Comedies in anime can be a tricky thing. We’ve all had to excuse a moment or two in our favorites due to it not translating or just falling flat. And before you dismiss that, did you laugh at every joke in Dragonball Z or Fullmetal Alchemist? Exactly. It’s rare that an anime can hit that funny bone like a normal comedy, but One-Punch Man takes a strong first step towards gaining that status. In the first outing, we get a look inside the head of the apathetic superhero, One-Punch Man.
Just Another Day Around The Way
A normal day in the amazingly generic City Z is shattered when an atomic bomb level explosion rocks the city. Millions are dead, and at the center of the chaos is The Vaccine Man, who is just Dragonball‘s Piccolo, blue and naked.
Superheroes Lightning Max and Smile man are mowed through off-screen, the body count is racking up, but not until the reporter he was watching is killed, does One-Punch Man figure he should probably go. After a stylized high speed save of a little girl, One-Punch Man ends up explaining that being a hero is just a hobby for him. The Vaccine Man begins to power up and explain his origins and power when he explodes with one punch. Rather than be happy about his win, or saving lives, OPM is only irritated that there wasn’t a challenge.
How Many Villains Are There?
Three years ago, when One-Punch Man was just a normal guy, he found himself face to face with Crablante, a half crab/half man (in tighty-whities) on a killing spree. Crablante was looking for revenge on a kid with a big chin who drew nipples on him with a permanent marker. One-Punch had just bombed another job interview and didn’t care what happened next. Thanks to his cold eyes and demeanor, Crablante lets him pass, causing him to run into the clueless kid with a butt for a chin. Initially, One-Punch Man leaves, but he shocks even himself when he flies in to save the kid. OPM tries to take the heat off the kid, but after an over the top uppercut from Crablante, he decides to fight. As a kid he dreamed of being a superhero who was strong enough to defeat anyone with one punch. Crablante dishes out a bloody beating before One-Punch Man is able to dodge a swipe. Using his tie, he grabs Crablante’s right eye and pulls out his guts which rain like a broken fire hydrant.
From that point, One-Punch trained so hard he lost his hair but became that unbeatable hero, leaving him feeling empty and lost.
One-Punch Man’s voice over is interrupted when Marugori’s giant foot destroys everything next to his store for blocks. Marugori’s scientist brother gave him a strawberry flavored serum to make him the strongest man on Earth, making him thousands of feet tall and naked. The brother is excelling as a hype man when he notices One-Punch Man on the other shoulder. OPM’s only real concern is that Marugori put some pants on. The brother orders Marugori to kill him, but Marugori slaps the wrong shoulder.
Grief and anger of course turn into a blind rage, but One-Punch laughing at his brother’s death didn’t help. Marugori beats One-Punch Man into a cartoonish big hole and stops to realize his brother is gone and his power feels empty. Not missing a beat, OPM agrees and gets his one punch. As he stops to note “Power is boring,” Marugori falls onto an undamaged area of the city, killing millions more.
On the way home, One-Punch Man is lost in thought. Since he’s become so strong, nothing has changed. There are still supervillians running around, just like one he casually explodes walking home. While we watch his mundane and lonely home life, OPM explains he knows he’s become detached, but as long as he gets his kicks as a superhero, it’s okay with him.
Back To Life
The next morning, One-Punch is woken up by an attack from a strong opponent. His apartment is destroyed and he’s cut open before the fight stops for the Subterranean to explain their evil plot and origin. OPM is only excited when he realizes he’s fighting a whole race of worthy opponents, completely bypassing that, again, millions of people have already died. One-Punch is the only human they haven’t been able to kill with one punch, but he doesn’t have that problem. After the first kill, they all rush him in an action sequence that flaunted this show’s budget. Whether he was punching a group of three subterraneans, or sticking and moving, there was a glee in how over the top they pushed the action. Eventually, the first giant subterranean arrives on the scene and lands an uppercut that burns the entire landscape to fire and ash, but OPM returns with some Goku inspired tough talk. Only giants are left to battle One-Punch man and he is almost just a speck in comparison. The MVP award goes to the giant on the left. After taking 2 punches, my man goes stiff as a board and does a slow motion flip as he rotates.
I could watch that a million times and it’ll never get old. For extra points, look real close at that dot in the middle, that’s One-Punch Man. He’s finally starting to feel alive again, reinvigorated with a good fight. In time, he beats them all, leading to the massive giant Subterranean King, complete with four laser swords. Just before they can clash, OPM’s alarm goes off. Before he can fully come to grips with it only being a dream, the real Subterranean King is outside beginning a rampage. Maybe the size of a tall man, hardly a threat, but equipped with the swords, the king is killed when One-Punch Man drops from his apartment. The other subterraneans, who look like evil Ewok scarecrows, bolt before they can be roped in a fight. “I’ve become too strong.”
In a post credits scene, we see a cyborg standing in a field, with dead cows, heading for the city.
One-Punch Man S1E1
This episode hit me in all the right spots. The mix of eye candy and introspection was great. He is every anime’s hero who ends up overpowered in the end. We’ve all wondered what life would be like after that. This answer is dark, but OPM is definitely on a path to find himself. Knowing this was a Madhouse production, I already expected it to be top tier animation, but the humor is what surprised me. I wasn’t expecting to laugh out loud or geek out on little references they sprinkled in. The show opening itself is a parody of old action anime openings like Fist of the Northstar, and other ’80s-’90s shows, and yes, I popped. The sheer absurdity of my giant MVP alone still puts a smile on my face. They ruthlessly ripped off Piccolo and I’m 90% sure I saw Dragonball Z manga in One-Punch’s apartment. Anyone can enjoy this show, but there’s a lot of much appreciated extra love given to the old anime fans because they are too. I’m in.