One Punch Man Review
One Punch Man is one of the most overhyped and overrated anime that I’ve ever seen. And if you don’t believe that then just take a look at this:
Now don’t get me wrong. I love One Punch Man. It’s a fun show with a very likable main protagonist and great (sort-of) animation, but it’s really not THAT good. It’s great, maybe awesome, but it’s not perfect (definitely not better than The Wire or Firefly perfect).
But wait, if it’s not that good, then why did so many fans vote it all the way to the top of IMDB’s highest rated series list? Well, a better question would probably be “Why do you care about IMDB or MAL rankings? Do you not have a life?”
I don’t particularly care about IMDB or MAL listings, well, maybe I do care a bit about IMDB listings but I’ll explain that in a bit. What I care about here is the psychology of the typical anime fan. What do I mean by that? Am I about to say that anime fans are stupid and possibly create a shit-storm? Am I shilling for clicks?
No and no.
I don’t think all fans of anime are stupid. A staggering majority sure, but not all. But even then, I think that it’s really just the fans who refuse to expose themselves to anything but anime that give the anime fandom a bad name and causes stupidity like this. The reason as to why I care about One Punch Man’s place in IMDB is because I care about the image of anime.
Again, what the fuck am I talking about?
What I’m talking about is this: Anime is a niche. It’s a medium of storytelling that not a whole lot of people are actually familiar with. Most people know about Pokemon, Sailor Moon and Dragonball, and even in that majority, most people acknowledge that the show’s I’ve previously mentioned are categorized as anime… Or as “Chinese Cartoons” as one of the girls I was trying to hook up with once referred to them as.
And because it’s a niche, a niche that I have a lot of love for and want to share to others that I want people to take it seriously. When people who are new to anime decide to go ahead and watch anime, I want them to enjoy it and appreciate just as I do. They don’t need to be in the same level as me, but I’d love for them to still at least get an idea as to why I love these “Chinese Cartoons” so much.
The reason why I care about One Punch Man being in IMDB’s top-ten list is because if Joe Schmoe looks through that list, sees OPM at the top, says something like, “What is this Cartoon that I’ve never heard of? It’s better than that show everyone loves so much. Maybe I should go watch it,” and then proceeds to watch it only to be disappointed, he’d be pretty disappointed or even ticked off. He might then go and say something like, “What the hell was that? That wasn’t better than that show everyone loves so much. It was okay but why is it number one? If this is the best Chinese Cartoons have to offer then forget it!”
I understand that that’s a hypothetical scenario, and truth be told, an idealistic one. Because let’s face it, what would have really happened was that Joe Schmoe would have seen that list and gone like, “The fuck is this Chinese Cartoon doing here? I’m going to get my buddies who all love this one show and we’re all going to give One Punch Man 1 STAR without even watching it! HAHAHAHAHA!”
And you must be thinking. “Wait, that’s really stupid.”
And my response would be, “Yeah. Yeah I know. Almost as stupid as making multiple fake accounts and bombarding a show with 10/10 scores.” Because as I’ve mentioned earlier, One Punch Man is just a great show and not a perfect one. And here’s why I think that.
OPM’s story is simple. Saitama, our bald-headed protagonist, was once an employed young man seeking to live a life of heroism and greatness. And so, one day, he started working out a lot and a couple of years later, he’s become the ultra-powerful One Punch Man. Each episode typically has Saitama doing amazing things and destroying monsters with ease. There’s some story that ties everything together, but really, the first season didn’t really feature any kind of substantial plot. It felt more like a “slice-of-life” of a superhero story than anything.
I didn’t particularly mind this because I like Saitama. He’s a lovable protagonist who can come off as a crouching doofus whilst being a hidden badass. And by Zeus, what a badass he can be. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Godzilla sized monster, asteroid or alien armada, Saitama can pretty much obliterate all of his opponents in one blow, and not only does he do it all in one blow, but he also does it in a very impressive fashion.
The best part about Saitama isn’t his strength. It’s his personality and silent questions about life. Yes he’s funny and adorkable, but I think that what really sold him to me as a protagonist was his line from the first episode, “Overwhelming strength is boring”.
Saitama originally wanted to become a hero to experience excitement in his life and find meaning in it, but upon achieving the great power that he has now, he’s slowly come to the realization that being able to easily defeat his opponents without even trying has made being a hero uninteresting to him. He’s since shrugged off this thought and decided that he’d continue to live this life regardless of how fun it is because in the end, to him being a hero isn’t about fighting or being powerful, it’s about doing the right thing. Yes he’s kind of a generic good guy protagonist, but it’s nice to actually get into the head of someone like that.
The fights and animation are flashy and cool, but really, it’s in One Punch Man’s quiet moments where I actually stop and hone in on our protagonists’ face and try to figure out just what it is that he’s thinking.
