Anime Review: One Punch Man Season 1 (2015)

TL;DR – Saitama wants to be a hero and achieves his goal becoming practically omnipotent and capable of defeating any enemy he faces with one punch. This results in an unexpected consequence where his life is incredibly boring…

Review (warning: spoilers)

One Punch Man is an absurdly funny take on the hero genre. Saitama is a hero but you would be forgiven if first impressions told you otherwise. He wears a yellow superhero outfit with a white cape that makes him look like he has sewn it himself. He has lost all his hair during his training and now looks like a shiny cue ball. His physique is one that looks more sickly child than Hercules. He is so non-descript in every way that neither friend nor foe would give him a second glance.

The absurdity of how he became a hero is made all the more hilarious when he reveals his training involved doing one hundred push-ups, one hundred sit-ups, running ten kilometres, and one hundred squats every single day for three years. Now that will make you an incredibly fit person but a hero that is nigh indestructible and can defeat the most powerful villains in the universe with one punch, it will not.

Yet, that is Saitama’s transformation; an ordinary fellow with extraordinary strength, speed and power. The initial thrill of defeating the bad guys quickly turns to outright boredom as Saitama experiences an existential crisis involving the inability to feel any excitement when he battles.

The world of One Punch Man is familiar in that the city Saitama lives in looks like every other crowded metropolis in Japan. However, Saitama’s world is filled with super powered monsters and villains ranging from a giant lobster man to evil geniuses to aliens.

Thus the Hero Association was born to defeat all this evil. The association is made up of heroes that are ranked and do not get along happily together. Saitama joins the association in order to achieve some level of recognition as well as the hopes of meeting a monster or villain that will be able to challenge him properly. He also takes on an apprentice named Genos who tries to figure out how Saitama became so powerful.

The interactions between the deadpan Saitama and other heroes and villains is what makes this anime refreshingly engaging and totally enjoyable. The animation itself rivals other action packed animes such as Dragonball, My Hero Academia, Naruto etc.

Season one culminates in Saitama facing off against Boros, leader of a group of alien invaders known as the Dark Matter Thieves. Boros is so powerful that he, too, experiences an existential crisis where he believes no one can defeat him or give him any sense of excitement during battle. He journeys to Earth in hopes of finding a hero that can battle him toe-to-toe. The climatic final episode is a ripper and though you know Saitama will be victorious, you still want to watch to see how it will unfold.

It is an achievement that a storyline involving a character that is seriously too powerful can still have you cheering him on. This is because the story is rich in characters (both hero and villain) and Saitama’s actions are both jaw dropping and comical.

9 out of 10

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