OP: 「THE HERO !! ~Okoreru Kobushi ni Hi wo Tsukero~」 (THE HERO !! ～怒れる拳に火をつけろ～) by JAM Project
“The Strongest Man”
Meet the Hero – Saitama:
At last, the most anticipated anime of the season (and possibly of the entire year) is here. Expectations were high, but did it deliver? Hell yeah. Although I don’t read the source material on a regular basis, I’m already quite familiar with ONE’s webcomic origins and Murata Yusuke’s incredible artwork – the fusion between the two has created an acclaimed manga, and in turn an anime that’s bound to be even more popular.
At the centre of it all is our main character: Saitama (Furukawa Makoto). He’s an oddball, but given the odd world that he inhabits, he feels like the perfect protagonist. Whether he’s lacking detail in his regular look, channeling a more normal appearance in the past, or looking damn epic in his fighting form, Saitama is certainly a unique protagonist. Not only is he witty and relatable (how many felt a pang in their chest when he mentioned flunking a job interview?), but he’s also an unbelievable powerhouse.
As with any classic superhero, he’s got his own backstory. It may not be the most tragic or emotional tale, but it’s certainly amusing and helps flesh out his character – throughout this episode we see he has his incredible highs, terrible lows, and his mundane middles; seeing him in all those states shows that there is light and shade to his character, making him that much more likeable. Many may already pin One-Punch Man as the best of the season, but I’d also claim, with confidence, that Saitama is likely the best main character you’ll see from this upcoming fall.
He’s relatable but so beyond measurable parameters that it’s hard to compare him to anyone else – that being said, I suspect we may have to throw him into the Goku vs Superman debate. I think he may be able to trump them both; after all, as the title says, he is the One-Punch Man. One punch is all it takes for him to decimate his opponents, and as epic as that is for us as viewers, for Saitama it’s boring. Those mundane middles that I mentioned are what we saw for most of the episode, and whilst the incredible battles scenes were what will have most people talking, I found the ‘boring’ consequences to Saitama’s gift to be my favourite parts of the episode. At first I thought it would just be played for gags (which it is, and to great success), but there were moments where I felt sympathetic for this incredibly overpowered superhero and his strange predicament. I was totally fooled when the Subterranean battle was revealed to over-exaggerated, as it was all in Saitama’s head. The fact that he dreams about fighting an opponent that he could actually consider ‘strong’ is both amusing and depressing at the same time, and I loved the mix of emotions I was left with after that scene.
Various Ridiculous Opponents:
Without a doubt, the Subterranean battle was the most epic moment of the episode – one long, action-packed, constantly moving sequence of punches, kicks, leaps, and bloody eruptions. You couldn’t ask for a better fight to set the tone for the series, even if it all ended up a dream in the end. I did get a kick once the real threat was revealed (and easily quelled) at the end of the episode, but as I said above, the mixed emotions in me is something I didn’t expect from One-Punch Man, yet for that very reason I’m even more excited for future episodes.
In this episode alone we had the ridiculous crab villain from three years past, the DBZ-inspired alien set on exterminating humanity, and a mad scientist and his massively powerful brother. It was a mix of weird and wonderful, and I can’t wait to see what else waits around the corner.
Madhouse & Quality:
When it was announced that Madhouse would be the studio behind One-Punch Man, I think everything breathed a massive sigh of relief. After that initial announcement, expectations were high, and for very good reason. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed with what we got in this premiere, and I find it difficult to believe any others could/would be. What we got looked amazing – the fight choreography puts many other shounen battle anime to shame (though I understand this is a parody of the genre and for that reason it can get away with exaggeration and going that extra mile without worrying too much about ‘realism’). Saitama’s punches felt earth shattering, the destruction of the cities were brutal, and the explosions were seriously impressive; but in the imaginary fight with the Subterranean, I adored the use of scale in showing how small Saitama was in comparison, yet proving that he’s still powerful despite his size. The zooming in and out throughout the action was something we don’t see too often in action anime, but I suspect not many could do it as well as One-Punch Man did this episode.
Overview – First Impressions:
While the first episode was pre-aired almost a month ago now, I managed not to give into the temptation and waited for the official release to watch it in its full HD glory, and I’m glad I did! Everything looked amazing, and Saitama is already a brilliant main character that I feel everyone can (and will) get behind. I’m interested to see all the villains he has to face, as well as all the other characters that are yet to make an appearance. It must be lonely at the top, so I do hope Saitama finds others more at his level to push him as far as he can go. Count me hyped!.
In other news: I posted an Anime Summer 2015 Review on my personal blog. Feel free to check it out and see what I thought of the past season – I even ranked all 24 shows I watched in order from worst to best.
ED: 「Hoshi Yori Saki ni Mitsukete Ageru」 (星より先に見つけてあげる) by Moriguchi Hiroko