Final Impressions: One Punch Man


Endless Combo

Hey, wait a minute! I think he punched that guy, like, three times! At least! 

I feel deceived.

I am, of course, kidding. Now that One Punch Man is done for the time being, I have to admit that I was feeling not deceived, but relieved. The reason for that is episode eleven, which largely functioned to deliver the setup for episode twelve. 

Why would that get me stressed, you ask? It's because episode eleven simply didn't look quite as good as the rest of the show.

It's a little thing, true, but for a program that's made its name by looking utterly gorgeous without breaking the bank, a few too many of the seams peeked out while Saitama infiltrated the Macross-sized alien flagship, and while Genos, Tornado, Atomic Samurai and the rest tangled with the alien Melzargard on the ground below.

To be fair, even on an off day, One Punch Man puts to shame the finales of many lesser series, but I couldn't help but feel a twinge of worry whenever the camera cut to a featureless shot of the alien ship's underside, or lingered too long on Melzargard's telepathic bickering with the octopus-like Geryuganshoop. Tiny frays in the hem of the production like that spoke of cost-cutting, leading overly sensitive fans like me to worry that the money or time had run out somehow. Had Madhouse run into production problems? Would this be a repeat of The Rolling Girls finale episode, or worse?

Hey, don't call me Chicken Little, but I've seen Shirobako. Shit hits the fan all the time, man! 

Thank goodness I was dead wrong.

And let me tell you, I've never been happier to eat my words, because the finale of One Punch Man is quality animation of the highest order. Utterly enthralling as a work of craft and visual excess, Saitama's fight with Boros even manages to top the rest of the series in ways I wouldn't have thought possible, and certainly not on the reportedly modest budget Madhouse worked with the whole way through. 

Also, Saitama gets kneed into the moon. Then he comes back.

When shit that amazing is going down, it doesn't even matter how many times he ended up having to punch Boros before the fool finally went down. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is that he got serious, pulling out his final trump card: A Serious Punch.

There's even a little more to it than that in translation, because the way Saitama names his attack is so casually blunt, bordering on rude, that it absolutely fits his "don't-give-an-eff" attitude. For a strike of such biblical scale, its name is literally as casual as saying "Hit a guy and mean it". The man has no sense of drama whatsoever, which might even play a part in why he can't do anything but win.

And though the fight ends with a punch that splits the clouds and rustles daisies on the other side of the world, perhaps the most surprising thing about this finale is that the episode itself doesn't even end for another twelve minutes.

That's right, the triumphal score and second verse of JAM PROJECT's theme all took place in the first half, before even the commercial break. The rest is an extended aftermath, covering the heroes, Amai Mask's dressing down the S-classes, and a teaser for more of Genos' subplots.

While it's more than a little odd for the series to end on such a mundane note after the utter triumph of the first twelve minutes, it makes absolute sense as a way to get fans slavering for a second season, which has yet to be announced.

Folks hoping to see something next year might be disappointed, as the current manga content following Boros isn't quite up to supporting a full season, but given the reception to the show so far, I have no doubt that it'll happen eventually. Besides, this is exactly the kind of program I'd rather not rush.

For a show that's ostensibly about a guy who wins too much, it's quite gratifying to see that this adaptation of One Punch Man has been nothing less than a victory on almost all fronts. I don't say this out of particular affection for the source (though I do like it), but out of appreciation for the craft Madhouse managed to bring to the task. You could even say it was a real knockout blow for the season, and for the year in anime.

[Watch One Punch Man on Daisuki!]


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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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