One Punch Man: a deconstruction of the superhero genre.

Hey. You wanna fight some things? To protect those you love? Perhaps Because simply crave the rush? Or simply get stronger?  Who knows. Anyway, this show was a pleasant surprise for me. one-punch-man

Also, There will be enough spoilers in here to sink a battleship! This is not a review, But Something else entirely. the name of which eludes me (an essay, perhaps?). But anyway! Let’s move on.

I’ve been wanting to write this for ages now. See, the thing is that I tend to find deeper meaning in everything I see, so to say. Perhaps you might think a little too much. Anyway ,when I saw this, I was instantly hooked. It’s a wonderful breath of fresh air from the usual drag. (I will get to one punch man, Promise!) Say for example: Dragon Ball Z would be what comes  to mind first. (also, Vaccine man has a striking resemblence to a certain namekian.)

piccolo-reference
Hey, It’s Piccolo! Also, I can justify bringing the show up now.

That’s a show mostly consisting of People yelling at one another (to focus their Chi) while making bits of dirt fly into the air from “giant flaring auras of absolute power”™. Powerful enough to destroy entire cities with an errant ki blast. Powerful enough to be thrown through a mountain and not even blink.

Or when you end up outnumbered and blasted in the back? Don’t worry, They can’t hurt you! Their power levels are so puny it only tickles! In reality you are not so lucky (it also makes for good storytelling). Let your guard down and it’s over. Lose all this and you are no longer grounded in reality and any of it becomes meaningless in my eyes.Power is always relative to something. What use does one have of reducing the galaxy to ciders? Such power, how could anyone wield it? Oh, and did I forget to mention how the characters trained for years to get as strong as they are? Only for the next big villain to swat them around like a little toy? (good luck in Dragon ball if you are not a ‘sayian’)Better go train some more. And do it again. And again. And again…

Or even worse, Get stupidly cheap characters like cell or majjin bu who can simply regenerate and just feel really cheap. Though It seems like the publisher was mostly to blame, not the author. (Akira Toriama)

Even the abilities of the characters are cheapened. An ability (like goku’s Kamehameha, which may be a bad example. How about Kao ken? Super sayjain? A legendary form only seen once in a millenia. And children can achieve it now.). It is devastating one week, only for it to be utterly ineffective next week. Though, it seems the author wasn’t allowed creative freedom (epic fights sell, duh!). This is probably why the quality declined into what it was in Dragon ball Z. Why do I make mention of this show? Well, simply put, Most Shows these days take some form of inspiration from it, especially japanese cartoons. I can see a bit of Goku in almost all of the protagonists from shows popular in the west. (Eastern and western values are vastly different)

Perhaps Some might say this sort of thing simply isn’t my cup of tea. And yes, it isn’t. But it’s Childish in a sense. And I’ve grown out of it. I want characters, Not A thinly veiled game of endless oneupmanship.

And even more depressing, is seeing the endless discussions on the internet of people arguing about which character can beat this character, demonstrating Various Feats these people can do and saying all sorts of stuff. And I Guess I have to wonder sometimes why people care so much? It certainly isn’t worth getting into a heated argument about. Do they even care about these characters other than their powers? Their hopes, Their dreams? And not to mention that

immortal
Panel From Blade Of The Immortal. It’s An excellent Read.

“stronger” than your opponent does not mean you will win. I’ve played enough video games to know that. Sure, You might be in new-game plus with all the gimmicks and gadgets, but you’ve gotten so sloppy that it doesn’t matter. Without being challenged, you never need to try. Superman is a prime example. He never needed to excel, just walk through the bullets. Martial arts? What’s that?

Or that to dodge bullets one doesn’t need to be faster than them, Only calculate the trajectory and watch the shooters movements and respond accordingly. As in, Be gone before the shot is even fired. But I digress.

I guess I find that it isn’t just comedy. It’s more than that. After all, Comedy and tragedy have always gone hand in hand. Saitama world is one where inhuman beasts rage, and people are powerless to stop them. If he wasn’t unstoppable it would all feel rather bleak, wouldn’t it? It reminds me of rather unusual show: Neon Genesis Evangelion. Would it really be so cool to be a kid that fights monsters in giant robots? empty-heart

He Lives alone in a ruined section of the city with almost no money.  And who could forget his Workout Routine? 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and run 10 kilometres every single day. Now, This is obviously poking fun at some of the more Ridiculous origin stories that people like to create. (also, There is nothing superhuman about it, barring the running. That would murder your knees and jar your bones) Fell in a vat of toxic waste? Instant superpowers! Got electrocuted? You’re the Flash!

p-txt-24
“So what If I’m The strongest? I feel Empty inside.”

