Series: One-Punch Man
Episode #4: The Modern Ninja
Release Date: October 25, 2015
Where to Watch: Daisuki
Synopsis: We are introduced to the social anarchist villain Hammerhead, a thug with a group of criminals known as the Paradisers who wear stolen power armor, as they wreak havoc on the town. Claiming that they want an equal society where everyone takes care of everyone, they set out to prove their point by killing a rich man known as Zeninu. Meanwhile, Saitama hears the news and decides he wants to take down the Paradisers as well, as their bald look causes the public to be wary of bald people. In response to the approaching danger, Zeninu sends out his ninja bodyguard Sonic to defeat the Paradisers before they arrive.
My Thoughts: This episode really stood out as one of the most entertaining, hearkening back to the first episode in terms of Saitama’s almost bored use of his immense power. The entire episode was reminiscent of the Saturday morning cartoons I used to watch; we get the stereotypical anarchist villain (when will they learn that socialism NEVER works??), the shadowy, ninja-style ally/enemy, and we even get a glimpse of Dr. Kuseno performing some upgrades on Genos, so the series is slowly expanding its roster of characters.
Everyone wants to; no one succeeds.
Speaking of new characters, we get so see this one guy who calls himself Mumen Rider, the “bicyclist of justice”. Which, I’m not gonna lie, made me laugh out loud. He shows up to attack the Paradisers, and gets his face pummeled into the ground. Despite this fairly anticlimactic-yet-comedic ending to his role in the story, it does confirm that there are more heroes than Saitama in this world, and I do expect that we’ll see a few more as the series goes on. Who knows, maybe there’s some sort of Justice League-type organization for heroes in this world.
I feel like this is a play off of “Kamen Rider”, but my knowledge of Japanese pop culture ends there…
I enjoyed seeing Sonic introduced in this episode, despite his suit not being blue in any way. He really does fulfil his role as the ninja/assassin character, taking out pretty much all of Hammerhead’s allies, and he nearly takes out Hammerhead as well. He’s got that arrogant, cocky, “I-never-lose” type of attitude, which makes his defeat at the hands of Saitama that much more painful for him. In more ways than one, actually. He reminds me of Vegeta from the Dragon Ball Z series: he’s full of himself until he finds a stronger opponent, and after being defeated he runs off and vows to get stronger until he can win. His pride is definitely going to be the defining trait of his character, but I do think it would be interesting if he decided that he’d rather learn under Saitama than try to defeat him: seeing him fight with Genos over the right to be Saitama’s disciple would be pretty funny.
That bored look alone makes him more like Shadow than Sonic…
What I found interesting about this episode was that while Hammerhead spouted the socialist spiel of wanting everyone to be equal and supporting one another, when confronted and defeated by Saitama he confesses that he just wanted to get out of working. In other words, he was discontent with a life of work and felt that those who had more should help him out. It’s the core of the ever-prevalent entitlement mindset that seems to spread more and more by the day, and despite history showing over and over that it never leads to anything more than suffering, it is a path that is still explored. But those who defend it can never truly explain their actions, because by trying to eliminate the ruling class, they establish themselves as the ruling class. It’s a vicious cycle that tries to grasp at paradise…but is just that much farther from actually reaching it.
Gimme the Skinny!
Overall, this was a pretty awesome episode. It brought in new faces, both good and bad, and set up more plot for future episodes. It was nicely paced: I never got bored in-between action sequences, and it really took advantage of the interesting characters to make even dialogue scenes fun to watch. Saitama had some nice contemplation, the ninja character Sonic was introduced as an antagonist(?), and the show is definitely setting up for more characters as it progresses. In fact, the episode ends with Genos and Saitama discussing how Saitama is unknown among the superhero community since he isn’t part of the Hero’s Association, and thus they decide to register together to become licensed heroes. So there is a whole Justice League-type organization of superheroes in this world, and this makes me even more pumped for the next episode!
I appreciated the thought that went into this episode: while it does seem on the surface that One-Punch Man is a typical superhero anime, it does have undercurrents of deeper themes and ideas, one of which being the idea of socialism. I appreciated how the show didn’t just make Hammerhead the bad guy, but it showed how he didn’t really believe what he preached, and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure how any socialist can completely believe what they claim to believe. As both a believer and someone who has a cursory knowledge of history, I know that socialism never results in anything but suffering. But in spite of that, some people still look to it as the only way that humanity can save itself. And that mindset is itself a lie, because it’s based on the assumption that people are basically good, and that sharing everything will make everyone better. But it won’t: human nature is not so easily satisfied.
Saitama himself remarks that the path that Hammerhead took in life wasn’t so different from his own, and it was a nice way to tie in the first episode: Saitama was always looking for some fulfilment in his life. As a child he wanted to be a hero, as an adult he tried to succeed in his career but failed, and as a hero he is still searching for his reason to exist. Hammerhead simply tried to find that reason in a classless society, but even he didn’t truly believe that he would find his satisfaction there. And as we watch Saitama struggle with his identity and continue to fight crime just for fun, it serves as a reminder to us as believers, that our true identity is found in Christ.