For a while now, I’ve tried to figure out just what it is about One Punch Man that makes it such a special treat. Well, in between bouts of playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, that is. It isn’t like I don’t have other things to do.
Not many other things, but a few.
While it laid itself out very much as a parody for a while, with the Deep Sea King arc, OPM took on a decidedly more serious tone, diving into very non-parody waters, as it were. As Triple P, Genos, and Mumen Rider all took a turn trying to take down the Deep Sea King, the story shifted to an exploration of what it meant to be a real hero, all without the usual goofy jokes that had become something of a hallmark for the series.
Capping that off was Saitama’s decision to be taken as a fraud, in order to protect the reputations of those who had fought, and nearly died at the hands of the Deep Sea King. It was a very noble and selfless action on his part, and showed new aspects of his personality. The ones that are in line with what a hero should be.
While Saitama does crave recognition for his efforts, he isn’t willing to step on others to get there. If it comes down to it, he’ll sacrifice his own desires for the good of others, which is a very heroic thing to do. How aware of this he is remains unclear, as his outward behavior and attitude seems little changed.
With the exception of a single, small incident from last weeks episode. Upon hearing that a global crisis may be about to happen, he pointedly stated to a room full of the Class S heroes that it was a good thing he was there. This is a very uncharacteristic attitude for Saitama, as he has always been pretty laid back and not prone to brash declarations.
One of the things that makes Saitama hard to read is that we rarely ever really get to see things from his point of view. When we do, it’s stuff like him trying to figure out what to say to Genos. Generally, though, we see him and his actions from an objective viewpoint, or through the eyes of others. What Saitama himself really thinks or feels about things is never overly clear, making him one of those rare, unique characters.
To be blunt, he’s a mystery. A giant, bald, dorky mystery. Even though he’s the main character. While this is the kind of thing that usually would not fly well in almost any type of fiction, it is pretty much what makes OPM such a special show.
Let me put it this way. It’s not the battles that Saitama has that make the show worth watching, in contrast to traditional shonen and Western superhero comics. It isn’t his foes, either, as he pretty much deals with them and moves on. It’s Saitama himself, the who and what of him, that makes this show so entertaining.
It’s in trying to figure him out, not just as superhero, or how he got his powers, but as a person. As someone who craves attention for his actions, but isn’t willing to take from others to get it. To be seen as a hero, but not if it means others aren’t. That’s a rare quality to find in any character, and while it is not a parody, it is a clear criticism of the very material OPM originally set out to lampoon.
Saitama is what other heroic figures should aspire to be. A hero in deed, rather than name. The kind of person who puts the actual needs of others ahead of his own wants. I’ve come to see that this is what makes OPM the success it is.
Saitama is the hero we all need, and the one we deserve.
But he’s not the only one we should have.
This week’s OPM tackles the idea of ranking heroes, and shines a giant spotlight on just how pointless it is to do that, because the world is big enough for more than one hero, and we are all deserving of having more than one favorite.
We pick up pretty much exactly where we left off, with Saitama rampaging through the alien spaceship, looking for the boss, who is obviously the giant, blue, one eyed elf with a Yu-Gi-Oh haircut and parachute pants. Because when you want to be seen as a badass, that’s clearly how you do it.
This guy is actually Lord Boros, the leader of the aliens, and we’ll get to why he’s important later on. For now, he decides to meander on up to the bridge and see what’s shaking. Which,as it happens, is where one of his top Lieutenants, a blue squid looking thing named Geryuganshoop is having a meltdown over the fact that Groribas got splattered, and Headsup, whose name we learn is actually Melzargard, is still dicking around on the ground.
Two things. First, these guys were obviously named what they were in order to give bloggers fits trying to spell those names. Second, I’m not going to keep trying to spell them. Headsup and Shoopy. That’s what I’m calling them.
Boros arrives and learns that Saitama has wrecked a decent amount of the ship. He tells Shoopy it’s all good, as those are just crew quarters, and tasks he, Headsup, and Grody to deal with Saitama. Proving that a squid can sweat, Shoopy informs him of Grody’s death, which actually gets Boros attention, making him take Saitama a bit more seriously.
That’s the first smart thing a villain has done on this show since the first episode. Boros is clearly a clever Duel Monsters playing elf.
