One Punch Man is Absurd, Out-of-this-World Fun! | Hero Week Review

A brief review of the 12-episode fall 2015 anime “One Punch Man,” produced by Madhouse, based on the web manga by ONE (story) and Yusuke Murata (manga art).

Travel back one season from ERASED and you have the anime that etched 2015 in history: One Punch Man. Its grossly over-popular yet dorky concept captivated web manga fans, and when an anime adaptation by THE Madhouse was announced people went hysterical; cosplay, fan art, and “OK.” memes circulated like no other. But what gives OPM a fiery kick like no other, and why do fans gloriously rave about this bald athlete?

In a world under siege by gigantically wacky monsters and bizarre extraterrestrials, Saitama wanted to be a hero. So, he trained ruthlessly for three years, got abs, but lost his hair. Now he has arguably become the world’s strongest hero. Unequivocal strength comes with a price, however, as now all it takes is a single punch—ONE PUNCH—to knock is opponent into next Tuesday. What was thought to be a thrilling and rewarding hobby became tedious and unsatisfactory. Because he defeats his foes in an unbelievably swift manner, people and the media are also unable to credit him properly.

To keep the story fresh, life must change for Saitama. And it does. A cold, brutal, 19-year-old cyborg by the name of Genos stumbles upon the one-hit-wonder’s performance, and urges Saitama to take him as his disciple, admitting he has much to learn from him. Genos then leads his master to the Hero Association, where the two can become certified heroes and *fingers crossed* be officially recognized (and rewarded) for their work saving City Z. As anticipation reignites in odd Saitama’s eyes, he clings to the hope that tougher enemies will head his way, and that one day soon, the people might actually turn to him for help in this chaotic world.

One Punch Man is simple; a tough guy follows his all-powerful master in hopes that the two find excitement in experience, challenge, and fame. While most of the intent is on the explosive battles, much of what people took away from this experience was the comedy, in that it doesn’t try too hard to make us laugh because it’s inherently goofy. The whole scenario of a bald, self-proclaimed hero in a mustard-colored onesie running through the streets yet managing to obliterate any target in one punch is satire in itself. Saitama is an unapproachable fool who defies the typical superhero because he’s an egg-head who exercised a sh*t ton—not receiving any supernatural/monetary help as we know it—to become strong. Since battles are nothing for him, where we see Saitama struggle is against the public eye and the Hero Association’s ranking system itself.

But with the crudely drawn monsters and frankly disgusting defeats, I was turned off by the extreme ends of the repetitive earlier fights. I admit, I thought the anime would run out of steam quite early on, making it just another shounen series out there (but epic-er). Then episode 5 came around—the bout between Genos and Saitama—and I fully realized that this was going to be a good show.

I should applaud Makoto Furukawa’s performance as Saitama because holy crud, how can anyone sound so bland and ordinary yet make me sh*t bricks whenever he opens his dumb mouth?? He really did capture our Egg-head’s nonchalant dialogue, yet appropriately ramped it up for intense battles. I ended up enjoying Saitama as a character much more than I thought I did, for even though he’s clearly the world’s strongest man, he grows as a human in seeking attention and ‘raise’ Genos at the same time. Like the seemingly basic plot, much more development boiled within each emotional scene.

Genos is your typical knight in shining armor (literally, hah!), needing little introduction to sway the crowd in his favor. He’s a straight-up badass cyborg, after all, though he too knows his flaws and overly criticizes himself for the few things he couldn’t do rather than celebrating his accomplishments—there’s always room for improvement. I sympathize with Tin-can on this one. Good thing Genos has a buddy to support him.

We also get to see the variety of heroes, low and high rankings, which are part of the Hero Association. Most A Class top dogs tend to do it for the fame and luxury life, while the C Class underdogs usually put the good of the cause before themselves. Such is the instance of MUMEN RIDER, a “catch-my-flying-balloon” hero who cycles all across the atomically-wrecked City Z to fight evil (even though he’s typically too little, too late). More than that, he represents the “man at the bottom of the totem pole,” and though his arms are weak, his heart burns passionately like a fool trying to stop the rain by yelling at it.

