Anime is a huge industry in Japan. In many respects they are as popular, if not more so, than your average live-action dramas – and as such, anime series are produced in all genres and for all age groups. With the help of services like Crunchyroll and Funimation, anime has truly began to take flight abroad, particularly in the US. Certain series resonate much better with international audiences, which is why we have such affinities for franchises like Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Pokémon, and more. More recently we witnessed (if you were paying attention anyway), the overnight success of shows like Attack on Titan and Sword Art Online. And now I want to introduce the new series taking international markets by storm: One-Punch Man.
Yep. This bald-headed guy, if you’ve never heard of him, is colloquially termed One-Punch Man. Although he’s never referred to as such in the series (he’s known simply by his name, Saitama), the title of the show is pretty self-explanatory. He’s a character so overpowered, all he needs is one punch. For literally anything. No matter the obstacle. No matter the size or strength of the villain.
The world Saitama lives in is one constantly bombarded by monsters and fiends of all sort, and as such there are many heroes with differing abilities, mentalities, and physiques to combat the never-ending threats. There’s actually a whole Hero Association, in which hundreds of heroes are ranked. We see many recurring characters throughout the course of these 13 episodes, and its interesting because you kind of grow to have favorites. I appreciate the character Mumen Rider, a guy who literally has no special abilities, but rides around on a bike and helps out. The great thing about Saitama (or One-Punch Man) is that he’s simply a hero for fun.
The show works well because it’s so incredibly self-aware. And hilarious. It’s really hilarious. The idea of a hero who is ridiculously overpowered is nothing new. Goku never ceases to find an upper-limit to his power in Dragon Ball Z. The same can be said about the very first American superhero, Superman. But Saitama is written to be even more ridiculous. His dumb, unassuming face and costume, along with an extremely below-average intellect, contrast his incredible competence in battle.
The artwork always remains fresh, exciting, and dynamic. Often they give Saitama a stupidly simple face, just to contrast the strange and extreme situations he’s faced with. But the show isn’t just one big self-aware joke. It has a vast and varied cast of characters, many of which must face their own motives for fighting head-on. Ultimately, you learn to like Saitama and the supporting cast most when you see their motives for doing the right things.
I watch a lot of anime, and I don’t comment much about it on the blog, but this show deserves it. It’s just so entertaining. It’s funny, it’s exciting, and (sometimes) very touching. I highly recommend it. It isn’t perfect, and the plot only gets so complicated, but unless you’re looking for faults you won’t find them. All 13 episodes are available on Hulu, so if you’re a subscriber check it out. It’s well worth your time.