Friday, June 30, 2017

Anime Corner: One-Punch Man (2015)

Based on a crudely drawn manga, One Punch Man (much like Attack On Titan) managed to succeed in a more mainstream context than most other anime, and I think it's largely due to how over-the-top ridiculous and self-aware it is. I fin a lot to admire about this show, with its inconsistent animation, idiosyncrasies, and memorable lead character. I sat down with my brother to watch it one day and before I knew it all 12 episodes had finished. So yeah, it's pretty addictive.

As I said before, the animation in this show is incredibly inconsistent, ranging from very visibly hand drawn to wildly imaginative and boisterously exaggerated. But while inconstencies may be bad in another show, this one matches its animation with the seriousess of its tone perfectly. The speed in which it switches back and forth from serious to absurd is so abrupt, it can't be anything but hilariously jarring, and the middle school sketchbook quality of some of the visuals thrown out of nowhere into a scene reflects that tonal range wonderfully. This show doesn't take itself too seriously, and that's important to keep in mind when watching it -- which makes it all the more powerful when it sneaks up on you with the more emotional moments.

I am not a fan of superhero movies, but this show proves that with the right sense of humor and world-building, even a cynic like me can be won over. As far as superhero origin stories go, this show may have the best I've ever seen. By that, of course, I mean it's kind of the worst ever conceived, but the layers of absurdity and simplicity to it must be seen to be fully processed. It's a sad thought to me that there are people out there who wouldn't find this show funny, but sadly they do exist and I can only assume it's because they take themselves and/or superheroes far too seriously and need to embrace the full range of satire.

The idea of a superhero hierarchy isn't exactly a brand new concept (Mystery Men, just as one example, did something similar to this 15+ years ago), but the way they handle it and how superheroes have to complete tasks in order to climb up the literal ranks give it all a sense of urgency, and adds to the hilarity that someone as powerful as the titular hero (who can defeat any enemy with one punch, by the way) has as much trouble as he does just trying to gain noteriety. It's all very ludicrous, but is handled in a surprisingly nuanced way. This show is full of surprises like that.

While I would normally hesitate to recommend anime to people who don't already watch it, I think this is the type of show that should be seen by more people, especially when you take into consideration the modern pop culture landscape which is littered with far less interesting and entertaining superhero shows and movies than this. Everyone who watches it likes it and most of those people kind of love it. I would consider myself part of the latter.

Episode count: 12

My grade: A
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