Madhouse. Ah, Madhouse. I’ve seen very little by them, and honestly, the first couple episodes made me cringe more than anything . . . until that episode 5, man, I’m telling you that’s the crazy action I was anticipating from the beginning. Each match just tries to absurdly 1-Up the one that came before it. After that, I was pretty much glued to the screen, appreciating the contrast between Genos and Saitama’s menial routine (hilarious faces and gestures, oh god) and the ridiculously high-octane fight sequences.

A musical score rides side-by-side with the energetic animation. Makoto Miyazaki combines fierce electric guitar rifts with overpowering strings and techno beats to form the definition of “action film music.” Personal favorites include the eerie “Kowa,” the epic “Crisis,” and of course, the “Theme of ONE PUNCH MAN” and its many acoustic and piano renditions. It’s enough to make you want to jump out of your bed each morning, shout a bloodcurdling cry, then proceed with air punches and a billion push-ups.

Where would I be without mentioning the show’s anthem OP “THE HERO!!” by JAM Project? While it alone contains enough awesomeness to serve as a substitute for your morning coffee, I also speak for the ending, “Hoshi yori Saki ni Mitsukete Ageru” by Hiroko Moriguchi. It was just such a nice balance between “GOOD FREAKIN’ MORNING, NOW GO GET ‘EM” and “Welcome back ~ it’s been a long day. Rest.”

HERO WEEK SEGMENT: Archetypical Hero qualities represented by Saitama

(Why not Genos? Because that cyborg fits the formula all too well. With One Punch Man also being an adaption of a longer-running series, we do not know how the overarching story ends. I have taken those bullets out to accommodate this cut-short adaptation.)

I’ve taken a quick trip to Google to provide qualities of the typical hero. Let’s briefly exercise each prompt:

  • Unusual circumstances of birth; sometimes in danger or born into royalty
    • We assume that Saitama is as average as middle-aged upstanding Japanese citizen as you can get.
  • Comes from humble origins
    • Saitama is about as humble as you can get. You’d frequently encounter him at the local convenient store.
  • Leaves family or land and lives with others
    • Again, we don’t know about his family background, but we can guess he lives alone and has bent his life’s goal on becoming a hero for the fun of it.
  • An event, sometimes traumatic, leads to adventure
    • No trauma here. Just a monster-invaded world that needs a hero to combat evil. I guess he trained daily with “100 PUSH-UPS, 100 SIT-UPS, 100 . . .” yeah, enough of that.
  • Hero has a special weapon only he can wield/always has supernatural help
    • Actually, no. This is just a normal dude who exercised like a maniac to be fit.
  • The Hero must prove himself many times while on adventure
    • It’s quite hard for Saitama to prove himself if every challenge just isn’t challenging. Instead, he must be deemed heroic by the public, and as frustrating as that often is, he somehow manages to push through if even just by a tiny margin. He must also prove a worthy master to Genos and a notable hero for the Association, which though humorous at times, it’s all ultimately not enough to bring about complete development (that is mostly due to it being a mere adaptation).

Notice the lack of similarities between typical heroes? Unlike ERASED’s Satoru Fujinuma, who received supernatural help, fought on to improve himself and save others, and even challenged fate, Saitama is a laughing stock, and his anime, the “proclaimed satire of hero genre” is more just for action and comedy than anything. HOWEVER, Saitama still manages to mangle himself into the hero mold—especially by the end—and I only wish we got more. I’m sure much deeper and emotional struggles await ALL of the cast, but based on these 12 episodes, you’ll walk away giggling rather than contemplating heroism and life as we know it, that blah-blah stuff. We like Saitama because he’s different—because he’s a dork.

Watch One Punch Man for the grotesque, energetic, explosive, out-of-this-world action scenes and the natural hilarity and fun that is Saitama. Should neither of those things intrigue you, then it wouldn’t be a crime to skip it (Genos might say otherwise). I had an epic time with the show, and I’ll leave you with an inspiring quote to contrast the nonsense the anime is more infamously known for. One Punch Man is A-“OK.”

