So, last week we met the incredible superhero, One Punch Man, a hero so strong he can defeat any foe with a single blow!
See what I did there? That was rhyme. Yeah. Um… so… okay then.
Despite his overwhelming strength, One Punch Man, better known to the world as Saitama, is incredibly bored. He’s barely making ends meet, living in a one room apartment, and doesn’t seem to have much in the way of goals. He use to, of course. He wanted to become the strongest superhero in the world. Now, though, he’s done that, so he isn’t real sure what to do next, as it turns out being Superman is basically a total drag.
Like I said in the first episode recap, OPM both deconstructs the superhero genre, while at the same time, celebrating it. Part of the deconstruction is to look at the reality of having the kind of strength Saitama possesses. There is no such thing as a fair fight, which ironically, is all he really wants. This is the foundation of his melancholy, and really, one of the most honest portrayals of a superhero ever.
The celebration comes in the form of most of what takes place in this episode, as OPM tackles the most fundamental foundation of superheros. Their origin stories, their sidekicks, and their rogues galleries.
Of course, it’s going to all be done with what I’m really hoping is the shows trademark wit, and keen eye for how wonderfully absurd it all is.
Anyway, the episode starts with a news broadcast about a swarm of dangerous mosquitoes that are ravaging the countryside, leaving desiccated animals in their wake. I guess Captain Creepyeyes wasn’t the one responsible for the dead cows in the last episode after all. Okay, then, time for a name change. Captain Creepyeyes is now Auto-Lad.
Saitama doesn’t seem overly perturbed about the pending mosquito apocalypse, and heads outside onto the balcony to water his cactus with a big elephant shaped water bucket, making me think he isn’t the brightest guy around. Seriously, how much water does he think the damn thing needs? It’s a cactus, dude!
While he’s doing that, the news warns the mosquitoes are headed for Z City, and everyone needs to go inside or die horribly. One arrives early and tries to feed on Saitama, who promptly uses his superpowers to try and kill it, failing miserably. It’s actually pretty hysterical.
Auto-Lad is on the scene to take out the swarm, however, so I’m sure everything will be fine. He seems like a really focused guy. The sort of hero who gets things done.
After the opening credits, we join a douchebag who is taking advantage of the mosquito panic to rob a store. He dies pretty quickly, eaten by the swarm in one of the least pleasant deaths ever. Which leads us to our first villain this week, Mosquito Girl!
Anyway, Auto-Lad shows up and tries to incinerate her with a flamethrower in his hand. Lets all just take a moment to admire how awesome it is that he has an actual flamethrower in his hand. That is cool.
It doesn’t work out so well, as Mosquito Girl is pretty quick, and manages to dodge it. However, Auto-Lad figures out that she controls the swarm, having them drain living creatures and absorbing all their blood into herself. This means if he takes her out, the swarm will go away.
Not getting the point of him being a cyborg, she has the swarm attack him, and he burns them up. Realizing she’s gonna have to do better, she gets ready to go toe to toe.
Saitama still hasn’t quashed the mosquito plaguing him. At least he’s found his challenge. That’s something.
Anyway, back at the other fight, Mosquito Girl and Auto-Lad throw down, with her eventually managing to take one of his arms off. It’s not much of a victory, however, as he yanked her legs off. Realizing she can’t brute force him, she retreats, gathering all her little friends that have been feeding on everything for miles around, and begins absorbing all their power.
Auto-Lad figures out what she’s up to and is about to try and wipe out her and her entire swarm, when Saitama shows up, chasing the mosquito that’s been pestering him. Auto-Lad warns him to retreat, and he is about to do just that when Mosquito Girl achieves her final form.
Auto-Lad was ready for this, however, and goes full metal on her, eliminating the entire swarm with one mega-attack. He rambles to himself a bit about how he scanned the area, confirmed there weren’t any people, leaving him free to do whatever it took. About then, he remembers Saitama, and fearing he killed an innocent, turns to discover that the dude is fine. Naked, but fine.
Can we all just appreciate the fact that while Saitama himself is pretty much invulnerable, his clothes aren’t? You don’t often see that in superhero genre fiction, so Saitama being utterly nude in the aftermath of Auto-Lad’s attack is really pretty awesome. As is the well placed smoke covered his genitals. And the broken sign that falls over just as the smoke clears.
Anyway, Saitama lauds Auto-Lad for saving him, making a really bad bug joke, but it turns out Mosquito Girl wasn’t done just yet. She demolishes a building to show off her new power, then totally kicks Auto-Lad’s ass. Realizing he can’t win, he chooses to self destruct when she’s close enough it’ll take her out as well. Say what you want, this guy is a real hero.
