Title: One-Punch Man
Author: Yusuke Murata, original story by ONE
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Jump)
Volume: Volumes 3 and 4, $9.99
Vintage: 2013 by Shueisha, November 2015 and January 2016 by Viz Media
Genre: Action, comedy
It’s time to become an official hero! Saitama and Genos are testing to become members of the Hero Association. Saitama exceeds in the physical tests, of course, but doesn’t do as well on the written exam. Genos shines in both areas, however, and makes Class S, the highest rank in the Association. Saitama ends up in Class C, near the bottom. This means he has to do one heroic deed a week or risk being kicked out entirely, so after some training time with Genos, he starts patrolling the streets looking for trouble. Just when he’s panicking about not being able to find anything, Speed-o’-Sound Sonic reappears for a rematch. At first, Saitama is annoyed that Sonic is in his way, but eventually he realizes Sonic is the bad guy he’s been looking for. Worried about City Z (where Saitama lives), the Hero Association sends out Class A ranked Spring Mustachio and Golden Ball to investigate the source of the zone’s high number of monster attacks. A tentacled monster named Kombu Infinity interrupts and takes them out, but before reinforcements arrive, Saitama handles things with his usual flair, and the mystery of City Z continues. An up and coming faction within Class B called the Blizzard Bunch is trying to prove themselves by capturing a bounty. Miss Blizzard arrives as back up, but is swiftly defeated, so an S-Rank hero named Terrible Tornado handles the monster instead. One lone Blizzard Bunch member remains standing once Saitama arrives, convinced he can never become a better hero without some kind of supernatural power. Saitama quickly proves him wrong and convinces the man that hard work is all he needs to succeed.
Genos and Saitama continue to struggle climbing the ranks and seeking recognition for their work. Genos’s good looks and cool attitude at least make him popular with hero fans. A chance to boost their rankings arrives in the form of a large meteor hurtling toward City Z. Genos is informed of the perilous situation by a hero named Bang, then is later stopped by the Metal Knight who insists on testing out his new weaponry on the meteor. It’s clear the Metal Knight doesn’t care about civilian casualties, so Genos does everything in his power to stop the meteor himself. Bang arrives to observe, and is just in time to see Saitama punch the meteor into thousands of smaller pieces. While he has stopped the total annihilation of City Z, the shattered pieces fall on the city and cause widespread destruction. Despite being saved, the citizens are not happy. Destroying such a high level threat rockets Saitama into the top ranks of Class C, but he still remains unpopular, and other heroes aren’t happy with his sudden climb. No one believes a low level Class C hero really destroyed the meteor on his own. Even so, when the Clan of the Seafolk attack, and Class A hero Stinger is having trouble defeating their leader, Saitama (and Genos) rushes to the scene. Though not before Class S hero Puri-Puri Prisoner arrives…accompanied by Sonic. A bonus manga shows Sonic’s short time in prison until he escapes thanks to Puri-Puri Prisoner.
One of my favorite things about this series is how exciting and dramatic the chapters can be. They can also be very detailed, with crazy action, and solid character and monster designs. But then by the end, plain, funny looking Saitama shows up and finishes things with a single punch. It’s a one-punch punchline. It’s always expected, but still somehow hilarious. The comedic timing in this series is spot on. There’s still plenty of actual storytelling going on, though, so don’t worry about things becoming too ridiculous. All the stuff with the Hero Association, reoccurring characters, and Genos’s quest to discover the secret to Saitama’s incredible strength transfer from chapter to chapter. I’m not sure if there’s an overreaching plot, though, or if this will just be a monster-of-the-day series. Either is fine, although there have been little hints here and there, and the monsters are coming from somewhere. The point of this series is to just have fun reading it. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and you shouldn’t either.
Review copies provided by Viz Media.