“The true power of us human beings is that we can change ourselves on our own.” – Saitama

ZOOM-BANG-POW! These are my thoughts on 9/10 “Caffé Mocha” One Punch Man. As you can tell, I was pretty darn satisfied with what I signed up for. Most people were. Did OPM satisfy your craving for brutal bashing, or did the quirky facial expressions fuel your smiles? You really ought to let me know! Also, do you have any Saitama or Genos-like figures in your life? I’ve known this guy who’s always trying to do the right thing, but his clunky demeanor and unsuspected heroic deeds hardly ever get credited. Haha, the whole situation just makes me laugh, but should I? ‘Till next time everyone,

– Takuto, your host

This is why people are awesome. See? I’m not crazy. He does look like an egg.

Ben-To Review

While ramen bowls and instant rice make for a quick, cheap meal, the premade bento box featured in grocery stores is the dinner for kings – some say it’s even to die for. Today, an anime centered on retrieving that ultimate dish not only for the driving guts, but for the incomparable glory.

Yo Sato, a high school pervert who revels in playing old SEGA games, decides to purchase a bento box from his local grocery store when he realizes that was his first mistake. Waking up from his unconscious state, he sees that all of the bento are gone. “Wolves,” intense brawlers who live thrive for the taste of a half-priced bento fight in the store until only the mighty survive. Yarizui, the “Ice Witch,” is the head of the Half-Pricer Club at his school, and upon his cold knockout, forces Sato to join the club and to enter the battle of the bento!

Taking an unnecessarily serious approach to the art of low-budget dining, Ben-To is hilarious. There really isn’t much more to say. It is a pure comedy, lacking any dark history or overly dramatic plot twists. The show is perfect for “rinsing your anime palette,” especially after watching something really intense.

The characters are also light-hearted. They each have their own unique names they are coined for: “Ice Witch,” “Lady of the Lake,” “Wizard,” so on and so forth. Over the course of the show, you begin to realize how they got their name, their concentrated strategies and styles, but most important, their motive and willingness to fight – the honor of the bento. None of the characters come from a distorted past, meaning that they are pure enjoyment! That’s not to say that “what you see is what you get,” however; you’ll be surprised by the interesting personas provided by each character.

It’s also amusing to watch the stereotypical archetypes duke it out in what? A grocery store. The quiet girl, the perverted girl, the ordinary high schooler, the “older sister,” the twins, the leader type – it all works, and it’s fascinating! J

I’ve never seen animation by Production David, but they did a fine job with the dramatic brawls that unfold in the store. And while the characters look really beautiful up close, specifically the eyes, even a couple feet away from the viewer the characters’ eyes appear really spaced out/messed up. It becomes distracting after a while, and during a few of the softer moments it kinda trashes the overall appeal.

Interestingly enough, the OST for Ben-To features many brass instrumentals, which is a cool change in music compared to other anime. For those who’ve seen it, it’s reminiscent of C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control.

The saucy opening “LIVE for LIFE” by Aimi matches perfectly as far as lyrics and context. The in-depth views of characters in the supermarket make the scene look very busy, and in the anime, it most certainly is! In contrast, each day concludes peacefully with the ending, “Egao no Housoku” by Mariya Ise, featuring a soliloquy-esque spotlight by the cerulean-haired red-eyed babe Yarizui.

There is plenty of ecchi scenes and fanservice, and while I’d like to say it’s for the girls, for a change it’s actually for Sato. Oshiroi, the perverted girl and innocent classmate, never stops shipping Sato with the other boys and older men in the series. She reminds me of Rikka from Haganai. Characters such as the student council president or the head of the judo club also have a bolt to pick with him. As a guy, the natural hatred by the setting followed by the slow growth to fondness is comical. Besides this, there are still plenty of skin-revealing scenes for everyone, so yeah . . . awesome.

There isn’t really much else to add besides the known fact that Ben-To is a must-watch comedy series. The ”shop till you drop” story makes for fantastic hand-to-hand combat, my favorite being Shaga, though I also like Yarizui, and it never loses its touch. Though the show’s not family friendly because of the platefuls of fanservice, it’s definitely a great watch after a really sad/dramatic or intense thriller anime. Ben-To will make you hungry, so why wait? The laurel wreath sticker has been placed, the “Wolves” are ready at their marks, the doors close, finally BAM – it’s time to dine!!

