With a title like “The Supreme Pupil” you would think this is going to be a Genos episode… and you wouldn’t be wrong, but more than that it is a episode about Master and Student.
Let’s back-track a little to the beginning. A meteor is heading to Earth and is expected to hit City Z, demolishing everything in its path. The Hero’s association has called upon Genos to help them stop the catastrophe. From the initial crisis (and the episode title), it is easy to see this will be a Genos episode, which in anime could mean two things. We can either get an episode that works as a single story in the life of Genos as he shows growth and development, or an episode where we see Genos from the perspective of other characters. Either way, I’m firmly suspecting Saitama won’t do much for the episode.
Genos meets another S-Class Hero named Bang, who has agreed to help. Bang is an elderly man who apparently owns a dojo in the city and refuses to move even with a meteor looming. Genos quickly moves out, meeting another S-Class hero along the way. Metal Knight, is a large drone which is controlled by a man a safe distance away. Metal Knight fires a barrage of missiles on the Meteor before anyone can do or say anything, but they do nothing.
With seconds to spare before collision Genos unleashes his latest firepower against the meteor, but it isn’t enough. Bang seems impressed by his abilities, but that’s about all he does in the fight. In the end, none of the S-Class heroes are able to stop the meteor and all hope seems lost until, yep, you guessed it. Saitama shows up and if you also guessed that he would punch the meteor into a million little rocks, you would also be right. ALSO if you know physics pretty well and are thinking, “But then the meteor still destroys the city.” Yeah, that pretty much hits the nail on the head. The debris from the meteor does serious damage the city, but with an alternative meaning City Z’s complete destruction I would say Saitama did a good job.
Oh and miraculously no one died when the fiery balls of death rained down on them. The show was kind enough to let us know that small detail.
City Z is… mostly saved, which causes Genos as well as Saitama to go up in their rankings. Genos only climbed one spot, but Saitama is now #5 in the C-Rank. Even though his actions were that of an S-Ranked or A-Ranked Hero. It is noted that he might have gone up more, but Genos and Metal Knight got most of the credit for destroying the meteor.
Determined to climb in rank Saitama goes out by himself to find a way to improve his ranking. While he’s alone Tank-Top Tiger arrives on the scene to get some revenge on the Hero who embarrassed him, and he’s not alone. Enter Tank-Top Black Hole, Tiger’s douche of a brother. They both plan on beating up Saitama, but not before making the fight into a heroic spectacle. In front of the weary survivors of the Meteor Crash, Black Hole blames Saitama as the guy who destroyed the city and tries to stir up a riot. This would make him and his brother out to be heroes once they beat Saitama up, the plan even appears to be working except for two things.
When the Tank-Tops attack (geez, I can’t believe I wrote that) Saitama easily defeats them. Slapping Tiger to the ground and playing a devastating game of Uncle with Black Hole. The crowd settles down a little, but not before Saitama gives them a piece of his mind. Stating that he doesn’t need their acceptance or gratitude to be a hero, it is something he enjoys to do.
I’m glad we’re finally addressing the “elephant” in the room. The question of Saitama’s motivations for being a hero. It feels like a moment doesn’t go by without him saying that he does his job, “for fun,” but is that really the case? He watched Genos become an overnight sensation in the hero world while people often assume Saitama is a villain at first glance (that bald head, though.) When the citizens began their riot, it was a tense moment. This is first time Saitama has ever come face to face with the people who his actions effect. I’m glad he managed to maintain his motivations while confronting these people, and even happier to see that Genos seems to balance him out when his pupil urges him to walk away. They leave, not because Saitama would have hurt the citizens, but because ultimately their opinions don’t matter. They are alive, thanks to Saitama and that’s all that matters.
It is Genos, watching the whole thing from the sidelines, who steps in and talks Saitama into coming home. Hearing his master’s words, he’s realized just how amazing Saitama is. Compared to heroes like Metal Knight, who would rather use a drone then endanger himself, or the other heroes we’ve seen who act for publicity, it’s refreshing that Saitama isn’t the same way. One Punch Man is still playing with the dynamic of Genos’ perspective of his master versus that of the citizens. Last time people began to fear a “monster” living in downtown and after the Meteor incident more people fear Saitama than praise him. It seems only Genos (and maybe Bang) truly appreciate what Saitama does for everyone around them.
While I was expecting this to be a completely Genos centric episode, Saitama’s arrival told me just how wrong I was. I was both relieved and happy to have Saitama step onto the scene because the show really isn’t the same when he isn’t saving the Earth. Genos both is and isn’t the star, as One Punch Man gives an equal amount of screen time to him and his master. At its heart, this episode isn’t about the cyborg proving himself or getting stronger like one would expect, but coming to a realization about how his master is as a hero and ultimately, the kind of hero Genos will become in the future.
This episode definitely has a different tone from others, the humor is played down as the relationship between master and pupil are at the forefront. Even the music is different, adding a more somber tune to the mix. I just loved the acoustic guitar version of the main theme song that they plugged in. In fact, I’m still obsessed with the opening theme. One Punch Man pulled off a somber and sweet mood this time and did so extraordinarily well. I laughed, I cheered, I felt a little sad. All of these are emotions I’m beginning to feel more and more as the series continues on and it is a lovely experience.