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One-Punch Man

Viz Media // Unrated // April 25, 2017
List Price: $49.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Chris Zimmerman | posted May 26, 2017 | E-mail the Author
One Punch Man: Limited Edition:

Like the various heroes it parodies, One-Punch Man's origins are rooted in a meteoric rise above its humble beginnings of an amateurish web-manga drawn in a humdrum style by the anonymous artist ONE to one of the break out anime of the last decade. Initially a comedy series extrapolating the premise of a bored hero who could lay waste to any foe with a single punch, the comic's popularity swelled, and before long the series' momentum landed it in the mainstream spotlight. A new adaptation was commissioned, pairing the hyper stylistic visuals of artist Yuusuke Murata with the nonsensical plot. The series became a powerhouse, receiving nominations several awards including the prestigious Eisner Award.

Sporting a one-two punch (pun intended) of art and story, One-Punch Man gritted its way to the top of the shonen hierarchy, landing an anime adaptation in the process.

Animated by the storied MADHOUSE studio, One-Punch Man the Complete Series brings to life dazzling sequences of animated action scenes that rank among the best in the medium. Comparable to animated action sequences found in big budget action flicks, the fights demonstrate a fluid beauty that are as jarring as they are awe-inspiring. For fans of animated smash-em-up bone crunchingly brutal action, One-Punch Man is a visceral feast.

This is not to say the series is a mindless fight fest. In fact One-Punch Man is a meditation on the value of hard work in the pursuit of one's passion, regardless of how unconventional that passion may be. Unfortunately for protagonist Saitama, his passion to become a superhero leads to an unfulfilling life of boredom and a recurring streak of unfortunate luck that reflects a common disappointment many people develop upon entering adulthood. After countless hours devoted to training, Saitama develops a monstrous strength and invincibility that allows him to lay waste to his opponents with a single punch.

The series is not without its flaws however; The bulk of One-Punch Man's sophomoric humor stems from its over-reliance on the "One-Punch KO" gag that the first few episodes tend to dovetail into. Early episodes find the joke repeated, regardless of the increasingly sizable foes that crop up to interfere with Saitama's mundane life, though slight variations on the gag do yield some laughs, the best of them being a nearly disastrous collision with Saitama's fist to another character's nether regions.

Regrettably, the series' basic concept handicaps itself. Saitama is so over-powered that it is impossible to consider any of the characters as genuine threats. Even the grandiose battle in the finale against an alien overlord ripped straight out of Dragon Ball Z comes off as anticlimactic due to the lack of suspense and tension.

Fortunately, the series' stellar visuals are where most fan reception stems from. Hardcore animation enthusiasts and casual viewers have found themselves engaged in what many have labeled cinematic quality. The aesthetic quality of the series has sparked such a strong reaction amongst its fandom that the chief animation director had to clarify that the series was running on the typical budget determined for a weekly anime.

The supporting cast is where One-Punch Man escapes from its one-note gags to offer a stronger narrative and overarching plot. Many of the various heroes that populate the world around Saitama can be considered merely adequate at their job, with some not even possessing a fraction of his strength. One even rides a bicycle and appears to lack any semblance of power, but is still willing to risk his life in his heroic acts of defending the citizens of the city. Saitama's cyborg disciple Genos presents a greater example of the heroic journey metaphor, having dedicated his life to becoming his master's equal.

Overall, when it comes to visual spectacle and inspired animation sequences, One-Punch Man stands on a mountain above the rest. While they lack the dramatic effect of other shows, they pack more than enough pizzazz to convert even the most cynical of viewers. This unfortunately leads to the dilemma of investing in a series that is impressive on a technical level, but lacking any emotional depth.

The Blu-ray

Video and Audio :

One-Punch Man lands on Blu-ray courtesy of Viz Media and if there were any series that deserved the high definition treatment, this is it. The strength of the animation, especially when it comes down to the small details of transitioning from elegant pencil style animation to thicker linework that are worth pausing and glossing over frame-by-frame.

As a person that listens to and defends dub tracks, I found One-Punch Man's English dub lacking. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, and the actors perform adequately in channeling their characters, but compared to the Japanese cast's enthusiasm, channeling the energy of their characters, by contrast the English cast comes off as a group of individuals reading from a script.


One-Punch Man is one of Viz Media's notable releases this year under the company's umbrella, and as such garners a substantial bevy of extras. The limited edition Blu-ray/ DVD combo pack comes housed in a thick clipboard box and an assortment of art cards depicting the various characters from the series. Also included is a booklet with detailed character profiles, an interview with the studio's animation staff, and the first chapter of the manga.

On disc extras include OVA episodes, trailer previews, and clean opening and closing animations.

Final Thoughts:

Despite its shortcomings, One-Punch Man is an amusing, if unconventional series that would grow tedious if it were not blessed with the quality of animation that can turn a story about a recurring gag into an enthralling work that packs a punch.

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Highly Recommended

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