“Say your thanks before you eat.” – Sen Yarizui

Thanks for checkin’ out my rather quick review of Ben-To, a comedy action series booming with fun! I have not seen the dub yet, but I love Trina Nishimura, so yeah, got to check it out. Please give me a like if you enjoyed the review, as it makes my day! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Yamada’s First Time (B Gata H Kei) Review

“B Gata” meaning “Type: B” and “H Kei” meaning “Style: H.” Make of that how you will.

Everyone has sexual tendencies, but is it natural for a virgin teen girl to want to bang 100 guys her first year in high school? Well, Yamada is 15 years old, and this is her goal. She’s beautiful, popular, athletic, smart, and even musically talented – so why the sudden urge? We quickly discover that she has no sexual experience whatsoever when she corners a boy in the library and flashes him. But hey, as the saying goes, “The journey of a hundred miles starts with a single step.”

Like so many, I judged this show just hearing the title. After actually watching it, however, I was in love by episode one. This plot is definitely a hit-or-miss for some, considering its mature themes, but the show goes beyond that. While Yamada’s First Time lacks the actual sex, it teaches a valuable lesson about rushing into things, and how you might want to rethink things through before you do something regrettable. This anime is a one-of-a-kind gem that shines best when it strays from its goal.

Yamada is an interesting character, that’s for sure. She’s slutty, perverted to the max and simply a disaster. But despite her intriguing plot involvement, she is a really enjoyable character. Yamada can be the “go get em’” girl all she wants, but deep down she is only a teenager – she’s still growing and learning. Her lust to lose her V-card results in her chasing down the most unremarkable boy in her class, Kosuda, and she begins to realize that she might have feelings for him.

Kosuda (“cherry boy”) is doomed to her by the first episode – that innocent boy in the library, but he sure doesn’t think that! Kosuda is bland, boring and honestly looks like a background character. He represents the average boy in many ways, but stands out because he gets so freakin’ nervous about most everything related to Yamada. In that, he’s quite hilarious to watch.

While it’s fun following these two chase after each other, you realize that by the end of this short anime, Kosuda is all Yamada’s gonna get. The anime loves teasing its viewers with X-rated hot stuff, but then quickly pulls up its pants before anything unfolds. After watching so many ridiculous scenes with the two, you really want them to have sex – you do and you know it!

Accompanying the lead couple is Yamada’s enduring girlfriend Takeshita who advises her through her journey, Yamada’s Eros Deity, the brash and sexual embodiment of her darkest desires that promotes her banging boys, Kosuda’s quiet childhood friend Miyano who crushes on him the entire series, the perfectionist transfer student and rival of Yamada, Kanejo, and so many more. What can I say? Yamada’s First Time has an ensemble cast that manages to entertain and keep you laughing.

There’s not much to say regarding the animation. It lacks much detail in background scenery, but it gets the job done. You can tell the animators put extra work into making Kanejo and Yamada appear cuter than the others, as it shows when the two face off in various activities.

The OST is spicy and dramatic, fitting the tone and adding to the overall flavor of the series! Argumentative scenes are well supported while the softer romantic scenes strike the heart. I especially enjoyed the opening and ending, “Oshiete A to Z” and “Hadashi no Princess,” both by Yukari Tamura. The opening is just so catchy and tons of fun! J It reminded me of other S.A.V.E. titles like Strike Witches or Negima!?.

Yamada’s First Time is by no means a full-blown hentai, but rather a more playful ecchi. The show teases its viewers and services the fans. It’s a guilty pleasure that I enjoyed probably way more than I should have >.< Because of its mature content, the anime is not for everyone. But my god do I recommend it – absolutely. Yamada’s First Time is a precious and lovable anime. “Sometimes you just have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down.” – Kobi Yamada

While I don’t currently own a copy, Yamada’s First Time in FUNimation’s S.A.V.E format is on my Amazon.com cart! For less than $15.00, it’s a must buy! Also, Brittney Karbowski’s role as Yamada is really good ~

Thanks for reading as always and be sure to check out other reviews for more recommendations. If you had similar thoughts or were inspired to watch this anime, then go ahead and hit that like button or drop a comment below! I welcome all new customers (followers) to the anime café and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

 

 

 

WataMote: No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular! Review

A really touchy subject that I have is friendship. I don’t really hang out with people nor talk about anime a whole lot in public. The friends that I have at school stay at school, and that’s the way it’s been for a long time. I study, do my work, laugh a lot, then head home to catch the simulcasts! So looking back at my freshman year, was I excited to start? Waiting for new things? Not really, but this new freshman girl, Tomoko, expects her whole world to change when she starts high school – and for the greater good!

