One Punch Man – 05

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“Oppai” hoodies?  That may be the next fashion craze in Akiba.

It seems sort of appropriate to cover One Punch Man and Concrete Revolutio on the same day, as I think there is a bit of thematic overlap between these two A-list studio action series.  And one thing they definitely have in common is that both are more serious-minded then they would have you believe.  As different as OPM and C.R. are stylistically, I think they both spring from the same cultural source – the troubled state of modern Japanese society, and what that society’s fascination with fantasy says about where it’s been, and where it’s going.

In a funny way, while this was definitely the most low-key episode of OPM so far, it was also the most intense.  It felt as if the series finally decided to tackle what it’s really about without relying on really outrageous theatrics in the process.  There is a method to the madness here, a structure underlying the chaos – and the role of heroes in this society finally came into a bit of focus.  We still have many more questions than we have answers, but at least we’re starting to define which questions really matter.

Who are heroes on this mythology?  Well, there are 11,684 applicants who want to be part of the answer.  There’s a class system, building up to “S” class, and heroes who clearly feel the perks of the role are more important than the job itself.  There are those like Mumen Rider who are content to sit in C class rather than try to move up, and “rookie crushers” (one couldn’t help think of the Hunter exam when hearing that) who specialize in hazing new heroes.  In short, it’s a bit of a fantastical take on the Japanese salaryman system – and that’s no coincidence, just as it isn’t in the countless other times it’s happened in manga and anime.

A series can never suffer by adding seiyuu like One Punch Man added this week, as the parade of H x H carryovers continues.  There’s Mamoru Miyano as Amai (Sweet) Mask, a pretty boy A-lister who takes a special interest in Genos.  And then the almost-peerless Miki Shinichrou as Sneck (not Snake – remember that) another A-class who fancies himself one of those rookie crushers but seems to have little bite to back up the bark.  They represent two faces of the Hero Association – a body one suspects is going to play a big role in the series going forward.

Into this reality step Saitama and Genos – the former wearing the aforementioned “Oppai” hoodie to the exam.  Saitama’s utterly unforced disinterest during the course of the exam and its aftermath is really the highlight here – despite acing the physical tests he scores only a 71 thanks to the written exam, and gets himself labeled “C”.  Genos, by contrast, nets a perfect 100 – though one suspects it was his frank admission to having destroyed the House of Evolution that was at least as important in getting him an S–class rating.

The elephant in the room here, though, is Saitama’s power and how he got that way.  He’s just ridiculously overpowered (“It’s as if there’s a God in his body”) and there’s been no remotely decent explanation as to how or why he ended up that way.  His practice match with Genos is an absolute sakuga explosion, a gloriously drawn and staged fight in the badlands that shows in inescapable fashion just how huge the gap is between Saitama and the otherwise-overpowered Genos.  The way Saitama carries himself during and after this battle is a microcosm of his appeal as a character – he’s so unprepossessing and chill, yet he’s effectively a demigod.  Genos certainly wants to know how this happened – that as much as the desire to get stronger himself is a reason why he’s shadowed Saitama like a puppy and is now moving in with him – and I suspect the formal introduction of the Hero Association is a first step down the road to getting a few answers…

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  1. m

    This whole Heroes Association Exam definitely gave me the H x H vibe as well, though they aren't really alike. And it's again hilarious how Saitama's face just doesn't match his well-trained muscular body.
    Like you said, the rank system is intriguing. What would be the responsibilities following each rank and of course, the benefits? I'm thinking the Licenseless rider refused to move up to B rank because some of those contributions attributed to him aren't even his work (last week's episode) and he may have reached top of his class cos of popularity and not ability. In fact, speaking of popularity, that part of the system reminds me of the talent shows in real life today which seek talents not through real ability but rather, crowd appeal. Why? Because it is the masses that feed money to these shows (and in the show's context, the organization survives on donations). I can already imagine Saitama being severely underrated as he is precisely the type of talent that doesnt know how to "sell" himself. That will be fun to watch.

