What They Say:
Saitama is a hero who only became a hero for fun. After three years of “special” training, though, he’s become so strong that he’s practically invincible. In fact, he’s too strong—even his mightiest opponents are taken out with a single punch, and it turns out that being devastatingly powerful is actually kind of a bore. With his passion for being a hero lost along with his hair, yet still faced with new enemies every day, how much longer can he keep it going?
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English language dub, both of which are in the PCM form. The show works some really good action sequences in nearly every episode and they have some great impact as they unfold with a good bit of bass in some of them and lots of directionality as needed. There’s not exactly a theatrical level of quality here but you can easily imagine a mild remix taking it there and several of these episodes together coming across in a big way on the big screen. The dialogue side is playful as needed and there are some mildly creative moments where it gets to be played as well with different hero types and their particular style of dialogue. Overall, it does what it has to and the encoding brings us a very clean and clear mix that’s problem free throughout.
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread evenly across the two discs (as are the OVAs) with six each. Animated by Madhouse, this is one of those shows that just oozes technical quality from top to bottom. The encoding captures all of this detail beautifully with so much going on within the character designs, the action itself with the powers, and all the backgrounds with the cities both in pristine condition and in all the chaos of destruction. This is where it pretty much feels theatrical quality level of animation as it’s just striking visually throughout no matter the scene, especially when you get Saitama’s more simplistic face brought into it as it really draws out what the rest looks like. Colors are great with some real vibrancy and the fluidity of many scenes just shines with a great encoding.
The limited edition packaging for this release is pretty great from top to bottom, especially considering its price. The heavy chipboard box has a clear slipcover that has the basic information on it so that the case itself, with a cutout in it, can stand alone for fans to enjoy. The front has the cutout where you can see Saitama busting through behind it and the layered effect is really nicely done. The back cover keeps it simple with the silver grey background and puts a Hero Association logo there. With the slipcover aspect we get lots of small but great looking shots from the show with a lot of color and a good clean look at what’s included with the set. The technical information is a little harder to read (I continue to wish for a proper grid) but everything is listed accurately. Inside the box we get a slightly oversized Blu-ray case that holds the various discs on hinges for both formats. The cover uses the popular key visual of Saitama bursting out while the back goes more traditional with a minor summary of the premise, a few shots, and some good technical information. Add in a little artwork on the reverse side that’s appropriate of the characters and it’s sold.
The set also comes with some pack-ins that includes a really cool bunch of postcards as well as a big 96-page booklet done as a notebook that provides a copious amount of information to it. With character breakdowns and artwork, creator interviews, keyword breakdowns… it’s all good. And there’s some manga included as well that will hopefully draw you over to picking that up.
The menu design for this release keeps things kind of simple as we get something that works from the nicely done cover artwork (which in itself came from the Japanese release) with Saitama busting through the wall toward the viewer. With the gray background, a lot of detail in the fracture points, and just the intensity of his expression, it looks good. The logo and disc number is kept to the right in a large font while navigation is just below it with the standard pieces. Everything loads smoothly and easily with what it has to do and navigation is a breeze in getting around both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback.
The extras for this release are definitely good, though part of me doesn’t want to include the OVAs as extras. We get six of them here from the Japanese releases where they run about ten to twelve minutes each. They’re not low-rent cheaply animated pieces of comedy but further extensions on the show and the characters that really help to enhance and grow the property. They’re definitely welcome to take in after the show as it adds a little more fun while we wait for more of the series and it’s also a huge plus that they’re dubbed. Beyond that we get the clean opening and closing sequences but also a convention interview piece with the Japanese lead and director along with a few English language actors and ADR director where they talk about the show. It’s quick and fun and it’s just great to see the casts from both sides of it together.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by One and Yusuke Murata, One-Punch Man is a twelve episode anime series that aired in the fall of 2015. It gained a fast reputation as a very fun and high quality work and it generated a lot of interest in the manga as well as a second season that’s on the way. With Viz Media releasing the manga, they made out well by procuring the anime as well and the end result is a very strong release of a very fun series. I hadn’t seen it during its simulcast run so this was my first full experience with outside of a few clips and trailers here and there. The show won me over quickly and it kept up such a great energy throughout it that the series ends up becoming a whole lot of infectious fun that even as it plays with familiar ideas ends up feeling fresh and original.
