I’m really not sure what to say or how to feel about One-Punch Man. On the one hand, the show continues its refusal to really commit to a solid idea, a central conflict and its definitely worse off for that decision. On the other hand, MAN, was this week’s episode a great one, entertaining, thought provoking and full of splendid character moments. And then there’s the stellar action, animation, production values and sharp dialogue that’s been in a class of its own since this series started.
One-Punch Man is a good show, its an amazing looking show, and a part of me thinks that it’ll even have that central conflict at some point that I want so badly. The only problem is, we’re seven episodes in, and it still feels like the show is very much in its infancy, still introducing the world and the wide breadth of characters that said world houses.
This week’s episode, titled “The Supreme Pupil” might’ve seemed like it was a Genos centric episode, and it was, but even that all led to the odd engima that is Saitama. Beyond just showing us how awesome and cool Saitama and Genos really are, it really gave us a new look into how their relationship really works. You’d think this would be a topic that the show’s already done to death, but I think it was the episode itself that made such a good case for why that particular aspect needed a second look.
Genos is in a very unique position. Sure’s he’s an S-Class Hero, a pretty diligent and hard working guy, but he’s also one of the few people who’s, by sheer coincidence learned of Saitama and the importance of that man’s existence. Both Genos and the audience know how darn important Saitama really is, and how he continues to save the world repeatedly, doing so without getting any credit or even realizing himself sometimes what he’s accomplished.
Saitama’s situation is so unique, so bizzare, that you could almost call it an odd super power. His inability to draw attention, to get credit for the good deeds he does, and to just take it all in stride and keep doing what he’s doing is a complex set of issues that he deals with. Given what we’ve seen so far, I’m almost completely convinced that Saitama is clearly the strongest being in this universe, at least as far as the heroes go. Its also because of who he is, and how much strength he has, that he’s an outlier in society, misunderstood and often overlooked.
There’s an interesting parallel between Saitama and people in real life who’ve been pioneers in their time, man of science and knowledge, that would only become famous long after their own lives had passed. Saitama’s too ahead of his time almost, and he’s such an odd entity that normal people, or even those that would be considered above average (S-Class Heroes), have no idea of his existence or importance.
Amidst all of that, is Genos. Not only does he realize the importance of Saitama’s deeds and power, but he adores him and fights for him like any fan would. To Call Genos Saitama’s number one fan isn’t even remotely selling him short, it makes Genos so darn relatable. We’ve all been there, we’ve all known of that amazing person, or even amazing peice of literature or entertainment that we realize is so awesome, and wonder why everyone else in the world doesn’t see it. We want to go out, and shout for that thing’s recognition and appreciation.
So when I see Genos frustrated and appalled at how the world continues to misunderstand Saitama’s greatness, the greatness that he sees, I feel for him. And I have to say, designing a story around that particular notion, and using Genos as the cipher and delivery device for that idea is pure genius. Its a story that timeless, and something that anyone can just “get”.
Of course, This week’s One-Punch Man went a step further than just. Continuing with its whole thing of exploring interesting ideas, this week put forward the question of what happens when a hero saves the city but isn’t able to prevent collateral damage. Its such an interesting question, and goes back to the whole One-Punch Man, Superman comparisons that seem to creep up with the series a lot more often than not.
See, If you’ve seen the recent Superman movie, Man of Steel, you’ve seen a similar situation for Superman to the one Saitama finds himself in, in the second half of the episode. In Man of Steel (Spoilers for that movie btw), Superman ends up saving the planet, but a good decent chunk of the city he’s fighting his Alien enemy Zod in, gets leveled and destroyed. This was something that was completely and utterly glossed over by the movie, and then became a pretty bad sticking point for fans of the hero. It was such a big issue, that Marvel’s Avengers 2 actually poked at the issue, and bent over backwards to make sure the heroes were “considering the damage and protecting civilians”.
Comparing both Marvel and DC’s approach to the problem, and then contrasting it to what we got in One Punch Man…. Well… I can say this. One-Punch Man has the most interesting approach (as usual).
Making his annoying return this week, Tank Top Tiger brought his brother Tank Top Black Hole to try and bully Saitama because Saitama ended up jumping to rank 5 in the C Grade category of the Heroes Association. Putting aside the issue with the very fact that Saitama isn’t an S-Class Already (that’s became a long running joke at this point), the bullying itself was what brought us the one of the most fascinating and genuinely tense situations that we’ve seen from the show.
