“The Deep Sea King”
The Good – All-Round Epicness:
My feelings on this episode are mixed, but one thing is undeniable: One-Punch Man is a snowball of epic proportions that just keeps on getting bigger with each passing episode. We’ve reached the point where all the humour, action, and character interactions feel effortless. The foundations for an epic action parody have been set-up, and every episode in the past month has been thoroughly entertaining, proving why the hype surrounding it wasn’t misplaced. This episode may not have had the best animated fight sequences (there were more still shots this time in comparison to previous episodes), but damn, it still looked awesome. It felt tense, and for once there is a villain who is a legitimate threat. Deep Sea King (Koyama Rikiya) is seen fighting off S-Class heroes and devastating A-class ones, without even really trying. For the most part, the big baddies we’ve seen every week have been mainly comical, sometimes with some meat behind their words – but the arrival of the Deep Sea King marks the beginning of some serious villains on the horizon.
We got to see plenty of new hero faces this week, and the return of some from previous episodes. Interesting enough, the part that had me thinking the most is when Sweet Mask is being interviewed on a talk show. While all this devastation is going on, the top A-Class hero is more interested in promoting his brand than saving his people. I wouldn’t say he’s necessarily evil (just yet…), but this brings up a point that has been highlighted before: Why are these people heroes in the first place?
I’m sure some like the easy-to-root-for C-Class Mumen Rider are there purely to protect those in needs and keep the cities safe. He may not be particularly flashy, but his heart is in the right place and I’m sure everyone watching wants to see him succeed. We’ve seen other heroes (like Sweet Mask) who are more interested in benefitting their image, while some relish in their rankings and will fight anyone that bumps down the ladder. I even liked when Sneck made his reappearance after his laughable introduction, only to get quickly shot down – but still, he tried to protect the people in danger, and that’s what counts most of all.
The Bad – The Stereotypical Okama:
However, while the action was enjoyable, and seeing old and new heroes on the scene was as welcomed as ever, there was one hero that I wish did not exist. And that is the Pri-Pri-Prisoner (Onosaka Masaya), the walking-talking Gay Joke. What could have potentially been an impactful character ended up falling flat for me. Really, it all stems from the Okama stereotype and how prevalent it is used to depict gay man in Japanese entertainment (and anime in particular). I think it’s a tired and frankly offensive stereotype, though I do accept that it doesn’t necessarily stem from an antagonist view on homosexuality – more Japan’s ignorance to the topic than anything else.
I am capable of liking these sorts of characters when I’m presented with a Character and not the embodiment of a Gay Joke. Leeron Littner from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is an example of a massively effeminate character who flirts with his male counterparts, yet that feels much less distasteful. Why? Because he has a role, a personality, and a character. He wasn’t created purely to be laughed at, which allows him to be more than what’s initially presented. Bon Clay from One Piece is the finest example of an Okama done right (though I don’t like the Okama Island side of the story), because he has an emotional bond with Luffy, and feels like a genuine friend who would do anything for him. He has his own powerful, emotional moments that go beyond him being a flamboyant gay stereotype, and it works wonders.
Here, however, Puri-Puri-Prisoner does not work. I understand that One-Punch Man is a comedy, and nearly every character is made to be a laughing-stock at some point, but this is a time where I didn’t find it funny. I have to be honest and say I was very much disappointment with his character, since he very easily could have been portrayed much better. I read that he even had his own backstory that they’ve seemed to skip over, which would have helped flesh him out. His Sailor-Moon style transformation was amusing, and the action he provided was notable, but everything else about him leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
Overview – What’s Next?:
Puri-Puri-Prisoner doesn’t entirely ruin this episode, but he does spoil it from being potentially the best to date. That aside, everything is building up nicely, and I cannot wait to see Mumen Rider and Saitama getting in on the action next week. I’m glad we’re getting a villain that’s lasting more than an episode (or in some cases, a few minutes), lending to him being the first credible threat, which will make his downfall even more satisfying.