Manga Unmasked: One-Punch Man


Welcome back to Manga Unmasked! In this series, we take a deep dive into the various manga series available in our collection. So, whether you're already a fan of manga or just a curious reader, we hope you might learn a little about your next potential reading obsession. In this edition, the strongest man in a superpowered world is bored. Will he ever find a strong enough opponent that he can't defeat with one punch? 

Check out the previous manga explored with the Manga Unmasked series—My Hero Academia, Spy x Family, Sailor Moon, and Wolf Children: Ame & Yuki.

No One-Hit Wonder

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One-Punch Man is a shounen superhero manga series written by ONE and illustrated by Yusuke Murata and translated to English by John Werry. One-Punch Man began in 2009 as a webcomic written and illustrated by ONE. It went viral and was picked up for a digital remake illustrated by Murata and published on Shueisha's Tonari no Young Jump website in 2012. As of June 2023, the chapters have been collected into 28 volumes. Viz Media licensed the translated English language release and serialized it in its Weekly Shōnen Jump digital magazine in North America. 

In addition to One-Punch Man, ONE is also well known for his other manga series Mob Psycho 100 which he wrote and illustrated between 2012 and 2017. ONE's self-published works are One-Punch Man (the 2009 original webcomic) and Monster of Earth (2013). He has worked with multiple publishers to release Angry Warriors (2012), Makai no Ossan (2012-2013), Cockroaches Buster (2015), Reigen (a 2018-2019 spin-off of Mob Psycho 100), and Versus (2022-present day). 

One-Punch Man made its anime debut in Japan on October 5, 2015. Since then, it gained a second season and multiple Original Video Animations (OVAs). One-Punch Man: Road to Hero a mobile game was released in August 2019. One-Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows the video game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC released in Japan in February 2020. In April 2020, it was announced a live-action film adaption was in the works, and in June 2022 it was announced that the film was set to begin production later that year. 

One-Punch Man was nominated for three awards. It was one of 10 titles nominated for the 7th Manga Taisho Award in 2014. It was nominated for Best US Edition of International Material-Asia at the 26th Eisner Awards in 2015, and Best American Edition of Foreign Material at the 28th Harvey Awards in 2016. It won the Manga category of the 2nd Sugoi Awards in 2016

Setting the Stage

One-Punch Man Earth

One-Punch Man takes place on an Earth similar to but not exactly like ours. It features a few large islands and a supercontinent* with 26 cities named after the letters of the English alphabet.  

* Fun Fact: The supercontinent is in the shape of the Saitama Prefecture in Japan where ONE grew up.  

In the manga, it only has one definitely normal moon while in the anime it has four moons. 

The Earth is mainly dominated by human beings as well as a host of plants and animals. Mysterious Beings, a category of non-human beings, also live on Earth and occasionally make an appearance. They include Subterranean People, Skyfolk, Seafolk, and the Terror Lizard Clan. 

The Hero Association and National Superhero Registry were created after the multi-millionaire founder was inspired by the rescue of his grandchild by a passerby. High-ranked heroes are licensed to deal with attacks from mysterious beings and other life-threatening disasters. 

A Hero for Fun

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Saitama... Okay

Saitama, a.k.a. Caped Baldy 

Saitama is the protagonist of One-Punch Man. Once an average salaryman living in Z-City with not much interesting about him, Saitama dreamed of being a hero and threw himself into an intense physical training regimen to become one. That regimen consisted of 100 daily push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and a daily 10 km run for a year and a half. As a result, he gained superhuman strength at the cost of his hair.  

Unfortunately, he became... too strong. 

Saitama's immense strength allows him to defeat all villains, monsters, aliens, etc. with just one punch—and where's the fun in that?! Where's the thrill of battle?! Left without any real challenge, he spirals into an existential crisis of boredom, dreaming of a day he can finally face a foe who can give him a proper fight. 

Genos Cyborg
Genos and Saitama

Genos, a.k.a. Demon Cyborg

Genos is the deuteragonist of the series. At 15 years old, his family was completely wiped out by a crazed cyborg. In the pursuit of becoming stronger to defeat the one that murdered his family, Genos had his entire body replaced with combat-ready prostheses, cybernetics, and sensors by Dr. Kuseno. While these replacements do give him a major boost to strength and speed, as well as a number of interchangeable weapons and projectiles, he still feels he is not strong enough. He also has an unfortunate tendency to be torn apart by his own more powerful attacks. 

Four years after becoming a cyborg, Genos meets and is saved by Saitama. In awe, Genos makes himself Saitama's disciple in order to learn the secrets of his strength.   

One-Punch Man Volumes

**This list includes a brief summary of the events in each book. Here there be spoilers, so read the later summaries at your own risk. 

