「武術の大会」 (Bujutsu no Taikai)
“The Martial Arts Tournament”
You thought it was complex before did ya? Believed OPM’s eclectic array of heroes and monsters couldn’t possibly get more amusing crazy? Well best check that false sense of satisfaction because we’re heading off the deep end with no sure way back to the top. From a new monster threat and its numerous pieces to an even larger collection of heroes (and not really heroes), we got the OPM variety of infodump this week and all the accompanying humour. It may be strange, it might be confusing, but hey, at least you know the payoff is going to be amazing.
While OPM has always styled itself as a satire of the (super)hero and shounen genres, some of it arguably (and hilariously) satirizes them more than others. The warp speed introduction of multiple new characters in a short period of time for example is something common to many a battle-focused series, and while most of these characters (in one form or another) are just gristle for the popcorn mill, they do help add volume and reason to various scenes and actions. Just take our new wave of monsters and their various hero opponents, many—but not all, giggidy—of these small fights may seem random and pointless, but they do help emphasize who has the real power is in OPM and why in the end everything always comes down to those characters we know best. In this show it’s not about becoming the strongest (a la Vegeta), but rather finding a purpose to use that already confirmed insurmountable strength. It may take a while and lead along some unsuspecting paths, but one way or another it’s the sole goal front and centre for our man of the moment, and more than one opponent is happy to assist.
Of course our caped baldy isn’t thinking about monster support as much as martial arts right now, and here OPM again delivers on the comedy and commentary. Besides the obvious deadpan hilarity of pimp slaps to one and done characters, it’s intriguing noting the superiority felt by OPM’s martial artists in comparison to its “professional” heroes, where the crusaders of justice are openly mocked as dilettantish or outright weak. Much like the aforementioned minor character deluge this week, martial arts in one form or another is central to any shounen, and while OPM is a superhero show first and shounen second, the same principles apply. The idea of ability/technique rock-paper-scissors for example is featured in some hilarious ways, while the underlying concept of success through training is trashed, tarnished, and thoroughly trampled upon by the most martially ignorant of them all. Similar to OPM’s look at heroes’ place in society, the series retains a surprisingly critical eye towards the pedestal martial arts rests upon in its occupied genres, and while it’s a topic we may not see as much of in the future (courtesy of the foreshadowing of one prescient Genos), you can bet OPM won’t let the concept go to waste.
After all with a new anti-hero enemy on the loose and a day of reckoning seemingly fast approaching, it’s hard to doubt Saitama will once again find himself at the centre of it all. How else do you think we’re going to shoehorn in more of that glorious Terrible Tornado teasing?
Full-length images: 29.