One-Punch Man 74-77 – Manga Review

Synopsis: Saitama one day decided to abandon chasing the life of a salary man and instead work towards becoming a hero. Years later he grew so strong that there’s no villain that can stand against him, for he finishes every single fight with just. one. punch!

(Warning: Spoilers to Follow)

Monsters have begun showing up across the globe, causing all sorts of havoc. As the situation worsens, and the monsters assault each city by storm, where are Genos or Saitama? At a Martial Arts Tournament of course! But the tournament concludes, and as Monsters steadily batter the cities of the world, one wonders when exactly will Saitama finally notice all the chaos?

Review:

While we’re gradually moving Saitama onto the main story line from the web comic, there’s still an awful lot of padding added here. (I will note though that I am not entirely familiar with the web comic for what’s new in the manga and what’s a faithful reproduction of the original story.) Starting today with Chapter 74 we spend time goofing around with Puri-Puri Prisoner before continuing onto Saitama suffering an existential crisis, realizing that he’s become, perhaps, too strong. It’s an interesting attempt at character development, although doesn’t last long before we turn Saitama’s burgeoning disappointment and frustration with his strength into a couple quick gags.

Hmmmmmmmmmmm

I do wonder if anything will come of this, as really all One-Punch Man has going for it is its gag comedy and existential questions about Saitama’s situation and mindset. It’s that deeper through line, concerning Saitama’s character, that I think lends the series heart that makes it so engaging long term outside of parodying shonen in general (although there’s an argument there about One-Punch Man having long abandoned its parody and really just becoming the very thing it mocked.) I’d like to think this is just set up for dealing with his personal quandaries in the near future, but we snap away from that for a quick gag about Saitama knocking Garo on his ass, without even realizing it, that it kinda all feels like an afterthought in favor of the comedy.

That’s not to say the comedy is bad, mind you, or the epic battle between the amassing monsters and the hero association, but I do feel as if a lot of goodwill was lost with the tournament arc that kinda went no where.

Switching gears up a bit, these last four chapters have released as whole chapters, rather than segments, which I think overall works a lot better. You’re getting more meaty content, and while they still don’t release weekly, or with any kind of predictable regularity, it still feels like a better experience than previously.

That’s funny, I had this exact same problem this morning.

Chapter 76 again pulls us away from the heart of the story for an extended gag featuring Sonic. He’s approached by former humans, turned monsters, who offer him the chance to gain immense strength by consuming monster cells like they have. It stretches out near the entire chapter, only broken up by a brief side story featuring Zombieman chasing down a monster named Marshal Gorilla, who’s instead disposed of by a reformed Armored Gorilla. We also get about three pages of content related to the Garo plot line, and even then the story doesn’t really advance. The chapter merely culminates on the gag that Sonic, unwilling to eat uncooked meat, gives himself diarrhea rather than powering up.

Chapter 77 finally sends the plot forward, featuring an attack on the Hero Association’s leaders by the Monster Association and later showing the terrifying force of Lord Orochi as his monster underlings briefly question his leadership. We also see Garo recover from Saitama’s kick, before retreating to heal his wounds, and finally the monsters learning that someone out there crushed Goketsu like he was nothing. It’s a meaty chapter with plenty of main plot development, and is a welcome change from the more sluggish, gag nature of the last couple chapters.

Saitama may need a course in observational skills.

I wouldn’t mind all the gag focus if we hadn’t started an interesting plot with the Monster Association before sidelining it over and over. That’s not to mention Garo and how frequently he’s been overlooked in favor of the tournament, one off gags, etc. I think these complaints are likely alleviated though once One-Punch Man is collected into volumes and there isn’t an indeterminate waiting period between chapters.

Please do comment below on what you thought of the latest One-Punch Man Chapters!

One-Punch Man is published weekly in Shonen Jump. Volume 13 releases 3/6/2018. Chapters discussed today will be collected and released sometime next year.

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