I’ll start by getting something off my chest. I’m not really an anime kind of person, so when I watched the new One-Punch Man I didn’t really have high hopes.
How very wrong I was.
This leaves me with a major problem however. How on Earth do I write about this thing without it turning into some gushy love letter? Well, that’s a risk we’ll just have to take.
For those of you who don’t know, and are even less anime literate than I am, One-Punch man is an anime that debuted in Japan last October. It follows the struggles of Saitama, the titular One-Punch Man, a superhero so overwhelmingly powerful that he can defeat any enemy in a single punch, and as a result he is monumentally, even catastrophically bored. Violent mutated monsters appear through his ceiling, and is Saitama concerned? Certainly not about the monsters. The only thing that bothers him is the hole in his ceiling, and just who the hell is going to pay for that mess? The whole thing is ridiculous… and wonderful, but for the most part it’s ridiculous.
Take this as an example. Saitama, quite possibly the single most powerful and absent-mindedly destructive force ever to walk the Earth, is virtually unkown, whereas one of the most well known heroes is Munen Rider. Guess what his power is.
You were probably wrong, but if not, well done. He rides a bike, not a motorbike, an ordinary pedal bike. It sounds almost like the Mitchell and Webb sketch about superhero duo Angelsummoner and the BMX Bandit. The only thing is that Munen Rider doesn’t ride a BMX, he just rides a bike. He doesn’t do outlandish wheelies or tricks, he simply rides to trouble, gets off the bike and then is invariably beaten up. At one point he does actually throw his bike at a giant sea-monster, but that has all the effect you’d expect i.e. sod all.
That said, Munen Rider is a wonderful character, and so many of them are. Saitama himself is consistently hilarious, as despite his incredible power he is also an incredible muggins. Generally his turning up and saving of the other character’s respective rears causes more problems than it solves. Think of him as a deus ex machina that’s really, really bad at its job and you won’t be far wrong.
Basically the whole thing is a beautifully animated and conceived parody of the superhero genre. We’ve got too many superheroes these days, and their stories have rapidly become formulaic. So it’s really refreshing to see One-Punch Man come along and kick the stuffing out of all of those tired tropes. Even the fight scenes, which you might think would suffer from One-Punch Man’s overwhelming power, are brilliantly done. These often involve other characters who engage in a brilliantly choreographed fight sequence, desperately fighting to save the city from total destruction. Then they have their arses handed to them, requiring Saitama to do that deus ex machina impression he does so well.
In short I love it, and, in spite of how insane it sounds, I could not recommend it more highly.
I think this whole, doing a new thing idea is paying off.