One Note Joke (Mostly)
Saitama’s frustration with being too strong wasn’t just an internal dilemma. It’s actually the show’s main joke. And while I found it amusing the first time, it’s not hard to ignore the fact that the show has a formula that gets stale after a while. For instance, an enemy will show up, wreck havoc and scare some folk. Saitama runs into them. They either tell him their backstory or ramble on about how Saitama doesn’t stand a chance. Then Saitama either tells them to shut up or just straight up destroy them in one hit.
It was funny the first time, and though I still found it to be mildly amusing towards the final episode, it does lose it’s steam after a while. There are other jokes in the show, but I don’t really care for them the same way I’d care for and remember jokes from either Gintama or Osumatsu-san. Though in OPM’s defense, those shows are more comedic in nature…
And OPM does have other jokes, it just relies too heavily on the aforementioned one.
Trapped In Its Own Genius
Sort of like how other stand-alone Marvel movies can’t just call on The Avengers to solve everyone’s problems, One Punch Man can’t just have Saitama showing up and destroying his enemies in an instant. If that was the case, then there will be no show. Sometimes the anime does a decent enough job of making sure that there is drama and tension, and other times it just feels like they’re wasting my time.
This again goes back to One Punch Man’s core hook and possible deadweight, Saitama’s strength. The show goes out on it’s way to try and show off just how powerful enemies are by letting them face off against side characters and kicking their asses. Genos, Saitama’s self-proclaimed disciple, in particular has yet to prove himself in any substantial kind of way. He’s cool and cool looking, but almost every time he gets into a fight he just keeps getting his ass kicked only to be saved by Saitama in the end.
And it’s this repetitive nature that makes me wonder sometimes just how long can One Punch Man really keep up in quality and stay fresh without ever being too repetitive and boring.
Most people don’t see this is a problem. And that’s what disappoints and bothers me the most. Not that I have a problem with people having fun and I’m not the type to hate on something for being “popular”. I’m just the type that likes to give credit where credit is due.
Okay, first off, the animation isn’t as cool as it is in the manga. The manga chapters feature sequential panels that looks as if they’re ripped right from the production of an actual anime. But translated to an actual anime… That gimmick quickly loses steam and just comes off as, “normal”. That’s not to say that the show lacks slick animation, because it does have it’s moments, but for the most part it’s just standard fare for an anime really.
However. Fans love it. They eat it up and they enjoy the cool fight scenes, and I can see why. It’s pretty well done and it looks really cool. And as cherry on top of it all, Saitama always ends it with a spectacular bang.
Again. However, that’s pretty much it.
To most fans of the show, seeing Saitama do cool things is all they need to be satisfied and similar to how I’m not going to take away how much fans enjoy pairing characters up and dreaming up of harems for protagonists in shows like Oregairu, I’m not going to try and take away how much people enjoy the animation and cool fight scenes the show has to offer. Because there is a WHOLE-LOT of fun to be had with OPM. Sure the story’s a little weak, but watching One Punch Man and just enjoying it for what it is makes one feel like they’ve grown an extra ball of manliness! So if that’s your cup of tea, go ahead, but if you’re looking for something with a deeper story and more substance, go check out Rokka no Yuusha or something.
However. Before you go do that. I want to say something.
I get that One Punch Man has a lot of passionate fans. Really I do. And I’m aware that they might see this, read the first sentence and give me shit for it. But I care more about anime than I do care about One Punch Man. Because I love anime.
I see anime as just another form of storytelling. It’s specialized genres and quirks are more culturally ingrained in it’s creators and domestic audience than something that that’s inherently tied to medium. But I think that anime as an aesthetic style that can be utilized by outsiders (ala Avatar and Boondocks) without being bogged down by its narrative style.
Which means that it needs to have standards just as any medium of storytelling. Saying that someone should just shut up and not criticize anime period because anime is just anime is like saying that anime is dumb and is for kids. It’s not. And I’m sure that the very same people that have told me to stop criticizing anime too much are also the same people who would argue that anime is the best and that it’s not just for kids.
As a community, anime fans shouldn’t be easily offended like that. There are people with different tastes. And the world isn’t binary. We don’t either just love or hate something. There are numbers between one and ten. Scores between A and an F. A one and a five. Zero to a hundred. We don’t either just like things or dislike them. We have favorites. Things that we like, but don’t think are good enough to be our favorites.
I used to do scores, but the more I look at IMDB and MAL, I just see the pointlessness to them. They become a measure of judgement, not solely for the show itself but for whether or not someone will attack someone else. If a reviewer were to score something too high or too low, people will get mad. If a show or game or movie were to get a middling score and not a 9 or 10, then that automatically means that the show is not worth people’s time period.
I think that that’s unfortunate. Which is why I’m not doing scores anymore.
That said, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop being critical and stop loving anime.