Fire Force – 11 – Flowers of Edo

On Captain Oubi’s order, Hinawa regales the newer members of the 8th with the tale of how the 8th got started. Hinawa was a sergeant in the Imperial army at the time (as was Maki, a general’s daughter), and his lieutenant was a kind fellow named Tojo who had his sidearm “baptized” in case he has to put an Infernal to rest.

Well, Tojo is the one to be infernalized, and when the time comes to put him down, Hinawa can’t pull the trigger because his gun isn’t baptized. While off duty, he comes upon the scene of a fire where Oubi, head of the amateur firefighters, takes exception to the Fire Force soldiers who delay putting a docile Infernal to rest because it won’t “score enough points.”

Hinawa and Oubi decide to team up and put the docile Infernal to rest, and Oubi eventually starts the 8th Company as a different kind of Fire Force, one primarily concerned with putting Infernals to rest as respectfully and properly as possible while ensuring the safety of the living.

The company starts with just the two of them, but Hinawa urges Oubi to recruit Maki, whose work ethic, compassion and dedication to her duty make her the perfect match for the company they want to create. When Maki hears this in the present, she’s overcome with happiness, as she initially thought she was just brought in as a “meat shield.”

The reason for all this reminiscing? Aside from the fact it’s fun to learn about how the 8th got started, it was their first call that brings them to the present matter at hand, as it’s likely that the first Infernal they put to rest was artificially created by the Evangelist.

The location of that first call was Asakusa, the jurisdiction of the 7th Company, headed up by Captain Shinmon Benimaru. Beni does things a bit differently too, as his company doesn’t officially answer to the empire, and they dwell and work with traditional technology.

Oubi and the 8th visit the 7th’s HQ unannounced, and meet Benimaru, his lieutenant Sagamiya and two tiny twin fire soldiers Hinata and Hikage. But Beni doesn’t like another company stepping on his turf, and won’t hear them out. Just as Shinra is challenging him to a fight he’ll likely lose, fire bells sound outside—an Infernal has been spotted.

Shinra and the 8th then bear witness to the way Beni does things, as well as demonstrates his compound 2nd/3rd-gen abilities to both create and manipulate flames. He uses them in much the same way firefighters of the hikeshi system of old Edo: to demolish buildings and even entire blocks in order to stop the spread of the fire. His ability just enables him to do it on his own and with great efficiency (not to mention style).

The people in his jurisdiction, much like the people of Edo during those fires, aren’t outraged by the apparent wanton destruction. On the contrary, they know Benimaru is doing what must be done to protect the city, and hope that if they ever Infernalize, he’ll be the one to put them to rest. Fires and the destruction caused to stop them are a fact of life for them. For as the saying goes, “Fires and quarrels are the flowers of Edo.

TenSura – 03 – Making Goblinville Great

Rimuru’s time as an OP Slime continues to go quite well. After healing all the goblins injured from wolf attacks with the potions within him, he gets the others to build fences and prepare defenses. When the direwolf pack arrives with a full head of steam, Rimuru is ready for them with “Steel Thread.” When their leader fights through it he gets caught in “Sticky Thread”, and Rimuru beheads him with Water Blade, then uses Predator to absorb his abilities. Mimicking a direwolf, he gets the rest of the pack to yield. Victory!

With both a village of goblins and a pack of direwolves at his command, Rimuru learns that none of them have names. He begins to name them all, starting with the goblins, unaware that “naming” a monster as low-level as a goblin takes up magicules. Soon he’s depleted, and must enter Sleep Mode for three days. When he awakens, to his surprise both the male and female goblins have evolved into larger, stronger, more human (read:sexier) forms, a direct effect of naming them.

While he was only able to name one Direwolf before passing out, because they function as a single unit, they all evolved along with their new leader, Ranga, whose tendency to eagerly whip his tail into a whirlwind is never not amusing. With everyone bigger and better, Rimuru lays down three rules: Don’t attack humans, don’t fight amongst one other, and don’t belittle other races.

