OK, so this series took me a few efforts to get into, faltering on the first couple of episodes which, looking back from a position of having watched it all, makes complete sense as these early couple of episodes are different in format to the rest and don’t have any real development of story or character.
Once I’d battled through those, One Punch Man gets into its swing. The comedy and perspective that it takes on the Superhero genre is on centre stage, throwing the heroics into focus but through a satirical lens. Saitama is a truly fantastic character and even with his flaw of being seemingly invincible and stupidly overpowered, the combat and fight sequences are always hugely entertaining and inventive. The variety of the heroes is fantastic and way out there (particularly in the lower class of hero) and reminded me of the raft of heroes that were commonplace in The Tick with their ridiculous “superpowers”. And the icing on this superhero cake for me was the ranking of heroes and the competitive element to their professional heroing. To think that superheroes would be supercompetititve is just superimpressive and superfun.
The animation always looks great and the decision to keep Saitama drawn in a much simpler form to the rest of the environment is a masterstroke, reflecting his outlook on life and “being a hero for fun”, always missing the bigger picture but dealing with the serious occurrences with naivety and a smile.
The original comic was a self-published web-comic by the artist ONE, which was hugely successful. And of course an anime adaptation was then forthcoming, the critically acclaimed first season produced by Madhouse and the less well received second season by J.C.Staff. And there is a palpable difference between the two seasons, mainly in terms of story and fun there is just something missing. But by the time you get to the second season, you will already be besotted by the shiny-headed, simplistic one.
I didn’t think that I’d like this as much as I did, but the narrative about-face on the superhero culture is perfect, as is placing the ever straight-laced Genos as the partner to Saitama, emphasising the differences between being a HERO and being a hero for fun. I hadn’t realised how inured I was to the excitement of watching another superhero story and when I thought One Punch Man was going to be just another one, I wasn’t that eager to continue (as is evident in my early efforts at trying to watch this series). But once the true form of this show came to light I was hooked and even when you might know the outcome of the events, the journey and entertainment becomes the thing that brings you back for more and here, in One Punch Man, it is done superbly well.