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The Inexplicable Truth of One-Punch Man

By Chris Sims / .29. September 2017, 12:56 p.m. EDT /. Updated: September 29, 2017, 12:56 p.m. EDT

The most powerful superhero in comics today isn't Superman or Captain America. It's Saitama, the bald, humble, and ridiculously fatal title character from ONE and Yusuke MurataOne hit man. In a world constantly attacked by giant monsters, it tells the story of a man who chose to be a hero for fun and who grew so strong that he could defeat any opponent with a single blow.

And like all great superheroes, Saitama has a secret origin. It meanders through hidden notebooks, video game competitions, nightly webcomic binges, and grueling animations. So read on to find out who One Punch Man is and how he got there!

It started out as a webcomic

Long before it was an international bestseller with over 11 million copies printed, One hit man was a webcomic that was launched in 2009 by ONE, a lifelong manga fan, once told an interviewer. One of the great benefits of working online was that you can 'draw a webcomic even if you are not that good at yourself challenge yourself and if it doesn't work you can cancel at any time at your own discretion. '

Needless to say, it worked. On a website where a comic was considered a 'success' when it had 30 viewers, One hit man attracted thousands within weeks of its launch and caught the attention of the likes of Akiman, the legendary artist responsible for character designs in video games Street fighter II, Darkstalker, and Final battle. By 2012 Akiman had recommended the webcomic to artist Yusuke Murata, who had teamed up with ONE for a remake of the webcomic that was to run on the website of Weekly shonen jumpand expands the world and characters ONE created online.

If you are familiar with The Version, then back to the webcomic for an interesting experience. As you might expect from his 'not that great' claims, ONE's art is a completely different style than Murata's detailed, highly polished work, but the character designs, ideas, and sense of humor that make it up One hit man One hit is already there. You can still check it out online - provided, of course, you can read Japanese.

The secret origin of ONE

While One hit man Maybe it seemed like an instant success. ONE had been drawing comics years before his breakout hit. The only problem? Nobody has ever seen them.

In the same interview linked above, ONE revealed that he had spent his school years filling 'about 50 notebooks' with pages of wild ideas, including a superhero named Middle-Aged-Man. This even got him into trouble with his parents, and after seeing his work being rejected, he simply decided not to show it to anyone, keep it hidden, and even avoid school clubs for manga and emerging artists. Eventually, however, ONE discovered the world of webcomics and decided to finally show the world one of his creations. With the simple idea of ​​a hero who can defeat any villain with a single hit, One hit man was born.

Still, it's easy to see that his lifelong habit of hiding his art from other people had a pretty powerful impact on his other most famous comic, Mob Psycho 100. Launched in 2012, it focuses on a humble child who must suppress their emotions or risk unleashing an incredible psychological power. Hopefully one day mob will discover webcomics and be able to bring out all of these wild ideas The Away rather than in massively destructive battles of psychic power.

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The secret origin of Yusuke Murata

In contrast to his co-worker One hit manYusuke Murata was known for his art at a young age, even if the people who knew about it didn't know it was his. As a child, Murata entered a competition to create new villains for Capcoms Mega Man Franchise, and was credited as designer for Dust Man and Crystal Man by in the credits of the games Mega Man 4 and 5, respectively.

Fortunately for Murata, he didn't climax at 14. As an adult, his breakout work came with the sports manga in 2002 Eye protection 21 with the writer Riichiro Inagaki. This series, which comprised 333 chapters (or a full 37) Tankobon Volumes) in Shonen Jump, told the story of Sena Kobayakawa, a student whose incredible speed led another student to force him to join the Deimon Devil Bats, his school's American football team. The catch? He's so shy that he plays under a secret identity and uses opaque eye protection to hide in and use his jersey number instead. When this series ended in 2009, Murata found out about the One hit man Webcomic and after an interview with Sugoi Japanstayed up all night reading the whole thing in one sitting.

Outside of his professional work, Murata is known for his ability to tell stories sequentially. In 2012, he posted a story on Twitter where he used physical tears, wrinkles and holes in paper as elements of art, it is not surprising that he is able to illustrate ONE's “wild ideas” so well.