Not to mention it’s really nice that all these aliens speak such flawless Japanese. See, now, it really isn’t that big a deal to learn the native language before visiting a foreign place, is it? I mean, it hyper destructive aliens bent on domination can do it, so can you.
When we come back from the opening credits, we join a news broadcast detailing just how bad things are. We get a brief moment to catch up with former bad guys, such as Hammerhead, Professor Emo and his cyber gorilla, and even Sonic, as each of them takes in the news. Personally, for my money, Emo and Gorilla hanging out in a one room flat is pure gold.
That out of the way, we rejoin the battle on the ground against Headsup, as the monster reforms in the aftermath of Triple P’s Dark Angel Flash attack. Off to one side, Knight Man is staggered not just by Triple P’s power, but Headsup’s as well. Seeing the nasty alien regenerating, Knight Man tries to tell them all what he learned from fighting the thing.
Which is basically that nothing seems to hurt it, but one hit from it can kill. Feeling cocky about it all, Headsup decides to take out Triple P, but has his attack deflected by Bang, who then sends the critter on a nice trip, though it does not seem to enjoy the fall.
I do want to take a second here to give props to Bang. The dude may be old, and only have martial arts at his disposal, but the fact he deflected Headsup attack is damn impressive, as is his ability to bowl the thing over. Clearly, he truly does deserve his ranking as a Class S.
Headsup decides this is all bullshit and sends one of its heads to contact the ship, wanting to kill everyone off with a single bombardment from above. Before the head can fly away, though, Metal Bat, proving his worthiness to be considered a member of the Bat family, knocks its ass down. Just for extra measure, he obliterates it with a home run swing.
Okay, he’s actually pretty cool.
Headsup gets contacted by Shoopy, who tells him about Saitama, but Headsup knows he can’t break off fighting with the other heroes to do anything about it. Shoopy tells him to finish them off, a task that is obviously easier said than done.
Other things that easier said than done, locking doors against Saitama. As our hero of yellow spandex encounters a locked door, something that has frequently proven almost fatal to Vox Machina, he yanks the entire wall out. Then says oops. Cause he’s Saitama.
Back down on the ground, Metal Bat gets the first hint as to how to defeat Headsup as the flying head reforms and the two exchange some witty banter. While they are busy with that, Bang is taking the main body of Headsup to task, backed up by Triple P and Atomic Samurai.
Knight Man, ever the voice of defeat, encourages them all to fall back and find a new way to defeat the creature. Metal Bat isn’t having that, though, since smashing things is all he can do. The same goes for Bang and Triple P, but it’s Atomic Samurai who really puts the exclamation point on the matter.
“Don’t you have faith in me?”
Damn, but if I didn’t get a little misty eyed at that. Because they know, all of them, that this is a battle they cannot win. Sooner or later, they will all grow tired, or make a tiny mistake that will cost them their lives. They all know it, and they fight anyway, for that is all they can do.
These people, they are, to the last, true heroes. It is better to die fighting, then give an inch to those who would take from you. Take your home, your pride, your life, and those you love. Far better to fight, to the last breath, than ever consider the thought of giving up.
More than that, though, is that it hit me on a personal level, for reasons I’ll get into later. Suffice to say, OPM just skyrocketed into my top ten list of must see animes.
As the heroes continue their assault, Headsup and Shoopy have a quick conversation about the state of things. Seems Shoopy really, really wants Headsup to get his multiheaded ass back up to take care of Saitama, but Headsup can’t quite shake his attackers long enough to do that. When Shoopy tells him that half the crew is dead, Headsup decides enough is enough, and asks for a full bombardment of the area around him, after which, he can head up and deal with Saitama.
Shoopy finally agrees, though Headsup realizes once the squid slithers off to order the barrage that having Shoopy come down and help him would actually be quicker. When he gets no response, for the first time, Headsup begins to wonder just what they stepped in.
While that’s going on, Metal Bat is still fighting the flying head, and after smashing it again, spots the same odd thing he glimpsed before, a blue marble like object that seems to be at the center of the heads regeneration. He grabs it before the head can fully reform, sending the head into a bit of a panic, which was probably not a good thing to do, since it makes Metal Bat realize that smashing it might be smart.
