Series: One-Punch Man
Episode #2: The Lone Cyborg
Release Date: October 11, 2015
Where to Watch: Daisuki
Synopsis: The episode opens with a newscast discussing an outbreak of mosquitoes; a swarm so big and deadly that citizens are advised to stay indoors. The swarm is revealed to be controlled by an humanoid insect girl, Mosquito Girl, who thrives off of the blood of humans and animals. While this is happening, Saitama is occupied trying to kill a lone mosquito that keeps dodging him, and we are introduced to Genos: a cyborg for justice who attacks Mosquito Girl. He is nearly defeated until Saitama shows up and defeats Mosquito Girl. Genos then decides that he wants to learn under Saitama in order to grow as strong as him, and they head back to Saitama’s apartment to talk. They discuss Genos’ backstory and Saitama agrees to take Genos under his wing, but they are attacked by a group of anthropomorphic animal warriors. These are revealed to be sent by an organization known as “The House of Evolution”, and as Genos and Saitama defeat their enemies, they interrogate the last one for information regarding the purpose behind the “House of Evolution”.
Spoilers Begin Here!
My Thoughts: This was a great follow-up episode to the first: it introduced new characters, had some great action sequences, and made a great bridge to the next episode. Saitama is a bit more bsent in the first quarter of this episode, being occupied with killing a mosquito. We’ve all been there.
Mosquitoes, man. So evil.
Instead the focus is on the new character of Genos: a cyborg with Iron-Man-esque powers. He is the first line of defense against the huge swarm of mosquitoes summoned by Mosquito Girl (real original name right there), and he proves he can hold his own pretty well against superhuman opponents. We don’t know the reason Mosquito Girl is even there apart from being a super-villain with a taste for blood, so it’s regular action story/superhero fare.
Genos and Mosquito Girl duking it out.
This leads into a pretty awesome action sequence between Genos and Mosquito Girl; Genos fighting style is more acrobatic than Saitama’s, reminding me of the differences between the fighting styles of Batman and Nightwing: one uses less blows because he has more power, while the other tends to weave a bit more and wait for an opening to fully utilize their strength. Genos even manages to push Mosquito Girl into a corner after ripping off her legs, but she summons the full force of her mosquitoes in order to drink the blood they’ve drained. Also, Saitama finally shows up:
Saitama’s going on a…RAID…
And Mosquito Girl transforms into this Beast Mode version I like to call Mosquito Queen:
You know it’s real when the enemy changes color.
And she actually gives Genos a run for his money, slicing him up and nearly causing him to self-destruct, until Saitama comes in with the most epic mosquito swat ever and turns her into a red stain on a nearby building, and he delivers this epic line:
Saitama’s just killing with those one-liners.
Again, the series likes to show off how powerful Saitama is, and it shows even in the reactions of the characters. Genos and Saitama then team up, as Genos hopes to study under Saitama in order to grow as strong as he is. They return to Saitama’s apartment where we hear Genos’ backstory: he was once a normal teenager living in a small town until it was destroyed by a rampaging cyborg. The indicent killed his entire family, but he managed to survive, and was turned into a cyborg by a “Doctor Kuseno”, and dedicated his life to searching for the rampaging cyborg.
Right after this scene, we switch to a scientist who apparently sent Mostquito Girl, and we learn that he runs a place called the “House of Evolution”. He wants to study Saitama, and sends out some operatives to capture him. I think this guy will become more prominent as the series goes on, probably becoming that stereotypical mad scientist villain that the hero always has to face every few episodes or so.
The pose just screams “ominous villain”.
Right after that, it switches back to Genos and Saitama as the operatives sent by the House of Evolution attack the apartment. Each enemy is a humanoid version of an animal or insect: one of them looks like Scyther from Pokemon, there’s a frog, a mole, and a snail guy, but the two main guys are Armored Gorilla and Beast King, a cyborg gorilla and humanoid lion, respectively. Saitama takes care of the first three easily, while Genos takes on Armored Gorilla. The mole guy, Ground Dragon, quickly buries Saitama in order to allow Beast King to take Saitama out pretty easily:
Beast King has some good one-liners too!
But Saitama still defeats them without too much effort, and the episode ends with Genos interrogating Armored Gorilla.
Spoilers End Here!
Gimme the Skinny!
All in all, this was a pretty solid episode. It had a good mix of action, dialogue, and character-building, while it set up for episodes to come. The series is setting itself up to be a complete deconstruction of the action/superhero genre, as it takes the tropes of the genre and spins them around to both make fun of itself and to question why we use them over and over. In this episode alone, we had the Force of Nature Villain, the Sidekick/Disciple character, the Evil Mad Scientist character, and the Generic Humanoid Animal Villain tropes. In ONE episode. The strength of this show is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously; it doesn’t try to force the viewer to believe that such a world as Saitama lives in could exist, or even try to go for some realism. In fact, the most realistic part of the story is the inner struggle of Saitama, and the personal ideals of the characters. It uses the fantastic to explain the practical, and that’s exactly why One-Punch Man is so interesting: it appears to be a normal action show, but it has a surprising level of depth when you look into it.
The action sequences are well-animated as usual: Madhouse is pulling out all the stops with this show, and they aren’t skimping out on the details. Each fight utilizes both the shift in art style and the angles to emphasize the power of each blow: you really feel the power of Saitama’s punches, and the lithe swiftness of Geno’s cyborg blows. Every fight just gets me pumped, and I’m really looking forward to more and more fights with stronger and stronger characters as the series progresses.
The main question that this series seems to ask is “what would happen if humans were given extraordinary power?” We see that Saitama really isn’t sure what to do with it besides fight evil for fun, we see that Genos uses it to get to his goal of coming to peace with his past, and we see the villains use it for their own selfish gains as well. As a Christian, it’s an interesting concept to think about. As humans, we tend to think of ourselves as being capable of taking on anything with enough strength or intelligence or prep time. But the Bible makes it clear that we have no power in and of ourselves that wasn’t given to us by God. The Gospel is a story of us realizing our own inherent weakness and submitting ourselves to God, who has and gives ultimate strength to His children: the strength to love, forgive, and to live for Christ. It’s one thing to know this, and yet another entirely to experience it, which is partly why I appreciate One-Punch Man so much: you can understand a problem more fully if you experience it alongside someone who is feeling the full effects of it. And you can come to understand the solution alongside them as you watch their journey. And so, as I watch Saitama punch bad guy after bad guy and struggle with the cost of his power, I can sympathize with him as I struggle with the application of the power that God has given me as well. It’s not easy to be a superhero…nor is it easy to be a Christian.