He also learns that they’re not that great at building shelter or making clothes, and so on the now-swole elder Rigurd’s advice, he decides to take a delegation of goblins and wolves and journey to the Dwarven city of Dwargon, where he’ll find builders and tailors with which to trade.

Upon leaving the cave I’m sure Rimuru didn’t think he’d be in the position he is now, or with the responsibilities with which he finds himself. However, he also seems to be enjoying himself and the unexpected effecrts of his actions. And if he’s also doing a pretty good job, why stop now?

TenSura – 02 – A Slimy New Hope

When some initial attempts to free Veldora the Storm Dragon fail, Satoru decides to envelop him in his stomach, but not before they give each other names: with Satoru being named Rimuru Tempest and the dragon Veldora Tempest. It works: the dragon is no longer a prisoner of the spell, but nor does he have physical form anymore. Rimuru, however, knows he’s in there somewhere.

For the next few weeks Rimuru sets to work gaining new skills, some of which he gains just by performing a new task; some of which he takes from the various beasts he defeats. It’s a very procedural sequence but it’s well-paced and always satisfying when he slays a new foe with the skills of the previous one.

In this way he gathers quite a bit of power, and eventually reaches the front door of the cave, which to his surprise opens to reveal three human adventurers. Rimuru slips out without them noticing, and the “disappearance” of Veldora changes the balance of power in the entire region.

For instance, Rimuru assumes Veldora, or at least his power, kept direwolves away from a village of (non-rapey!) goblins, whom are extremely frightened of the slime due to the intense magical aura he’s emitting. It seems even sealed away Veldora cast a big shadow in the area.

Rimuru hears out the goblin elder and decides to help out, considering how hopeless their fight is (there are only 60 goblins to 100 wolves, each of which requires an average of ten goblins to defeat, so they’re at least 940 short). In exchange, the villagers offer him their undying loyalty.

And so, not long after befriending and then absorbing a tsundere storm dragon, the Slime has now become a goblin leader. Never a dull moment here on TenSura.

One Punch Man – 06

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I’m not so sure this Hero registration was such a good idea for Saitama. After all, none of his amazing deeds have gone noticed prior to registering, and no matter how phenomenally powerful he is, he seems doomed to never be recognized for it, whether it’s because witnesses are hardly ever around when he performs his feats, or other, more famous heroes hog all the notoriety.

When Genos informs him he must bag a bad guy within a week or lose his registration, Saitama learns just how hard it is to find a low-level monster or criminal to apprehend or punish when he actually wants to find one. Luckily, he bumps into Sonic on the streets, and Sonic is so bent on fighting him he “pretends” to be a villain for Saitama to nab, which actually just means blowing a lot of stuff up and putting people in danger.

Still, Saitama has to thank Sonic for showing up, because otherwise his career as a pro hero would be over before it ever got started.

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As a bored Class-S hero Tornado (a rare female character on OPM) complains to the HA administration about getting more tasty work (a lot of the work suited to S’s Saitama already did without fanfare), news of…something bad going on in the abandoned area of City Z prompts the HA to send two Class-A’s to investigate.

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Rank 29 Golden Ball and Rank 33 Spring Mustachio saunter in, weary of the widespread destruction and lack of people in the zone. They end up confronting a vicious seaweed monster who also heard rumors about things going down in the area, including a congregation of monsters like himself, but instead decides to kill time by wasting both of the Class-A’s, clearly establishing how strong he is.

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There’s something familiar about this area: it’s Saitama’s neighborhood. Ever since all those battles in previous episodes, everyone else who lived there moved out. He and Genos are all that is left, which makes the fact Genos insists on living with him in his cramped apartment all the more ridiculous. As for the seaweed monster, he not unreasonably mistakes Saitama for just a regular schlub and prepares to kill him, but rather than witness what happens next, we go straight to the end: Saitama boiling kanbu leaves from the slain monster for broth. Waste not, want not, eh?

