Hello everyone! I’m Mokugyo, a proud anime lover and writer of the Anime Study column here on Manga.Tokyo.
Lately, Japanese people have been enjoying Halloween so much, and around Halloween every year, the Shibuya crossing in front of the station (a very well-known sightseeing spot for foreign visitors) is filled with various cosplayers. Many people gathered in Shibuya for Halloween in 2016. We didn’t have this many people for Halloween a decade ago, and it amazes me.
The otaku that gathered in Shibuya for Halloween are all cosplaying as a hobby. Hobbies win friends and influence people. And that’s why I wrote this article about One Punch Man, a not-so-regular man who wears a costume and plays the super hero as a hobby.
Hobbies win friends and influence people.
One Punch Man is the story of a super hero who can knock out any enemy with just a single punch. However, Saitama, our super hero, fights evil just to entertain himself, as a hobby. The amateur manga was adapted into a TV anime that quickly went viral, and it is now one of the most popular shows. The second season is currently under production.
— TVアニメ「ワンパンマン」公式 (@opm_anime) October 4, 2015
The One Punch Man manga started as a hobby
One Punch Manga was created as manga practice. Original creator ONE wanted a story to practice his drawing hand and he started telling the story of Saitama on his web comic One Punch Man as a hobby on his personal website since 2009. He still publishes his original web comic on his website, and it is still ongoing.
In 2012, Yuusuke Murata contacted ONE and started publishing his redrawn version of the comic for digital publication in Weekly Young Jump Web Comics (Tonari no Yangu Jampu). The anime series is based on the remade version by Yuusuke Murata.
Yuusuke Murata and his art
The illustrations of the original One Punch Man by ONE and the remade version by Yuusuke Murata have very different art-styles. The original creator, ONE, is not very good at drawing. After all, he created the manga to practice art. On the other hand, Yuusuke Murata is a professional manga artist with a great art-style who worked on the football manga Eyeshield 21 in Weekly Shonen Jump.
In case you didn’t know, Eyeshield 21 is a popular manga hit. Manga about American football are quite rare in Japan. The most popular sports in Japan are baseball, soccer, volleyball, tennis, and basketball. Most Japanese people don’t even know the rules of American football, so it is extremely difficult to make a hit with a manga about an unpopular sport. Eyeshield 21, however, had a great story written by Riichirou Inagaki and had great art drawn by Yuusuke Murata and the duo made it a hit.
Yuusuke Murata did the same with One Punch Man. He took a great story and turned it into a hit with his amazing illustrations.
— 村田雄介 (@NEBU_KURO) October 24, 2016
One Punch Man as a parody of Anpanman
The original Japanese title of One Punch Man is actually Wanpanman, which most Japanese people recognize as a parody of Anpanman.
Anpanman is a very popular children’s anime series that has been airing since the 1980s in Japan. It has been broadcast outside Japan, and some of you may know about it. Anpanman is the story of a hero with the face of an Anpan (a Japanese sweet roll filled with red bean paste) who gives parts of his face to hungry children. The original was a picture book for children, and both the art style and the story were very heartwarming and mellow. Saitama, the protagonist of Wanpanman (One Punch Man) is a bald-headed hero in a cloak. So, both protagonists are bald and wear a cloak.
Anpanman fights against the naughty and evil Baikin Man (Bacteria Man). The first enemy Saitama fought against in the first episode of One Punch Man was Vaccine Man. This Wakuchin Man is also a parody of Baikin Man. The Vaccine Man was even voiced by the same voice actor who did Baikin Man in the anime series. (FYI, that voice actor is a popular veteran who also played Freeza in DBZ!)
Many Japanese children grew up watching Anpanman. When someone sees the title Wanpanman coupled with bad art, it’s natural that he will not be especially intrigued. Still, the original Wanpanman by ONE had such a great story that it was gradually earning more fans.
When Murata discovered the original comic, he found it so great that he wanted to redraw it. He got sick one time and was hospitalized for a while and he thought, ‘I want redraw One Punch Man before I die.’ He contacted ONE, and the remake by Murata began publication.
ONE and Yuusuke Murata / Saitama and Genos
The relationship between ONE and Murata is somewhat similar to that between Saitama and Genos in the series. Saitama had been fighting evil as his hobby without people actually knowing about him. They barely knew that he was defeating evil monsters. Genos, a cyborg hero, was fully amazed by him when he first saw him and started admiring him. Saitama learned about the Hero Association from Genos, and they both took the test to be registered as an official hero together. While the good-looking and strong Genos was placed in S-class, the weak-looking Saitama got placed into C-class being accused of being bogus. Genos, who knows how strong Saitama is, gets upset at the placement. He feels sorry that Saitama doesn’t get recognized for who he actually is. However, as the story goes on, Saitama’s real ability spreads little by little.
ONE was releasing his comic and people barely knew about it at first. Yuusuke Murata saw his comic and was amazed. His remake made the comic widely known and made it a big hit, gaining it an anime adaptation, and gradually ONE got recognized as well. Fans who came to know the original comic from the anime series say, ‘I want to watch an anime series with ONE’s illustration too’ even though his art is not that good. His real ability got recognized, and he started publishing Mob Psycho 100 in Ura Sunday in 2012. The anime adaptation of Mob Psycho 100 was released based on ONE’s illustrations.
The hero we deserve
One Punch Man is actually the first web comic to become so successful. Most manga creators in Japan start as an assistant for a recognized professional, get noticed by publishers and then make their debut. One Punch Man is a very rare case. The creator just drew as a hobby and made a website for it. If this is the power of the internet, then we must expect more titles to be discovered in the future.
The second season is certainly going to attract even more fans. Maybe we will get to see someone cosplaying as Saitama in Shibuya for Halloween. One Punch Man is such an amazing series. If you haven’t watched it yet, please check out the anime, manga remake, or even the original web comic!