Review by Ian Keogh
In 03 it was established that the Hero Association rank their members, the levels changing according to activity, and we open here with Saitama studying the newspaper to check. It also features rankings and comments from the public, so while Genos is still highly ranked and popular with the public, Saitama’s status has barely changed. It becomes apparent that this is a joke writer One intends to run with, but he merges the idea with a pair of heroes who’re equivalent to the high school bullies. In broad terms the plot’s similar to the old Spider-Man stories when he’s had enough of the lies being spread about him, so quits or gives the public what they deserve. The confusion begins with a massive meteor about to land on City Z and likely to destroy the entire city. Who can possibly prevent this?
On seeing One’s original web comic version of One-Punch Man professional artist Yusuke Murata was so enthused that he approached One about redrawing the early episodes for print publication. That enthusiasm has never dipped. In every volume to date Murata’s art has been phenomenal. As a matter of course he has to deliver the impossible and deliver it with an impact on a vast scale, and he relishes it. Be it sea monsters or meteors, the detail and effects he provides are peerless.
Every volume features whats called a bonus story, and for the first time Saitama is sidelined. It’s in order to show villains, along with heroes gone bad, how the Hero Association deals with them and how there’s one prisoner they’re unable to control. Thankfully, as long as he gets to have his way he’s a pussycat. However, there’s a big problem with the introduction of Puri Puri Prisoner. By any Western standards he’s offensive even when taking into account that One-Punch Man is intended as satirical. Puri Puri Prisoner is categorised among the elite, an S class hero who prefers to be in prison, from where he regularly escapes in order to capture criminals that take his fancy, hauling them to prison to create his own personal harem. The implication is that any resulting sex is rape rather than consensual. There must be some major cultural gap for Puri Puri Prisoner to exist. As with everything else about One–Punch Man, it’s treated as a joke, but without any positive representation, offering a theatrically gay man as a rapist is incredibly offensive and major statement about cultural differences. Unfortunately he continues into 05.