Expanding a cast usually always serves a show well and I gladly welcome more unique characters to the comedic action-fest that is One Punch Man. So far the show has been peeling back its layers at a glacial speed, yet I’m at the edge of my seat to find out where the story will take me every time. This is surely a sign that it isn’t just a great action anime or comedy, but just a genuinely great show.
As with every episode, this one starts off with a powered up villain wreaking havoc on a city. Usually we see a variety of humans turned monsters but this time is different. Our villain is the very human terrorist Hammerhead and his gang of unemployed misfits known as the Paradisers. They all look ridiculous in their strange super suits and even more ridiculous are their shaved heads, a notable feature for the group.
Nearby citizens are pretty desensitized to the prattling of the newest “bad-guys” in town, I mean compared to what they normally face these villains aren’t so bad…. I say, before they easily tear down an entire apartment complex. Alright, so they’re strong. But the most terrifying thing about this group is probably their incompetence combined with their strength. Their target is a rich individual by the name of Zeniru, who isn’t very nice but his only real sin is being ridiculously rich.
News of the Paradisers quickly spreads across town alerting nearby heroes of the threat. Before this, we’re only vaguely aware that this world is full of just as many super heroes as it is villains, but this is the first real glimpse at these other heroes we see. Saitama is off to stop Hammerhead, offended that everyone in the gang stole his bald-headed look and he’s quickly misjudged as one of the terrorists by naive citizens.
Meanwhile, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… a guy on a (very normal) bicycle, riding off to stop the Paradisers. The nearby pedestrians refer to him as “Mumen Rider” which is good because I was just calling him “Bicycle Guy.” Also, the name is eerily similar to popular Japanese Action Hero Kamen Rider.
There doesn’t appear to be anything super about this Mumen Rider guy. He rides up on his ordinary bike, at an ordinary speed, stops, puts on the kick stand like an ordinary guy and then runs up to a group of armed men with his fists held up. The way everyone recognizes him and because this is One Punch Man leads me to think we’ll see another spectacular fight, but instead Mumen Rider gets knocked into a bloody mess on the pavement.
I don’t know about you guys, but I think he’s my favorite thing about the show so far.
Zeniru knows that Hammerhead and his Paradisers are on the way, so he sends out his secret weapon. A Ninja character that is incredibly fast. You could say he’s… supersonic fast. Since Sonic would be the perfect sarcastic name to call this guy, of course it turns out that it’s his real name. Or, at least it is his Super Hero name. Either way we soon get to see him in action against the Paradisers and unlike Mumen Rider, he doesn’t disappoint.
Sonic quickly takes out all of Hammerhead’s men and battles the leader one on one. As the fight carries on we see a little more of Sonic’s personality in the form of a wide creepy smile that cuts across his face. He strikes Hammerhead down with a small shuriken to the back of the head. A quick fight for a quick hero, unfortunately when he takes his eyes away from Hammerhead for a second the body disappears.
It turns out Hammerhead’s skull is pretty thick, allowing him to survive the attack and escape. He’s running through the woods when he suddenly comes across Saitama who’s been looking for him. Staring at Hammerhead, Saitama starts to think that they have a lot in common. An odd statement considering he was upset that Hammerhead took his trademark look, and while the show doesn’t explicitly say so it does hint at a slight similarities between the two.
Hammerhead is a character driven to his path of evil because he didn’t have a job. He was aimless and we know that at one time Saitama was the same way. Our hero was once searching aimlessly for a salary job with a dead-eyed look, before he found excitement and reason in being a hero… for fun. If he hadn’t defeated that crab monster three years ago could there be a possibility that he would be driven to become a super villain? Saitama seems to think so.
Hammerhead is still the bad guy, but their slight similarities give Saitama pause. There isn’t anything redeemable about Hammerhead, except that he’s not very smart. For some reason though Saitama feels a connection with him and lets him escape. He elbows Hammerhead, but manages to control the power so the blow doesn’t kill, it merely destroys Hammer’s super powered suit. We gleam a couple of things from this moment, first Saitama can (kind of) control his strength. Second, Hammerhead is the first villain we’ve seen survive an encounter with him. Wow!
This is when Sonic shows up, angry that Saitama would let his target escape. Saitama introduces himself with the usual, “I’m a hero for fun” spiel but it Sonic hasn’t heard of him and mistakes Saitama for one of Hammer’s followers. Our ninja tries to pull the same move that he used to destroy all the other Paradisers, but Saitama matches his speed.
They fight but it’s not one of the show’s usual high speed choreography. Instead it focuses more on humor, with Saitama mistaking Sonic’s smile as “Innocent” and then accidentally hitting the ninja in the… well.
Defeated, Sonic proclaims that he will best Saitama, establishing them as rivals. Yeah, every hero needs a good rival. In classic form, Saitama does nothing but encourages his new rival. I’m just going to say it; Saitama is probably the best Shounen hero out there.
But there’s one problem that has become very apparent to both the audience and Saitama over the course of this episode. After he’s saved numerous cities time and time again with a single punch, nobody knows who Saitama is. Heck, he doesn’t even have a real Super Hero name. I know he’s been telling us for that he’s just a hero for fun but that never had any meaning until this episode, when we hear heroes get paid for what they do.
Even Mumen Rider, who got knocked out early on, received credit for “winning” against the Paradisers.
Luckily Genos tells his master about the hero registry. Because…. There’s a hero registry guys. It has a website and everything, but you have to take a test first. I’m all onboard for super hero tests and for the world to be expanded. Where I was once wondering the direction One Punch Man would head, I am no longer concerned. Instead, I’m just very, very, very excited.
Can I just give this show an A all around?