Before she can finish Auto-Lad off, or he can take them both out, Saitama pimp slaps her into a building, leaving a red smear. Auto-Lad is so impressed, he instantly asks to be Saitama’s disciple, which Saitama agrees to without realizing what the guy is asking.
A few years back, I was running and Dungeons & Dragons campaign with some friends. One of their adventures lead them to a monastery, where they learned a group of Yuan-Ti Monks had killed everyone and taken over the place. What are Yuan-Ti Monks? Think Bruce Lee snake people.
Anyway, during one fight, one of the Yuan-Ti got a critical hit on the party’s Dwarven Cleric, knocking him below 0 hit point instantly. The whole group just sat there for a moment, gaping, until Chicky, the guy playing the Cleric, laughed and said, “Damn! I just got the Pimp Slap of Doom!”
Watching Saitama literally slap Mosquito Girl into a smear made me think of that. He handed down the Pimp Slap of Doom. It was awesome!
Back to One Punch Man.
A week later, Auto-Lad, now repaired, visits Saitama, introducing himself as Genos, which is nowhere near as cool a name as Auto-Lad. I mean, sure, he can call himself anything he wants, but Genos? Come on, man. Try having some flair! It’s cool, though. I get it. Not like I’m a professional writer with years of comic book lore in my head. We’ll just go with Genos. Whatever.
What were we talking about? Oh, right.
So, Genos has arrived to become Saitama’s disciple. Saitama isn’t really keen on this, but Genos is pretty insistent, so Saitama lets him come in for some tea, willing to at least hear the guy explain why. This turns out to be a terrible idea.
After Saitama accidentally expresses a vague interest in him, Genos launches into his backstory, which goes on for the next three minutes. While that might not sound like much, this guy can talk really, really fast, and crams a lot of information into that three minutes. It is the most glorious three minutes of excited monotone, ever. Make no mistake, either, it is a very excited monotone, which just makes it that much more awesome.
Short version, Genos’ family was killed by a rogue cyborg, so he had a scientist transform him onto a cyborg, so he could hunt the rogue cyborg while being a righteous cyborg, and if I never have to type the word cyborg again, it’ll be too damn soon.
Saitama feels a little overwhelmed by all this.
While all of this is happening, elsewhere, in a mysteriously ominous tower, a very emo dude ponders the mystery of who destroyed Mosquito Girl. She was just a prototype, but still, this naked guy took her out with a single punch, prompting Professor Emo to dispatch some folks to invite Saitama to the House of Evolution. He wants to study Saitama’s physiology, by force if necessary.
Anyway, having now heard Genos’ long winded tale of loss, revenge, despair, and hope, Saitama gets that his new friend is looking to become strong like he is. He warns that it’ll be hard, but Genos is all for it. Or rather, he was until he detected enemies approaching and goes into superhero mode.
A grasshopper busts in, destroying the wall, and gets his head splattered by Saitama for having messed up his home. Detecting two more outside, Genos Spider-Man’s out the window, only to discover Saitama has already knocked them into the ground. He is, to say the least, very impressed.
I’m thinking it doesn’t take much to impress Genos. I take back what I said earlier about him being the kind of guy to get things done. Genos is actually an idiot. An adorable idiot, but an idiot.
While he’s gaping at Saitama’s prowess, he sees his new master get yanked into the ground, leaving only his head sticking out. He starts to leap into action, but Saitama shuts him down, saying it’s all good. He kinda feels like a bamboo shoot, and likes it. This can only mean they are both idiots.
I just wanna cuddle ’em both up. They’re so cute.
At that moment,a cyborg gorilla thing appears. Genos gets even more serious than he already was, which was pretty damn serious, and takes on the the new threat as Saitama cranes his head around trying to see what’s happening. Before he can, two new threats appear, a hulking were-lion, and a freaky little mole guy. These would be Beast King and Ground Dragon, respectively.
While they threateningly menace Saitama, Genos continues his fight with the cyborg, appropriately named Armored Gorilla. Seems these guys are the ones Professor Emo sent to “invite” Saitama back to the House of Evolution. Three are already out of the fight, however, so I’m thinking this isn’t going well for the bad guys.
Beast King looks pretty tough, though. Saitama doesn’t seem impressed, and yawns at the guy, commenting that being in the ground is nice and warm, making him sleepy. Beast King doesn’t think that’s funny, and threatens to gouge his eyes out. This strikes me as a completely unnecessary course of action, but the dude is a giant evil lion, so I guess that’s his thing.
Seeing that these two aren’t gonna buzz off and leave him alone, Saitama steps up out of the hole, surprising both Beast King and Ground Dragon. Being a polite superhero, he gives them a chance to apologize for messing up his house and leave. They decide to threaten him some more, and Beast King in particular prepares to unleash his true might.
