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Saving The World From Solomon Grundy

One Punch Man, book 1

By One & Yusuke Murata 

16 May, 2018

Translation

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One-PunchMan Volume One collects Punches 1 through 8 of ONE and Yusuke Murata’s ongoingmanga.

Salarymanturned superhero Saitama wrestles every day with a terrible burden.


Threeyears of a vigorous daily workout — one hundredpush-ups, one hundred sit-ups, one hundred squats, running ten kmevery day, a proper diet, and eschewing air conditioners — haveleft him so grotesquely overpowered that a single punch is enough toreduce any foe to a rain of fragmented body-parts. 

Saitamahoped to find meaning confronting and defeating the monsters thatplague his world. Instead, each fight is so effortless that he hasslipped into a deep depression.

MosquitoGirl, a monstrous hybrid of human and insect able to control immensehordes of mosquitoes, offers a ray of hope. Not because she has anychance of surviving an encounter with Saitama. She doesn’t. Butbefore Saitama appears, Mosquito Girl is locked in deadly combat withthe earnestly heroic cyborg Genos. Profoundly impressed by Saitama’sabilities, convinced that Saitama has much to teach him, thenineteen-year-old Genos declares himself Saitama’s disciple. 

PerhapsSaitama can learn from his new disciple. If he can rise above hisdepression long enough to pay attention to other humans.

~oOo~

Japanesesuperhero comics have borrowed some tropes from the American genre:flashy costumes, heroic noms de guerre, and explosive violencewithout any regard for innocent bystanders. One trope notable by itsabsence is what the roleplaying game Champions calls Code VersusKilling”: heroic reluctance or outright refusal to kill. Saitamagoes all out with the mayhem. This means that there is no Jokerimmunity; popular antagonists will not be spared for future reappearances. Ifthe Joker caught Saitama’s attention, there would be Joker bodyparts raining down.

Hencethere are no supervillains. In this manga, most antagonists1 are monsters. They are ugly, sadistic, homicidal, and unsympathetic.Many are kaiju. They are not to be captured, tried, and imprisoned;rehabilitation is out of the question; they must just be killed. Ifonly it took more than one punch!

Noris Saitama your usual superhero. Whatever the true source of hispower (he is convinced that it is his workout regimen, something thatnobody else believes; his power is too over-the-top) he’s lackingin the motivation department. Having chosen too narrow a goal, he hassunk into a deep depression. 

WouldI recommend this? I liked the art, in particular the way that theartist conveys Saitama’s disaffection and depression. I was notthrilled by the frequent spectacular bloodshed. I didn’t like theprotagonist. Saitama is something of a one-note character and thestory doesn’t really make a case that the reader should care thathe’s miserable2.The supporting characters, on the other hand, are more interesting.Interesting enough that I could finish reading volume one.

One-PunchMan Volume One is available here(Amazon) andhere(Chapters-Indigo).

1:The series does feature a pesky ninja, but he’s less of asupervillain and more of an amusement for Saitama. Aware that theninja presents no serious threat to him, and unaware that the fellowhas a body-count in the dozens, Saitama is always careful not to killhis sparring partner.

2:Mindyou, the other heroes should be concerned that Saitama might someday decide to turn on them. Hemight think that the heroes will provide him with the challenge thatmere monsters cannot. This never enters their minds. Saitama doesn’tboast; his enemies die the minute they vex him, often withoutwitnesses. You might say that he’s a stealth superhero.