If there’s one thing One Punch Man excels at, it’s pointing out how ludicrous a lot of things are. From the inherently stupid nature of bureaucracy, to the way fame makes people act, to how far some people will go just to avoid doing a day of honest work, the entire series has been pretty active in shining a spotlight on how absurd stuff can get when left unchecked.
This week, it turns that keen eye on public opinion. Not just with how quickly it can change, but the lengths people will go to force that change for completely selfish reasons.
Mind you, I’ve never really put a lot of stock in public opinion. Too many things can affect it. Hell, even public opinion polls can be used to create a slanted view by asking questions the right way. Which means you can’t really trust public opinion in the first place, so why bother paying attention to it all? Better to form your own opinion than listen to what the herd has to say.
No, I’m not one of those hipsters. Fuck those guys. I’m just saying that before you agree with whatever the public opinion polls has to say, learn the facts for yourself, form your own thoughts and views, and encourage others to do the same. Don’t just follow along because you think a bunch of other people believe something, and you don’t want to be different.
Yes, this will all be relevant at the end of the recap. When have I ever gone on a tangent that had no relation to what we’re talking about?
Yeah, don’t answer that.
There’s a big ass meteor heading for the planet, and according to estimates, will land right on City Z. Odds are, it’ll be enough to devastate way more than just the one city. Naturally, the Hero Association calls on all the Class S heroes to stop it, because that’s literally what they are there for.
Class S includes Genos, in case you’ve forgotten, so off he goes, leaving Saitama to scratch his ass and read manga.
Arriving at the City Z Hero Association branch, Genos finds it empty, save a single old man called Bang, better known as Silver Fang, the rank 3 among Class S. Which is all a long way of saying he’s a major badass. Granted, he doesn’t look like much, but I figure since Genos is a Class S, the old geezer must be tough as hell.
Genos learns the nature of the emergency, then finds out that pretty much all the Class S heroes said, “Fuck it. Not my problem” and buggered off to a safe distance. Because that’s what heroes do when millions of lives are in danger.
Well, according to Bang, some probably couldn’t make it because it’s too far away, but in general, most just decided to say to hell with it and cover their own asses. Even Bang suggests that the situation is hopeless and encourages Genos to scamper away and hide.
City Z is given the emergency evacuation order, but with only thirty minutes left till impact, that serves no purpose beyond scaring the shit out of them. More of that bureaucracy at work, right there. Bang figures it’ll just make people panic before showing off some sweet martial arts moves, but Genos has left the building.
See, here’s the thing about Genos. Rather than stand around and talk about how bad it all is, he’s off looking for the right spot to try and stop the meteor. Cause he’s a hero, and instead of trying to cover his own ass, he’d rather die fighting. He’s even got an awesome new upgrade disguised as briefcase that he thinks might make the difference.
After a nifty action sequence where the briefcase turns into some bad ass arms, he gets ready to do the hero bit and save the day. As per his usual overly serious nature, he takes a moment to think of Saitama, who he won’t evacuate without, because he’s got the loyalty of a cyborg German Shepherd.
Before anything can happen, a big ass robot shows up. Turns out, it’s another Class S called Metal Knight, who proceeds to be the biggest dick ever by telling Genos to push off so he can test his new weapons system. Never mind saving people, something he gives zero shits about, he just wants to play with his shiny new toy. Since he’s remote piloting the robot, he’s in no danger, so fuck everybody else.
Seriously, this guys name should be Robo-Dildo.
Before Genos can do anything, Robo-Dildo fires off his new missile pack, forcing Genos to hold back. If he used his new and improved arms, he’d hit the missiles instead of the meteor. With nothing to do but watch, Genos does just that.
Robo-Dildo’s attack, by the way, has no effect at all, except for wasting time. He leaves, happy to let millions die while he sulks about his new toy not packing enough of a punch. Because he’s a dick.
I cannot express how much I dislike this so called hero.
With less than a minute left until impact, Genos starts powering up to hit the meteor with everything he has. While he waits, he begins to wonder if he’s doing the right thing. Even if he destroys the meteor, it’s likely to shatter, causing widespread destruction, and possibly, massive loss of life. If he does nothing, City Z will be obliterated, along with nearby cities, resulting in even higher loss of life. All of this makes him hesitate.
Bang shows up and talks him down, pointing out that worrying about every detail is pointless. All you can do is give it your all and hope for the best. Genos realizes that this is what Saitama always does, and gets his shit together, firing on the meteor with all his power.
