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Alethea & Athena
Anime Expo prep 
24th-May-2016 05:31 pm
We started watching One Punch Man again. It's very slow going because we don't like it. Well then why are you watching it, sillies? Because Anime Expo announced that they're going to have a One Punch Man panel "event" thing, and it's going to feature the director, the main character's voice actor, "and more". The "and more" is the part that really gets us, because when we went to Japan, our Japan buddy, who is a big fan of One Punch Man, informed us that our beloved favorite voice actor is in it. So then the question was is he a big enough character that he might possibly be included in "and more". The answer: ...we're still not sure.

For anybody who doesn't know, One Punch Man is about an average guy who one day decided to be a hero, and through his training became so powerful that he can defeat his very powerful opponents in just one punch. It's meant to be a comedy, and I can definitely see where it's joking around, but it's not our kind of humor. And the first few episodes seem to have an air of looking down on the hero anime that it's parodying, which is an attitude we don't much care for. That goes away after a little while, but so far it's still just not that interesting. It got kind of a little interesting when the ninja showed up, but it's hard to tell if that's because it was actually more interesting, or if it was because that episode featured our beloved favorite voice actor.

It's just a little bit frustrating, too, because there are situations that I can see as being funny concepts...and yet the execution is just not our cup of tea, I guess. We still haven't decided whether or not we're going to keep trying. I think we watched episode five last night.

And speaking of watching anime to prepare for Anime Expo, we're in a bit of a pickle. See, the creator of Your Lie in April is going to be a guest of honor, but we haven't actually finished the series. Our deadline for the second to last volume of the manga isn't until after the convention! We thought maybe we could find some time to do quick rough drafts of the last two volumes so we would know how it ended, and then we could (ideally) binge watch the anime so we'd be familiar with both versions. But the way our schedule has been, it's looking a little iffy. We seem to keep getting to a point where we go, "Okay, we just need to finish this and this...and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this, and then we'll have time for extracurriculars!" I guess we'll just have to see what happens. If worse comes to worst, we'll just read those last two volumes without translating them.

Finally, Gaston was talking about Captain America: Civil War when he was over last week, and we thought we were just done with superhero movies, but now we kind of want to see it. Not because we trust Gaston's taste in movies, but because we're interested in how they handle the theme of security versus freedom. (Also because we don't always know when to give up on something, and we really did like the first Avengers movie.) So we almost went to see it today, but then we had dentist stuff and chores, so we decided we'd rather stay home and relax. But we're planning to see it on Thursday! Assuming work doesn't turn out to be doomful.

Today I'm thankful for finishing our Corpse Party translation really fast, the kittens not running away when we stepped out onto our patio to go to the dentist, still having plenty of Gilmore Girls to watch, being done with the dentist for more than two weeks, and being done with our chores.
25th-May-2016 06:53 am (UTC)
"One Punch Man" sounded totally unappealing to me, too, until I read an article a few weeks ago about Japanese vs. American attitudes toward superheroes--and the regulation thereof--on Anime News Network that mentioned Saitama's less than stellar experience with the superhero union/regulatory body he's eventually forced to join. This was the first indication I'd heard that the series contained anything much besides over-the-top fight scenes. That's just about all there is in the first half of volume one of the manga, up until Genos the much-more-conventionally-heroic cyborg shows up and starts pestering Saitama to become his mentor. For about the first hundred pages before that, there's so little in the way of supporting cast or even non-speaking background characters that I initially assumed Saitama was squatting in an abandoned building, since nobody else appeared to be living there. (Maybe he really was a squatter at that point--when the building got demolished in an early storyline, there didn't seem to be any visible casualties or people struggling to escape from the rubble.) And he pulverized all the monsters and villains he came across so thoroughly that it looked as if even they wouldn't be making any repeat appearances.

Presumably the producers of the anime had to tweak the presentation a bit, since all the dramatic wind-ups and blurred action sequences and elaborate reaction shots that comprised 80% or more of the first few chapters of the manga would go by a lot faster once the pictures were actually moving, unless they animated every fight scene in ultra slow motion. To be honest, aside from the rather lame running gag about Saitama having trained so hard to be a superhero that he went bald, and I guess the inherent ridiculousness of his having decided to become a hero basically because he'd failed so miserably in his efforts to find a regular office job, about the only moment I can think of in the first half of volume one that struck me as unequivocally intended to be funny was the bit where the then-civilian Saitama rather reluctantly decides that with the birthrate so low, he can't just stand by and let the monstrous villain du jour kill a rather obnoxious kid he's just run into in the park.

To be honest, I'm still not entirely sure that the original author intended the "one punch" excessiveness of Saitama's powers (as opposed to the slacker-ish deadpan attitude he intermittently displays) to be humorous or parodic. Judging by the way this concept is presented at the beginning of the manga, the artist might well have simply thought that a character that absurdly over-powerful would be cool, and enjoyed the opportunity to draw the sometimes strikingly gory effects Saitama's punch produces on any creature stupid enough to charge at him.

So, for me, "One Punch Man" didn't start to become less of a chore to plough through until Genos effectively appointed himself Saitama's sidekick, thus giving him somebody besides (literally) short-lived villains to talk to and increasing his opportunities to explain that he's rushing off to confront the latest evil mastermind right now because tomorrow is bargain day at the supermarket and he doesn't want to miss it. Although even then I tend to agree with you that the way these situations are presented often comes across as less funny in practice than it could be in theory.

25th-May-2016 11:22 pm (UTC)
Heh heh, no need to summarize the beginning for us; we watched the anime. The anime does seem to be faster paced than the manga, since by the end of episode five, Saitama's already taken the registration test and gotten his results. Either they took out a lot of stuff, or there's not a lot of text on most of the pages. I do think that the series was intended to be humorous, mostly because of Saitama's face and baldness--his character design was humorous from the beginning, if you like that sort of humor.
25th-May-2016 06:54 am (UTC)
As for the ninja apparently voiced by your beloved favorite voice actor, although he is one of the few antagonists to survive attacking Saitama, their initial confrontation ends shortly before the conclusion of volume two, which is as far as I've read. So I don't know whether the ninja becomes a recurring character as the story continues to unfold or not.

not all that sure if the series gets significantly more entertaining once Saitama is forced to engage with the larger world of organized superherodom, either. He's only just found out that he was supposed to have registered as volume two concludes. Although his obliviousness about both other people's failure to recognize him as a hero even after three years of defeating major menaces, and the presumably fairly well-publicized hero-related social policies underlying their "you're just another super-powered walking disaster" attitude, did strike me as a lot more amusing than most of the stuff that happened in volume one.

I still find it mind-boggling that this often one-note series is evidently much more popular in the U.S. than what strikes me as the much more engaging "My Hero Academia," with its lovably earnest, nerdy--and initially totally devoid of super-powers-- superhero-otaku kid protagonist.
25th-May-2016 11:25 pm (UTC)
We saw the ninja episode, too! But we haven't seen far enough to know if he's recurring. The way he shows up in the opening sequence indicates that he is. We'll see if we keep watching long enough to find out for sure.

My guess as to why One Punch Man is so popular is the series' attitude. It acts like it's smarter than your average shounen action series, and people like to think they're smarter than your average [fill in the blank].
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