BY KAYLYN HASLUND
For the UAS Whalesong
Who’s ever heard of a bald hero in a yellow jumpsuit who can take anyone out with a single punch? An anime called “One-Punch Man,” naturally. Anime is a popular form of animated media created in Japan, characterized by being any form of animated media created in Japan. One Punch Man is an anime that only just began airing recently, in October of this year, and is beginning to get as big as “Attack on Titan.” Originally, I had no interest in watching the series. I was too confused by image sets on Tumblr to get a clear idea on the story, other than it was very popular. Admittedly, that isn’t a very good excuse. But, with a ‘gentle’ push, I was made to watch the first episode, and instantly fell in love.
For those who don’t know, “One-Punch Man” was originally a webcomic created by an author who went by the title of “ONE,” which originally began in 2009 and wasn’t very visually appealing. There was then a digital remake of the series in 2012 which was then illustrated by Yusuke Murata of “Eyeshield 21” fame, which is published in Young Jump (or Shonen Jump). The anime is only ten episodes in, and is animated by Studio Madhouse, who are known for such titles as “Trigun” or “Paranoia Agent.” So, this series has a long history and its progress show us its beauty.
To put it as spoiler free as I can, the story follows the character Saitama, a guy who is just a hero for fun. His backstory is that one day he trained so hard that all his hair fell out and he is easily able to overpower any enemy with a single punch. There’s more to it than just that, but it’s something you have to experience for yourself. From there he meets a young cyborg, a ninja, and many more characters that just add layers to Saitama’s unfolding story, each giving a new look into the what the world is like in “One-Punch Man.” There’s also a hero organization, but not at all like the Avengers or the Justice League. There’s not a whole lot of teamwork involved.
This series is partially a spoof on the typical fighting manga where a character is faced with increasingly hard bosses and has to train constantly, whereas Saitama doesn’t really have to nor does he really want to train all that hard. It’s a story that has fun with itself and never takes itself too seriously. While you may not get that if you watch the opening theme song, which builds the series to be a lot more serious and hard core than it is. If anything, it’s just a show that’s genuinely uplifting. It does have moments where you genuinely worry about what’s going to happen to the characters, worried that Saitama is going to be blamed for something or that Genos won’t make it out fine this time around. And that’s crucial part of storytelling, that you make the audience care what happens to the characters.
Now, as someone who loves to draw, I have a great admiration for animated shows that have outstanding animation and “One-Punch Man” has absolutely gorgeous animation. While it might seem generic fighting anime at first glance, when a fight does start the art gets increasingly detailed, showing the careful precision in each action made. When the punches are detailed down to even the slightest stretch within the glove, you know you’re watching something that has been given love and care. It has an amazing amount of detail in the places that need it, such as when dealing with a villain character who becomes more and more detailed as the episode’s progress. The more the villain gains malice the more the animation shows it. The scales on the Sea King become realistic the longer the fight goes on. The movement has a fluidity to it and when it’s given the color that accentuates each individual character. There’s a particular fight between the main character and another hero that literally is mind-blowingly beautiful. It shows every ripple of the character’s clothing as they move, showing the stretch of every muscle. The color is also so important; it practically glows. The blue of the sky is gorgeous against the clouds and when the ground explodes the colors explodes with it. Or the green of Sea Kings skin against the rain and how each individual scale is appropriately colored in the lighting. It just a visually appealing series that hasn’t lost its luster.
It’s not far enough into the series just yet that I can give any critique, but I can say that I definitely think this is worth a watch or read. It has a great amount of humor where it needs to be and the story is only just beginning.
“One-Punch Man” is available for streaming in several places, including Hulu, Daisuki.net, and Vis.com.