Tuesday, November 10, 2015

First Impressions: One Punch Man 1-3

I was mildly interested in this when I learned that it was animated by Madhouse. However, I was not attracted by its premise and thought other series were a better option. Fast forward to now, the series is well into its 6th episode and I keep hearing rave reviews about it. The other shows on my watchlist aren't panning out well. I already dropped Young Black Jack from the roster and I'm barely hanging on to Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. I need a show with a good hook and found that One Punch Man has got it in spades.

I'm sure everybody is already familiar with the premise. This is about a guy, Saitama, who is very strong but claims to be a hero only for fun. He lives in a city that appears to be constantly attacked by strange monsters, which Saitama quickly dispatches quickly -- with just a single punch! However, precisely because he's so strong that Saitama is bored. He's looking for a challenge. He finds an unlikely disciple in a hot-headed 19-year old cyborg instead.


I love Saitama. I've never liked a single main character in a show, but Saitama is so average, he could be a background character. And that's the entire point of his character. Average guy living an average life in an average apartment, doing average things, except for one teeny, tiny detail: this guy happens to be a superhero. I can almost hear Miranda Priestly sardonically saying, "Flowers for spring? Groundbreaking."

But baby, believe me when I say this anime turns all the superhero tropes on its head. First of all, Saitama does not look at all heroic or cool. He's bald and, when he's not serious, he can look pretty spacey. This non-heroic look he has can't be any more clear when he stands next to the stereotypical cool anime guy, Genos, a cyborg that can shoot fire out of his hands. Very cool.

Second, although this is a shounen anime, unlike most shounen main characters, Saitama does not spend most of the series trying to become strong. Saitama, in fact, spends each episode looking for enemies strong enough to defeat him. This part reminds me of a wuxia character called Dugu-Seeking-A-Loss. Dugu, like Saitama, is so strong he spends his days looking for an opponent that can defeat him. Hence, his name. But where Dugu is a serious heroic type, Saitama couldn't care less about being a hero. As a matter of fact, he claims to be a hero only for fun and that it's a hobby.

The humor in the series is shown in the character designs of its characters. From Saitama's shiny bald head to villains dressed in ridiculous outfits. The way Saitama dispatches his opponents can be quite brutal and graphic but they are also riddled with comedy, you barely notice.

All in all, I like this show. I'm gonna blog about it. The fact that this is based on a webcomic also interests me as I am dabbling in a webcomic series myself.