The western animated genre has become a hot-spot for developing new, vibrant and imaginative content to match the quality and standard of any dramatic series now contributing to the 'golden era of television'. With such hits as Adventure Time, Rick and Morty, Bob's Burgers and many, many more, cartoon fandom has peaked to it's mid-1980s levels. Anime on the other-hand hasn't quite followed suit. There was a time in the 90s for example when Japanese anime was as relevant to children in the western hemisphere as any American cartoon. A kid in London arguing in the playground over who the better Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle was could just as easily argue over who the most powerful Super Saiyan might be (it's Gohan, it's definitely Gohan. Am I right, '90s kids?). However those days have passed.
Coming in a little later than many would have liked, One Punch Man is as intoxicatingly ironic in it's humour as it is in it's premise. It is the first of it's kind - a self-paradying anime. It very much knows that it is an anime, clichés and all, and isn't afraid to make fun of this fact. Often cited as the 'Deadpool of anime', this is a series that will get even the most disenfranchised fan back into the genre. And with an English dub heading our way on Adultswim, July 16, there's never been a better time to finally find out what all the hype it about! So here's 5 reasons why you should check out One Hit Man this summer.
1. It's Now Got an English Dub!
It's ok to admit to wanting to see One Punch Man but not really getting around to it because of the lack of an English dub. We've all been there; having come back from a long days work, sometimes you don't have the energy to exert even more effort into reading those tiny, white sentences at the bottom of the screen. Yes I know it's way cooler if you do, but not everyone can be cool ok! Well fear no more, for Adult Swim will be releasing an English dubbed version on Toonami as well!
So, if you've been aching to catch up on the latest phenomena in the Japanese animated genre but didn't want to exert any unnecessary mental strain, you're in luck! So, now you have no excuse not to watch it, but here's a few more reasons why you'll want to:
2. Satirical Comedy At Its Finest
As a Brit, I've naturally grown up knowing a thing or two about self-depreciating comedy. Our entire humor is pretty much built on it! So you'll believe me when I tell you I was delighted to finally watch an anime that lovingly teases all the clichés we've come to expect from the genre. Tired of watching an entire series of training montages and having to wait until the 22nd episode to finally see some action? Don't worry, One Punch Man literally defeats his foe with, you guessed it, one punch!
Tired of watching characters moan on and on about their desperate desire to be 'the best warrior they can be' so that they can 'avenge their families death' or 'bring justice to the world'? Well, have no fear, One Punch Man is a hero 'just for fun', as he explains in his very first sentence. Weather it's in it's characters, storylines, tone or pacing, One Punch Man always ensures not to take itself too seriously. With shades of Buddhism, and an undertone of intellect, One Punch Man's more innocent tone doesn't mean it's dumbed down. In fact, it's satirical comedy allows the anime to explore some pretty interesting themes as well.
3. More Than Just for Kids
As a result of this satirical tone, One Punch Man explores some pretty interesting material. It isn't afraid to talk about a wide spectrum of subjects in regards to politics, philosophy, spirituality and on how we might choose to live our lives and treat our fellow man. In this way it very much fits into the typical anime cliché, but does so in such a new and original way that it feels refreshing and well suited for this exciting take on anime. The fact that the main character; One Punch Man / Saitama does not waste a lot of time winging about his past woes allows for the rest of the cast to contribute to the tones and themes of the series instead. Rather than being cookie-cutter 'bad guys', the shows antagonists often have a much richer backstory than is to be expected from the genre.
From environmental problems, political corruption, negative stereotypes in the media, to even an over-worked youth problem; a 'villain's' character profile is often representative of problems the world faces today. Their 'turn to the dark side' can also often be explained via psychological conditions too. For example, many of them suffer from insecurity, loneliness, inflated egos, over-compensating or acting out of fear. This adds a further layer of humanity to the characters and helps viewers relate with them better, as they the characters may better represent an inflated version of feelings viewers might have themselves.
4. A Hero Just for Fun
By One Punch Man breaking the mould, it's not just the villains that have layers added to them. Not following the conventional 'protagonist' role either, Saitama is often found empathizing with the antagonists he faces. A man regularly playing the side-kick in his own show he could very easily become a forgettable character - but quite the opposite is true. Instead this adds a charm to his character that guarantees him a place in the hallway of fame, joining the likes of Vegeta, Astro Boy and Spike Spiegel.
Saitama is more than just the show's punch-line. With a monk-like ora and a penance for wearing everyman cloths, unlike his other superhero friends, Saitama is often mistaken for being an idiot, and is completely under-appreciated by the rest of the characters. As such, Saitama retains his underdog status despite being the most powerful character by far, bringing a level of reliability and humanity to his character, making him a worthy name-sake for the show.
If the conventional anime lead often holds characteristics similar to that of a traditional samurai, Saitama certainly matches that of a Buddhist monk. His bold head, quiet demeanour and dis-interest toward fame, glory or wealth guarantee's him a rightful place as a verified 'good guy' in a series that is all about parody.
5. A Super Supporting Cast
Saitama is far from the only superhero in the series. The universe he inhabits is filled to the brim with them. In fact, Saitama is one of the lesser known heroes. Just another way One Punch Man is breaking the mould. Many of One Punch Man's supporting cast, however, aren't just heroic in name, they are also heroic in stature (although it must be said that others are unfortunately just heroic in name) as the series is filled with a variety of different kinds of superheroes.
From young heroes to old heroes, new heroes to aging heroes, wise heroes to ignorant heroes and conventional heroes to unconventional heroes, all side-characters are so detailed, intriguing and unique their could be an entire episode devoted just to one of them - and sometimes they do! With Saitama often wondering off in his own episodes, the supporting cast has to pick up the slack. If they weren't so engrossing in their own right, this would naturally lead to a dip in the show's quality. However, it creates interesting new stories, narratives and twists that otherwise wouldn't be there and makes for unpredictable viewing. The show really embraces having character-driven story-archs and benefits immensely as a result.
One Punch Man is a much needed breath of fresh air for anime lovers, and anyone who has given up on anime should definitely give this series a go. It's a smart, well-written story exploring different perspectives on the superhero narrative, with a healthy dose of self-irony to boot. Much like what the Deadpool movie did for the superhero genre earlier this year, One Punch Man does for anime; it has reinvigorated it in a way nobody could have hoped for or expected. For masterpieces like this, it is much advised to follow Saitama's lead; just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride, because rides like this don't come around all that often.