I'm not a big anime fan. Personally I just don't get it what people see in it. The humor just doesn't click for me; the characters in these shows will be laughing at something and it will go completely over my head. The action scenes are usually too slow, as the characters will talk about something like useless fluff or backstory without keeping the audience's attention. I've been told that there is good anime and there is bad anime, but I'm ashamed to say that I usually don't give half of them a chance. With the exception of Dragon Ball Z and Pokemon, which I watched over 15 years ago, I don't watch anime.
So my friend from college was visiting this weekend, and he's all about weird Japanese cartoons. When he got to my apartment he asked if I had Hulu. I said yes, and his eyes started to light up. He told me that we have to sit down and watch this new anime that is the next "biggest thing."
I told, "Hey, I'm not really an anime kind of guy."
"That's okay," he said, "You'll like this one."
The show he put on was called "One-Punch Man," and I'm amazed to say that I watched the entire first season in one night. And not because I had to, but because I wanted to.
"One-Punch Man" is certainly one of the strangest and cerebral animated shows I've ever seen. The series features crab monsters, telekinesis, one-eye alien beings, killer cyborgs, sea monsters, and half-robot, half-gorilla assassins. Scratching your head? Yup, I was too. But the more I watched "One-Punch" the more I started to realize that the show doesn't take itself too seriously. In fact, the show seems to lampoon and satirize most of the repeated tropes most commonly associated with anime.
The program, created by a Japanese cartoonist who goes under the pseudonym "One," is about a super strong human named Saitama who goes around defeating monsters basically for fun. Being the strongest being, Saitama usually defeats his foes with one simple punch. This disheartens our hero, as he is never presented with a real challenge; an opponent worthy of more than just one punch. One day he saves a teenage cyborg, named Genos, from a flying monster. Impressed with his skills, Genos begs Saitama to take him as his disciple. Saitama reluctantly agrees and after the two enter into the prestigious "Hero" program, the following episodes follow the two as they battle sea monsters, demons and aliens.
Basically each episode follows a similar pattern. A strange new monster starts causing mayhem in a city, heroes usually fail to stop it and we wait for Saitama to give 'em the one punch knock out. Every entry sort of ends with a deus ex machina, the "god" here being the immortal Saitama. Even though the formula is no doubt straining, "One-Punch" thrives thanks to it's characters and clever writing. The series itself is aware of how outlandish and ridiculous it is, constantly giving a small wink to the audience that parodies normal anime.
Anime is famous for featuring highly creative, outlandish monsters. "One-Punch" features some of the most ridiculous creations I've ever seen, such as a crab monster with human legs and underwear, or a sea monster that looks like a cross between the Joker and Hulk Hogan. The monster creations are so original that you have to appreciate the sheer creativity of the animation team. It's as if they sat down and said, "Okay, how far out there can we go with these monsters?" Pretty out there. And they're a total blast to watch.
The actual human characters are fun to watch as well. Genos, the cyborg with the revenge story background, is an anime cliche. But the writers are aware of this motif and lampoon it, like in the character's hilariously long opening soliloquy. You know how a lot of male antagonists in anime look suspiciously like women? Well "One-Punch" pokes fun of this as well. Remember how long it takes fighters to actually start the fighting? Fully aware, the writers make fun of that as well.
That's not to say that this show is purely satirical. Once past the cliches the characters on the show are interesting and fleshed out. We are interested in the fights and the outcomes, even though they are inane. The animation is really something to behold. The final climactic showdown between Saitama and the alien antagonist is strikingly brutal and beautiful. "One Punch" makes use out of bright and vivid colors that truly capture the eye.
"One-Punch Man" is one of the best animes I've watched in a while, especially so since I don't view them regularly. With the first season completed, I'm eagerly awaiting the second, and that's a rare feeling for me to have for a Japanese animated program.
If you have Hulu I'd say definite
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