One-Punch Man 78-80 – 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?
As if One and Yusuke Murata heard my complaints from last time, this latest batch of chapters goes all in on the Garo plot line. Saitama’s still out of the picture, which is perhaps a little frustrating since he was already sidelined by the entire tournament arc, but otherwise these chapters really pulled me back into the One-Punch Man hype.
It helps that the fight between Garo and these aspiring second-tier heroes is so well put together. There’s some great build up to the fight as we put a bunch of snot-nosed kids in jeopardy while the heroes get ready to take on Garo, who’s cornered inside the kid’s former hideout. It gets a little slow as Garo reads up on each of these eight heroes, offering up short, heavy paragraphs on the abilities of each. It’s a bit boring as depicted here, but something I can see really working in the anime once you can spread a dozen or so images/shots between each of the heroes, making the visuals more dynamic and engaging.
Thankfully that slow bit doesn’t last long. We dive right into the action with Chapter 79, showcasing how, with teamwork, these heroes are no slouches. The art is as strong as ever, and the fight features plenty of back and forth. A big problem Shonen can run into is one-sided, sloppy, one-shot fights. This refers to any encounter where it’s clearly one-sided, and the best back and forth offeredis forcing into the extreme who is winning. For example: A hero confronts a villain, and the villain is winning handedly, but in the next chapter the hero has turned the tables so thoroughly that now the hero is unequivocally winning and the villain losing. It’s a problem Bleach’s final arc ran into in excess and I always applaud manga that can offer up battles that feel not so extreme in who is winning and losing as tides shift.
Garo is undoubtedly losing in this first half of the battle, but it doesn’t feel entirely one-sided. He isn’t sent flying through trees, failing to block, almost knocked out, any of that. Rather he’s on the ropes but holding his own enough to prevent an outright loss.
Things do turn around for our villain and in a big way. What I love about the switcheroo is this brief flashback we get just before it happens in Chapter 80. We get to see Garo as a kid and that he was that one kid we all knew that rooted for the villain over the heroes, every time. (I was that kid! Go Cobra Commander go!) It’s not a terribly lengthy flashback, which is great as it gets the point across and then jumps right out and back to the action. We snap right back to Garo’s fight with the heroes and do the tide’s shift, but not unjustly so. Garo’s able to dismantle their teamwork and prey upon their obsession with besting the S-Rank heroes, rather than asking for help.
As the fight concludes and Garo’s even more battered than before, another plus as he didn’t suddenly exit the fight unscathed, Genos arrives to really up the stakes against Garo. One potential problem here is that Garo is an out and out villain. The flashback introduces some humanity, flawed of course, but I don’t know that it’s enough to make people fear for Garo against Genos. We also know Genos can’t kill Garo here as he’s clearly a villain built for confrontation against Saitama himself. So it’s kind of a catch-22 here without making Garo a character we can sympathize with, and that’s where maybe the flashback is just a tad too short, seeing as it’s not enough to make us feel like maybe we want Garo to win.
No matter what though these chapters are some of my favorite, and really change my tune on the manga’s current content. I’m dying to discuss the next set, and sad knowing it’ll be months before there’s enough to bother writing about.
Please do comment below on what you thought of the latest One-Punch Man Chapters!