Hey, just cause the guy is only good at hitting things doesn’t make him stupid. Giving the marble a whack with his bat, he shatter it, and the head melts into goo. He puts two and two together right quick, and informs the others of how to defeat Headsup, which the big jackass does not appear to be happy about. Probably because he suddenly fears for his life. That aside, he decides to just try to hold out until the bombardment begins.
Back on the ship, Saitama continues to wander around smashing things. Say what you will, but the guy knows what he’s good at, and sticks with it. Shoopy apparently decided to deal with the matter diplomatically, and telepathically contacts Saitama and orders him to leave before they unleash all their forces against him. This is clearly an empty threat, since Saitama has already killed half the crew, but hey, when a weirdo in yellow spandex is smashing your spaceship while you try to invade his planet, you do what you gotta.
Saitama responds in typical fashion by pointing out that he’s lost and doesn’t know how to leave. Shoopy, proving aliens are idiots, offers to guide him out, and Saitama agrees to leave. Proving to be even stupider than reason typically allows, Shoopy gets excited and proceeds to give directions, and is somehow shocked when Saitama goes in the opposite direction.
Seriously, Shoopy? Do you come from a planet were lying never existed? What is wrong with you?
Now in a panic, Shoopy tries to get Saitama to be still, even offering to come and guide him personally off the ship, since he did not get the memo that he is an idiot. Turns out, by going in the opposite direction, Saitama has ended up at the bridge, which makes Shoopy look even stupider.
How this guy got to be second in command to Boros is an utter mystery.
Now on the bridge, Saitama decides to wreck things, like ya do.
No, seriously, this same thing happens in my novel, War Witch. When you get to the enemy command deck, you break everything in sight. Obviously, Shoopy should have gotten an advanced reader copy of my book, as he would then know this.
See what happens when you turn down free reading material, Shoopy? Bad Shoopy! Bad!
Pissed that he lead Siatama right to the bridge, Shoopy unleashes his full power, which looks to be over 9000. I don’t have a meter, but it’s a good guess.
So, it turns out that Shoopy is the self proclaimed supreme telekinetic power in the universe. Guess he missed the last episode, where Tornado dropped a meteor on Godzilla. Had he watched it, he’d know he’s second best, at the very best. What follows also tells us what would happen if Saitama and Tornado ever fought.
Using his powers, Shoopy hurls a crap load of debris at Saitama, which has the expected effect of nothing, beyond proving that somehow Shoopy knows what blood sausage is. While that’s happening, the artillery guy, who I’m just gonna share a picture of rather than try to describe, is waiting for the firing order.
Annoyed that his attack had no effect, Shoopy unleashes his power to manipulate the gravity, condensing the point around Saitama to near the force of a black hole, which manages to decimate the bridge crew, but makes Saitama scratch his head.
Since that didn’t work, Shoopy tries to pummel him with debris again, what with it having worked so well last time. This guy, he really needs to pay more attention. After putting a crap ton of holes in the ship, he sees his attack had no effect at all.
In fact, Saitama actually caught a piece of the debris, and tells Shoopy that he is wasting his powers. All he’s doing is throwing pebbles around, which anyone can do, and to prove that, Saitama tosses a piece through Shoopy’s head, killing him.
He didn’t even punch him. He just throw a rock at him. That’s just… wow. Damn, Saitama. Talk about adding insult to injury. With that done, Saitama finds a couple of surviving crew members and asks directions to Boros. Because he’s a polite guy.
Meanwhile, Genos and Child Emperor are figuring out that the ship is about to fire off another round of artillery, and notify the proper people for pants shitting panic. They don’t do pants shitting panic, obviously, especially since Genos doesn’t shit at all. Child Emperor may shit his pants, but I don’t know enough about him to be sure.
He looks like a little shit, though, so I’m assuming it to be possible.
The Heroes Association can shit their pants enough for everyone, though, and promptly do. Sitch orders all rescue teams to fall back, never mind all the survivors that might still be in need of rescue in City A.
Meanwhile, the artillery… thingy… has finished preparations and begins to lock on to the target, meaning the guys fighting Headsup. Seems they’ve done a good job of it, too, as we see Triple P crush another marble, reducing Headsup to just two heads.
