That preview message came as something of a shock, and that’s in spite of the fact that I knew full well that next week’s episode is the finale. As I said last week if there was ever a show that felt less than it was ending with a week to go than One Punch Man, I can’t recall it. This series is just getting started, that’s obvious, and for all that it seems likely we’re going to get more of it this is going to be a tough wait.
By all accounts, the first season seems to be set to go out with a bang, as these current enemies (whom we find out are a band of space pirates calling themselves the Dark Matter Thieves) appear to be a cut above our prior paper tigers. One of them does, anyway – Lord Boros (Morikawa Toshiyuki), their monocular leader. His lieutenants are another matter – more of a match for the Class S heroes than they are for Saitama.
In fact, that’s just about how this penultimate episode plays out – the Class S brigade takes on Melzalgald while Saitama relentlessly works his way through the zaku on the mothership, building up to an eventual confrontation with Boros. One of Boros’ other seconds is a speed bump in his way – Geryuganshoop, an extremely neurotic esper octopus (or equivalent) who’s desperate to have Melzalgald come up and help deal with this strange human who’s decimating his ship. But Geryuganshoop meets the same fate all of Saitama’s serious opponents have so far – and anti-climactic demise (in this case it doesn’t even require an actual punch).
Melzalgald’s unique regenerative ability makes him a bit more of an interesting challenge, especially given that his opponents are not on Saitama’s level. But once they figure out his weak spot – each of Melzalgald’s heads is “powered” by some kind of marble – it’s only a matter of time before the Class S gang wear him down. That is until the barrage of artillery shells he’s ordered begins to rain down on them, and things are looking pretty bad until Tatsumaki (who really should have been called “Commando”, it seems) shows up. Based on the evidence we’ve seen so far, if one were to rank the S-Class heroes in terms of ability, Tatsumaki would have to be pretty close to the top – if she has limitations, I don’t think we’ve bumped up against them yet.
These battles are all preliminaries, though. I’m not certain that we’re going to see One Punch Man actually called on to transcend his name, but there can be no disagreement that Boros is the first enemy we’ve met that actually did survive a serious Saitama punch. As such he makes a logical opponent to close out the first season, even if his whole reason for being here is boredom – he’s travelled to Earth because a seer on his planet has told him he can find a worthy opponent there. This may end up being our first climactic fight without the “anti-” in front, but it sure doesn’t feel like a conclusion – but then, nothing going on in One Punch Man does…