Kuroki Tomoko is a boring girl; she googled it. The kid spends hours, even nights, watching anime, playing otome games and browsing the web. In middle school, her best friend, Yu-chan, and herself were “really cool,” and now entering high school, she intends to keep that middle school rep. She expects her new school life to be like it is in her anime: eating on the roof, sitting by the window, casually flirting with boys . . . Instead, she’s an unnoticeable, hobbling disaster that can’t even say goodbye to her own teacher! Unsocial, flat-chested, bags so large under her eyes it’s a wonder she can even hold her head as high as she does! But she’s determined to achieve flawless, and that’s all that matters, right?

I could spend this entire review saying how relatable Tomoko is, but I’ll leave those sunrises for you. Kuroki is a fragile, shaggy black-haired little girl, her main feature being her bulbous, emerald and sleep-deprived sagging eyes. Though a failure, Tomoko always tries to do what all of the popular kids in anime do. She merely wants to fit in with her peers by trying new things and improving her social status. With that said, her perseverance is unmatched by any other character out there! She never gives up, telling herself constantly that “there’s still plenty of time left to change!” And that’s why I love this cute mess :3

Kuroki isn’t that perfect, however, as she never follows follows up on her training to become recognized by the world. Coming so close in her many new experiences, she either turns back running and crying or fails so miserably that it just becomes sad to watch her and this show. If she truly wanted to become popular, she would’ve stayed in each game just a little longer to see what’s beyond the credits, so to speak.

The other characters, Tomoko’s realistic mom and dad, her easily-angered brother Tomoki, and her transformed old friend Yu-chan are great when supporting Kuroki throughout the show. They never bring her down (except for Yu-chan being a hottie) or ruin the anime. Her family and friend are good contrast to her abstract way of thinking. Later we are introduced to the student council president, who hides in the back calmly and gracefully giving Tomoko the attention she wants; a pure role model to follow.

Visually, I am reminded of Negima!? when I watch this anime. The show features a unique geometric lighting that highlights what is important or what you as a viewer should be following. The anime even grayscale individuals, Kuroki included, to show depression or if they are unimportant. Tomoko herself gets many intense and brightly colored scenes that capture her anger or stress, which are just hilarious. As for the graphics, it’s hit or miss, really. I was fond of them.

Okay, I don’t like screamo music. At all. But this opening, “No Matter  How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!” by Konomi Suzuki and Kiba of Akiba is hardcore punk . . . and I find myself drawn to it and its powerfully flashy scenes. It is an exaggerated yet symbolic song of struggle – ideal for this anime.

The rest of the OST is filled with what feels like old-timey film or game music, just updated. Many of the tracks are foolish piano melodies or outlandish tunes, while some are clearly made from a soundboard of sorts. It’s hard to describe, yet I don’t really need to since it’s nothing outstanding.

I feel a male audience is best suited for this anime, for my sister only took pity upon Kuroki Tomoko, realizing that she herself wasn’t that much of a loser and saw right through the comedy. Boys would sympathize, then move on to attempt to enjoy the hilarity behind the small details of the show.

WataMote was hilarious and tons of fun at first, but it doesn’t really resolve itself. By the end Tomoko is still an unsocial loner; however, the student council president does catch her eye. Perhaps if it had like 2-3 more episodes or an OVA for resolution so that I could forgive Kuroki for her mistakes, because it certainly doesn’t need a sequel to drag things out. I enjoyed this anime’s fresh/complex comedy, but not its tragedy. WataMote was great; it just wasn’t done quite yet.