ONE and Murata's first collaboration

Although it is by far her most successful work, One hit man It's not the first time ONE and Murata have worked together. In 2012, the same year they launched the redrawn and expanded model OPMThey produced two one-shot stories. The first, Dotō no Yūshatachi -which literally means 'Angry Warriors' - was a parody of fantasy stories about a group of heroes (who weren't that heroic) who saved a princess from a demon king (who wasn't actually that demonic).

The other, Dangan Tenshi Fan Club, or Bullet Angel fan clubis much closer to what we would see at some point One hit man and how it plays with superhero tropes. This time the story is about a school girl whose secret identity as a demon-fighting superhero is not that secret. When her male classmates discover she is indeed a magical girl, they form a secret fan club to cheer her on without her ever knowing, but the arrival of a transfer student who thinks the whole thing is a prank throws everything off balance .

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Unfortunately, none of these stories ever had an official publication in English on this side of the Pacific.

Saitama, the hero for fun

The star of One hit man is of course Saitama, a bald man who became a hero not to fight for justice or to protect the innocent, but because it was fun. Even in a world that is constantly under attack by demons, aliens, and other evil forces, he is much more concerned with getting a sale at the local grocery store. And that makes sense - if you could take down an enemy in one fell swoop, you probably wouldn't worry too much about monsters, either.

This may seem like a fairly simple joke, but according to ONE, Saitama is the result of a rather shrewd desire to turn the usual upside down shonen Wrap a formula and do something that readers have never seen before. In the usual story - like for example Dragon Ball Z- The hero keeps getting stronger so he can deal with the increasingly deadly threats that pop up on every story arc. With OPM, ONE wanted to see what happened when you started with a character that was already stronger than anyone else.

The result is quite a great comedy that emerges when the humble Saitama effortlessly explodes his gigantic enemies with a single blow, but it also means that Murata's fight scenes are like nothing else in comics. The joke only works when everything around Saitama is treated with deadly seriousness, and ONE and Murata manage it perfectly.

Genos, the revenge cyborg

Genos, like Saitama, is another element of history that undermines the traditional shonen dynamic. Instead of serving as a buddy who has to learn from his master's training - the krillin to Saitama's Goku, if we want to keep that DBZ Analogy works - Genos is himself phenomenal powerful. He even surpasses Saitama in the official Hero Association rankings, instantly landing in Class S, the highest classification of superheroes, while his sub-par master was ranked in Class C.

In this sense, their function as a sign is also the reverse of the usual setup. Although he acts as the straight man for most of the book's comedies, he's the one with the hugely serious motivation and backstory that includes having a dead family and being transformed into a cyborg to fight for justice. And if that wasn't enough to underline their differences, the revelation of how Saitama came to his power means that there is nothing Genos could possibly learn from him - though he still has a habit of reading every piece of Saitamas' Wisdom 'write down a notebook.

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The contrast can even be seen in their designs. When creating Genos, ONE purposely set out to create a character who looked way cooler than Saitama, and as he mentions in an interview, Murata's art has significantly widened that gap between the two main characters. That said, while looking cooler isn't harder than a bored looking bald man in beige overalls and a white cape, Genos' cool robotic body and intense attacks just make him a better slide One hit manComedy.

The world of One Punch Man

Given that this is the pretty simple idea of ​​a hero starting out stronger than anyone, it might be a surprise to find out that the book's backstory actually has a lot of depth.

It's all built on giving Saitama bigger and bigger things to hit. Since he needs a constant stream of monsters to punch holes, he has to live in a world where unstoppable giant monsters are fairly regular, and if there are giant monsters constantly attacking cities, Saitama probably shouldn't be the only one with that Work around problem, right? Especially if only he is light interested in actually saving people and usually only does so when he's on his way to do something else.

So the Hero Association and their official hero register. With it, ONE and Murata can tell stories of a whole world of heroes, all of whom are geared towards a single purpose, most of whom are at least as stupid as Saitama. This type of structure also allows them to circulate information about what is going on behind the scenes, including questions about where all these monsters are from and why they are so hell-bent on destroying Saitama's hometown. It gives the book a greater sense of direction and makes the world feel cohesive and deep, while Saitama's blank-faced comedy works as a contrast to the superhero epic that takes place around it.

