What’s it about ?
Offbeat superheroing, adapted from a very popular shonen manga series.
This episode is wholly devoted to selling the concept of One Punch Man, our protagonist. He lives in a world where supervillains (and subterranean species, and the Earth’s immune system, and…) keep sprouting up and wrecking shit up. There are a number of superheroes in activity to stand up to all of those, and our hero is one of the latest.
We’re shown a flashback to his “origin story” three years ago, and it’s (purposefully) less than impressive. Random nobody stands up to a crab supervillain to save a kid, discovers he’d actually like to pursue his childhood dreams of fighting evil, goes and trains offscreen so hard he loses his hair, the end. That’s it, and it drives the point home that the story doesn’t care about the how and why One Punch Man exists.
His gimmick, as the name indicates, is that he can beat any kind of opponent in one punch. (He also has enough resilience to withstand being thrown around a bit before getting a good shot.) And if you think that’d make for boring fight scenes… Well, so does he. It’s all about his existential crisis as he mows down no less than five different baddies over the course of the episode. The only time that looks like he’s breaking a sweat (because there are several baddies to punch), it’s actually a dream sequence articulating his anxieties.
The only other regular-looking character shows up wordlessly, looking at some dead cattle, in the last 30 seconds. Presumably he’s going to actually do something next episode.
A preview of this first episode aired on NicoNico a bit ago, so I saw this in eyebleed-o-vision and no OP/ED sequences. It looks okay enough ; the direction has good comedic timing and sells the scale of the threats (or the absence thereof) very well. It’s also got a good grasp of body language… or the absence thereof, in the case of One Punch Man himself.
Well, it’s a decent joke that’s well-executed. The big question is whether it has legs ; won’t the “One Punch” thing get old really quickly ? This is a show in a dire need of a regular supporting cast to add some depth to the premise. I presume that’s what the second episode’s going to tackle,n of course ; and the manga has been going on for long enough that I presume the author knows what he’s doing. (I certainly hope he never runs out of really silly supervillains.)
Still, this is a bit of a “wait and see” show ; it’s going to need to be funnier than this pilot for me to stick with it.