Strength, power, ability, all words synonymous…well for the same thing really, but it is something that is longed for nonetheless. For those wishing to make a difference, for those desiring a different lot in life, for those with a dream. Now, whilst I could spend a sizeable chunk of time delving into the various interpretations of what power is, I’m going to keep it simple and just talk about the one that makes you punch harder. Why you ask? Because of the manga title, see how I tied the punching thing in there? With all the subtlety of a freight train? You know what else has that level of subtlety? One-Punch Man.
Taking place in a world that is the fruition of tokusatsu fan’s dreams, this particular manga provides us with an unforgettable face in the form of Saitama: Hero for Fun. Having hop skipped and jumped through his origin story in record time, we come to learn that he was a despondent, unemployed gentleman, sparked into action by a helpless (and annoying) child and his dormant childhood dreams of heroism. But, surprisingly enough for the first issue of a hero story, we are not here for the origin story, rather, we are here to see where said story led. Longing to improve with the same fervour as the greatest heroes of history, Saitama spent three arduous year in training. The results of this hellish training speak for themselves, robbing our hero of his hair (which he is rather sensitive about, so don’t bring it up) and granting him incomparable power. And therein lies the problem.
Existing as an unashamedly simplistic series, this good vs evil tale asks us one interesting question; What do you do after you achieve your goal? Having attained the power he so longed for, Saitama has come to realise that it is in the journey that the fun lies. With such incredible power at his literal fingertips, why should he bother anymore? Nothing is exciting if there’s no challenge to it, if there exists no chance of failure. Villains fall before him in, you guessed it, one punch, leading to the most over the top form of sadness I’ve ever seen. Not only for the fact that it is the product of the literal strongest man in existence, but also because his changes in mood literally alter the art style of the character. From immensely detailed, to humourously simple in a single panel, it’s almost a power all it’s own.
Speaking of art style, this manga looks amazing. Coming from the pen/pencil/implement behind Eyeshield 21, manga fans may have already expected a solid visual offering, and they were right. Criss-crossing the line between ridiculous and serious, One-Punch man somehow finds a balance that presents it in a strikingly unique way. Where else can you witness a lacksadasical hero freaking out about missing a produce sale, all the while applauding the detail of the linework? Nowehre (probably). Possessing the humour and brevity of a webcomic, with the near unrivaled skill might of a professional illustrator. Of course, this may 100% be due to the fact that this series began its life as a webcomic until it was redrawn by the illustrator in question, which explains my opinion. As such, I guess the choice to bring One-Punch into a new style was a grand one, as it allowed this story to really shine.
I know I haven’t spent a lot of time discussing the story as it unfolds in the first two volumes, or the arrival of certain characters, namely Genos, but I’m not really sure if I should. Each chapter unfolds with such speed that I think you should just experience them in their entirety for yourself. The first volume alone has no less than three Demon Level threats to the denizens of cities A through Z, which is a considerable amount. However, if the incessant action and expertly crafted panels are not enough to pique your interest, my tertiary endorsement of this series would be its ability to craft a compelling world through the eyes of a character who couldn’t care less. Whatever the psychology behind that, all I know is that I want to read more.
The story of a hero is one of highs and lows…figure out which is which via Madman