One-Punch Man, by ONE and Yusuke Murata
Genres: Shonen, Action-Adventure, Humor
Favorite Characters: Genos, Saitama, Speed-o’-Sound-Sonic
“If the heroes run and hide, who will stay and fight?”
Note: this series was originally published as a webcomic. The edition I am reviewing is the revised one published in volumes, illustrated by Yusuke Murata.
I haven’t written a manga review in a while, and I think it’s due to a lack of inspiration. There hasn’t been one that I’m currently reading that I feel enthusiastic enough to write about – until now.
One-Punch Man crushed Bleach for the most action-packed manga I’ve ever read. Not only that, but its artwork excels in detail, and though the plot floats around a bit with the two main characters picking up odd jobs at the start, it never wavers in entertainment because it doesn’t take itself seriously. With a protagonist that looks like an egg – and a personality to match – how could it?
Saitama was, for a very long time, just an average man. After a while, though, he got sick of his life, and an incident involving a giant crab ended up with him spurning to become a hero for the fun of it. Three years later, he is unfathomably strong, able to defeat any enemy with just one blow.
Due to his strength, however, he is also bald and emotionally stunted. He longs to feel the rush of battle again, to go toe-to-toe with a strong enemy. Then Genos, the teenage cyborg, comes along and completely flips his life upside down by becoming his disciple. The two of them end up joining the Hero Association together and face off against a stream of monsters.
What I love the most about One-Punch Man – besides all of the action, of course – is that it’s basically a long-running gag. It mocks superhero cliches constantly, the biggest one of course being Saitama’s lackluster appearance versus his unmatched strength. No one believes his power. It isn’t helped by the fact that Saitama doesn’t care about fame; as he is constantly saying, he did not do this for glory or for justice. He did it because he thought it would be fun.
Even in the fiercest of battles, jokes are being cracked and tension is being broken, all by Saitama, who refuses to bend to superhero standards. It makes the story refreshing and hilarious.
The point of One-Punch Man, as the author, ONE, has pointed out, is to not base heroes off of their appearance. Saitama may be quirky, but he’s the strongest of them all, and to top it off, morally sound. There’s corruption in the Hero Association among fellow heroes – after all, being a hero in this story is treated the same as a regular job, with everyone in the figurative building fighting for that big promotion. Saitama doesn’t care. He will fight evil no matter what it is, because that is what a hero is supposed to do.
On another note, I love the master/student relationship with him and Genos. Saitama has absolutely no idea how to train him, since he himself doesn’t know how he garnered his immense strength, and poor Genos takes everything that Saitama says directly to the heart. (Or whatever the hell he has inside of his chest. A furnace?) Genos’s quick temper, badass incineration skills, and affinity for his master are what makes him my favorite character of the series.
I ship the egg with the toaster.
One-Punch Man may have started off as a webcomic, but it’s quickly surpassed some of the most memorable action-adventure manga/anime out there, including the iconic Dragon Ball series. It’s bound to become legendary. It’s a rocket that shot up to the top of the charts, and at the rate its going, I doubt anything will be able to stop it.