Meet Saitama, the hero of One-Punch Man Volume 1: while he’s a self-described “hero for fun,” don’t let that fool you; he was once one of the hardest training heroes in City Z. In fact, Saitama trained so hard that: 1) opponents seldom merit more than a single punch; 2) he is capable of feats out of myth and tall tales, such as leaping to the Earth after being knocked to the moon; and, 3) his hair was dried up by the incessant training. When Saitama applies to the Hero Association for membership, Saitama’s baldness is so much more impressive a distinguishing characteristic than his strength that they give him the code name “Caped Baldy.” Most important of all, however is 4) Saitama trained so hard that being a superhero is, far from being a source of personal empowerment, a letdown, so that he combats boredom as well as supervillains.
Meet Genos: much of the success of One-Punch Man Volume 1 stems from the Odd Couple dynamic between Saitama and Genos, a S rank hero and Saitama’s cyborg disciple, rich roommate, and…well, since Genos is too much of a straight man and not happy-go-lucky enough to be a sidekick, we’ll call him a flunky. A powerful and unusually competent flunky. The top-ranked Genos venerates Saitama, despite the fact that the latter placed into only C rank due to his abysmal written scores on the Hero Association exam. Saitama feels guilty, as he isn’t sure how his knowledge of physical training can be imparted with any benefit to a cyborg, but despite Saitama’s limitations, Genos learns plenty of hilarious lessons.
Saitama and Genos’s adventures take place in City Z, a mega-metropolis not unlike the comic book backdrops that it directly parodies, such as Metropolis or Gotham City, but also much more infected by the banality of our world, so that our eponymous hero worries as much about the rent and grocery store sales as he does pursuing supervillains. City Z is full of lots of unpleasant and unsavory characters, not just the villains, but also the cretin citizens that are likely to talk trash about their heroes while waiting to be rescued. Not that the villains aren’t worse pieces of work, such as the humorously named deplorables Beefcake, Crabante, Speed-o’-Sound Sonic, Carnage Kabuto, and Mosquito Girl.
While the One-Punch Man manga revitalized the ancient art of epic comedy, the anime brought it to the small screen with theatrical impact. Blessed with eye-popping visuals and energetic battles underscored by an invigorating heavy metal intro, outro, and incidental music, this anime is an unforgettable serial fiction that reminds you just how good any of the genres that intersect in One-Punch Man can be. And the awesome thing is that the One-Punch Man anime only plays to these battle manga strengths for a few minutes every episode, while the rest is absurd comedy about Saitama’s shopping trips and the ridiculous heights of Genos’s veneration for his master. So that even when I am enraptured by the action sequences, I look forward to the hero’s hilarious downtime. While I slightly prefer Mob Psycho 100, the anime based on ONE’s other action comedy manga, I adore One-Punch Man so much that I would rather rewatch it than watch any of the junk in my 93% full DVR. If you’ve never watched One-Punch Man, and go on to watch it based on my recommendation, do so knowing that you have not only my goodwill, but my envy, because you are about to watch one of the very best anime series for the first time.
I’d love to share my thoughts on the six OVA shorts on this collection, as they are just as good as full episodes and will delight fans of the One-Punch Man anime, but especially fans of the One-Punch Man manga, who will finally see the whimsy and hilarity of the One-Punch Man bonus manga translated into anime. Considering how much they will be appreciated, however, I’d prefer that be able to savor their sweetness unspoiled. Suffice to say that the very first OVA had me in stitches.
The features of the One-Punch Man Volume 1 Blu-Ray include: two layers of slipcovers, one of clear plastic layered over one of cardboard; twelve episodes and 6 OVAs split between the discs, with six episodes and three OVAs per Blu-Ray disc; a 96 page color booklet; 6 art cards, 1080 HD in 1.78:1 aspect ratio; Japanese and English audio and English subtitles; clean intro and outro sequences; a cast and staff interview featuring the Japanese and English voice actors for Saitama among others; trailers; and, a coupon for Shonen Jump.
The One-Punch Man Volume 1 Blu Ray arrived for sale on April 25th, 2017, but if you can’t find a copy, you can buy it through this hyperlink to Viz Media.
Viz Media sent the review copy.