One Punch Man – 06

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One Punch Man seems to have found its stride.

It sounds funny to say about a show I’ve been enjoying as much as One Punch Man, but the last two episodes have felt like a real turning point.  For the first month that enjoyment was mostly superficial – laughing at the comedy, marvelling at the sakuga.  But there’s been a change in the vibe now that the Hero Association has become a major factor in the story, and the specialness that OPM always seemed to promise has started to come to fruition.

In a sense, I think OPM is something like the Haikyuu of hero shounen – an impeccably produced series that deserves great admiration for the care and skill on display in every frame of the production.  But there is more here than just flash (as there is with Haikyuu too, don’t misunderstand me) – there’s some very smart satire taking place, starting with the name of the protagonist (and by the way, it seems the entire universe in OPM is represented in a map the shape of Saitama) and building from there.  This was the first time the salaryman connection was openly acknowledged in the dialogue, but it’s always been an unmistakable presence.

The secret of success here is that the joke at the heart of One Punch Man works, and works on multiple levels.  Saitama is exceptional to a ridiculous degree, seemingly a truly omnipotent figure, yet he’s hopelessly mired in the morass of mundane existence.  He routinely destroys monsters that would make S-Class heroes cower in terror, yet he must go out and scrounge for small fry in order to keep from being de-listed as a lowly C-Class hero. He has strength beyond comprehension, but in truth he has no real idea how he got it – which makes him pretty much useless as a mentor for Genos.  He’s just a young guy drifting through life and trying to get by, except that he’s the most powerful being in the known universe.

In practice, it seems that Saitama’s influence has turned City Z into the epicentre of the hero universe, though he has no idea of that fact.  His presence draws monsters who want to see what’s going on (assuming no doubt that he’s the top monster in town), their presence scares off humans, and when Saitama kills the monsters it scares them while at the same time building a mystique.  In this episode it’s a kombu (seaweed) monster whose come based on rumors of a gathering of monsters in City Z, and whose presence prompts the Association to send two Class A heroes (Golden Ball and Spring Mustachio) to investigate.

I quite liked these two, especially Moustache – he’s a thoroughly competent guy with real skill, but no match for the monster.  But when Saitama shows up he disposes of the beast literally as an afterthought (the forethought being that he forgot to buy seaweed) and ends up using him for the larder.  And of course, the mystique of City Z grows as a result.  And Saitama has no idea about any of that.  All he knows is that he’s managed to avoid de-listing – though for reasons completely
unrelated to the kombu beast.

And how did Saitama dodge that bullet?  It’s all thanks to Speed of Sound Sonic, whose arrival in City Z is a gift-wrapped present for Saitama.  Sonic is looking to pick a fight with Saitama – apparently he’s not nearly as swift above the neck as below – and when he takes down another small fry, Tank-top Tiger (apparently 3-word alliterative superheroes are the butt-monkeys of the OPM universe) to bait Saitama, Saitama actually earns a few hero points for taking him down.

There are a couple of other debuts this week that seem to be important (and by the way, was that a Titan cameo I saw?) starting with Tornado (Yuuki Aoi) an S-Class hero whose temper matches her name.  There’s also the beautiful and sultry Blizzard (Sayami Haori) and the thus-far silent Watchdog Man.  And it seems that Geneos is emerging as one of the new stars of the hero world despite not actually doing anything yet – he’s attracting his own otaku based on his boyish good looks and dignified silence.  As such, he represents yet another obstacle to Saitama drawing attention onto himself – a problem which figures to be a big part of the story going forward.

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  1. F

    I'm actually not sure if Tatsumaki/Fubuki are their real names, or their hero names (since it seems at least Fubuki's full hero name is Blizzard of Hell as shown in the preview). Also, is it me or is Genos switching back and forth between armaments? If I'm not mistaken his arms were black last episode and now they're gray (and look different).

  2. e

    Most of the time he is switching armaments. I think what he is using now is his normal armaments

  3. m

    I thought the Titan picture was a picture of the younger brother Saitama encountered in the first episode. He did do a lot of damage to that city.

  4. k

    The titan looking monster was the "Little Brother" that Saitama clobbered in episode 1. That's the thing the bozos of the hero association are attributing the aftermath of Saitama's destruction of the monsters to the monsters themselves.

    You would of thought if the hero association was at all competent, they would of at least of kept tabs on Saitama as they know how OP he is, if he ever decided to turn evil there's no way in hell they'd be able to stop him.

    But then again the show wouldn't work if Saitama ever got acknowledged for his deeds.

  5. T

    It was funny seeing how Saitama influence in this universe is extremely important meanwhile the guy himself does not have a care in the world except making sure he doesnt lose his rank. Plus in the last episode it was implied he was the reason the whole Hero Association started because he saved the life of the grandson of grandpa funny chin. Equally funny I find is the fact how all the folks at HQ cannot put together that Saitama is the center to all the chaos happening in the city. Yup they are not the brightest people on the job, but I guess somebody has to do it.

    I'm interested to see everything play out going forward b/c based on the OP there are a lot of characters and so far they have been introduced in a very fluid way. I really hope this gets a second season b/c I'm tired of everything that I like lose out to the moe fanbase.

  6. m

    I am a little confused, Saitama lives in a completely uninhabited city, or was it just a part of City Z that became a ghost town? Did that happen all along, or after the incident of Mosquito Girl? Because I remembered there was an evacuation back in episode 2.

  7. K

    Its a specific part of City Z that is abandoned. I believed it started to happen around the time Saitama became a demi-god and started killed monsters. And like they said created a circle of rumors on what the heck was going on.

  8. C

    Yeah, that was me, I wrote all those comments on Genos. #cyborgprince lol

    Honestly, this was my least favorite episode so far, but it was still good. I always love seeing my favorite ninja Sanic, and I'm glad we got cameos of Watchdogman and Tatsumaki.

    In a way it also foreshadowed events to come, by showing that even A-rankers can be hopeless against certain monsters…

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