The second episode of One Punch Man was a bit more conventionally action-driven than the first, but make no mistake – it’s still the humor that stands out with this series. It’s a black comedy for sure, and there’s not as much humor here as there was in the premiere, but what there is really stands out. I think what ONE is really getting at with this story is the absurdity of existence, and what coming to realize that does to a man – and as such, it makes sense that the mood of OPM wavers between hilarity and brutality.
The first story brings us Sawashiro Miyuki in a role that suits her well – the Mosquito Queen (I have no idea if that’s actually her name, since like most villains in OPM she’s killed by Saitama almost as soon as she appears). Having spent a few summers in Japan now, I can verify that mosquitos are one of the great scourges of existence – and when you get one in the house, you can’t rest until you kill the fucking thing.
The fact that One Punch can’t kill a single mosquito is good for some comic irony, but the larger story is the swarm of mosquitos ravaging the countryside and headed towards City Z. They’re behaving quite unnaturally and Mosquito Girl is the reason, a fact that Genos (Ishikawa Kaitou, who seems to be in everything lately) quickly latches onto. He’s a cyborg and self-styled champion of justice, but he doesn’t give Moquitopika the credit she deserves – she uses the gallons of blood her “tiny ones” fetch her to grow ever-stronger – and would have paid for it with his life if Saitama hadn’t showed up just in the nick of time.
Saitama and Genos is more or less the classic Manzai comedy team, and while a familiar trope it’s nicely applied here. From the moment Genos’ attack burns Saitama’s clothes off and he doesn’t bat an eye, the comic timing here is spot-on. I love the little touches like Saitama’s knee starting to twitch as Genos’ backstory starts to take on epic proportions. Also good for a LOL is the fact that Genos’ Dr. Tenma is “Kuseno-sensei” (Dr. Stinky).
The B-part raises some interesting questions about what’s gone down in the first 1.5 episodes. The introduction of the House of Evolution and its mad-scientist leader (Namikawa Daisuke) certainly leads one to wonder if creatures like Mosquitopika and Crabante are appearing by coincidence – he seems to have a thing for cross-breeding animals and humans. Might this scientist be the same guy who “fixed” Genos? He does cybernetics too – one of the creatures he sends to try and fetch Saitama for experimentation is a cyborg gorilla, the self-described “third-strongest” of the House of Evolution’s hierarchy. He gets off what may be the episode’s funniest moment when, after Saitama has systematically wiped out all his comrades (including the second-strongest), he immediately drops his robot voice and pleads to be spared.
It seems pretty clear that whether it has connections to Genos or not, the House of Evolution is going to be a significant part of the story. With an interest in cloning on top of everything else, the man in charge is clearly a figure of considerable evil potential – perhaps the first mid-boss of the story. What we don’t yet have, of course, is an opponent that can actually relieve Saitama of his boredom – though with a disciple in place, he’ll at least have something new to distract him.