‘One-Punch Man’ Anime Is A Knockout Adaptation
Pretty much ever since the original webcomic by ONE premiered in 2009, fans of the superhero spoof One-Punch Man have been aching for an anime adaptation. Last fall, Madhouse --- the geniuses behind Summer Wars and Death Note, among other things --- granted their wish with a 12-episode anime based on the manga by ONE & Yuusuke Murata, which the record will show we at ComicsAlliance are big fans of.
Now, thanks to Viz Media and Adult Swim's Toonami block, an English dub of that anime is finally available Stateside. So how is it? Pretty damn good.
Quick recap for those of you not familiar with One Punch Man. Saitama, a young, unemployed would-be salaryman, was depressed with his life. But after saving a big-chinned child from the pantsless villain Crabrante, he discovered true joy again by remembering that he wanted to be a superhero as a kid.
Cut to three years later and Saitama, still living in Z City, has trained so hard he's gone bald, and can take down anything in one punch. So he patrols the streets in costume, now battling a different kind of ennui. "Having unlimited strength," he muses, "is... pretty boring actually." But this show is anything but.
The animation is Madhouse at their best. There's a bunch of crazy, brilliant fight sequences full of personality and energy, and when this show goes all out, it goes all out. The big show-stopper fights are astonishing, leagues beyond the recycled fight footage that gets seen in shows like Dragon Ball Z and its many imitators.
Not only is the show pretty faithful to the bombast and tone of the ONE/Yusuke Murata manga, it's also a perfect apogee of both 21st-century superhero cinema and anime superhero storytelling. All the better for selling the jokes.
And yes, there are plenty of jokes in this. From the big ones like Saitama's deadpan attitude at being able to do the impossible, to the randomness of the villains that he encounters --- there's a dude who loves custom cars so much he made himself into a custom car --- this show knows how to bring on the laughs.
But key to making a spoof work like this is its main character. As voiced by Max Mittelman, Saitama is a perfect point-of-view character. He's not quite jaded, but just kinda bored. His cartoony facial expressions, compared to the regular anime faces of everyone else --- give or take a big chin --- are a big part of the show's visual humor.
The other actors here are a lot of fun, particularly Michael Sorich as Crabrante, but Mittelman steals the show. As the show introduces more characters like Saitama's cyborg buddy Genos, he'll have someone who can match him punchiline for punchline. For now, though, rest assured this dub is well worth tuning in to watch.
One-Punch Man airs Saturday nights at 12:00 AM EST on Adult Swim's Toonami block.