Since One-Punch Man’s initial airing back in 2015, all I’ve heard is how funny it is and how it’s a well-executed parody of popular shounen shows such as Dragon Ball Z. I was pretty surprised to find that it wasn’t quite as funny as expected, and that it’s not really much of a parody either.
One-Punch Man follows Saitama, who is a hero for fun, who isn’t recognised for any of his heroic deeds and so he decides to become an officially registered hero for recognition. I personally didn’t like Saitama much, and found him to be a selfish character who doesn’t take being a hero seriously, and one who causes as much destruction as his enemies do. He’s lazy and indifferent, and is only searching for an enemy who can deliver a real challenge. He experiences minimal growth throughout the series and definitely becomes a better character, but it feels as if Saitama is constantly reverting back to his uninterested form — this is odd, considering the reasons why he became a hero.
One-Punch Man wants you to genuinely believe that Saitama can lose, but it’s betrayed by its title.
The concept of a hero so strong that there’s no real threat for him is an interesting one but when a new villain is introduced, it’ll spend the majority of the episode trying to convince you that they’re a threat just for them to be beaten in one punch – surprise! There’s no time to wonder if any of the presented threats are actually a real challenge for Saitama, and usually it’s left to weaker heroes to battle them before Saitama comes in and immediately wins. There’s a lot of build-up and no satisfaction, because One-Punch Man wants you to genuinely believe that Saitama can lose, but it’s betrayed by its title.
One-Punch Man is best experienced as a serious show.
One-Punch Man is best experienced as a serious show, because it does focus more on the carnage of villains and Saitama’s poor attitude to being a hero, as opposed to being a comedy. I found that it didn’t focus on humour so much in later episodes, especially as Saitama seems to have less of a presence in them. Genos is an interesting character and so are a few of the other higher ranked heroes, leaving Saitama to be a one-hit wonder who feels more like a plot device to beat enemies as opposed to his own character — the potential is there, though.
Madhouse are a phenomenal powerhouse of an animation studio, having worked on great shows such as My Love Story!! and Death Note, and so it’s no wonder that One-Punch Man looks as fantastic as it does. Action scenes, as ultimately unfulfilling as they may be, are explosive with fists flying at blistering speeds and an incredible attention to detail — they’re a blast to watch, although the high level of animation feels a tad wasted here — that said, a second season is in the works!
The soundtrack is equally as impressive and despite my being underwhelmed by the show itself, the music is rocking, catchy and all-around a blast to listen to. Another strong aspect of One-Punch Man is the English dub where much of the humour comes from the delivery as opposed to the script, and Max Mittelman and Zach Aguilar bounce off of each other well. One-Punch Man’s visuals and audio are top notch, and the writing doesn’t match the quality of the work that’s gone into the show itself.
A parody which leaves the end product feeling unfocused.
Along with its home release come six OVA episodes which is a fantastic addition considering how many releases omit them. One-Punch Man is a simple show and whilst I understand why people like it so much, it’s something that didn’t gel with me. I have several issues with it from a writing perspective as its humour and excess violence are at odds with each other, and Saitama is inconsistent which grated on me. Saitama has glowing moments and I really like how his road to being a hero began, but it feels that any opportunity for him to grow is brushed aside in favour of making him look like an idiot. There’s a good character waiting to be unearthed, but it hasn’t happened in the first season.
One-Punch Man feels like it wants to tell a serious story about the world’s strongest hero who just happens to be a failure at being one, but that the author couldn’t let go of creating a parody which leaves the end product feeling unfocused. Saitama wants recognition for being a hero, but he also doesn’t really want to be a hero. One-Punch Man isn’t something I’d describe as a bad show but I didn’t find it to be a funny or particularly engaging one either, yet it was close to being both of those things.
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