The force of his assault makes it hard for him to see if he’s having any effect, but Bang assure him the meteor seems to be not only slowing, but is being pushed back. Genos, in a moment of excitement, asks if that’s true, and Bang tells him no, nothing is happening, because old people like to fuck with kids.
Genos exhausts his power supply, accomplishing nothing. The meteor is still coming, and he resigns himself to his death. Saitama arrives to accuse him of having failed this city and shoots him with an arrow.
Wait… no… wrong show.
Saitama does show up, asking Bang to look after Genos before jumping at the meteor and punching the ever loving fuck out of it, destroying it. The shattered remains fall all over City Z, causing widespread devastation, but at least it wasn’t turned into a giant crater.
Three days later, Genos and Saitama are watching the news, which is talking about the widespread destruction. Genos laments that Robo-Dildo didn’t work with Saitama to prevent that, only to have Saitama shut him down by pointing out Robo-Dildo didn’t want to help anyone.
By punching the meteor when he did, Saitama did the best he could to minimize the damage, and surprisingly, no lives were lost in the resulting fall out, so as far as Saitama is concerned, it’s a clear win. Genos reluctantly agrees, but he’s a glass is half full kinda guy, and kinda wishes things had worked out better.
More importantly, Genos feels Saitama shoudl be praised for his courage, even though he knows a lot of people are already blaming him for the partial destruction of City Z. Since he stopped the complete destruction of City Z, I’m with Genos that those people should shut their pie holes and be glad they are alive to piss and moan, but Genos has a bigger issue to deal with. Namely, if he should let Saitama know about the crybabies.
Deciding not to, for Saitama’s own good, he instead lets Saitama know that he went up a rank, while Saitama jumped from Class C rank 342 to rank 5 in the same class. Saitama is dumbfounded by this, since all he did was punch a giant meteor that was threatening to wipe out countless millions of people.
Yeah. Let’s all take a moment to wonder what the hell is wrong with Saitama.
Turns out, the only reason Saitama didn’t jump straight to Class S is because the Hero Association assumes Genos and Robo-Dildo did the heavy lifting, and Saitama was just there as the pep squad. Never mind that Bang has surely told them Saitama did everything, they obviously want to protect the reputations of the top tier heroes, for public opinion reasons, so Saitama really got shafted by only moving up to rank 5 of Class C.
Saitama doesn’t seem to care about any of that, though, and is more interested in the threat levels associated with various disasters. Genos explains that the threat levels determine the severity of the crisis, something Saitama could obviously learn in five minutes of internet searching. Except he’s lazy as hell.
Anyway, it goes like this…
Tiger: A crisis threatening massive loss of life.
Demon: A crisis threatening to destroy a city, or fuck it up real good.
Dragon: A crisis threatening multiple cities.
God: A crisis threatening the existence of humanity.
The meteor was a Dragon level threat, by the way, and again, Saitama stopped it by himself, after two Class S heroes were unable to do anything at all. This is likely to be a very important matter going forward, so let’s all take notes and prepare for a quiz.
Genos points out that heroes consider the threat level when deciding whether or not to help, though he doubts Saitama cares about such things. Saitama confirms he doesn’t, because if a hero runs away, who is left to help? Inspired by this, Genos immediately begins taking notes of Saitama’s great wisdom.
While normally I’d give Genos shit for being such a puppy, Saitama has a legitimate point here. Why would any of these heroes decide to help or not based on the threat level? Shouldn’t they be ready to render aid no matter what? As we’ve seen, though, most of the heroes in this world are just glory hounds, more interested in their fame and standing than they are in actually helping people.
While Genos is doing his faithful disciple bit, Saitama decides to head out and see if he can help anyone, making Genos stay behind so people don’t give him all the credit. While he’s walking around, Tank Top Tiger shows up again, but Saitama literally has no idea who he is.
I don’t blame him, really. I’d forgotten all about the dipshit myself.
While Saitama struggles to remember him, Tank Top Tiger calls for his big brother, another hero called Tank Top Black Hole.
Uh… seriously? There’s a team tank top? Tank top’s are something that require a team effort? What the fuck?
Anyway, Tank Top Black Hole, who I’m just gonna call Dillhole, joins Tank Top Tiger, who I’m gonna call Asshat, in jumping Saitama’s ass for cheating his way up the rankings. I guess these guys are Class C as well, and don’t like Saitama jumping past them, even though I didn’t see them punching a fucking giant meteor.