The Tank Top Bros, in their bid to try and take advantage of Saitama, rallied a crowd of civilians, turning them into a mob that blamed Saitama for all the destruction in the city. And while the Tank Top Bros are pretty despicable scum, the civilians did have a valid point in some ways, or so I thought. Why didn’t Saitama do more and prevent the destruction of the city? Sure no lives were lost (which, I’m still not sure how?) but the widespread destruction still meant that Saitama had failed right?
As the mob began to urge, in unison, for Saitama to quit being a hero, my interest peaked. How does Saitama react to this? How does he deal with the immense hate and thanklessness that’s being displayed in front of him? The questions themselves were great, but the answers even more so.
Saitama reacted in typical Saitama fashion. He didn’t dismiss the peoples gripes, but he didn’t apologize for hate himself either. See, Saitama brought about an interesting and important point, one that I had never even considered before. See, if everyone’s so sure about “how” he’s supposed to save the city, then well, why don’t they do it themselves? Its a sentiment and an idea that the show throws at us in two distinct parts.
One, Saitama’s conversation with Genos at his apartment, and two, when the civilians start to scream at him. Saitama saved the City, and everyone in it, that’s an undeniable fact. From the earlier sequence we saw where not only Genos, but two other S-Class Heroes basically failed to do much of anything, its also clear that no one else was really in a position to do even the saving bit. If Saitama hadn’t done anything, then everyone would’ve been dead. The stuff that he did do? Pretty darn amazing in itself. Asking for a miracle ontop of a miracle? That’s just being overly demanding.
And that’s such an interesting idea. Just how friggin much do we expect from our super heroes? We expect them to save the day, and do it without anyone getting hurt AND no Damage happening? I think even in the hero category, that’s a tad bit unrealistic there.
And the fact that Saitama and One-Punch Man address this notion, and confront it head on, is just so impressive and amazing. Its what sets One-Punch Man apart from every other kind of super hero show. Its philosophically deep, and its cleverly written and gorgeously presented. Last week, someone in the comments mentioned how One-Punch Man may very well be about what it means to be a hero and being a hero in the particular world that the show is set in.
While I don’t particularly agree with that notion completely yet, I’d say this week made a pretty strong case for that idea. Is that all One-Punch Man is though? A collection of stand alone stories that highlight various interesting ideas about super heroes, what they are and what they mean to modern society? I guess that in itself works, It clearly worked well this week but… I can’t help but hunger for more.
Its the continued addition of new and interesting characters, that just fuels that hunger. This week we had two new S-Class Heroes introduced, Bang and Bosoi (Metal Knight). Both are really interesting in that they play at classic shounen and super hero tropes, but skew them in very japanese-centric ways. Bang is the classic old man, martial master, the kind of character who’s both wise and exceedingly strong. We’ve seen that in places like Bleach, Dragon Ball Z and of course, Hunter x Hunter. And then there’s of course, Metal Knight, who seems like what a selfish, Japanese version of Iron Man would actually be like.
These characters, their interactions with Genos, their powers, and their sheer irrelevance before someone like Saitama, are all interesting concepts. Yes, they add color to the story and the world, but I almost feel like they need to do more. I feel like One-Punch Man keeps putting all these weird little pieces on the table, but its unclear whether its building up to something or just really putting random pieces on the table. XD
There’s even a little moment at the end of the episode, where a bunch of villains/monsters start musing about the “C-Rank Hero” that just destroyed the asteroid. Is this all building up to something big? I certainly hope so. I hope there’s this awesome challenge, one that really highlights Saitama’s strengths, and his power as a character.
And I really hope we get there soon, because I want One-Punch Man to tackle a multi-episode story arc, one that actually goes beyond just stand alone, short stories. Maybe that’s asking the unreasonable, and maybe that’s what this week’s episode was indirectly getting at: “Just how much do you want from me?”
Maybe I’m like one of those civilians that kept screaming at Saitama, and I wouldn’t disagree that I am. I guess, if One-Punch Man can make ME examine myself that deeply, then its doing something right.
Tags: bafoi, bang, genos, hero association, metal knight, one punch man, one punch man anime, one punch man episode 7, one punch man episode blog, one-punch man anime blog, one-punch man images, one-punch man recap, one-punch man review, one-punch man screencaps, one-punch man screenshots, saitama, tank top black hole, tank top tiger
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