He’s none too happy about it, either. Lucky for him, the alien responsible for firing the cannons pushes the button, even saying click as he does, which pretty well tells us why he’s not on the bridge. He’s the Fred Fredburger of the aliens.
Headsup takes a minute to gloat as the shells rain down. There is no way for the heroes who have stood so valiantly against him to escape. They are going to die, pretty much instantly, as soon as the shells hit.
Tornado has other ideas, though, and freezes them in the air with a look of utter disdain.
Whatever her issues, I really like Tornado. She is, without a doubt, a total badass.
In one of the most epic moments of this show’s entire run, she rightly points out everyone would be dead without her, and sends the shells flying back up at the ship, devastating it. Fred Fredburger has time to wish he was home before he’s wiped out in the resulting explosion. I doubt there was anyone that will miss him.
He was a dick.
While the Hero Association gapes, for reasons that defy logic, what with them knowing Tornado and all, Mumen Rider brings in some survivors he found and prepares to head back out. The Hero Association operative we’ve seen a bunch starts to try and dissuade him, until Stinger and Lightening Max show up and offer to go with, even asking to borrow an APC.
When the crunch time comes, I guess these guys are all real heroes. I knew Mumen Rider was, but it’s good to see others who were concerned about their standing in the past do the right thing.
Maye the Heroes Association does do some good work after all.
In an epic display of teamwork, the Class S heroes fighting Headsup go after his final two heads after he flies into a rage over the failed artillery barrage. Metal Bat distracts him long enough for Triple P to grab his arms, leaving Bang free to snatch and destroy another marble, reducing Headsup to a single head. It is, hands down, a gorgeous moment, that is as beautifully animated as it is inspiring.
Sadly, though, Bang leaves himself open, and Headsup gets a hit in, throwing the old man through several brick walls, before leaving him embedded in another. I dunno if Bang is alive or not, but even if this was his final stand, he brought the others what they needed. Headsup has only one head left, and victory is in their grasp.
I really do hope he survived somehow, but I wouldn’t put it past OPM to have this be Bang making the ultimate sacrifice for the good of the world.
Headsup gloats at having taken one of them out, apparently not able to do math and see that four is more than one. Giddy at have having finally stopped a single person, Headsup decides to go after Atomic Samurai next, but it’s clear from the look on his face, that any semblance of rivalry between he and Bang was just for show. He’s beyond pissed, and ready to take Headsup down.
First, however, we rejoin Saitama as he finally reaches Boros. Being the clever Yugielf that he is, he has sensed Saitama’s approach, and is not surprised when Saitama just barrels right through the door. He does pick up on Saitama’s power, and decides, in a display of recognition, to treat him with respect.
Introducing himself as the Dominator of the Universe, he asks Saitama’s name, and gets it. Saitama, being the dork he is, calls Boros the Denominator of the Universe, before chastising him from trashing City A.
Having also not watched past episode, Boros decides to give his backstory, telling Saitama that he has come to Earth because of a prophecy given to him by Cthulhu. It seems that Boros once traveled the universe, ravaging everything in sight, until he became bored with his overwhelming power. Then, he learned that he would meet his equal on a distant world, and has come seeking that worthy battle.
Sound familiar? It should. Boros is the evil opposite of Saitama. Literally.
Beyond happy to have found the prophecy to be true, Boros asks Saitama to give stimulation to his existence, and Saitama replies by punching the snot out of Boros.
Surprise plot twist, it doesn’t kill Boros. Finally, Saitama has found a foe that he cannot defeat with a single punch.
He does manage to destroy the armor Boros was wearing, though, which apparently was designed to contain his overwhelming power of destruction. With it gone, he swells into a massive monster as we get music that is usually reserved for Fox News when they want to talk about how evil Obama is.
Despite this, Saitama is underwhelmed.
As the two prepare to clash, the episode ends.
So, here we are now, near the end, and it seems Saitama has finally found what he was seeking, and as it happens, it is someone just like him. Where Saitama has chosen, even in his ennui, to be a hero, Boros has chosen to destroy everything in his boredom.
There’s a lot to be said about the dual nature of light and darkness here, but I’m pretty sure you guys have gotten what the show is driving at. All that remains then is to see which is truly stronger, Saitama or Boros. Since Saitama wasn’t able to one punch Boros, this may actually be a fight.
