By now if you’re a fan of manga or anime you’ve probably been exposed to One-Punch Man. The manga grew and grew in popularity to the point that it was picked up early in its existence to be an anime by Madhouse. The anime went on to be quite possibly the best if not one of the best anime’s of 2015. I don’t know about most readers, but when I watch the anime adaptations of most stories, I rarely go back to the manga. Not the case here. There are several overlapping reasons for why One-Punch Man is both a great manga and a great anime, but there are also separate reasons for their greatness. As good as the anime looked, it can’t touch the level of quality the manga has. Yusuke Murata and his two supporting art members bring a level of detail that is just incredible. But it’s not just the detail though I have a hard time finding any other art in the entire comic/manga industry that’s as good. There is impressive storytelling as well. One-Punch aka Saitama is often drawn with less detail. It’s humorous, but then when even that style is changed and changed again you realize that Murata’s style is so impressive and so adaptive that he can really do any style of manga he wants. The fact that he chooses to put so much detail on every page, but then restrain that same style for Saitama is incredible. The balance and the patience that must take is something I will never know and that few readers will likely appreciate.
The story in this issue picks up with Saitama already a member of the Hero Association. Genos receives a call summoning him to the headquarters for a Dragon level threat. This happens to be a meteor falling towards earth that is set to wipe out City-Z. Genos springs into action, but his actions aren’t enough. Spoiler, they survive, but you can read the how and why. The story then eventually moves on to Sea-Folk attacking the land and an opponent that might just be strong enough for Saitama… if he can get there before all the other heroes rushing to the scene for glory and credit.
The story continues to be a great balance of humor, action and character development. There’s one point in which Saitama essentially choses his path to walk as a hero. It’s actually a very important scene as it foreshadows how he’ll be perceived by the public, the very people he’s trying to help. The mixture of humor and action is definitely one of the biggest charms of the series. To be excited about a scene due to how cool it is, but then also laugh afterwards is something incredibly difficult to do. So many stories fail miserably at this, but One-Punch Man seems to have the perfect formula for it.
If you’ve watched the anime and thought, “I don’t need to read the manga, I know what happens.” Then think again. There’s elements to the story that aren’t in the anime, there’s scenes and subtle differences that aren’t in the anime. Even if they were, this manga is incredible and frankly groundbreaking. If you’re going to check it out, start at the beginning, but know that you’ll be buying the next volume and next volume and next volume as quickly as you can.
One-Punch Man Vol. 4 Writer: One Artist: Yusuke Murata Publisher: Viz Media Price: $9.99 Release Date: 1/5/16 Format: TPB; Print/Digital