One Punch Man Series Review: One Punch – One Joke

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This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in August 2016 and can be found here.

I’ve not made all that many changes to this one as my opinion really hasn’t changed. I did however, get rid of the plus/minus format. Still, if you read the original post, that kind of covers it.

It’s really difficult to review One Punch Man. On the one hand, it is awesome. The main character defeats his enemies with one punch. It’s funny. It’s visually striking. The music is really well chosen. On the other hand, essentially the plot is about a guy with almost zero motivation who instantly kills his opponents removing any tension from any conflict and once you’ve seen the punch line to most of the jokes there isn’t a lot of rewatch value. And in honesty, rewatching this one was kind of dull. While there are a few moments that still really shining, without the novelty factor there just isn’t much here.

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At the centre of the story is Saitama. He really feels like a character for the modern world. He’s self-centred, lazy, and reasonably ignorant of things that don’t particularly impact on him (not saying that everyone in the modern world is like that but it is certainly a recognition of a social trend). He also has a very high opinion of himself and his value and at times seems to carry a giant chip on his shoulder about the lack of credit he receives for his work. Compared to the superheroes of the past (or the current Hollywood trend of dark and edgy heroes), Saitama is a fantastic breath of fresh air and fairly easy to relate to.

And he has even more depth than most of us initially give him credit  for. There are times when he could receive recognition but because of the ramifications to others, Saitama deliberately plays down his part in a job. Given his usual self-involved attitude, these moments are really important to making him feel like a genuine character and someone who is becoming more aware of the world around them even as he seeks recognition.

Basically, this character has toed the line and managed to make us not hate him, even while he plays up some of the less desirable traits of the modern culture. Its an interesting mix and one handled more deftly than you might at first assume, but a lot of that gets lost under a fairly one note plot.

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Sticking with characters though, I want to give a shout out to Genos. My favourite character from the show (and someone who deserves some kind of award for the sheer amount of determination he has and how little it actually gets him). He is your typical hero in every sense of the word. Tragic childhood on quest for revenge and to save others from the same fate. Willing to sacrifice himself and always working to improve. He is also the only one who really recognises Saitama for what he actually is (even if his perception is a little tinted by rose coloured glasses).

Genos also brings about some of the more amusing and tragic moments of the anime as he tends to attempt self-destruction fairly regularly (to save others of course) or gets swatted into pieces. You feel bad for him but can’t help but laugh and given how much damage he sustains in early episodes without lasting impact (because apparently being a cyborg means anything can be fixed) it takes a lot of the trauma out of his injuries. While Genos couldn’t carry the show by himself (he is too weighed down with clichés), he is an excellent support character and adds just the right notes of earnestness, dedication, and over-zealous stupidity to most scenes.

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However, that one note plot is a problem as is the inability to escalate tension throughout the story. When you start your anime with city destroying monsters, giants, cyborgs, gorillas and life sucking mosquitos, how do you up the ante? Sure, aliens? Why not? Only they don’t come off as any more threatening than the hoodlums or any of the other villains we’ve seen. I think they are supposed to, given all of the heroes are seemingly gathered to face them, but what we end up with is a series of small group fights that lack punch (sorry about that) and then Saitama squaring off against the leader of the aliens and… well winning with one punch. They may draw out this battle sequence for longer than others in the series, but to be honest the outcome is obvious and you’re not sitting on the edge of your seat waiting but rather just waiting for the inevitable punch line.

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And so our plot line boils down to a single manta. “Saitama is strong. Saitama is good. Saitama hits things and kills them in one punch.” Possibly this is a story about the organisation for heroes and maybe there’s more to the whole thing there but in the first season (which is all we have at the moment), there is genuinely no real plot. There are a series of incidents that get dealt with and in the process we see Saitama and Genos interacting more and more with other heroes (all of which have their own agendas and motives). This is not actually a plot. The series is a collection of set-ups and punch lines with just enough world building packed around it to make it feel like maybe there is some plot progression. Certainly there is space for there to be a plot. You know, the hero guy who seems to be wanting to take over, and the other guy who… wait we just don’t know what they are actually up to and they probably made up less than 5% of the screen time so let’s not justify that as a plot.

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But the weak plot isn’t enough to take away from the fact that this show knew what it wanted to bring. This is high energy fun. I may make fun of the obvious ends to battles but the show continues to find ways to make these amusing and visually appealing regardless. More importantly, they keep finding ways to make battle sequences look and feel different (even knowing they will end the same way). The sheer variety in the enemies and the use of lesser heroes and even the stronger heroes in the early stages of fights keeps things feeling fresh and moving.