Of course, I’m not ruling out that after a scuffle, Saitama will obliterate Boros in a massive anti-climax half way through next weeks episode, leaving the rest for wrap up, as they are proclaiming it the final episode. It would, after all, be in keeping with OPM to do that.
Regardless, I’m pretty excited to see this battle, as it isn’t just two super powered beings throwing down, it’s also Saitama facing what he could have easily become in his boredom. Will that play a part, or will Saitama stay true to his character and not give it a seconds worth of thought.
We’ll find out next week in the final episode of One Punch Man: The Strongest Hero.
Now, the rest of this has little to do with the episode, so read as you wish, or ignore as you like.
I’ve had a rough week. Like, the kind that makes you feel beaten down to the point you don’t want to get back up. It’s left me questioning a lot of decisions I’ve made this past year, and wondering if I should have done things differently.
At the heart of this quandary is my novel, War Witch. Originally set to be released last week, circumstances have forced it back to January. While this sort of thing happens, it’s the nature of those circumstances that have finally made me wonder if chasing this dream of being a writer is even worth my time anymore.
So you know, that’s the one thing I’ve always wanted. Since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be a writer. I use to make up stories and try writing them down as far back as I can remember. It is, to be honest, the only real skill or talent I possess. I am literally not good at anything else.
Yet, here I am, in my forties, and even with a book deal, I can’t seem to actually get a book out there. Everything I’ve set up for the past month is falling apart because of it. My sponsorship over at AnimeEvo, all the promotion I’ve done here on my blog, even the advanced copies I’ve passed out all suddenly feels like it’s wasted.
Add to this that Amazon is now changing their review policy, so anyone who actually likes my work, and happens to follow me on Twitter, or be friends with me on Facebook, can’t review my work anymore, and it all just feels like a lot of wasted effort, for nothing. As if even in getting a book deal, I’ve failed.
It’s enough to make me wonder if I should just give up, and stop chasing this dream. I mean, I’ve spent enough of my life on it, with nothing to show for it, that these kinds of things happening right now makes me question it, you know?
Obstacles are one thing, but it almost seems as if the universe itself is trying to tell me to give up. It’s depressing, and I’ve felt defeated all week. Questioning my talent, my desire, and most of all, myself.
Part of me wants to just throw in the towel, say I did my best, and resign myself to the reality that, even if I have talent, that isn’t enough. When you see people getting paid millions for shit like Twilight and Fifty Shades, it’s hard not to think that way.
Yet, as I was watching this episode, it hit me. It isn’t about if I succeed or fail. It’s that I never gave up. Even if my novel is a total flop that everyone hates, I didn’t give up, and reached that the goal of having it out there.
Just by having it hit the market, I won.
It was as I watched Triple P, Bang, Atomic Samurai, and Metal Bat refusing to give up when they thought there was no way to win that I got this. That the result is less important than the effort made.
I tried. I gave it everything I had. That is what matters.
I don’t need awards for participating. I can live with the book being a failure. I still got it out there. I did that much. I gave it everything, and if at the end, I fall into obscurity, that’s okay. Because I never gave up.
So, thank you, One Punch Man, for reminding me that it is the battle that matters, for it defines my character, even if at the end, there was never any hope to begin with. If I am to fail, I will go down fighting.
This is the magic of anime. It is something very few other mediums manage. Even a parody of the superhero genre can inspire us when we feel we are at our lowest. Even a show like OPM can give us that boost, to get back up, dust ourselves off, and keep fighting.
It is what I love about anime as a whole, and why I blog about it. Because it inspires me, and as I watched this episode, I needed that inspiration.
It is also a reminder that we should never really take any form of fiction for granted, even crap like Twilight and Fifty Shades, because somewhere, someone may find the inspiration they need to keep fighting their own battle.
I said before that anime was a big inspiration to me as a writer, but it is also an inspiration to me in life. I think that’s what the best animes do, is to inspire us to be better people, to be stronger, or to just not give up even when we feel like we have nothing left.
Today, for me, that inspiration was One Punch Man, and if that doesn’t make it special, I dunno what does.
See you next week for the next episode, and next month, when my book comes out. I’ll still be here, for both.