Annotated Anime: One Punch Man episodes 9-10


The Bald Man and the Sea (King)

One Punch Man  might be a comedy, but just as even the grimmest, darkest fiction isn't completely free of levity, this satirical send-up of all things superheroic can sometimes swing things straight and earnest.

And from the pace of proceedings, the showdown with the Sea King is the place to do it.

Of course, things were already looking rather bleak for anyone that wasn't Saitama. Puri Puri Prisoner, Lighting Max, Allback Man, Snakebite Snek, and others had already been trounced hard in episode 8. Genos gives his best as well, with a devastating opener and a solid effort thereafter, but in classic superhero fashion, the baddie takes advantage of the hero's natural altruism and uses a civilian in danger to gain the upper hand.

This leaves everything up to the otherwise powerless Mumen Rider, who suffers the most of all involved, summing up the circumstances in one unfortunate gif: 

I'd like to believe that Madhouse intentionally highlighted this particular sequence as a twist on the best scene in The Avengers, because the contrast between the Hulk's cutting short Loki's monologue and the Sea King absent-mindedly pulping poor Mumen Rider is exquisite. The Avengers scene is quick and unexpected and played for surprise and laughs. Here in One Punch Man, though, the same scene is long, drawn out, and with the roles of the two combatants reversed (the "Hulk" is the bad guy, here), almost painful to watch.

And yet Mumen Rider gets up, delivering a speech worthy of the best. The soul of heroism isn't in having the power to win, but in having the courage to stand up and do the right thing when no one else is willing or capable. Extra points go to Mumen Rider's voice actor, Yuichi Nakamura, who must have been real tired of playing d-bag male leads like Oreimo's Kyousuke and Mahouka's Tatsuya (who is his own story's "One Punch Man"). Nakamura really sells it, and combined with properly cheesy/uplifting piano music and a well-timed incitement of the crowd, conveys classic heroism in the best traditions of Marvel, DC, and Toei. 

And speaking of Marvel, here's a bit of interesting trivia: Nakamura is also the Japanese voice of Captain America in those editions of the Marvel movies. It seems fitting, somehow.

Saitama eventually shows up to end the fight, ripping the Sea King a new blowhole with a punch so hard it stops the rain. But that's to be expected. What happens next, though, is more interesting, as Saitama opts to make himself out to be the villain, just as the crowd is about to turn against the fallen heroes for having the temerity to fail where Saitama succeeded. Pretending to have simply cleaned up after Genos and the rest weakened the monster, he helps the heroes who did try their best save face (not that they deserved to lose it in the first place) and honors their sacrifice. 

It's a good new revelation of Saitama's character. We've seen his fundamentally selfish desire for a challenge, and we've also seen his "I don't give an eff" attitude towards his public image, solidifying his status as more the savior we deserve than the one we want. But here, he does help show that doing the right thing doesn't always involve standing up against a bad guy, but sometimes taking one for the rest of the team, and giving credit where credit's due. There's no doubting that the real heroes of the day were the guys who got their asses handed to them, after all.

If episode nine was a more thoughtful reflection of the soul backing up One Punch Man's more superficial appeal, episode ten is a return to the show's more typical form, capitalizing on gags, light slapstick, and creator ONE's oddball Japanese take on an American-style superhero ecosystem.

The Hero Association takes center stage once more, assembling all the S-class heroes (with Saitama tagging along) for an emergency briefing. Characters like Atomic Samurai, Child Emperor (whose Japanese name is a hilarious pun on the slang term for "virgin"), Silver Fang, Metal Bat, and Terrible Tornado (who gets the most screen time of all thanks to a cold-open fight against a Godzilla-sized monster) fill out the ranks, with notable absences in the form of the increasingly sinister-seeming Metal Knight, and someone named "Blast".

The reason for the gathering is an absurd guarantee from a late seer that something bad will happen...soon! It's as ridiculous as it sounds, but it seems to be proven true in a matter of seconds, as a massive Macross-sized spaceship shows up and pulls an Independence Day on the city surrounding Hero HQ. 

With hundreds of thousands, if not millions annihilated in an instant, such a titanic loss of life would be devastating in a more serious series, but it's a good thing that One Punch Man is not that kind of show. After all, there are cool fights to be had, and now that the best of the best are involved, that's what we'd best care about.

[Watch more One Punch Man on Daisuki]

If anything, the punishment taken by the heroes in this particular engagement is best summed up in the following gif.

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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures



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