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For me a lot of the jokes fell flat. Even the ones that were pretty funny the first time round weren’t particularly amusing when I tried to watch it again with a friend. A lot of the humour relies on shock and spectacle and unfortunately that just doesn’t hold up to a second viewing (and a third viewing for this review just killed it – there’s almost nothing left that sticks when you have already seen it and you know where its going). The character related humour worked better but even that didn’t have the same impact on rewatch. There are definitely some satirical elements at work here, but the show isn’t really cohesive enough to call itself a satire. Mostly, it’s just going for amusement and entertainment and for the most part it succeeds.

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After all of this, I’m still going to recommend this one to people who haven’t tried it. The first watch is great fun and you’ll have some great laughs with it. However, I don’t see myself ever wanting to buy this one on disc and I probably won’t go for another watch of it anytime soon.

What did you think of One Punch Man?

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Karandi James
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ONE PUNCH MAN ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
ONE PUNCH MAN ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Series Review: Will They Just Let The Franchise End Now?

How much mileage can you get out of a parody concept of magical boys who don’t really want to save the world? Well, this franchise has asked that question again and again but if there is one thing Happy Kiss has taught me, it is that Cute High Earth Defense Club Whatever needs to just stop now.

Review:

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On watching the original Cute High Earth Defense Club series I was sceptical but ended up pleasantly surprised that despite the formulaic monster of the week approach, it actually did a pretty solid job as a magical girl parody and it gave us enough interesting dialogue and random conversations between the boys to make it worth the while. It didn’t amaze me but I had a reasonably good time with it. Then we had a sequel. Which I didn’t finish. And an OVA. Which I didn’t watch. Most recently we were introduced to Happy Kiss with a whole new group of boys and I decided, probably poorly, to give the show another go. After all, it was a comedy show I’d finished a season of. It couldn’t be that bad.

And that assessment is probably right. It isn’t that bad, but neither is it particularly good. While the first episode has flashes of those intriguingly random musing between the boys and each character in the new group could potentially be interesting, as the season progresses you will realises that this series has absolutely nothing to say. While the first season was undeniably a parody and some of the monsters were truly inconsequential it still offered up some half-decent social commentary and just some random food for thought. Happy Kiss brings nothing to the table other than the tongue in cheek apathy of the main cast and giving the audience a knowing look asking us to find it hilarious as they bemoan yet another transformation sequence.

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But even then they couldn’t commit with the final episodes seeing boys joining forces with the henchmen of the previously evil brother and willingly throwing themselves into a fight against a suddenly propped up villain that the audience has legitimately no reason to care about. So the boys didn’t even manage to be consistent in their apathy.

Actually, I do have a couple of positives. I mean, I did get through the entire season so it isn’t like it is an unwatchable steaming pile of overcooked spinach.

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Firstly, I kind of loved the song that they played every single time the boys used their final attack. Well I say final attack but generally it the only one because mostly they just kind of made stupid comments until Karl (the talking otter who is actually a prince) tells them its time to make everyone happy and then they attack. But the song is pretty infectious and it definitely got stuck in my head every single week.

The other thing I really enjoyed was that at least the main characters called the villains on the pathetic nature of their complaint. It was something I always wished the Sailor Scouts would do when someone gave in to something really petty and transformed into a monster.

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Outside of those two things though, there isn’t a lot to love about Happy Kiss. The cast don’t develop at all, the rivalry between the Defense Club and the Student Council seems forced and doesn’t really go anywhere until near the end and then it is kind of just over, and even the two princes don’t really do much more than repeat their formulaic lines week after week.

I’d honestly say that you would be better off watching the original than this if you’ve never watched anything in the franchise. The writing is undeniably better and more amusing. I’m clearly not recommending this anime and I’m kind of hoping this is where the franchise stops but somehow I doubt it.

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Karandi James

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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episode 12: Another Cash Grab Ends

If I ever get around to writing a list of most pointlessly depressing sequels and follow ups, Happy Kiss is most definitely ending up on it. From start to finish this was pretty uninspired and pointless, and this final might as well not exist.

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I should have realised that final episode or not, this anime never had anything more to say than tell someone they aren’t unhappy and then sing a bit before zapping them into a bath and everything will be solved. That’s literally what we watched for 12 episodes and the final boss fight doesn’t vary from this routine at all except that the song takes longer and the boys use their magic sticks as pseudo microphones while the tin soldiers dance. It’s a little depressing to be honest.

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And while the student council and Kyotaro’s group now seem to all be getting along, we kind of realised that there wasn’t any reason for them not to be other than stupidity in the first place. Where earlier seasons of this franchise had a little bit of cleverness to them and some amusing observations, outside of the first two episodes, this iteration delivered nothing other than formulaic drivel. On the bright side, at least it is over now. At least until we get the ‘Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Super Love’ spin-off which almost sure to be the next cash grab for the franchise.

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Karandi James

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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episode 11: He’s That Upset Over That?