Actually, they accuse him of lying about doing that, and decide to try and drive him out of the hero business by getting everyone in earshot riled up into a mob, blaming Saitama for the city being a mess. Because people are always happy to blame people for things, they get what they want, too, and delight in breaking Saitama’s spirit.
Bang is watching all this, and isn’t happy about it. Saitama saved the day, and rather than thanking him, people are blaming him. Sadly, this is how it goes, but Bang knows Saitama is strong enough to endure it, so he doesn’t get involved.
Really? Dude. Jump your wrinkly old ass down there and tell these people what really happened! No? Okay then.
With the mob whipped into a frenzy, Dillhole and Asshat decide now is the time to go kick Saitama’s ass. First, they accuse him of getting ready to attack the civilians standing around, which he isn’t doing, but thanks to mob mentality, everyone will remember him doing. Then, they head over to “stop” him from hurting anyone.
Bang sees this for what it is. The Tank Top brothers are trying to crush a rookie and get a little publicity at the same time. He finds it disgusting, but literally does nothing to stop it, for reasons. Instead, he leaves, even as Genos shows up, worried about Saitama after seeing a lot of negative comments online.
The Tank Top assferrets take a moment to brag about how great they are before Saitama Pimp Slaps Asshat to a location a few blocks away. Dillhole, obviously not getting what just happens, jumps in. Saitama grabs his hand, making Dillhole cry like a baby, even though Saitama is literally just holding him. He’s not trying to hurt him. He’s just holding his hand.
Dillhole wails like the bitch he is, confesses to lying about everything, and begs Saitama not to hurt him. Saitama is confused by this, because as far as he’s concerned, Dillhole didn’t lie about anything. His spirit is far from crushed, because he is responsible for the destruction, and he knows it. Just as he knows, it could have been a lot worse.
Finally agitated by all this bullshit, Saitama tells the crowd to go ahead and let him hear their complaints. One guy starts to piss about his brand new car getting squished, and Saitama tells him to shut his hole. If they want to bitch, he suggests they take it up with the fucking meteor that would have incinerated all of them had he not stopped it. They are only alive to blame him, because they aren’t dead thanks to him.
In fact, Saitama is furious enough to tell them he doesn’t give a shit about their problems, and why would he? He isn’t interested in their opinion of him. He isn’t a hero for the sake of praise. He’s a hero because he wants to be.
Before things can get any worse, Genos intercedes, and suggests they go home. His anger spent, Saitama agrees, and they leave. On the way, Genos gives Saitama the praise he really does deserve, and vows to stand by him always. In typical fashion, Saitama thinks he’s being weird.
After the credits, we see a group of monsters stalking forward as, presumably, a bunch of civilians talk about what a wanker Saitama is.
This episode hit on something that has long been a pet peeve of mine. Namely, that as much as people love to build someone up as a hero, they love tearing them down even more. In general, society will build someone up as high as they can, putting them on a pedestal that towers into the sky, just for the joy of knocking them off it and watching them fall.
I hate this so much, I’ve actually used it as the central theme in books I’ve written.
More than that, though, is this idea that heroes are failures if they aren’t perfect. This is the stupidest thing ever, yet it’s everywhere. The last Superman movie that was made, Man of Steel, pretty much had that as its core element. Superman isn’t perfect, so he’s a total failure as a hero, something that is being carried over into the new Batman V Superman movie.
Come on. Seriously? Perfect is now our benchmark for heroism? Are you kidding me?
Oh, Superman, you’d be a great hero, if only you could have stopped a fucking dozen other Kryptonions, who all had the exact same powers as you, and a giant spaceship, from destroying Metropolis! Too bad. You suck.
One of my favorite shows in the last ten years was The Legend of Korra. I freaking adored that show. More than The Last Airbender. It was the best damn thing on tv, even when the writing wasn’t great. Even when the plot made no sense, it was still better than pretty much anything American television has produced in the last fifty years.
Yet, the biggest complaint I hear about it is that Korra wasn’t good enough as a hero. She failed at times. She lost fights. She wasn’t perfect in every way. Because of this, people say the entire show sucked, and hated it.
It is literally no longer enough for people that a hero try. That they put their own lives on the line for others. That they give everything they have, not for themselves, but the people around them. That isn’t enough anymore. They need to do it better. They need to do it with perfection, or the public just isn’t interested.
Let me say it again, for effect.
It is considered reasonable to get pissed at fictional people for not being perfect.