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Nothing about Saitama passes the eyeball test when it comes to superheroes, from his lifeless expression to his bald head to his unimpressive physique. However, this average-looking guy has a not-so-average problem—he just can't seem to find an opponent strong enough to take on! Every time a promising villain appears, he beats the snot out 'em with one punch! Can Saitama finally find an opponent who can go toe-to-toe with him and give his life some meaning? Or is he doomed to a life of superpowered boredom?
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Saitama's easily taken out a number of monsters, including a crabby creature, a malicious mosquito girl and a muscly meathead. But his humdrum life takes a drastic turn when he meets Genos—a cyborg who wants to uncover the secret behind his strength! 
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For three years, Saitama has defeated countless monsters, but no one knows about him... That's because he isn't in the Hero Association's registry! Together with Genos, Saitama decides to take the Hero Association's test! But can they pass?!
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Saitama is now a certified hero! And with that title comes great responsibility-he's required to perform one heroic deed per week. While Saitama makes the rounds to meet his quota, an incoming threat from outer space is screeching toward Earth...
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To stop a Demon-level crisis, Saitama and company head toward the action. However, even Class-S heroes prove to be no match for the Deep Sea King! In order to protect the good citizens, our heroes will need to summon all of their courage and confront this threat!
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An emergency summons gathers Class S heroes at headquarters...and Saitama tags along. There, they learn that the great seer Shibabawa left the following prophecy: "The Earth is in danger!" What in the world is going to happen?!
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When aliens invade Earth, a group of Class-S heroes finally finds a way to fight back and go on the offensive. Inside the enemy mother ship, Saitama fights Boros. Faced with the alien's frightful power, he decides to get serious! What is the Earth's fate?!
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Class-S hero King is known as the strongest man on earth. Even monsters fear him. But when a mysterious organization sends an assassin after him, the shocking truth about King is revealed!
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Time bomb Garo, a monster admirer, finally explodes, attacking the Hero Association! Meanwhile, Miss Blizzard visits Saitama at his apartment. Because of his lower rank, she plans to make him one of her subordinates, but...
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Hero hunter Gato intensifies his onslaught, so of course Saitama decides now is the perfect time to join a combat tournament. Meanwhile, Class-S hero Metal Bat takes an assignment guarding a Hero Association executive and his son, and before long trouble appears!
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While Saitama's distracted at a martial arts tournament, Centichoro, a threat-level Dragon monster, attacks! Metal Bat engages it in battle but struggles against its gargantuan size. The monster knocks him into the distance and right into the path of hero-hunter Garo!
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At the martial arts tournament, Suiryu of the Dark Body Art shows promise with his outstanding strength. But outside the stadium, a large number of monsters are pushing the heroes, even Genos, to their limits! Inside, unaware, Saitama approaches his match against Bakuzan!
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Class-A heroes struggle in their fight against the giant monster Multieyed Octopus. Wait, is that Class-S hero Flashy Flash joining the fight?! Unfazed, the Monster Association continues ramping up its attacks, but its goal remains a mystery. Meanwhile, the martial arts tournament reaches the semifinals!
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The monster Goketsu appears at the martial arts tournament, and in an attempt to turn its participants into monsters, he gives them monster cells. Tournament champ Suiryu fights the newly monsterized fighters one after another, until a certain hero rushes to his side to help!
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Despite just finishing a martial arts tournament and immediately dealing with the Monster Association invasion, Saitama still proves to be so incredibly strong that he feels empty inside. King lectures him on how to live like a hero, but it doesn't help. Meanwhile, servants of the Monster Association close in on Speed-o'-Sound Sonic!
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Surrounded by heroes, Garo finds himself in a tight spot. But despite the great numbers, he defeats the heroes one by one with his unmatched strength before Genos comes rushing in! Meanwhile, Saitama is reaching the height of irritation in his own battle...with King?!
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The hero hunter is near death when the Monster Association attempts to steal him away, unleashing Centichoro in the process. Bang and company face it head-on before Genos boldly enters the fray!
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Garo has just left the Monster Association's hideout when he crosses paths with Saitama, who's in quite a pickle, but Saitama still doesn't know Garo is the Hero Hunter. Later, King the Ripper can no longer hold back his murderous urges and confronts Garo himself!
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The Monster Association has kidnapped Tareo, the boy who admires Garo, and now Garo finds himself plunging headfirst and alone into the heart of the Monster Association's hideout. Meanwhile, the Hero Association pushes forward with its operation to rescue Waganma, while Genos and the others are living it up enjoying hot pot at Saitama's place!
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Immediately before the big Monster Association battle, the Class-S heroes discover they are not in sync, and the situation only worsens with the arrival of Amai Mask.
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Immediately before the big Monster Association battle, the Class-S heroes hold a strategy meeting. Unfortunately, they just aren't in sync, and when Amai Mask barges in, the situation only gets worse. Thankfully, King appears just in time to boost their morale-and it's a good thing, too, because the big monster battle begins!
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Child Emperor uses his trump card, the robotic Brave Giant, to fight against the reincarnated Phoenix Man. However, his enemy easily counters this last-ditch attempt, brushing Brave Giant off as a mere toy. When Phoenix Man then evolves into an even stronger monster, Child Emperor's conviction is shaken. Does this spell the end for the clever child hero?
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Narinki's private force is now free from Super S's control. Bushi Drill, Okama Itachi and Iaian plot their escape, but threat level Demon monster Malong Hair appears before they can flee, and a fierce fight breaks out. Elsewhere, their master Atomic Samurai encounters a creepy opponent!
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The dangerous monster that can't be cut, Evil Mineral Water, confronts Bushi Drill, Okama Itachi, and Iaian. Meanwhile, Saitama runs into the giant demonic dog Pochi, and Terrible Tornado launches into an epic supernatural battle against Gyoro-Gyoro!
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In an underground labyrinth, Puri-Puri Prisoner encounters Garo, who is now stronger than ever! Meanwhile, Saitama teams up with the hero Flash while both are lost underground. On the surface, Nyaan toys with Class-A heroes until Drive Knight appears!
More to come! 
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One-Punch!!!! Anime