Influence from other comics

While the heroes and villains of One hit man often draw from anime and manga - the heroic cyclist Mumen Rider is of course based on the long-lived Came riders Franchise, and ONE has confirmed that bad guys like Crablante were named after Godzilla's old enemy Biolante - there's an undeniable influence from American superhero comics too.

While ONE pretty definitely connects Saitama's powers with an inversion of shonen Tropics, it's also pretty easy to see him in response to a common complaint about another caped hero, Superman. To some readers, the Man of Steel just seems far too powerful, as his invulnerability and his power to move the planet make him seem disjointed and boring. Saitama takes this argument to the logical extreme - even Superman has to hit someone on occasion twice- and shows that it is not the hero's power that determines how interesting they are. It's what they do with it.

Of course, these might just be American fans reading a little too much about it, but it's an easy connection, especially with other hit manga titles like My hero academia give a shonen Spin to western superhero tropics. In any case, Murata is familiar with American superheroes. He's a longtime Spider-Man fan who even illustrated a poster for the Japanese release of Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Why it's the best superhero story in comics today

The original premise of One hit man is so simple that you can explain it in the three words that make up the title, and these first couple of stories deliver all the comedies you would expect. But here's the thing: just when you think the joke of Saitama effortlessly dispatching another seemingly unstoppable enemy exhausts his greeting, the story begins to move in some unexpected directions that take it from a comedy to the more goofy Plot based, transform into whatever Be the best superhero story in comics today.

The Hero Association and its ranking system, as well as any internal conflicts associated with it, is an interesting take on the idea of ​​superheroes as famous celebrities - the same idea that has been a hit in stories like American audiences The authorityThe Ultimatas and the Younger Incarnations of the Justice League of America. It adds some level of suspicion and fighting to the heroes, adding to the danger posed by the villains, and allows Genos to do something much deeper than just the obvious gags.

When you put it all together, you have a series that plays with the conventions of a superhero universe while building your own. It's definitely fun, but since it's portrayed as a universe with rules, consequences, and a strange kind of internal logic - the same things you need everyone Superhero Universe - it never feels like a complete parody. Instead, it's just the setting for a great story.

Why the animation looks so good

When the time came for it One hit man In order to be adapted for the animation, the contract fell to Madhouse, the studio that is responsible for the production of classic anime titles Ninja scroll, Death report, and even CardCaptor Sakura. Needless to say, this track record brought with it some high expectations, but with it OPMThey managed to kill everyone for how nicely they handled the fight scenes.

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It's a tough job too. Murata has an incredible ability to capture movement in still images by picking out a single moment that captures an entire fight scene in one gloriously violent panel, and since he was working with ONE pretty perfect comedic timing, it was difficult for fans to imagine which ones Animation could help. When we actually saw the fight scenes they did, like their adaptation of Saitama's 'Sparring Match' with Genos in the 17th chapter of the manga, it was pretty clear they could add quite a bit.

The secret? It's all in the frame. In part of the web series Amazing Animation Analysis, animator Florian Walraven walks through the fight scenes of the first episode frame by frame to explain how Madhouse made Saitama's single blows look so believably devastating, and a lot has to do with how she made the characters' movements have staggered. Instead of letting them act in the same cycles, their movements are offset by a frame or two in the battle scenes, giving the impression that they are people moving independently and reacting in real time to each other's attacks.The result is some of the best fights we've seen in anime in a long time.

The secret of Saitama's training

In the earliest parts of history, one of the biggest questions is how Saitama got his superpowers after he decided to become a hero. The second volume finally unveiled the training program that led to its unbeatable strength, and there is good news for all the aspiring heroes out there: you don't even have to train 100 times the force of earth to take advantage of it. So here it is:

Do 100 pushups, 100 sit ups, and 100 squats each day, then run 10 kilometers (or 6.21 miles for those of us in the US).

That's it: all of the canonical reason for Saitama's power. The only thing is you have to do it every dayeven if you don't want to, for a whole year. If you do, you can punch gigantic holes in evil murderous fish people you encounter. But just so we know about it? Maybe you are not setting your expectations to high if you take your practice lessons from a comic book.