While I’m kind of used to this show trivialising things, particularly motivations, finally finding out the cause of Ata’s deep rooted resentment was even more vapid than I had suspected. Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss has one more episode and then I will fortunately say goodbye to this one.

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The whole season has seen Ata glaring daggers at the more or less oblivious Kyotaro and really I’ve just wanted him to get over it from the start. However, if it had at least been based on some kind of rel trauma or slight that might have made it bearable. But no. Instead it turns out Ata is just a petulant child blaming others for his own shortcomings and interpreting everything as a slight so that he can continue to feed his petty hatred. And while this in itself may have made for an interesting character exploration, it hasn’t been explored. It was screamed at us during an over the top boss fight and then resolved in more or less an instant, except that it isn’t because Kyotaro once again ran off and left Ata.

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Really this continuation continues to be pretty vapid and pointless with characters who have ended up fairly uninspired. The one hope is that the return to Karls’ home might make for an interesting final episode at least, but I won’t hold my breath.

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Karandi James

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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episode 10: The Silver Lining

Well, the one thing I consistently liked about this anime, the song they use when transforming the monsters back, was butchered this weak by the geriatric versions of the cast. I’d call it quits but I’m thinking there’s only like two episodes left.

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There was something that could have been quite funny about this episode. The situation is so inherently ridiculous and while the boys transformations are funny enough, having the old versions of them transforming could have been pretty laughable. Instead, this all feels very lazy. From the slap dash and fairly uninspired interaction in the bath before that serves as a clumsy lead in to the theme of the episode, to the presidents rising anger, everything is all just kind of obvious and lacking in any kind of depth. And while over the top and obvious can work, here is just seems like we’re going through the motions because we can.

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I’ve mentioned before that the dialogue was something I really liked about the first season of this franchise, but with the exception of the first couple of episodes, Happy Kiss has just not delivered anything even close. The characters have inane conversations and they are just inane. There isn’t any subtlety or interesting points to pull apart. The villains are poorly thought out and realised and not even in a parody kind of way. They are just badly done. The only light shining here is that we finally broke formula at the end of the episode so maybe something vaguely interesting might happen next week.

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Karandi James

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Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episode 9: Roll the Dice

While this isn’t the worst episode of this anime, that isn’t exactly a resounding recommendation as we continue to get no plot development and a formulaic approach that has already worn out its welcome.

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Try that defence in court.

It is festival time at the school and the club have to come up with a compelling activity because… reasons. Something about the student council being annoyed at them if they don’t. Given the council are annoyed at them anyway I’m not sure why. Something about their attendance was mentioned, but they would be at school anyway even if they did nothing. So no compelling motivation really other than festival episode.

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Then we get a series of set ups and punch lines that most revolve around putting the boys in positions that could be deliberately misconstrued for amusement purposes I guess. Maybe someone found it amusing. What really drives the nail into the coffin on this episode though is that even the villain realises he serves no purpose and doesn’t fight. At all. He stands, waits for them to transform, and then they change him back. Done. No fight at all.

Sigh.

Linked Reviews:

 

  1. Episode 8: Endless Summer, Endless Formula
  2. Episode 7: The Less Said
  3. Episodes 6: Rinse and Repeat
  4. Episodes 4 + 5: Are You Happy?
  5. Episode 3: Ridiculous Villains Here
  6. Episode 2: The Hero’s Indifference
  7. Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss First Impressions
  8. Cute High Earth Defense Club Series Review

Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Patreon2             Thoughts on Anime             74iz

Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss Episode 8: Endless Summer, Endless Formula

While we’re sticking true to pattern with this episode, it at least did have a few chuckles along the way and turning the usual anime summer antics on their head was kind of entertaining even if nothing else really changed.

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When the most remarkable thing about episode seven was that I managed to review it in exactly 100 words, episode eight of this parody anime didn’t have a high bar to jump over to be considered better. And it is better but better in this instance is not synonymous with good. Let’s be honest, I don’t enjoy most of the normal summer anime activities so watching Kotaro shoot most of them down with logical reasons why they won’t be fun was pretty entertaining in its own way even if the story itself didn’t notably improve.

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Once again, we have a villain of the week dealing with some petty personal problem and seriously over-reacting. What makes it worse is that he’s kind of idiotic in his decision making even before he gets transformed into a monster by the student council. So yeah, not a lot to recommend here though still a bit more entertaining than last week.

Linked Reviews:

  1. Episode 7: The Less Said
  2. Episodes 6: Rinse and Repeat
  3. Episodes 4 + 5: Are You Happy?
  4. Episode 3: Ridiculous Villains Here
  5. Episode 2: The Hero’s Indifference
  6. Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss First Impressions
  7. Cute High Earth Defense Club Series Review

Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

avatar

Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2             Thoughts on Anime             74iz