Review for One Punch Man Collection 1 - Collector's Edition
It’s time for another “BIGGEST ANIME EVER!” review. Every year, there are a handful of titles that break out of their genre, grab a wide audience, and threaten to break out of the anime niche as well. Attack on Titan is one such example that became a water cooler anime when it was initially streamed. A couple of years ago, it was this show, One Punch Man that garnered wide acclaim and generated a lot of noise among fans. After all, it was playing in the Tiger & Bunny domain, putting an anime spin on a very Western concept, that of the comic book hero. Everyone was talking about One Punch Man when it was streamed, and now that it’s here on Blu-ray and DVD, I get to see if this is a genuine breakthrough title. If its title character has anything to say about it, this is one show that will be punching above its weight.
Saitama is a superhero with a problem; he’s just too damned strong. After an encounter with a mutated supervillain three years previously, the unemployed salaryman switched vocation and started a brutal training regime to become stronger. The training was so brutal that his hair fell out. Only now, he’s so tough that it just takes one punch to defeat even the strongest of enemies, one punch to reduce them to gobbets of blood and gore. And it’s not as if his personal circumstances have improved, he doesn’t even get recognised as a hero. Saitama’s broke and he’s bored, looking for a villain that will stay alive long enough to punch back...
Twelve episodes of One Punch Man plus extra features are presented across two Blu-rays from Kazé Entertainment.
1. The Strongest Man
2. The Lone Cyborg
3. The Obsessive Scientist
4. The Modern Ninja
5. The Ultimate Master
6. The Terrifying City
7. The Ultimate Disciple
8. The Deep Sea King
9. Unyielding Justice
10. Unparalleled Peril
11. The Dominator of the Universe
12. The Strongest Hero
One Punch Man gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on these discs. The image is clear and sharp, colours are strong and consistent, and there are no problems with visible compression, aliasing or digital banding. It’s a fine transfer of a visually impressive anime. With studio Madhouse doing the honours, One Punch Man is a striking animation, dynamic, energetic and fluid. Saitama himself is a study in minimalism (except when his emotions are engaged) but the rest of the characters are richly drawn and detailed. The odd villain shows more than a passing resemblance to Dragon Ball characters though, which is probably more satirical than homage.
You have the choice between PCM 2.0 Stereo English and Japanese with subtitles or signs locked during playback. I was happy with the Japanese audio, but what I heard of the English dub sounded strong as well. The dialogue is clear, the action comes across with impact, and the show gets some great music too, particularly the opening theme. The usual Kazé issue with subtitling is there, in that only two captions at a time can be on screen at any one time. If there are two conversations, if there is background dialogue, or if there is screen text, then the main characters’ dialogue will be translated as a priority, and all else will be lost. There are moments where English overlay text is burned into the print, which helps in this regard, and otherwise One Punch Man isn’t a show where multiple on screen translations are really required. So in terms of Kazé releases, this is more of a Magi than a Princess Jellyfish when it comes to subtitles.
The discs present their content with animated menus.
Disc 1 autoplays a trailer for Mardock Scramble Film 2.
The interview with character designer and animation supervisor Chikashi Kubota lasts 5:26. This was conducted for Viz Europe, and consequently, it’s presented in 1080i 50Hz.
The textless opening is here with burnt in karaoke subs.
The first three OVAs are on this disc, OVA 1: The Shadow that Snuck Up Too Close (12:29), OVA 2: The Disciple Who Sucks at Storytelling (11:39), and OVA 3: The Overly Complicated Ninja (12:04). These are further, character focused stories that slot neatly in between the episodes.
Disc 2 begins with Cast Interviews, which lasts 10:12 and features the English voice cast and ADR director, alongside the Japanese director, and the Japanese voice of Saitama.
Let’s Meet JAM Project was the other featurette created for the European release, and the vocalists behind the show’s rock opening theme are interviewed for 9:33. This too is in 1080i 50Hz.