It’s Not supposed to make sense. That’s the joke.

So Saitama Doesn’t get to struggle. Nor feel the thrill of battle. And that is something he longs for. The Giant he defeats touches on this as well before he is whacked in the jaw and it’s goodnight. No challenge at all. Then Comes A Rather handsome cyborg…  And things get interesting.

Anyway, the characters in this don’t really have much explanation. That’s another thing the show pokes fun at: Backstories. Anyone who reads lots and lots of comic books, be they eastern or western quickly figures out that almost everyone has to have some tragic sob story for why they became a monster or a villain. I mean, It’s a genre requirement. Saitama Has a rule: shorten it to 20 words or less! Also, It’s a hilarious scene.

You would not believe how repetitive the stories get. “I grew up in the sewers, in the squalor and waste. And now, I will see your world burn.” that’s a really common one. Or: “I was a orphan, People hurt me, So now I hurt the world back to survive. It’s a darwinian world. The Strongest shall survive/rule!” It all becomes meaningless noise after the same back story is punch-chainplayed straight for the 100th time. Some might say it’s deep, But it isn’t. It’s the appearance of depth, nothing more.

And We couldn’t forget the heroes in this universe! That would be sloppy. They’ve even formed the hero association, where aspiring caped crusaders can join the fight against evildoers. Though Most of them are so conceited they don’t realise they are powerless against the truly strong monsters, and are only interested in petty politics (like the tank top brothers.) or increasing their rankings. And Flashy combo moves with grand sounding names.

combo-to-kill
Prui Prui prisoner Promptly gets the snot kicked out of him.

The Sea king quickly pulls the heroes back into reality. He knows what’s up. Are you trying to look cool or actually inflict bodily harm? Oh, and before I continue, I found licence-less rider’s monologue rather touching. He knows he can’t win, But if he doesn’t, Who Will? He loses. Horribly. And Saitama Does his thing as usual. And that’s the end of that.

Though the peace and quiet is short lived. Alien show up and blast the city. Saitama meets Lord Boros, Ruler of the Universe (also, He’s a Son Goku Refeference, Complete with spiky ,hair  flashy transformations And something that ‘totally’ isn’t kao ken *cough cough*). Every singe person who opposed him has been vanquished. Now, He sits on an empty throne. In a way, He and Saitama are the same. What was it all for? So one day A prophet tells him that on a distant planet far away, there is a being that can meet his match. For 20 years he searched for one he call his match.

Saitama is naturally less than pleased he would go and blow the city up for such a stupid

reason, and does what he does best. Hit things. Really hard. But Boros can take it! Saitama

p-txt-9
“Blah blah blah. Are you done yet? With this fight?”

“Blah blah blah. Are you done yet? With this fight?”

only shattered his armour, which was acting as a power limiter. So he Powers up, And they fight for a bit.

p-txt-6
“Saitama! You are the first One to fight evenly with me, Boros!”

All the while Boros is powering up, Our hero is

still holding back. Their battle Starts to destroy the ship, and Boros doesn’t even care. All he wants is to fight. And thinks he is winning After all, his species evolved to be superior!

p-txt-12
“This State… It burns my body immensely, similar to anaerobic exercise.”

He Brags about regeneration, and promptly gets told to shut up! “Are we done?” So Boros Powers (metoric Burst/Totally not kao ken) up again, And kicks him to the moon!

Not that this stops the caped baldy. He Just jumps straight back to earth. Boros Just stares at him, Astonished. Then Charges up to full power. “Fine, here’s Everything I have. I’ll blow this planet to smithereens and Be done with this.”

(by the way, Click on the images to enlarge them if you feel the need.)

Boros Uses Up all of the Latent Energy In his body to fire a massive Energy Blast. Saitama responds with a serious punch. Sadly, Boros can’t match him. In the end, It was no contest at all. (read right to left by the way)

Boros Lies Broken, After having Searched for so long. Saitama Found someone who could withstand a punch, But in the end never really fought. As boros Says: “you lie. It’s as if you never bared your fangs at all in this battle. You really were too strong after all. Can’t you feel the bittersweet feelings eminating from these lines? Where does the quest for power take us? Will Saitama one day meet the same fate as boros? They are after all, Kindred spirits.p-txt-21

Also, I know the show is also packed with silly comedy and hilarious hyjinks. But Nobody needs me to write about those. They speak for themselves. But for all those people who just think something is just a joke/gag without seeing the other parts, I wanted to write this. Whew. That was a long one. If you stuck with us till the end, Good on you! I may continue this with the next arc if people are interested. But no joke, I’ve been wanting to write this for over a month now. Hope you enjoyed.

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