Just as we didn’t see what Saitama did, no one else did, so he gets no credit for easily defeating down a monster that ate two Top-35s for breakfast. Instead, he rises from 388th to 342nd for apprehending Sonic, for which there were witnesses. And he gets to start the drudgery all over again, going from crim to crim in a mad dash to keep his license. There’s no justice in this world…for Saitama, that is!

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Instead, only the collateral damage from his battles is noticed by the HA, who sends more heroes to City Z’s abandoned area on high alert for “something big” to go down. But there isn’t anything to be on high alert for. It’s all Saitama, taking care of business. Saitama just operates too far outside the boundaries of the system to ever find success within it. He’s too fast; too strong; too good at his job.

At least with more eyes on his location, the possibility increases that a hero somewhere, someday (who isn’t Genos) will witness him doing something great and relay it to the HA so he can finally get his proper due. It could happen.

…But it probably won’t!

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One Punch Man – 05

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No bad guys to fight this week; just a Hero Association registration exam to complete. Saitama’s peers snicker at him right up until he demolishes all of the records during his fitness testing. Watching Saitama snap from dopey blank look to serious glare is always a delight, and the way he took those tests around the corner and had his way with them made for some hilarious images, particularly the vertical jump. Why whack-a-mole?

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Unfortunately, there’s a written test too, and Saitama doesn’t do to well on that. Genos gets a 50/50 in both tests, and assumes from the top of the letter in Saitama’s packet that he’ll be joining him in the rarefied Class-S, but it’s just a lowly Class-C. His subsequent analysis of the letter only gets Saitama madder.

Meanwhile, Genos’ special rookie exception attracts the attentino of a blue-haired fellow hero. Saitama and Genos meet the goofy Class-A hero Snek (not “Snake!”), but Saitama couldn’t care less what the man has to say, preferring to see how big a bubble he can blow with his gum (another riotously funny image).

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Now that he’s Class-S, Genos wants to try his hand at Saitama once more, to see how far he has to go to reach his master’s level. In a vast, abandoned empty space, the two go to town, with Genos unleashing his entire arsenal at Saitama without managing to touch a hair on his–I-I mean, touch his head.

Genos insists Saitama stop fooling around and fight him seriously, but Saitama stops an inch short of his face on a “serious” punch, his trademark One Punch, and then suggests they go to lunch. Genos, suddenly a little paler than a moment ago, saw the murderous intent in that punch, and knows what would have happened if it had landed.

It’s a frustrating exchange for Genos, who can’t see a scenario in which he’d ever come close to Saitama’s power. But unlike Saitama himself, he does want to figure out the secret of that power (stubbornly refusing to believe it was just moderately strenuous training). But Genos does end up beating Saitama…in a giant udon bucket eating contest.

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Then the blue-haired hero, Amai Mask, finally tracks Genos down and talks to him. Being at the top of Class-A, Genos shot one spot above Amai, and he seems a little miffed by that. Still, it’s only a friendly-ish welcome chat, and Amai is soon off to his penthouse. But the power of his celebrity leaves a lasting impression on the other patrons of the restaurant, and just by being seen with Amai, Genos gets the attention and admiration of everyone, including cute girls.

So both Genos and Saitama were frustrated this week. Genos with the seemingly unclimbable heights to approach his master’s strength; Saitama with being underrated and undervalued by the HA, as well as by Genos deciding to move in with him. Once Saitama gets jobs and completes them quickly and forcefully, I wonder if he’ll actually rise in HA, or continually fall victim to technicalities.

Indeed, after failing to secure a salaryman job, Saitama is now entering employment under a large corporation. Now that being a hero is a job and not just something he does for fun, will he feel even more stifled and unfulfilled, or will he become a celebrity and get fulfillment through the love of his fans? We shall see.

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One Punch Man – 04

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This action-packed, side-splitting OPM comments on the severe wealth gap, the rise of individuals with no motivation to work, the concept of what I’ll call “power relativity”, and the necessity of jumping through bureaucratic hoops in order to receive due recognition for one’s heroic efforts. Also, a bunch of people get beheaded and someone gets punched in the Gentleman’s Vegetables.