First, Saitama has to shake the dirt out of his pants. Beast King politely waits till he is done. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think this is a good example of the kind of relationship heroes and villains should have with each other. Just because they are going to fight, doesn’t mean they have to be rude about it.
With Saitama’s “special place” now dirt free, Beast King goes full lion, his muscles swelling, as he unleashes a flurry of attacks, and even his super special finishing move, Lion Slash: Meteor Power Shower! You know it’s awesome, cause it has a colon in it.
Saitama dodges all of this with a bit of boredom, then punches Beast King into a lot of little bitty pieces with one of his own special moves, Consecutive Normal Punches. Ground Dragon decides to blow this popsicle stand, and runs for it. Saitama isn’t letting him go, though, and uses his Jack Nicholson Attack.
Ground Dragon goes for a flight, and Saitama climbs up, realizing they’ve torn the entire street to pieces. Oh, and Genos has defeated Armored Gorilla, who proceeds to inform him that of all the fighters in the House of Evolution, Armored Gorilla is only the third most powerful. Beast King is the second, and Genos will never be able to defeat him.
Saitama holds up one of Beast King’s eyes and asks if this is the guy he means. Armored Gorilla stares at that, then panics, promising to tell them everything if they just don’t kill him. His monotonous robotic voice vanishes, as well, as it turns out he just wanted to sound cool.
After the closing credits, OPM goes full Marvel and has yet another post credit scene. In this one, the House of Evolution is in a panic as they try to confirm that the entire retrieval team has been wiped out. Professor Emo shows up and asks what the fuss is, which is when we learn that the entire staff is just clones of him.
As I said at the top, while OPM does a wonderful job of deconstructing the superhero mythology, it does just as good a job celebrating it. This week, Saitama earns his sidekick in the form of Genos, who like all sidekicks, is seeking to learn from the hero, and become stronger. What makes this such a great relationship already is that Genos is genuinely eager about this, and totally fine with being the sidekick. He knows he has a lot he can learn from Saitama, and really wants to, not just so he can become stronger, but so he can protect more people, and be a better hero.
Of course, it comes with a bit of humor, as Genos is completely oblivious to the fact Saitama isn’t exactly super thrilled about any of this. In a nice bit of role reversal, Genos is the super serious character, while Saitama is the one prone to making bad jokes and being goofy. These guys are power swapped Batman and Robin for the ’60’s tv series, and not only is it completely hilarious, it totally works.
We also get the in depth origin story, treated with the kind of gravity it usually gets. While we already know Saitama became a hero more or less because he wasn’t doing anything else, Genos has the typical compelling background involving the loss of his family, and even an arch nemesis. As the origin story for most superheros tends to involve loss of some kind, and for the most part, serves to deliver drama and empathy for their decision to become a hero, Genos’ background works well.
Again, with that tongue in cheek approach, though, is the manner in which he delivers this story. I don’t know if they sped up voice actor Kaito Ishikawa’s dialogue in post production, or if he managed to actually deliver that massive amount of information at that insanely rapid fire pace, but either way, it’s brilliant in its execution. It’s given the seriousness it deserves by Genos, but tinged with humor at the way he says it all, with this droning monotone that is somehow infused with this genuine sense of joy that someone is listening to him. It’s crazy, and it’s beautiful.
Last, we get the set up for the major villains, at least for now, with the House of Evolution, and Professor Emo. Obviously, this guy is big into splicing DNA and creating mutants, cyborgs, and anything else he can, filling the world with superhumans for some reason. His interest in Saitama is obvious, and while we know he and his henchmen will pose little in the way of a threat to him, they are presented as an interesting enemy, despite their minimal screen time.
Now, granted, as far as rogues gallery goes, Beast King and Ground Dragon didn’t last long, no more so than any foe Saitama faces. However, they aren’t really the enemies he deserves. They are just the henchmen. Professor Emo is the real villain here, and as Saitama’s first addition to his rogues gallery, he’s already making waves, and presenting quite the challenge. Are those clones, or can he replicate himself? Either way, we see that he’s pretty intelligent, and if Saitama has a weakness, you can bet this is the guy to not only figure it out, but overwhelm out hero of the yellow spandex with sheer numbers enough to deliver it.
I’m curious to see how this will play out, and it looks like we don’t have long to wait, as next week’s episode is title “The Obsessive Scientist”
I think this show airs on Monday’s, but I might be off on that, so I’ll have my episode 3 recap up the day after the show airs, and we’ll just roll each week from there. I’m pretty excited about this. Looks like it’s gonna be a lot of fun!