Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Anime Review: One Punch Man

Conflict is at the heart of every good story, even if it is a comedy.

One Punch Man is an anime that makes you laugh about other anime. It is a brilliant parody of all that is trite about other titles.

Remember the dialogues during grand battles between the villain and the hero? Or the scenes and suspense where the protagonist struggles to win? Or the main characters' dramatic declaration of their creed, why they fight, who they fight for etc? or better yet, the grand battle itself, where the monsters and heroes undergo transformations upon transformations, and cause destructions upon destructions of the world or the whole universe?

One Punch Man lets you see only half of them, the other half is dismissed by Saitama's cartoonish hero costume with cape, his shining bald head, the bored look on his face, his often simple take on things otherwise serious, and his fight ending one punch.

Here is Saitama, though not referred to as such in the series he is the lives up to the title One Punch Man, ending all battled with one punch(or a series of "normal" punches").

So if all it takes is one punch to defeat all enemies, where is the struggle? Where is the suspense knowing that in the end all is well with one punch? Like my boredom watching most of Steven Segal's movies, with him almost always invincible, never getting hit. I just can't believe it.

Furthermore, One Punch Man is so unlike other series that I loved where there uncertainty of victory and the constant shock of dying characters is always there. I refer to Claymore and Attack on Titan, with the latter being parodied by a monster Saitama kills in one punch.

But, this is where the series shines, not with anticipation and the suspense for the coming battle between good and evil, but with all the drama of being good, too good it is already comedic.

Saitama is bored, bored of being too strong that no one interests him. Thus you will watch this wanting to know if the next opponent will last longer than one punch, or if he ever meets his match. But nowhere do you expect him to lose. In the battle between good and evil, good is assured the win.

Again, so where is the suspense? Saitama is not the only hero, he is joined, or rather he joins other heroes in a hero organization ala Avengers, to show how strong the villains(adding that missing struggle) are and how strong and simple Saitama is(the comedy).

This is one technique of reinforcing characterization by the placing characters vis-a-vis other different characters- the trick is to pair a character with another character that has dramatically different traits. Saitama is followed by his loyal disciple Genos whose serious demeanor mixed with Saitama's simple one is the bread and butter of the anime's comedy.

(other titles that come into mind would be how Death Note places the two arch rivals close to each other)

There you have it, a parody with just the right humor for anyone who watches anime. Watch this for the laugh.

What else?

I mentioned earlier of other heroes. We learn in our basic Literature classes of the different conflicts of stories, that of man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. himself, and man vs. society. (or woman) 

Knowing these nuances of conflicts helps us appreciate stories that do not fall into the general type that involve a lot of fighting. We can see more or often expect more aside from the climactic battle scenes. 

Before I become the spoiler, let me say that One Punch Man's main source of conflict thus its main moving force is a struggle of a man mainly against himself, his boredom of being the strongest, paying the bills, buying groceries and secondly against society, the acceptance of the society that he protects and the competition with those that protect with him. 

The last one is what really piques me, who were those unmentioned heroes? and of those others that have been shown to be really strong, how would they fare against Saitama? While he has proven himself effective against the champions of evil(killing them all), how would he act in a serious fight against the champions of good?

(can't wait for the next season.)

On a side note: parodies are important in the growth of any literature, they provide not only a much needed laughter, a break from an art becoming too serious, a parody provide constructive criticisms. I am curious how other anime would be influenced by this one when it has shown what has become clichéd in most series.

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