Saitama catchphrase is “I’m just a guy who’s a hero for fun.” For fun, not for fame. So why is Saitama so hurt that no one knows who he is? Well, for one thing, when an army of stolen battle suit-wearing baldies start tearing down buildings (the first one by accident) and the news warns the public to look out for bald people, then it becomes a problem!

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That army calls themselves the Paradisers, they’re led by a giant fellow Hammerhead, and they all share a kind of lazy Robin-Hood philosophy of taking from the rich and giving to, well, not just the poor; the poor who don’t feel like working.

Their chief target is the richest man in town, Zeniru, who resides in a skyscraper topped with a golden turd. Unfortunately for the Paradisers, Zeniru has a cocky, smirking ninja named Sonic under his employ.

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Battle suits or no, the Paradisers are lower on the food chain than Sonic, who has no trouble lopping the heads off of all of Hammerhead’s comrades, before dodging all of Hammy’s rock and tree-based attacks and throwing a kunai in the back of his head. While

Sonic calls his boss to report his success, Hammy disappears; turns out he has a really really thick skull. And that darned kunai stays lodged in the back that skull for the rest of the episode!

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This is not Hammerhead’s day, because he almost immediately comes afoul of Saitama, who is rather pissed off that his “look” has been stolen. Hammy powers up his suit and starts throwing dual paddlewheel attacks, but obviously nothing works against the OPM.

Here’s the thing: Hammy reminds Saitama enough about his past self that he goes easy on him, which means destroying his battle suit with a glancing blow and letting him escape without clothes or his pride, but with his life.

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Then Saitama encounters Sonic, who is stronger than Hammerhead, and believes himself the fastest, strongest sonofabitch around who has trained in ninjutsu his entire life…he’s just not as fast or strong as OPM.

Saitama doesn’t really have to exert any effort to neutralize Sonic, and he only neutralizes him accidentally, when Sonic’s junk comes down on his fist (the slow motion shot is priceless). Frankly, Sonic got off easy, as Saitama didn’t put anything into that fist. Yet he considers this encounter a motivator to train harder so that next time they meet, he’ll beat him.

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That brings us to Saitama having tea at his place with a recently-repaired Genos, where Saitama expresses his frustration that even after three years of saving various cities from evil villains, no one in either the hero community or the general public know who he is. He doesn’t have a fan club of well-dressed blushing maidens, either.

So Genos brings up Hero Registration, something Saitama didn’t know was a thing, but which he sees as his ticket to recognition. Going online, filling out forms, and showing up to morning exams: it’s the life of a professional, officially recognized hero. Doesn’t sound very fun though, does it?

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One Punch Man – 03

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As episode three plunges into a detailed backstory for Professor Genus of the House of Evolution, I was wondering “Hey, what’s with all the lame long-winded narration?”—only for Saitama to interrupt the narrator (the cyborg gorilla) and state the exact same thing, followed by Genos telling the gorilla to keep it to “20 words or less.” Nicely played, OPM—I learned about Genus and laughed.

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Anywho, as there’s a big sale at the supermarket tomorrow, Saitama wants to take care of Genus and the HoE ASAP, so he and Genos race to the site, throwing Genus and his many clones into a panic. They have every reason to be concerned, as when they arrive at the HoE’s front door, Genos incinerates the entire above-ground structure, along with the mountain it’s attached to, as a time-saving measure for his sale-hungry boss. Still, Saitama is a bit miffed; it’s not nice to not at least hear the villain out!

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Well below ground, Genus is still kicking, and unleashes his trump card, a highly violent, psychopathic superhuman experimentation gone wrong, Carnage Kabuto. Still, he’s the strongest weapon Genus has, and thus his best bet against the intruders. That strength is demonstrated when CK turns Genos into, as Saitama calls it, “modern art.” But as usual, Saitama doesn’t panic, or even flinch at the sight of his suddenly abstracted apprentice.

