Last week I reviewed and compared One Punch Man’s 3 different media – the anime, webcomic and manga. I’m going to focus more on the webcomic and manga from now on but thought it’d be nice to follow the chronology of the anime. So this review is on Chapters 2-4, or as you’d probably know it, the latter two thirds of Episode 1 (we look at chapter 1 last week, if you want to read that go here).
These first few chapters, despite being very short and punch-liney (pun intended), actually pack a lot of information that remains important going forward. Chapter 2, the backstory chapter, shows how Saitama went from being a normal salary man into a hero by feeling the need to protect a clueless, ugly, misbehaving kid with a cleft chin from a crab monster who wants to kill him for drawing nipples on his ‘gorgeous’ chest. In the anime, this backstory is later expanded in the OVA ‘Road to Hero’ but the manga seems to, at least early on, leave it at this. Unbeknownst to Saitama (and us so I won’t spoil too much), him saving this kid would lead to the birth of many more heroes.
Chapter 3 and 4 are less interesting plot wise. They both show Saitama’s incredible strength which allows him to destroy anything in one punch. Chapter 3 focuses on the brain and brawn brothers who are ranked as demon level threats (the first time we see this classification system) but Saitama defeats them in one punch saying ‘Having an overwhelming power is boring as hell’ – a theme that runs through the whole series. In Chapter 4, Saitama fights the Subterranean People, a species of humanoid creatures that live underground hellbent on taking over the surface. They put up an amazing brawl, Saitama feels the thrill of battle again. After fighting hoards of monsters, he battles the Subterranean King one-on-one only to find out that…it was all a dream. As if a prophecy, the subterranean people do show up outside Saitama’s door but after the excited Saitama kills the King with a single punch, the creatures apologize and leave without a single scuffle.
What I like best about these early chapters is that they introduce the series and its main character without any fuss. Every chapter is short, sweet and self-enclosed but tells you something new and important with every chapter. Even if they feel like it, they’re not fillers. Not only that, but reading the webcomic after watching the anime, shows how even the earliest chapters foreshadow the future briefly – the monster classification system, humans turning into monsters (crabrante’s backstory about eating too many crabs is pretty funny) and the ugly kid with the cleft chin, all come back later.
Next week as I review the chapters that make up episode 2 (5-8), other characters start to come into play complicating up the picture but for now, please enjoy the great boredom that is unlimited power.
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