If there is a compelling reason as to why this should be included as one of the best animes in 2015, the artwork and the animation can fully explain why. The artwork is no doubt one of the year’s best. Colors are vividly drawn, the monsters of the week were carefully given details to standout and it is always amusing whenever Saitama switches from his usual face to his serious one. In addition, the level of artwork is at the all-time high in anime and did not falter through the course of its run. I was not prepared to see such awesomeness blasting through my computer screen.
More so, the level of sakuga per episode in One Punch Man is probably the highest I have seen in an anime series so far. Fight scenes are fluid and Madhouse seemed to exhaust their funds with these. Every episode does not disappoint in showing fairly choreographed fights. These moments are normally seen in the climactic moments of a typical action series but in this show, highly budgeted cinematography is just the norm.
The soundtrack does not disappoint either as it complements the satirical nature of One Punch Man. The OP in particular, is a real visual and auditory treat. Yet it can be serious enough whenever Saitama’s about to change his mood and engage in his epic fights. Again, its usage was as if it is a mockery of other series.
A satire which includes a hero who defeats his enemies with a single punch and a mockery of shounen series is chuckle worthy and the first episode delivered just what the viewer wants. Yet for it to work in the long run, it must not be predictable or there must be at least a greater plot. One Punch Man struggles in this part so far because of its paper-thin plot.
Without a central plot, no amount of sakuga scenes can cover One Punch Man’s tendencies to rehash some of its themes. A monster of the week approach is fine but a change in the show’s formula is really appreciated (for the next season, there has to be one) because its brand of satire started to wear thin near the end of episode one and begins to feel repetitive at episode three. Sure, we were given well animated scenes that are sometimes wobbly choreographed since explosion is not equal to a good fight and worse, we have already predicted what will happen next by then.
Thankfully, a Hunter x Hunter parody at episodes five and six seemed to cover this problem but the monster of the week theme of this show is really recurrent which plagued its first cour. However, the Deep Sea King Arc is what One Punch Man at its best because it manages to mix action and emotional scenes seamlessly.
The jokes in One Punch Man are also hit and miss. I find myself laughing at some parts (Saitama’s dream of becoming a popular hero) and being really irritated to some (Geno’s really long introduction about himself) The series might be self aware to its shortcomings but it does not give it a leeway when the humor fails.
Saitama as a character is fine but we need to know more about him other than being the absurdly strong superhero who torpedoes himself for the sake of others. For most of the time, he is only goofing around mocking and glorifying stereotypes at the same time. It is not a bad thing in itself but a further exploration in his characters would have given the jokes more punches. Genos was relatively fleshed and likable but is not exactly entertaining for laughs even if his existence is meant to be used for satire. For others? Aside from the green haired loli who courts the boundary of cute and irritating, they are mostly stereotypes who exist for the purpose of satire.
In the end, it really felt like the Madhouse’s version of Nichijou where the animators are given freedom in their creativity but the comedy cannot keep up with the level of animation. Sure, if you’re into animes because of the visuals, then this show is perfect for you.