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Wanting more room to play, CK invites Saitama to a colossal white training room, a perfect pure, empty canvas against which to make marvelous artwork with their fists. But eager to prove himself, Genos rushes in first, blasting Kabuto with everything he’s got…and getting nothing but a cracked-up face and frightening afro for his trouble. Yet when Genos is out for the count and CK turns on Saitama, he squares up a devastating punch and…scurries into the corner like a frightened bug (indeed, his body resembles a Hercules Beetle).

Why? Well, Genus didn’t just make CK strong, but intelligent as well, and some instinct within him is shouting stay away from Saitama, which is actually a very good idea. It also makes CK ask how he got so damn strong, a question both Genos and Professor Genus also want to know. But they all come away deeply unsatified, since all Saitama can tell them is what he did: undergo a rigorous but not altogether ridiculous training regimen for three years, losing his hair in the process.

I like how the art style becomes more dramatic and intense as he talks not of some kind of super drug or divine encounter, but mere sit-ups, push-ups, squats, runs, and going without mod cons.

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Now not so sure he trusts his instincts, CK goes into “Carnage” mode, powering up into a grotesque, rippling purple and green hulk, brimming with confidence. But it’s CK’s big boasting mouth that gets him in fatal trouble. He says he’ll be in carnage mode for a whole week, and won’t stop his murderous rampage until next Saturday. Saitama takes that to mean today is Saturday, the day of the sale, and he’s missing it!

What’s wonderful about this revelation is how much it’s built up as some kind of fatal mistake Saitama made that relates to his powerful opponent in some way. And CK in Carnage Mode certainly looks like someone who might be able to take a punch. But no, he’s taken out in one punch just like all the others; a punch Saitama really puts his heart into, since he’s so frustrated about missing the sale, though Genos later tells him if they hurry back home they can still make it.

With CK’s demise, decades of Genus’ research goes up in smoke, prompting the professor to consider ending his work on evolution and instead start a personal training regimen. Great stuff.

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One Punch Man – 02

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The first episode of OPM was going to be a tough act to follow, no matter what, so I fully expected at least a degree of regression in the second. But while that did happen, and this wasn’t nearly as good as the first episode, it was still very good, as Saitama and the young cyborg Genos join forces…or to be precise, Saitama tolerates him being around, despite not really needing anyone to fight supervillains with.

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The two meet over mosquitos. While Saitama finds himself unable to kill a single mosquito buzzing around his apartment, Genos targets Mosquito Girl, the first “sexy” supervillain OPM has fielded (voiced by Sawashiro Miyuki, who is perfect for the role), who uses her giant swarm of mosquitoes to harvest blood from the living things around her, be they animals or people.

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She also puts up a mean fight against Genos, as the two exchange the detachment of limbs and she sacrifices her sworm to power up and start beating Genos to a pulp, until Saitama arrives, running after a mosquito with bug spray. I know this show revels in absurdity, but I would have liked a more clever reason for Saitama to encounter Genos, and Saitama’s puns (“They sure bugged out”; “Mosquitoes suck”) fell to the floor with loud clangs.

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Still, Saitama takes care of Mosquito Girl with one punch, leading Genos to want to become his disciple. Saitama invites him in for some tea once he’s repaired (apparently easy, as long as parts are available) and Genos mistakes Saitama as a fellow cyborg.

He also launches into a monologue of interminable length, which is so long and accompanied by so many still shots (though I liked the micro-story of the pillbug getting up) it stopped being funny. “Drawn-out” comedy has to be utilized sparingly and not taken too far (see a classic example here). But hey, if we were supposed to get as annoyed as Saitama, mission accomplished!

We also learn that Mosquito Girl was just one of dozens of monsters being developed at the “House of Evolution”, run by a bespectacled mad-ish scientist who has his eyes on Saitama and who induced the biggest laugh in the episode:

“Why is he naked?”
“Unknown.”
“Well, whatever.”

