The print release of One-Punch Man Volume 4 hits the stands this week and boy is your Christmas money ready to be used on this one. It’s funny, action packed and filled with surprises. Let’s take a look.
One-Punch Man Volume 4 (Viz Media)
Saitama is just your average, boring dude who can defeat anything with one punch. He trained himself, but now he’s so darn powerful he can defeat anyone. The world has a superhero level system that allows heroes to see how they’re ranked against each other, but Saitama doesn’t care much about that. He likes being a hero, but doesn’t care about the game these heroes go through to one up each other. This volume opens with Genos informing his master Saitama that his rank went from 288 to 342. A meteor is on its way to kill millions of people and Genos goes to stop it the best he can.
Why does this book matter?
Originally a webcomic, the series blew up due to over 10 million fans reading the darn thing. That counts for something. Plus it’s a comical look at superheroes and ties into how we rank ourselves in this modern technological world. Something we can all relate to with Facebook and Twitter likes!
This guy needs a better name.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The book is funny in a silly sort of way as the characters are a bit slapstick but with a keen sense of social mores. At the same time the hero is very low key and takes none of it seriously. This is an interesting take on a character when most heroes are deadly serious. In fact he’s doing it all for fun, which makes him basically the straight man in the series. Meanwhile the supporting characters assume his lazy, disinterested actions are some kind of deadly serious sensei strategy which is where much of the humor comes with this character. His pupil Genos wants to be the best, but has yet to understand Saitama is approaching everything with a “whatever” attitude which also ties into the current state of youth in society.
The writer known as One mixes things up in this volume with the meteor threat in the first act but later a sea monster and finally a prison hero named Puri-Puri Prisoner. Aside from the deadly serious meteor these villains are comical in their over the top nature and silly sense of the theatrical. Overall the villains spruce things up and send everything way over the top.
Which is why it’s so much fun to read Saitama’s adventure. He does heroic acts but does so with a shrug and a yawn. When characters assume he’s bragging and trying to one up them he’s equally unamused. The whole thing is a game to him and when he grows bored he walks away. It’s an element to keep an eye on as surely something will make him take all of this seriously.
The art by Yusuke Murata is detailed and very good at setting the stage. Take for instance a double page spread of a meteor barreling down on Earth. The image pulls out into space and shows just how powerful and massive this thing is which helps make the humorous moment of Saitama begrudgingly stopping it all the funnier. He’s also very good at making the bad guys very scary and Genos cool looking. The detail he puts into these characters help make Saitama’s boring look stand out in a comical way. If you’re into gore you’ll also dig this book as creatures are torn through and eyeballs are jettisoned.
Oh, now the name makes sense!
It can’t be perfect can it?
The Puri-Puri Prisoner and other characters from the prisoner chapter are somewhat homophobic which makes it hard to fully enjoy this work. Chalk it up to cultural differences maybe, but when characters hear they’re going to get a big kiss from this character, or a character going to jail for 10,000 years for touching men, you cringe a little bit. It’s not very tastefully done and comes off as ignorant.
That’s kind of an odd thing to go to jail for…
Overall this is a very fun series with tons of action and plenty of commentary as far as social norms go. It’s easy to enjoy and you can jump into this volume without reading anything before it as each chapter is fun in its own right.