One Punch Man shows that amongst all the action and humor it can provide you with some truly emotional scenes. This episode can otherwise be summed up as, “I’m not crying, you’re crying!”
Before we can get into the emotional base of this episode we have to first address the Amazing Fight Scene of the Week. This week, the showdown came between Genos and the Sea King. Genos proves his skill as he is one of the only heroes who can land a solid punch against the King. The onlooker’s joy at seeing a Class S hero on the scene is short lived when the King strikes back. Tearing cybernetic arms off and later unleashing acidic spit onto Genos’ metal frame. Slowly our joy at having Genos on the scene turns to horror as Genos is stripped down to his metal skeleton.
Genos is probably one of the more powerful members of the hero association, yet every fight he’s been in has left him limbless and in shambles. In the case of this fight it is because Genos is protecting the civilians around him, showing a true sense of what a hero should be. Someone who will put themself in danger to protect others, but more often than not that leaves him vulnerable. Still, even with the majority of his body stripped away Genos can’t help but be concerned about those around him. His desperation to help it palpable in beautiful imagery as he struggles in the rain.
A struggle that is later on reflected in Mumen Rider when he enters the scene. Mumen is a simple Class-C hero and we know- we know -that his defeat is going to be a brutal one if Saitama doesn’t show up in time. Genos, with his missing arms and destroyed body, can vouch for this. Which is why the scenes with Mumen Rider are so amazing. Over the course of a few episodes, we the audience have come to really admire Mumen Rider for the person he is. Class C means he has the ability of an average joe, his “attacks” consists of throwing his bike at the monster and trying to tackle it. Yet he insists on helping with the fight in order to do what’s right.
We admire him, and that’s why it is so so so hard to watch the Sea King throw him around like a rag doll. Leaving Mumen Rider bloodied, possibly with some broken arms. Then he stands up again, muttering a heart felt speech about how he’ll continue to fight, even the onlooking civilians are moved enough to cheer him on. It’s a great scene, with superb animation that elevates it and if you didn’t love Mumen Rider before, I challenge you to say you don’t love him now.
But no matter how much this C-Class hero may want to help, he’s still just a man fighting a monster. The Sea King lands a finishing punch that throws Mumen Rider right into the arms of Saitama! From here Saitama easily defeats the Sea King with his usual one punch, and finally his powers have been witnessed by an audience. Yes!
Cheers erupt, everyone now knows how awesome he is except… not really. Not when there is one person in the mix who firmly believes Saitama is a cheat, a C-Class hero who shows up after everyone has worn the monster down then lands the final blow, or worse, maybe the other heroes just weren’t that strong. It’s an honest reflection about how we as the audience of the show sometimes feel when we see side heroes like Stinger and Lightning Max appear. Their efforts are good but in the end Saitama will show up and easily dispose of the villain. We begin to see them as weak, compared to Saitama, everyone is weak. Heck, I’ve even said so myself that Genos might be the strongest of the heroes but he hasn’t won a battle yet. I was impressed with Sonic last episode because we haven’t seen his abilities in any context except compared to Saitama and those that makes him appear mediocre when really he might have been able to take on the Sea King himself.
In an effort to save the reputation of his fellow Heroes Saitama plays along with the ideas of the onlookers instead of discrediting them. He makes himself appear as a C-Class glory hog who needed the Heroes to exhaust the Sea King. As always, Genos is the only one who sees the truth and he admires his master even more for it. In the end, it doesn’t matter much what the public thinks of him as the incident helps Saitama rise to B-Class.
I say it doesn’t matter and maybe it doesn’t, but in this world it is clear that Heroes are celebrities among the citizens. Genos receives piles of fan mail for seemingly being a hot, S-Class cyborg. While Saitama receives threatening hate mail and…. one simple thank you. At the end of the episode it’s revealed the thank you was sent from Mumen Rider, who treats Saitama to a meal in an effort to fully repay his work as a hero. Seriously guys, if you don’t like Mumen Rider by the end of this episode I don’t know what to tell you. He’s too pure for this world of heroes, sometimes I think Saitama might be the same.
Now that Saitama has moved up in the rankings he’ll be exposed more to what I perceive to be a callous world of heroes. In a show like this the monsters aren’t the real threat to our heroes, instead it is the harsh realities of people’s greed and self-centeredness since we have “heroes” like Amai Mask and Black Knight running around.