Written by Bananaowns
Images courtesy of Madhouse, Viz Media and Daisuki.
Every season, there seems to always be a standout series. In this regard, 2015 has certainly seen its fair share of great anime. In particular the spring and summer seasons were exceptionally strong. Spring brought the guilty pleasure of Is It Wrong to Try and Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon. It also brought the romance Ore Monogatari, the continuation of Ufotable’s Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works and countless others that I have not gotten around to watching as of this time. Summer brought the riveting Rokka no Yuusha and the fantasy meets real world epic of Gate. There are countless other great series as well from this season that I still have not had the opportunity to watch as well. So now we are quickly approaching the end of the fall season. The show I am reviewing today was a part of this fall season, which like the others brought with it a solid bunch of shows. Noragami Aragoto and Owarimonogatari are some of my favorites from this season. Why am I going through all the trouble of naming this much anime? Well one particular show from this season is currently my front-runner for the best show of the year. Given some of the fan favorites from this year, it’s an almost ridiculous amount of praise. A ridiculous amount of praise seems right for this anime because on its face it’s well….it is ridiculous in every way. The show is absolutely insane, but in a great way. Of course, I am talking about One Punch Man. I am Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth Anime Review.
One Punch Man follows the adventures of the hero for fun, Saitama, as he battles a variety of monsters that mysteriously seem to plague the population. However, Saitama is not a typical hero; he is one of the most overpowered characters that I have ever seen in an anime. Saitama obliterates most monsters and villains in a single punch, hence the name One Punch Man. Saitama is also joined by another powerful individual, the cyborg Genos. Seeing Saitama’s overwhelming power, Genos quickly installs himself as Saitama’s disciple. Then the two join the Hero Association and come across a variety of other heroes.
The story of One Punch Man is not inherently complex. This is not an anime for those who are looking for a deep and thought-provoking story. The entirety of the story consists of the heroes dealing with monsters, while also looking at the daily lives of Saitama and Genos. It mainly serves as a vehicle to present the two strengths of the series, action and comedy. Now it would be disingenuous to say there are no heartfelt moments. Any show about heroes is bound to have some heartfelt moments about never giving up, along with their motivation to become a hero. These motivations are just not the primary focus of the story. It really is an action comedy, and a good one at that.
For such a comedic series, the characters of One Punch Man are surprisingly well done. Saitama is absolutely hilarious. A lot of the comedy from Saitama comes from his indifference concerning his monster opponents. At one point, he becomes overtly worried about a grocery sale in the middle of a very serious battle. This is not the entirety of this character though. Saitama is rather complicated. He possesses an intense desire to be a hero, but his level of power makes it difficult to do so. Not in terms of defeating enemies, but he faces continuous disappointment with the strength of his enemies. He strongly desires to face someone with a similar level of strength, which given how overpowered he is, is not likely to happen. Saitama is highly motivated to become a hero, but is inherently bored with the lack of challenge. Saitama also possesses an unbreakable will though as he is frequently cast aside despite his heroic deeds.
As for his disciple, Genos is more of a serious character. He is on a mission of vengeance to find the cyborg that slaughtered his family. He was modified into a cyborg because of this incident. Genos is a character that is largely driven by vengeance, but maintains the desire to become stronger. His interaction with Saitama slowly manages to soften his attitude. Over time, a large portion of his character development comes from his realizations about the nature of Saitama. Due to the bulk of the series focuses on the interaction of these two, it is relatively important that they both are well developed. Watching these two interact is a reoccurring highlight of the series. Given the comedic nature of the series, I do not want to spoil specific interactions between these two, or even the other heroes present.
Just note that most of the other hero characters border on the ridiculous, which fits perfectly with the general tone of One Punch Man. However, I will briefly discuss one of my favorite characters, Mumen Rider. He’s a lower ranked hero that operates on a bicycle. He is utterly ridiculous, but is one of the more interesting characters of the show. He realizes that he is highly outmatched when it comes to fighting monsters, but possesses an unbreakable spirit to help others. Mumen Rider is responsible for those few emotional moments that I mentioned earlier in the review. He is highly motivational and every scene with him is a delight. Overall, Saitama and Genos are great characters. Some of the heroes are forgettable, but there are a few standouts. Mumen Rider being my favorite of these side characters.
One Punch Man was animated by the studio, Madhouse, largely known for their 2011 adaptation of Hunter x Hunter. Madhouse also hired what basically amounts to an all-star team to produce the show. The result is something that manages to incorporate the comedic elements with some amazingly animated action scenes. Let’s start with a look at some of the more comedic elements. There is a running joke throughout the series that involves an almost dopey like look on Saitama’s face. It is often times drawn almost like a caricature, except for when he gets serious, and then it springs back into more typical anime form. Similarly, the animation does an excellent job bringing the multitude of insane characters to life.
From the variety and complexity of heroes and monsters alike, every piece of animation looks great. The first episode alone presents a crab man, a colossal man, and subterranean creatures. Any one of these characters looks like they could be the result of a bad LSD trip. However, they are animated so well, especially in the fight scenes. Speaking of the fight scenes, every single one of them is a visual feast for the eyes. The animation is fluid, with a variety of stylist choices assigned to make Saitama appear especially deadly. In terms of animation highlights, any fight scene that includes Genos is amazing. The way his robotic parts move on screen, coupled with multiple blasts of fire, make his scenes stand out immensely. One of the best fight scenes of the series involves a sparring match between Saitama and Genos. I will only show a brief clip here because it deserves to be watched outside of the review setting.
The overall sound quality for One Punch Man is great. The many splatters and explosions sound as one would expect. The plethora of sound effects for Genos, especially the rocket boost like sounds add a necessary gravitas to the many action scenes. There really isn’t anything atypical about the sound design, it just does what it needs to, nothing more and nothing less.
Where One Punch Man does excel is in the music. Certain scenes exhibiting more emotion carry an appropriate upward lift as the music is beautifully orchestrated for the emotional tone. However, the music really shines during the fight scenes. The Fight Theme of One Punch Man is the perfect mix of aggression and optimism. It is the type of music that would perfect on a gym playlist. It is the perfect song to get the blood pumping, to get absolutely amped. My one critique of One Punch Man is that because of the relatively short nature of the fight scenes, I don’t get to hear this theme as long as I want to. I suppose I should also mention the opening song of the show. Frankly, it’s fantastic. In the 13 episode run, I have done something that I rarely do. I have never skipped the opening for One Punch Man. It serves as the perfect start of every episode for much of the same reasons as the Fight Theme, albeit with some of the catchiest lyrics as well.
One Punch Man is the stand out anime of 2015. It executes comedy and action so perfectly that each episode is a combination of laughter and awe. The characters and the overall story embrace this comedic action approach so well. Everything is animated so smoothly, but with extra attention to both fight scenes and comedy. That is One Punch Man broken down to its base components; it is a perfect blend of action and comedy. Throw in the killer soundtrack and the show has the potential to be one of the best anime in recent memory. My final verdict is to watch this freaking show. Everyone should be watching it right now and if you’re not, then you should be planning to watch it immediately. It’s available to stream for free on Daisuki.net, so there really is not excuse to not watch it. One Punch Man earns my Bananaowns stamp of approval.