One Punch Man is a 2015 TV Anime produced by Studio Madhouse and Directed by Natsume Shingo. It follows... Why am I telling you this? One Punch Man is, as of the writing of this review, the 11th highest rated anime on MAL, the 3rd on Hummingbird, the 2nd on Anidb and yes... the highest rated TV series ever on IMDB. Not only that, but the manga has been hugely popular for many years now, to the point where I had read it before I was really even an anime fan. It’s HUGE. Anyway, enough talking about the popularity you already know about, let’s get to the show which you’ve already seen.
To address the 90 square foot elephant in the room, the animation in OPM is fluid and explosive. I sometimes joke that “The craziest sakuga in every other show that aired in 2015 looks like every second of One Punch Man. So you can imagine what happens when it goes into hyper drive...” which pretty aptly sums up the fight scenes in this one.
There is one aspect of the animation I feel goes unnoticed. This show understands fight scenes. Similar to something like Kill la Kill, One Punch Man shows a complete understanding of the catharsis needed to make each punch feel not only heavy, but comedic. Every punch thrown in OPM isn’t only satisfying, but also hilarious. I found myself audibly laughing at Saitama’s feats of strength more so than the jokes he told.
The catharsis isn’t only found in the visuals, but also in the narrative. If Saitama were to fight in every episode and win immediately, that would get boring. Luckily, the entire cast of the show is about end-game Naruto strength, which is about a ten-thousandth of Saitama’s abilities. This means that we not only get a lot more unique fights and powers, but also each villain feels menacing and powerful. So after an episode or two of multiple (admittedly awesome) fights between the villain and some of the side heroes, we get to see them rekt by the almighty lord Saitama.
The music in One Punch Man is all about, you guessed it, intense emotional relief. The climax of each song is often timed with the fitting together of pieces, or the release of a long pull back, almost like the shot of a rubber band. The music also has a rather “80s” vibe to it, which is great, considering I just finished Gunbuster and I’m craving anything that reminds me of it. No I haven’t seen Diebuster.
A lot of the running jokes in One Punch Man are also based around gratification. The best example is in episode 3. The start of the episode is the setup. The entire middle section is almost like a long pause before the reveal before the punchline, and the actual punchline is timed with a literal ONE PUNCH along with some loud rock tunes. It’s as if every aspect of this show is trying to make the audience feel tension and then contentment, and it all just fits together like a puzzle.
The side characters are, mainly, used for two reasons. One, having cool and original powers that the animators can have a fun time with. Two, building up Saitama as a badass. However, there is one character that stood above the rest. One that I loved even more than our two main protagonists. He cycled into the show and justly stole all our hearts. Of course, the one and only, MUMEN RIDER!
Mumen Rider’s purpose in the grand scheme of One Punch Man is often understated. He’s the only emotional tie the show has! Well, there is one more but that comes later. His sense of justice and love for the people is what not only supports his character and shows the craziness of the villain, but also helps Saitama’s development reach new heights and pushes forward the main themes of the story.
You see, the true heart in this series comes in the form of what Mumen Rider does. The main theme presented is the idea of what society thinks of heroes, and if passion and hard work are worth it if it leads to nothing. It’s one of those shows that doesn’t present an answer, but rather a question, and shows both sides of said question. Saitama’s development comes in the form of how he reacts to these questions. MINOR SPOILERS! While it’s rather subtle, I do believe that Saitama goes through at least a decently large change by the end of the series. He’s learned to love himself AND love the people, with his final line “Im a hero that fights for fun... and profit” END SPOILERS.
The ethos of this series and all the good it presents is summed up beautifully by episode 9. It’s the culmination of everything I’ve talked about so far. Featuring every aspect of the relief and power I’ve possibly overstated during this review, along with the emotional through-line of Mumen Rider. It really is a stunning episode, and one of my all time favorites.
Other than Mumen Rider and Saitama however, the characters in One Punch Man are often 1-dimensional and stale. While for some characters it works, I do feel like others should have gotten more time in the spotlight. Possibly in future seasons? Though, this season wrapped up really well, and this single cour is certainly a solid enough stand alone anime.
I need to give a quick mention to the finale. It was so bone-chilling, heart-pumping and pure HYPE that I, no joke, lost nearly 9 pounds from how much jumping around and twitching I did before and after watching the episode. It was magnificent.
+ Sense of Catharsis
+ Everything, really
+ Solid thematic structure
+ Legitimate emotional
+ Two or three great characters
+ Classic shonen cheese
+ The ending made me explode into joy (and... lose weight?)
+ Episode 9
+ The OP (Alright, I had to mention it at some point)
+ Great additions to the manga
+ The highest tier “good time” you’ll find in recent anime
+/- 1-dimensional side characters
+/- Use of filters and after effects
- Episodes 3, 4, 6 and 10 are rather weak in comparison to the rest, though still good
- The ED is not at all fitting
- It’s over :(
- Tatsumaki is annoying
- In very rare occurrences, the animation shoots down to High School project level (Or OPM webcomic level)
- Comedy is very hit or miss
- Lack of true lasting emotional impact
After taking everything into account, I award One Punch Man with a fantastic 8.5/10 and if you are the one person who hasn’t seen it yet, go do that right freaking now. Did you enjoy One Punch Man as much as I did? Comment below or on my MAL profile and tell me your thoughts along with any requests you have for reviews. This has been Fullmetal-Ghoul, and I’ll see ya next time.