Presently, a copy of the anime by Sentai Filmworks with a fabulously dubbed Tomoko by Monica Rial sits on my shelf waiting for a text from its best friend or a “hey” from a super hot boy – “Screw you guys.” – Kuroki Tomoki

This was a great way to spend parts of my winter vacation. I hope you are all doing well, too! A “hello” to my new followers and those already following! You’re all choosing the right cafe to relax at 😉 Hit the like or follow button for more material and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

The Devil is a Part-Timer! Review

These past couple of weeks I have been telling myself that I just need go out to my local Hastings, pick up an anime, and marathon the whole thing regardless of time. Well, I got to do that, and let me just say that I wish it didn’t ever end. Today I will review The Devil is a Part-Timer!, a light-hearted comedy-adventure of the Devil and the Hero struggling in modern-day Japan.

Years of war have resulted in bloodthirsty demons conquering about ¾ of Ente Isla, the foreign medieval world. When the Devil’s palace is stormed by armies of rebelling humans led by Emilia the Hero, Satan, lord of all demons, and his general, Alciel, flee through a portal to the human realm with the Hero tagging along. They find themselves in present day Tokyo, a world deprived of magic and mana. Without his demonic force slaving away for him, Satan adopts the name of Sadao Maou, rents a cheap apartment shack, and gets hired as the “perfect employee” at the local MgRonald’s. Alciel, now Shirou Ashiya, remains as a “stay at home mom” for Maou, tending to all of the basic needs of the household, cooking included. With this new unexpectedly mundane lifestyle Emilia, now just Emi Yusa, finds employment as a call center agent all the while keeping a watchful eye on the humble demon king.

One of this anime’s best features is its fresh plot. The top moments, in fact, are merely watching the Devil and the Hero struggle with the basic troubles of our own lives – missing a wallet, paying for rent, acquiring a job, and even getting a tummy ache.

What the story also wants us to notice are the setting/character/stereotype relationships. The Devil is supposed to be evil. The hero is good. The Devil is a Part-Timer! puts Satan in a position where he can’t necessarily commit evil, so why should he? And with the Devil just trying to earn enough money to feed himself, does the Hero really need to step in? No. And that’s why this anime is so good at deconstructing the “good guy” and “bad guy” roles – heck, Satan even saves some humans in later episodes, so I guess you can’t judge based on appearance alone! The characters are fun and bring out their true selves when they are simply around each other, eating plentiful quantities of udon.

While the animation by White Fox is nothing fancy, it gets the job done. The show uses bright colors on in-anime advertisements to support itself. Great dynamic moments include the many expressions of the show – Emi in particular has many rage faces that are just awesome.

There are few notable tracks, such as “The Strength of the Hero and the Devil” and “Give Up on Ente Isla,” which are both stand-out pieces. Otherwise, the OST is plain silly, complimenting the tone of the anime quite nicely. The opening, “ZERO!!” by Minami Kuribayashi, though nothing special at first, really grew on me after a while. It’s catchy, upbeat, and has decent animation sequences to go along with it.

The only problem I had with this near-perfect anime was, well, it ended. Maou and Emi never completely sort things out and the *spoiler* main antagonist is technically still around. I hope a second season is produced, otherwise this first season of great material kinda goes to waste.

The Devil is a Part-Timer! is a wonderful yet short anime. The English dub is also really good! I recommend this anime to anyone simply because it’s a light-hearted comedy show, but specifically because of the interesting characters getting worked up over simple things like cash and noodles. Comedy shows depend on your tolerance of humor alone. But if you’re like me, it’ll make you laugh a genuine laugh, and you’ll want to find a job at a fast food restaurant, trust me. The show is a juicy hamburger complete with crunchy lettuce and melted cheese that will inevitably be eaten up by your eyes – but “would you like some black pepper fries with that, sir or madam?” – Maou

I believe you can watch the whole series subbed on FUNimation.com, or you can support the official release like I did! A copy of The Devil is a Part-Timer! rests on my shelf awaiting the next hungry customer. This is one anime that you won’t fully appreciate until it’s over! Agh:)

Thanks for reading! Hit the like button if you enjoyed this review or if it inspired you to check it out. Same with the follow button – stay up to date with me and read other material I’ve written. Till next time! ~

– Takuto, your host