The One-Punch Man anime adaptation has two seasons so far. The first season was produced by Madhouse Inc. It ran 12 episodes from October to December 2015 in Japan and July to October 2016 in the US. The second season was produced by J. C. Staff and ran with an additional 12 episodes from April to July 2019 in Japan and October 2019 to January 2020.  

Season three was officially confirmed in August 2022 and, after delays in production due to COVID-19, it is expected to come out sometime in late 2023 or 2024. 

One-Punch Man Anime

**This list includes a brief summary of the events in each season. Here there be spoilers, so read the later summaries at your own risk. 

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One-Punch Man: Season 1 

Saitama is a hero who only became a hero for fun. 

After three years of “special” training, though, he’s become so strong that he’s practically invincible. In fact, he’s too strong—even his mightiest opponents are taken out with a single punch, and it turns out that being devastatingly powerful is actually kind of a bore. 

With his passion for being a hero lost along with his hair, yet still faced with new enemies every day, how much longer can he keep it going?

Opening theme: THE HERO!! by JAM Project
Ending theme: Hoshi yori Saki ni Mitsukete Ageru by Hiroko Moriguchi


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One-Punch Man: Season 2 

Saitama, alongside his cyborg disciple Genos, is ready to begin his official duties as a professional hero. But when a new friendship and interest in martial arts prove distracting, the Hero Association is left to deal with a sinister new wave of monster attacks on their own. 

To make matters worse, their heroes are being hunted! Is Earth doomed, or will Saitama save the day with one punch?

Opening theme: Seijaku no Apostle by JAM Project
Ending theme: Chizu ga Nakutemo Modoru kara by Makoto Furukawa

If you plan to watch the series and OVAs and want to watch them chronologically, try watching them in the following order: 

  • OVA: Road to Hero
  • One-Punch Man Season 1, Episodes 1-2 
  • OVA: The Shadow That Snuck Up Too Close
  • One-Punch Man Season 1, Episodes 3-4
  • OVA: The Pupil Who is an Extremely Poor Talker 
  • One-Punch Man Season 1, Episodes 5-7
  • OVA: The Ninja Who is Too Complicated 
  • One-Punch Man Season 1, Episodes 8-12
  • OVA: The Sisters Who Have Too Many Things Happening 
  • OVA: Bang, Who is Too Overbearing 
  • OVA: The Murder Case That Is Too Impossible 
  • One Punch Man Season 2 Commemorative Special (Recap of Season 1)
  • One Punch Man Season 2, Episodes 13-24
  • OVA: Old Dudes and Fishing 
  • OVA: Genos and Memory Loss 
  • OVA: Games and Rivals 
  • OVA: Puri Puri Prisoner and the Escaped Prisoners 
  • OVA: The Zombieman Murder Case 2, A Chalet Amid the Blizzard, and the Ones Bothered by the Cold 

Staff Reviews

Charissa: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

There is a reason this manga sold over 30 million copies. The anime is a ton of fun. The combat scenes have a great balance of awesome and hilarious. Saitama really is overpowered and is so distressed about it. The remake manga written by ONE and illustrated by Murata is just gorgeous. 100% worth the read for the art alone. 

Brad: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

One Punch Man is an exciting hero story that keeps giving the viewer compelling reasons to come back, mutant monsters. The series does a great job with the mutant villains, every one of them has a unique persona and creative backstory that makes for great plot development in every episode. The hero of the series, Saitama, usually must battle three to five baddies an episode, which makes for a fast-paced show with lots of action. I also enjoy the internal battle Saitama goes through after becoming the strongest hero in the galaxy while struggling to understand why he is never challenged by any of the over-the-top enemies. Certainly, this series is a must-view for any action anime/manga fan.

By Charissa on September 29, 2023