The next three OVAs are on disc 2, OVA 4: The Excessively Pushy Bang (12:05), OVA 5: The Sisters With Too Much Going On (11:51), and OVA 6: The Far Too Impossible Case of Murder (12:19). It’s worth watching the end credits through for each of the OVAs as they get episode specific lyrics.
Finally you get the Karaoke End Theme.
There is a seventh One Punch Man OVA that I guess we miss out on here. All of the other extras are in 1080p.
I haven’t seen the retail release to comment on the packaging or the physical extras.
What would Superman be like in a world without Kryptonite? He’d get pretty bored, pretty quickly, unchallenged in his omnipotence. But, as One Punch Man brilliantly demonstrates, that doesn’t mean that the audience has to be bored. One Punch Man is the best superhero show, or indeed movie that I’ve seen since Deadpool. It’s an insightful, satirical deconstruction of the superhero genre, a brilliant anime, with a great, central character, and now that I’ve seen these twelve episodes, I’m dying to see this character brought to life in a live action movie.
Saitama is the titular hero, a man who through sheer dint of training has become akin to a superhero, so strong that he demolishes his enemies with just one punch. There’s nothing left but entrails. Consequently he’s become bored with the whole thing. Nothing presents a challenge any more. He’s totally disengaged from the world, his face constantly slack and devoid of expression, his physique unremarkable compared to the other, muscle-bound heroes, and he approaches all situations without fear or excitement. The only time you see an expression on his face is when he is about to punch someone, or he might actually be challenged. It’s a momentary thrill that he might have met his match, before he delivers a punch and realises that he was wrong, and is let down once more.
I say akin to a superhero, because he’s gone about it the ‘wrong’ way. He’s become a superhero for fun, dons the suit and a cape, defeats whatever criminal or monster menaces the city, and leaves the aftermath for someone else to deal with. And he gets pretty much no press for all of the ominous villains that he defeats. He’s also unemployed as a result, eking out a living in a small apartment in a rapidly depopulating area of the city. The right way is to join the Hero Association, and to work one’s way up the ranks, getting public acclaim and suitable publicity as well. Just as in Tiger & Bunny, the heroes are categorised and labelled according to strength and ability, levels, C, B, A, and S, while threats are labelled from Demon class all the way to God class, city threatening foes to extinction level events.
Saitama’s life threatens to become more interesting when he encounters another wannabe hero, a cyborg named Genos. When Genos sees Saitama deal with a Mosquito Girl (One Slap Man), the cyborg decides that he’ll be Saitama’s disciple, whether he wants a disciple or not. Pretty soon he’s moving in, hanging on Saitama’s every word. Saitama has to deal out some slacker wisdom to keep Genos satisfied. They both wind up joining the Hero Association. Genos is promising looking hero material, and gets put straight into S-Class, but no one can quite take Saitama seriously as a hero, and he gets put in to C-Class, and lowest ranked at that. It threatens the whole ranking system when you have a bunch of S-Class heroes, battling to the death against a Dragon Level threat, the world witnessing epic and gruesome battles, and then along comes this bald, C-Class wimpy-looking guy, and one punch and it’s all over.
One Punch Man is the perfect synthesis of all that was good about Tiger & Bunny, the organised heroes and the public perception of them, and all that was good about Samurai Flamenco, the constant levelling up of the challenges faced by the protagonist, working his way up from petty criminals to the ultimate challenge. It also means the show ends on the perfect punchline, pun intended. You’ve got brilliant, colourful characters, and aside from the bland Saitama, this is a show that revels in getting the look of its heroes and villains just right, the animation really going to town with its comic book styling. Finally you have this delicious, comic incongruity of this supreme, ultimate hero being a bland-faced, unassuming, and easily disillusioned character, so much so that it becomes a satirical deconstruction of the superhero genre.
One Punch Man is epic, it’s the best superhero anime to come out of Japan, and Kazé have given this show a presentation on Blu-ray that even I’m satisfied with.