeshield 21 fame and a 2015 anime by Studio Madhouse, One Punch Man follow the daily life of the hero for hire known as Saitama, a former salaryman who is so ridiculously strong, he ends every fight with just one punch. From 100-meter tall giants to near-indestructible meteors, there’s nothing he cannot beat, except the sheer boredom and emptiness that comes from being so powerful and having no equal. The series relentlessly parodies and references the Shounen genre, playing with familiar tropes and averting/subverting them to high heaven. Even though Saitama is overpowered and does end up saving the day in the end, a lot of the drama ends up being about the other heroes of the world and Saitama trying to deal with his monotonous life, as well as the fact that he hardly ever gets the credit he deserves.

Aside from the man himself, the main cast is easily memorable thanks to their design and personality. Genos is a young, experienced cyborg that wishes to find the cyborg responsible for his family’s death and is Saitama’s self-appointed apprentice, possible the closest thing to a friend Saitama has. Other memorable characters include the heroes of the Hero Association, from the noble and universally loved Mumen Rider to the powerful and pint-sized psychic Tatsumaki, each hero is noted for their skill and bravery, even if some of them look unassuming but could completely destroy hordes of monsters (Watchdog Man). Though there are a few that are very ruthless and couldn’t care less if innocent civilians were hurt in the crossfire, such as the vain Amai Mask and the coldly efficient Metal Knight.

With this many skilled and powerful heroes (and Saitama), one might think that this world is a safe one. Nothing could be further from the truth as monsters show up almost daily, with many being capable of easily leveling a city with hardly any effort. While there are the standard “Monster-of-the-Day” mooks that Saitama takes care of, there are a few individuals that have tested the limits of the other heroes. From Dr. Genus and his House of Evolution to the Deep Sea King, these individuals are capable of going up against one or more S-Class Heroes (though in the former’s case, credit goes to his most powerful creation, Carnage Kabuto). Threats to the world are ranked in terms of danger and potential destruction, from Wolf Level (An individual or group that might be a threat) to God Level (Threat to humanity itself). The alien warlord known as Boros is the first God Level threat seen, arriving with his Dark Matter Thieves crew and one-shotting the entirety of City A with his battleship. He also put up the closest thing to an actual fight against Saitama, forcing the Caped Baldy to actually fight a little more seriously than usual. While the first season of the anime ends with the Boros Arc, the manga and webcomic are still ongoing, with the next biggest story arc involving the return of Master Silverfang’s former student, Garou…

While the premise itself seems like it would be the most underwhelming and boring thing ever, it really is not. The action is fast and intense, the humor is spot on, the dramatic moments hold up, and while the audience does know that, in the end, Saitama will defeat the villain and save the day, but the nail-biting tension of seeing if Genos and the other heroes can survive this fight is what keeps the viewers on the edge of their seats. Accompanied by awesome music and amazing animation by some of the best people in the industry, each fight is visually stunning and adrenaline-pumping. Special mention has to be given to the final fight between Boros and Saitama, where the intro song plays as two stupidly powerful combatants test the other’s limits. Much like Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, the best action was saved for the last episode. Even then, several plot points (Garou, Genos being warned about Metal Knight, etc.) are left unanswered, setting up a potential Season 2 (Something Murata is trying to get to happen) to follow once the manga and webcomic get further enough ahead for enough content to be used in a season. At Anime Boston 2016, Vis Media confirmed that One Punch Man will receive an English Dub.

For a comparatively shorter show among others (12 episodes as opposed to the standard 25/26 episodes), the quality of it is on par with some of the most highly regarded anime in recent memory, with many saying that the detail and fluidity of the animation reaches Studio ufotable levels of eye candy. It is actually rather interesting to see how much this property has grown and how popular it has become. Starting from a hilariously, crudely drawn webcomic, it got adapted into a very detailed manga that expanded on details skimmed over in the original, before finally getting its’ animation adaptation, garnering immense amounts of praise and introducing a brand new audience, the critical reception making it an instant classic. This is a must watch for any anime fan.