December 4, 2015

Anime Introspective: OnePunch Man is the ANTI-Shounen Anime

Watch out, spoilers for the end of Attack on Titan are right below!! 

But seriously, why is this guy so OP?

It is hard to believe but OnePunch Man the newest anime by Madhouse studio has taken the anime community by storm. A gag heavy super hero story about an ordinary man named Saitama who trains to be a hero for fun, only to become the strongest hero and can destroy baddies with a single punch, OnePunch Man (Wanpan for those into anime name shortenings) has become the new gold standard for action scenes and offbeat humor this anime season.

It is so strange to think that we're so captivated by a hero who puts next to no effort in being a hero! Luffy, Goku, Toriko et al are all heroes who put their all into improving themselves, they smash barriers of strength and compassion that are put in front of them ONLY AFTER they've struggled! Why then is Saitama's character so compelling?

There are many reasons. The one that you'll hear from lots of people is that "There are actually other heroes in the story that are struggling and they make things more interesting!" Yes it's true that the charismatic and cool cyborg Genos is always weaker than the titular OnePunch Man, and it is great to see their dynamics in play, but that alone should get tiresome once we see it enough. And making that argument is like saying Dragon Ball Z is interesting because Piccolo never gets any serious battles.

No, Saitama is the ultimate hero to the point of boredom. Why are we so interested in this story?? There has to be a good reason for it. And I think I know what it is:

How it completely contradicts 
The Human Condition 
o the point where we are rooting 
against our hero. 

Now don't get me wrong. We are not hoping that Saitama dies or even loses a battle. NO!

Let's look at the human condition for a moment. It is defined by:
the characteristics, key events, and situations which compose the essentials of human existence, such as birth, growth, emotionality, aspiration, conflict, and mortality

Yes, that's right. We're not talking about mortality. Simply just the dynamics that make one human. Growth, emotion, conflict. Everything we laud good stories for having.  In a way OnePunch Man is a show that encapsulates the struggle of what makes a show good in the first place. Instead of providing us with a titular character that needs to reach a point in a story arc to progress through an overarching and seemingly impossible goal, this show gives us a guy who has it all already.

Let's get to the point. When we get a new baddie in OnePunch Man, we size them up and HOPE THAT THEY WILL PUT UP A FIGHT FOR SAITAMA. When the (to avoid spoilers. let's  just say) forces that be within the story place lesser heroes in the path of a new baddie, we size up these battles to determine if THIS NEW GUY WILL PUT UP A FIGHT FOR SAITAMA. By using well-timed puns and incredible animation and pacing, this show toys with us to the point where we root for Saitama to be pulled into the inevitable facets of the Human Condition in a way that he hasn't yet show.

Its the embodiment of the Anti Shounen. It's against all belief systems of Anime-ism. 

This is the reverse process of normal shonen anime. This makes OnePunch Man an Anti-Shounen.

But it's okay because we all want to see more match ups like the above, which makes our brains shrivel to mush thinking about who would win!


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