  2. S

    Actually I was more reminded of Dragonball. Especially the preliminaries to the tournament in the Bu arc, when Vegeta does to a punching machine exactly what Saitama does here to his. Or Gohan being Great Saiyaman… hell, the similarities in that case are uncanny, he too acts a superhero basically for shit 'n' giggles, is hilariously overpowered, and ends up using too much of his strength when he takes things too seriously.

  3. U

    I would like to know what sort of hero Saitama wants to be after watching the scene where he was walking by the river.

  4. S

    The answer to Saitama power was already given in the original webcomic, but I dont think that the anime will reach that far, mostly because not even Murata has reached that far

  5. s

    the heroes associaton=avengers….sort of. The heroes association seems to me like a place for NEET's who feel betrayed by society to make something of themselves in a society that puts so much pressure for people to work. The funny thing is (as it is apparently revealed in this ep) Saitama is the reason this heroes organization exists in the first place ((ironic since most ppl dont give him any recognition)). I wonder how many other lives saitama has affected since his rise to hero status

  6. e

    One a-ha! moment imho: Mr. Agoni's picture aka the dude funding this whole Hero Association thing is shown for a moment among Saitama and Genos' certificates and
    – he has a butt-chin *ding*
    – he started the Academy three years ago… *ding*
    -…after his grandson was saved from a monster by a mysterious hero *ding*
    Chicken dinner where?

    Never mind the oppai shirt (ok that was still pretty LOL), did Saitama go through physical tests in a teeny tiny speedo? Last time I spotted one was on my Chem teacher during our highschool beach trip – the Stone Ages basically – .

    You could anticipate Miyano voicing the character the moment he appeared onscreen. Ahah. I wonder about his powers – if any. When it comes to absolute in-universe bishies it could go either way – .

    Bring on those serious undertones. Bring'em!

  7. g

    Saitama is superman and Genos is cyborg. DC please make a crossover plox!

  8. C

    I've been reading that, supposedly, the anime is not doing well on the preorders… and I'm here wracking my brain as to how can this be.

    It just can't be, it just can't! This anime has something for everyone: it has the glorious action and sakuga for normies, the capeshit elements for those who like that, and Genos for m- I mean, for fujoshi.

  9. It's not doing as well as some might have hoped, or even expected. Why? Well – it doesn't have any moe for starters, which isn't a requirement for success but is the path of least resistance. Maybe it doesn't check off enough of the right boxes, no matter how popular the two manga are.

  10. C

    I was thinking that, if nothing else, at least the fujoshi might buy it, right? I mean for God's sake Genos LIVES with Saitama after all.

    But then I realized that this season is practically a warzone for fujoshi anime. We have:

    – the super hit Haikyuu
    – K, already known within fujo circles
    – the surprise dark horse Osomatsu-san, which has become insanely popular with them
    – Gundam IBO, perfect fujo fodder
    – that one show about male idols

    So I guess before they even look towards OPM's direction their wallets are already empty.

  11. R

    I feel like there's some sort of extra variable here about how saturated the otaku market is already so the law of diminishing returns has kicked into high gear, meaning more companies are branching out into trying to bait in the fujoshi and otome crowd, but that's already been going on for a while.

    I'm actually not sure I'd call this season actually that much more of a warzone that previous ones for fujoshi really.

    I'm sad that OPM doesn't seem to have managed to hit as large of a chord with the general populace as it could- the more outside demographic in that sort of casual-not-always anime fans zone that Attack on Titan managed to grab hold of much more successfully.

  12. J

    Might there be an element of the commentary hitting too close to home for some viewers? While I (and I suspect most others) are finding it consistently humorous, it isn't a very subtle take on the ills of the salaryman culture. While the lack of instant erotic fanart bait is probably the biggest culprit I wouldn't be surprised if this is part of the reason why the Japanese audience haven't (yet) take to it at least.

  13. T

    I'm sadden to hear OPM is not doing so well aside from problematic transphobic characters that show up later (yes i started reading the manga and why the hell are caricatures like this popular in Japanese media? its not funny) I think its a great show that is full of laughs and most importantly a lot of fun. I can't remember when it was the last time I had so much fun with a series. It saddens me that all it takes for shit to be successful is moe characters.

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