By S. McManus
This classic anime has come back its second season after an arduous, nearly four-year wait. But for those of you who weren’t included in this ever-so patient and ecstatic group of fans, here’s what you should know:
One-punch man initially debuted on television in 2015, after becoming viral as a manga in June 2012, and was an immediate became a hit. It gained the attention of even non-anime fans and comedians worldwide, with only twelve twenty-minute episodes. It is commonly hailed as a must-watch and a popular choice for marathons and merch alike. But what exactly makes it so special? A lot of things, actually, but we can start with the title “One-punch man”. While no one actually goes around calling main character, Saitama, “one punch-man” it’s plainly obvious that’s exactly what he is. After dedicating himself to a hardcore exercise regimen and lifestyle for three years (100 squats, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 10km daily, and finally: refusing the use air conditioning or heater for life) Saitama has gone from a normal citizen of City Z to a superhero that has gone bald at the age of 25. (If you must know, that’s just what too much exercise does to the scalp.) He has become, so strong, so fast, so powerful, that there is no-one he cannot beat with just a single punch.
The show plays off his abilities hilariously as due to his strength, Saitama is forever bored of never have been in an actual fight, all of his opponents, no matter how big or small, always defeated by a single (1) attack. He is oblivious to his own strength and never takes things too seriously, unless there’s a slapping discount going on at the mall. Afterall, he still lives a relatively average life as he is hardly ever given credit for his heroic deeds due to the sheer incredulity of his actions. This adds a more serious note to the otherwise light-hearted show, as they touch on the stubborn and gullible nature of humankind, hierarchies, and false media play. Not that fame matters much to Class-C hero Saitama. Ultimately, he is the world’s greatest savior, but it’s just a thing he does on the side.
The obscurity of his true powers and the fact that he looks like the human equivalent of a bland carbonara leads to Saitama being underestimated over and over and over again by monsters, other heroes, civilians, you name it, but in the somewhat rare occasion someone does catch him in action, a sidekick was earned. Meet Genos, a no-nonsense teenage cyborg with a sad past that has dedicated himself to learning the ways of master Saitama, much to his exhaustion. They make an interesting pair, as they travel the world of domesticity and dragon-scale threats.
And what a world it is. Personally, I am a huge fan of big universes and One-punch man certainly delivers in that aspect. It is a world of commonplace heroes and monsters (they even have their own associations!) and the characters are innumerous yet each well-made with their own quirks and charms. There is no telling who is the next friend or foe and perhaps my only criticism of this show is that it has yet to satisfy us viewers by delving deeper into each separate backstory and side character. But who knows? Maybe in season 3.
That brings me on to the more recent release of season 2 and if it met the high expectations placed upon it. It’s a big yes from me, but maybe less so from the animation enthusiasts who are there for the high quality, epic battle shots. The signature brand of humor is back and even the title sequence looks like it came out straight from 2015 but it is no way a carbon copy of season 1. In a positive and negative sense. On one side, we do have a single, larger plot instead of a series of self-contained mini plots that made up the first season. (The effect of this is spending an entire day binge watching the show without being able to put it down, but that’s another story..) On the other hand, the director of the original series, Shingo Natsume, was replaced by Chikara Sakurai, and the studio was also shifted. This brought on the shiny scalps, weird-looking metal and lack of majestic action shots, but luckily the music and character design remains intact. To be very honest, as a casual fan of animation this had escaped my attention entirely, but to each their own.
To sum up, both seasons are an absolute joy to watch for both the action, plot twists, and especially the comedy. It’s undeniably wholesome, legendary and eccentric in the same breath, in a one-size fits all sort of way. Watch One-punch man on Netflix, Crunchyroll or watch out for the next marathon replay near you.