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The scientists sends more monsters to escort Saitama to the HoE, but they predictably fail, being one-punched one after the other. He doesn’t even let the mole get away. But what’s funny about this final act is that Genos ends up in a fight with a cyborg he suspects could be the one that killed his family, but is just a gorilla trying to sound cool, while Saitama stays buried in the ground until it’s absolutely necessary to come out because it feels so nice down there.

So yeah, another entertaining episode with some genuinely funny moments, but just not quite as awesome or hilarious as the first. Which, again, is nothing to be ashamed of.

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One Punch Man – 01 (First Impressions)

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“What kind of half-assed backstory is that?”

Sorry, Hannah and Preston, but I may have the best show of the Fall here. A silly little show about a guy who’s a hero for fun, who just got too gosh-darn strong.

One Punch Man packs an enormous amount of action and comedy into 23 minutes, and in a way that somehow didn’t leave me in the dust. This show is a master of comic timing, sight gags, and wry one-liners, some of which I’ll list throughout this review without context.

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“Look at these claws! I can’t even use a towel to wipe it off!”

Of course, dialogue is only half of the fun. The entire ridiculous premise is a heart-lightening joy to behold, in a world where strange, half-dressed supervillains are always cropping up. In a wondrously bizarre origin story, our hero, just coming off another job interview rejection, moved without thinking in savin a big-chinned brat from a tighty-whitey-wearing crab monster by pulling out all his innards.

“In this age of declining birth rates, I can’t just let you kill a kid!.”

Cutting back to the present, we see OPM inspecting crab claws, which made him reminisce about the past in the first place.

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“I added strawberry flavoring to make it go down easier.”

Shows with simple rules always feel tighter, more confident and engaging, and OPM has one simple rule: One Punch Man Always Wins, and he always wins with one punch.

“Put some pants on.”

It doesn’t matter what the supervillain’s ability is, or how nasty and big and strong they are; all OPM needs is a momentary opening to deliver his one punch and it’s all over…though sometimes there’s a degree of collateral damage involved, reinforced by the fact they don’t even bother naming cities in this world, because they’re so often toppled.

[CITY B DESTROYED]

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“In other words, you could say that I haven’t made any impact.”

But due to that one-punch-takes-all rule, One Punch Man is also One Bored Man, feeling neither anger nor passion. He trained so hard to be the most powerful hero the world has ever seen, but it’s still left him wanting, as we see from his humdrum evening routine of washing his gloves, making a simple meal, and watching TV until falling asleep.

OPM’s blank stares and unwillingness to get worked up about any crisis, no matter how dire, is one of many sources of the show’s comedy, and works very nicely indeed.

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From the supermarket around him being destroyed to being plucked out into the morning before he gets his coffee, the speed and intensity with which OPM ends up in his superhero battles is also a strength of this show, as is its tendency to play tricks on the audience.

When thrust out onto the streets, OPM’s apartment is destroyed and he’s confronted by a number of tough-looking “Subterraneans” who call themselves the true humanity and are committed to eradicating all surface dwellers. Having already wiped out 70% of them (yikes!) they turn on OPM as one more target. And they’re able to make him bleed!

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Despite still being able to defeat one Subterranean after another with—you guessed it—one punch, the fact they’re able to hurt him and come at him in such overwhelming numbers starts to suddenly awaken something in OPM as he does battle in his increasingly tatter jammie-jams. Could he finally be getting back what three years of intense training took away, along with his hair?

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It certainly seems so, as after wave after wave of Subbies turn into piles of bodies before him and the massive Subterranean King finally shows himself and challenges him, OPM is suddenly having the time of his life, his passion and drive fully restored…

But alas, it’s only a dream. The real Subterraneans and their king are even more of a pushover than the other baddies he’s fought this week. After dealing with them all too quickly, he once again laments that he’s become too strong. One could say this show is too strong, too; but I don’t care. I love it.

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