I know I said I wouldn’t review this anime, but here’s the thing: I lied. Now that that’s out in the open, enjoy my perfectly balanced take on One Punchline Man.
Goddamn, last season was heavy on the shonen/superhero stuff, wasn’t it? Seraph of the End: Battle in Nagoya. Ushio and Tora. Noragami Aragoto. And of course, the most popular one of them all, One Punch Man. It’s going to be difficult to find something new to say about each of them, but lord knows I’m going to try my damndest to do so. Might as well start with the one that got everyone’s attention, even if not for all the right reasons. I mean it’s a giant understatement to say that I wasn’t the only one who watched One Punch Man, but it’s also a big understatement to say that I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t impressed with the thing.
It’s even worse in my case, because I don’t get shonen action as substance at all. I don’t hate it, and there was a time when I enjoyed pretty much everything that came out of Shonen Jump’s mouth the same way I enjoyed Marvel v. Capcom, but you’d think the genre would grow up along with the audience and focus more on substance rather than repeat the same outdated Dragonball Z-style over and over again because holy hell did we not get sick of that ten years ago. But with the explosive popularity of One Punch Man along with David Production continuing to make more bloody adaptations of Jojo, I think it’s pretty clear that that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. So who cares if the plot is weak? Who cares if the satire goes for all the easy shots? Who cares if the characters don’t have any real struggles or flaws or story or anything going for them besides how they look and a stupid name? It’s a popcorn anime, and it’s very good at what it does.
Except even by the standards of popcorn anime, I’m not sure it does. I mean you have the director of Space Dandy and the production values from Madhouse on this project, so obviously you’re going to get a great-looking show. With that said, why is the action so fucking bad? Every time it showed up, the camera would spin around or zoom far-out whilst characters threw massive explosions at each other or delivered a punch in a desperate attempt to make it look cool when in reality, it looks overblown and retarded. There is absolutely no choreography being applied to any of the action and it becomes really boring to watch as a result. And even if there was, it is an absolute cakewalk to determine who’s going to win the fight before it even starts because the whole show is built around Saitama saving the day in his own dry way with nobody in the entire universe being close to his level in terms of fighting prowess. Add in the fact that nobody really dies in this show anyways but the one-off characters who have less charisma than a Marvel villain and there’s a limit to how much tension One Punch Man is allowed to have in regards to its fight scenes (i.e. zero).
Not helping is the fact that Saitama is an incredibly boring character who has no depth to him besides one joke: he’s a normal dude who became the strongest in the world by training really hard and is bored with his life as a result. Every other hero in this show became powerful through genetics or body modification, and as such don’t believe Saitama when he says that he just worked hard, nor do they trust him because thanks to his lack of brains, he’s lowly ranked in the Hero Association. This could have made for some interesting conflict, but One Punch Man never really treats Saitama’s invincibility as anymore than a cheap joke or a deus ex machina trying to be a cheap joke, no thanks to the other heroes having zero chemistry with the dude and making DC’s good guys look like Marvel’s. Aside from a cyborg whose only real purpose in life is to lose so that Saitama can have someone to save, I can’t recall a single time he’s ever had a real conversation with anybody. Hell, I’m pretty sure Genos has had more overall screen time than him.
And don’t even get me started on the villains in this thing, who make Marvel’s bad guys look like DC’s. I can’t even remember anyone’s name, let alone what they added to anything. There was some attempt at making the final bad guy an “invincible contrast” to Saitama, but it was so poorly handled it made the relationship between Spiderman and Green Goblin look like Batman and The Joker – and I still didn’t bother to remember the dude’s name afterwards. Word of advice to anyone creating a bad guy: Marvel’s villains are absolutely awful! Nothing but a bunch of random animal or element gimmicks applied to some misguided fool trying to overcompensate for the fact that Mad Hatter has them beat in the character department. But you know what’s worse than that? Actual animal or element gimmicks fully realized in physical form, without even an attempt to make them realized as actual characters.
All of which could have been forgiven if the show was funny, as One Punch Man is supposed to be a comedic satire on the shonen action/superhero genre. Thing is, the show only has one joke (Saitama being Saitama) and said joke never made me laugh. Not once. Which would already have been a giant problem by itself, but the fact that the satire sucks too does it no favors. And not just because it goes for all the easy shots, but said shots are even misaimed a few times. There’s one moment in the show where Saitama makes himself out to be the bad guy in order to save face for the other heroes due to some random jackass who apparently never appreciates anything in his life, but it falls incredibly flat because it’s incredibly obvious it was done so that the show can repeat its one joke. Not one single person was buying the jackass’s bullshit, so there was no reason for Saitama to do that, especially since it’s never brought up again afterwards. It’s an extreme, but by no means the only part of the show where it’s clear the writers have no ambition for this show beyond taking cheap potshots at a genre that has been satirized so well in the past.
Let me make it clear that One Punch Man is by no stretch of the word “bad”. It knows what it wants to be and does it well, even if it wants to be is nothing higher than mediocre at best. Because if we’re judging it in comparison to the rest of the shonen/superhero anime that aired in Fall, One Punch Man is the worst of the shonen action anime that I have seen. Good visuals can only take you so far, and whilst I commend Madhouse for keeping the quality high for most of its run, thirteen episodes is a long time to watch something that has little to no substance. Hell, the specials don’t have anything noteworthy about them visual-wise, leaving you with nothing at all.
My advice to you guys? Watch Concrete Revolutio instead. And no, I’m not going to stop sucking Concrete Revolutio’s dick until more people admit they were wrong to abandon it for the much weaker Sunday superhero show.