I just finished binge-watching the first season of the anime One Punch Man. Not to mince words, but… I loved it.
It’s one of those silly, no-explanation-necessary, fun anime epics Japan is known to produce from time to time. This 12-episode run of 30-minute shows doesn’t try to explain where the hero’s powers come from (apart from his simple story about just working out for three years to prepare), and frankly, I don’t really care to know.
But the man is incredibly strong. All he needs is one single punch to devastate an enemy, and that’s basically it. It’s a one-joke anime; you never really worry about how he’s going to do, you know all he needs is that one punch, and everything’s over. Somehow, the producers make that one joke last for one whole season, and the strange part is it doesn’t get stale. At least for me.
Saitama, our hero (when he goes out as one) is dressed in a basic, ridiculously simple yellow and red costume with a white cape, and he lives simply in a bare apartment, looking forward to sale days at his neighborhood grocery and making simple egg-and-rice dinners. To quote him, he “is just a hero for fun.”
He is bald (apparently from all that working out), and his freewheeling, carefree manner even in the face of overwhelming danger is odd, but strangely appropriate for his character, who doesn’t seem to care much about anything other than what’s for dinner. He wanders about the city looking for wrong things to right in his spare time. For fun.
In his adventures, he comes across a man named Genos, who’s been converted into a powerful cyborg in the recent past and has aspirations to be a hero as well. Genos gets to know Saitama and, admiring his abilities, makes himself Saitama’s “disciple,” hoping to learn from him, and begins living in Saitama’s apartment.
They both apply to get registered in a database of heros, where Genos becomes a top-rated Class “S” hero while Saitama becomes a low-rated Class “C”. There, they meet an assortment of other different, weird and eccentric heroes, and the show explores the adjustments and class conflicts Saitama has with these other heroes, mixed with their many adventures protecting the world from all sorts of weirdos and aliens.
I don’t really know what makes the show appealing. It’s all patent nonsense, with the usual anime-style tricks the Japanese have turned into an art. Sometimes the animation is very basic and simple, but sometimes turns into heavy, overwrought graphics to emphasize the power and action involved. Occasionally, it devolves into Moebius-type drawings, and sometimes into a childish cartoon style. It’s all good.
One Man Punch has its share of detractors and non-fans. My brother, for instance, hates it and says it’s too-Eighties looking for him, whatever that means. But I’m a big fan for sure, as are millions of otaku around the globe.
I can’t wait for the second season, which begins on Dec. 19.