The show revolves around a world like ours but with a super-continent where each of the regions are basically oversized cities that are all done up alphabetically. A lot of what we get takes place in City Z where we’re introduced to Saitama, a kind of bored bald man that wears a mustard jumpsuit with a white cape and has the ability to largely knock anyone out with one punch. The world is made up of a wide range of superheroes that are all classified by rank as they deal with everything from purse snatchers to world ending villains and other invasions. The Hero ASsociation handles a lot of this and is basically running a high end police protection racket for the populace in order to keep them safe and to keep tabs on all the powered people. There’s edges of darkness to a lot of this along the way with some of the muckety mucks we come across from time to time, but for the most part this season is focused on the range of heroes and villains that Saitama comes across.
Saitama is essentially ridiculously overpowered and achieved it in the simplest of ways, believing he just worked out a bit and it finally hit that level, though there’s obviously something more to it. The fallout from it was amusing in that he lost his hair and the brief origin we get early on is nicely comical without being too over the top. What Saitama is like, however, is a kind of innocent in some ways. He’s not up on the whole Hero Association thing and when he does eventually join he’s so underranked because of how unseriously he takes it that it’s amusing to watch how he struggles in having to deal with the low ranking issues he has. What you get is someone that believes in doing the right thing and in justice but is also a bit frustrated in that he’s so easily able to take out his opponents with a single punch, hence the name. Sometimes he gets to put a little more into it but what I find most amusing is that because he ends up as a C rank person that achieves big things, most people believe that he’s actually cheating in a lot of ways. That plays into the finale of the season in a great way as we see how he uses it to cover for everyone else to ensure that so many get their reputations upheld even though he basically saved the day singlehandedly.
What really brings change to Saitama’s simple life is the arrival of Genos, a cyborg that wants to become Saitama’s disciple as he understand what Saitama is capable of. Genos is basically the straight man for the series and it’s amusing to see him get S rank right out of the gate because of how powerful he while being less powered than Saitama, who is at a C rank. The two have an odd couple feeling in a lot of ways and having Genos move in is priceless as their differences are delightful to watch. But also because Saitama, who takes a wad of cash for rent that Genos has, feels like he’s not doing anywhere near enough to earn being a master/instructor for Genos. Naturally, there are many situations where accidental teaching happens as Genos infers a lot from what Saitama does.
Over the course of this first season we get a good range of opponents for them to deal with, and some from within the Hero Association that are looking to put Saitama in his place, and most of these are kind of one-off opponents with a couple that go a bit longer. This ranges from simple criminal elements to comical villains like Mosquito Girl or the armored gorilla known as Carnage Kabuto. The heroes are just as varied as the villains, including a cyclist type that just made me want to smack him around, but having things like the Deep Sea King come to the surface for a few episodes is great. The final arc is one that feels like it’s pure Dragon Ball Z in a lot of ways with its overpowered opponent but what delivers it from being too much of a trope is how Saitama basically wanders through their massive invasion ship and just destroys it with ease while looking for a way out.
What makes One-Punch Man stand out is a combination of things. First, Saitama is just a delight as a lead because he’s so positively unlike other male characters that it’s a huge adjustment to get into his mindset and lifestyle. Second, the show knows how to have fun without making it a direct comedy. It’s an action show with some humor mixed in and applied in all the right ways, even when it goes over the top with it. The show doesn’t spend all of its time building toward an arc or opening a rushed one toward the end, instead opting to mess with expectations with its opponent there. The biggest thing that helps to tie all of this together, however, is that Madhouse seems like they put everything into it. It’s a gorgeous looking show that creates a rich world for the characters to inhabit, and provides for a rich range of detailed characters, and then opts to give us the simplest designed one as the lead. There are times when he truly fits in the world as he goes all out or something, but for the most part he often looks like a kid added him into another show. Those eyes, those expressions, though, sell it in a huge way and the combination tied with some great talent makes this enjoyable beyond expectations.
One-Punch Man is good. It’s great, in fact. It’s the kind of series that’s accessible in ways a lot of others aren’t while still being a very Japanese piece because of how they work the superhero concept, similar to what we saw in Tiger & Bunny. This season is pretty much strong across the board and the end result is a beautiful looking show with heart, humor, and intensity all rolled into one package. Viz Media delivered from start to finish with the release with the packaging, the bonus materials, the encoding, and the dub. Fans of the show have a lot to love here and it’s something that should be spread wide and devoured on a regular basis. Very recommended.
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Clean openings, Clean closings, OVAs, Cast Interview
Content Grade: A+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: April 25th, 2017
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.