Is One Punch Man more than just satire?

Saitama from One Punch Man

There are certain anime that live forever in the hearts of the community. Shows like Code Geass, Highschool DxD, Kakegurui, and a lot more. One Punch Man is one such anime. With a funny plot and a funnier protagonist, this show has everyone on the floor laughing. The protagonist lives his most troubled life. What is the issue, you ask? It’s that he’s too strong for everyone. Hilarious!


The show is too good to be true. With its classy fight scenes and obnoxious timing to crack jokes. But is that all there is? Is the show simply a satire on an overpowered MC troupe? We think not. There’s more to this show than what meets the eye.

One Punch Man’s underlying story

One Punch Man’s story seems very simple at first glance, yet it is filled with complexities. The story is about a man who is a hero for fun. His quest to become a hero inevitably ended up making him the strongest out of all. This is just a two-liner description of the plot, and it holds much greater significance to us than it sounds.

  • A hero for fun is an indirect way of denoting a monotonous life. Saitama worked part-time in convenience stores to live by. That is how life is for most people. A rigorous schedule of grinding day in and day out to earn a measly amount to survive.
  • He quits his search for a job and finally follows what excites him. That’s how most of us truly have fun. To follow our passion and what we love to do gives us a reason to live.
  • He ends up the strongest of all with no excitement left in his life. This happens to a lot many, where they get so occupied with their passion and so determined that they forget to even experience life as it goes.

There are times when a certain passion ignites the fire in a person, however, one must realize that there are temporary sparks that we must entertain, yet never get obsessed with. This is how it was for Saitama. This is what the protagonist entails in this story, a deeper understanding that people often pass by.

Saitama and Genos
Saitama and Genos | Courtesy of Madhouse

He also highlights how empty human experience turns out to be when there is no adversity to overcome. No struggles mean no challenge, no challenge means no motivation to achieve one’s goals. This is a reflection of our society, a world where people’s lives have been made out to be so easy that there is no difficulty in achieving something in today’s world. One will surely lose their interest if there is no incentive to pursue it. The world today is monetarily driven forward, and hence is losing out on the humane essence it once was so proud of.

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The World Around Saitama

The world and the characters that live in it also have underlying complexity that one fails to see due to their comedic cover. The Hero Association is a facade that we can always see in our institutions. Similarly, the heroes are mirrors of our celebrities.

S-Class Meeting
S-Class Meeting | Courtesy of Madhouse
  • The Hero Association is corrupted, that is what one sees in real life. It is corrupted and its standards for finding suitable candidates are also very rigid.
  • Each character has a different personality than the one they really show. Even their backstories hold traumatic intricacies that one seems to overlook due to their fictional settings.
  • Genos is a cyborg. He was 15 when he lost his family and his village. Luckily, his life was prolonged by a scientist, and since then he has been searching to enact his revenge. This sounds heroic, but this is actually tragic. A 15-year-old whose only human body parts is the skin on his face. In real life, euthanasia would have been the right way to go.
  • Tatsumaki is a legal loli. Behind her supercool and powerful image of an S-class Hero, she is a scared individual. She wants security that she found in Blast, and she wants to keep her sister safe. If this is not what defines the struggle for most women, we do not know what will. A strong woman fighting against all odds to protect herself and the ones she loves.
  • Garou was an ambitious child, one who wanted nothing but to excel and receive praise for it. While growing super strong clouds the vision of many, for Garou it came with the loss of everything he held close. Bent on revenge, his inner ambition was channeled but in the wrong direction. This is how many turn out to be. Neglected and misunderstood, many pick up the wrong means to find recognition and respect.
Garou | Courtesy of Madhouse

Their world holds as many reality checks as there are characters. The concepts of aliens and mass-produced cyborgs also indicate a commercialized use of bio-techs. Metal Knight’s behavior is a direct representation of how arms flow in our world. The world’s under constant strain and the prophecies of its destruction are an indirect indication of our world.


The show gives its audience a light-hearted experience and a fun time. Despite its nonchalant manner of showcasing its heroes and villains, and following it with an absolutely blockbuster level of fight scenes, the show is more than just a satirical take on overpowered superheroes.

Hidden deep within its lore are instances of the real world that we tend to ignore even in our daily lives. It is time that we look beyond what we consume, whatever the intentions of a creator may be, there always lies human parallels that we must take in, and ask, “Where have we brought ourselves?” and if this is where we were expected to be by our predecessors.

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