Series: One-Punch Man
Episode #3: The Obsessive Scientist
Release Date: October 18, 2015
Where to Watch: Daisuki
Synopsis: We learn that the creator of the House of Evolution was a young genius who grew tired of society because no one understood his drive to overcome the limitations of the human race. Secluding himself, he dedicated his life to research for 70 years, until he made his first breakthrough. Giving himself youth and cloning himself, he is responsible for the attacks on Saitama and Genos. Learning all this from the subdued Armored Gorilla, they pay the good scientist a visit, and do battle with his most powerful creation: Carnage Kabuto.
My Thoughts: First off, I can’t go into this episode without mentioning how obviously stereotypical this villain origin story is: a disillusioned young genius? Whose name is literally I. Genius? Man, One-Punch Man isn’t pulling any punches (pardon the pun) when it comes to throwing overused tropes at us for each segment of its story, and this is a good thing! Instead of trying to overwhelm the viewer with a somber outlook on Saitama and the price of ultimate strength, the show uses its ridiculousness as a springboard to simultaneously entertain and ask questions; a skill that I will probably harp on for the duration of this season.
That’s his name. That’s literally his name.
Also, we get to see Genos stepping up and trying to impress Saitama with his power, as he completely levels the enemy base when they arrive, doing what most Saturday morning cartoon show heroes should’ve done as soon as they found their own villain’s lairs. Saitama himself remarks on Genos’ act, saying that they “could’ve at least seen what they bad guys had in store”, and even saying that the move was “kind of mean”. Again, taking the obvious answers to the tropes of the superhero genre and turning them around, parodying itself while using the medium to ask why we enjoy such stories.
If only all heroes were as efficient as you, Genos.
So what does the series hope to accomplish by asking these questions? I mean, don’t we get enough of that from haters of the genre anyways? I believe that One-Punch Man asks these questions for the same reason that math teachers ask students to prove that two angles are congruent; while you might know something in your head, it takes the testing of that knowledge to bring out the true purpose of the knowledge you acquired. This is explored a bit more as we’re introduced to Carnage Kabuto:
He’s basically a walking beetle with huge fists.
The complete opposite of Saitama, Carnage represents unbridled power; no restraints or limits, just brutal, unstoppable strength. Genos tries his best to defeat him, but is unable to leave a scratch on him. Carnage is the greatest achievement of the House of Evolution; a being of superior strength, speed, and intelligence, but one that cannot be controlled. His great power is what makes him a monster; his complete and utter respect for no one but himself is what prevents him from being a force for any type of advancement of humanity as a species. In a way, he represents what we as humans are by nature; slaves to our sin nature, unruled and untamed by anything, living to please ourselves. While human beings can make themselves smarter or stronger, they can never make themselves better people apart from the grace of God. Without the love and change offered to us by God, we are nothing more than animals looking for their next meal.
Kabuto goes in for the kill…kinda.
When Carnage meets Saitama, he is cocky and arrogant, ready to claim another victim. But as he approaches Saitama to attack, he stops. One glance from the corner of Saitama’s eye, and Carnage senses something different. Something isn’t right. Something is new. Something he didn’t expect. And in that moment, he knows that if he attacks Saitama, he will be killed. And in the same way, when we as Christians are out among the people of the world, they can sense the difference between us and them. The difference in our mannerisms and beliefs, our customs and ideals, our emotional and spiritual strength, is a huge. And as Christians, we have the power, an overwhelming power, to love and overcome the world.
Even Kabuto doesn’t wanna mess with Saitama.
When Kabuto realizes the difference in strength between himself and Saitama, he backs off, afraid for his life. Neither he, Genius, or even Genos can understand how powerful Saitama is, and they even ask him to reveal the source of his power. Saitama replies with the only reason he can think of: a workout regimen consisting of 100 pushups, 100 situps, 100 squats, and a 10K run each day for three years. This obviously cannot be the source of his power (I’m suspecting it to be some kind of “the power of believing in yourself” kind of answer), but that’s all Saitama knows, and no one can deny the level of his power. I wonder if we’ll get a true answer later on in the series. Anyways, at this point Kabuto is tired of playing around, and he basically morphs into Brachydios from Monster Hunter in an attempt to kill Saitama:
But despite his new (final?) form, Brachy-er, I mean, Kabuto is still one-punched out by Saitama, who realizes that he’s missing out on a sale at the supermarket. The episode ends with he and Genos running out to catch the sale, leaving a dead Kabuto and a confused Genius behind in the ruins of the House of Evolution.
Gimme the Skinny
All in all, the focus of this episode was to examine the role of power fantasies and their effect on our lives. They can full us with awe and inspire us, but they also can damage us if there is no real explanation or moral behind the stories. The overwhelming and yet unbridled power of Kabuto is what made him a monster, while Saitama’s restrained power and his search for a good way to use it is what makes him a hero in our eyes; we can identify with his self-searching because we all question our identities and purpose for living at some point, and watching Saitama look for the correct way to live his life despite his power is what attracts us to him; we want him to learn about himself as much as we want to learn about ourselves.
Genos is definitely stepping up as a hero in this episode, and I’m sure he’ll get even more screentime and more abilities as the series progresses. I wonder if we’ll ever see that “Dr. Kuseno” he spoke of in the first episode? That being said, I really enjoyed watching him play the Robin to Saitama’s Batman in this episode, and I hope they continue as “hero and sidekick” for the rest of the series. Although, seeing Genos move out and train his own disciple as he and Saitama progress as characters would be cool to see, and it would fit with a lot of superhero tropes as well. So far, we’ve got Saitama the super-strong hero (like Superman), and Genos the robotic hero (like Cyborg), so I’m wondering if we’ll get a shadowy, ninja-like hero, or a female warrior hero, to fill out our small “Justice League”. Either way, I’m sure we’re in for a ride as One-Punch Man progresses. All aboard the hype train, we’re taking off!