I have to state this at the start of this review; I have had a somewhat love-hate relationship with anime. I mean, I remember those that took up my childhood and all the merchandise that came with it (Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! anyone?) but my recent attempts to look into more popular series have left me questioning why all the talk? What makes it stand out from the rest and worth the fanbase? I know its a personal gripe, and I think it stems from a abundance of tropes that seem to be used across all the titles, but it may help to understand where I’m coming from and how One Punch Man has reignited my interest in the genre, showing others how it can be done right.
The premise behind this series is simplistic and to the point. The story focuses upon a young man named Saitama who has trained to such a state of physical strength that he can defeat any foe with (you guess it) one punch. But he hates this power, longing for a fight and a worthy opponent that doesn’t end up unconscious or in pieces after the first hit. He soon crosses paths with a cyborg named Genos who quickly forces Saitama to teach him his skills, and a speedy ninja rival known as Speed of Sound Sonic (only in anime right?) as he enrolls in and climbs the rankings of the hero association, facing both city devastating monsters and even those “heroes” above him in the listings.
Saitama himself isn’t the first ideal image of a hero but I find him more interesting and relatable than certain others. Before he became a hero as a hobby, he was just a normal guy who wanted to do some good and so trained, with some… side effects. He’s bald for a reason as the rigorous exercise has caused him to lose all his hair and let me tell you, he never hears the end of it. Also, he states himself that he has become devoid of emotion and motivation, I mean having all that power must get boring eventually right? It’s his reaction to what many would find terrifying that brings the humour in this series and its light hearted nature. he never seems scared or stressed, but instead feels a sense of boredom and naivety. That, and the reactions of everyone around him is priceless…
The animation producer Powerhouse worked in close proximity of the artists that brought this series to life as their styles are ever present through the series; ONE’s simplistic and rough depiction of Saitama in his bored state as well as Yusuke Murata’s detailed designs and blurred movements are all here. The overall product is a great adaptation of the manga. In fact a little too well. If you know the manga you will find frame by frame versions of your favourite scenes, which I find both good and bad. It’s good in the scenes and stories you wanted to see finally have movement and to see an amazing fight unfold. But I felt myself wishing it to diverge, to expand the world further or to build its own identity.
This brings me onto some aspects that I felt didn’t work well. Remember at the start when I said there were certain tropes that comes up in anime that annoy me? Well, this series is just as guilty. When the action scenes and the clever dialogue is done, some scenes of people talking feel dragged out, simple filler to add onto the running time. The monsters and bad guys of our story do this as well, they love to monologue (these guys clearly love the old spy movie villains) telling us how powerful they are and how futile the heroes attempts to stop them. This is the only opportunity for character development of our antagonists, which after Saitama is finished fighting them, means they won’t come back. It feels like wasted potential that such intricate character designs and backstories are wasted after a single episode.
But these gripes don’t deter me from the content that is available here and the story presented. One Punch Man is a great read and a great watch with a great story, animation and humour. I do hope to see this series continue to grow, at least for another season, and I can’t wait to see what other unimaginable monsters are destroyed by our favourite hero for a hobby.
Final Grade A
+ The unique and ever expanding hero and villain roster
+ Saitama is a fun and unique character
+ The fights whilst short are great to witness
– Everyone talks too much
– Needs more recurring villains (Sonic is awesome, but we need more)
– Maybe more original storylines, make it different from the mangas
– If he could defeat anyone in a single punch, could he possibly defeat the Man of Steel?
What do you guys think of One Punch Man? Do you prefer the anime or the manga? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!