With the new season of One Punch Man arriving soon, I started rewatching the series to get hyped. For the fourth time this month (send help please). I am always fascinated by, what I consider, to be the three main heroes; Saitama, Genos, and Mumen Rider. Recently, I have discovered that they showcase the three types of Hero or Good Guy very very well, and I wanted to show how excellent writing is used to bring these three characters to life.
The Driven Hero
Nerdom is very familiar with the alignment system, and the three levels of the good alignment are showcased very well with the three heroes previously mentioned. Genos is a good example of the Chaotic Good Hero. He is driven by a particular goal, it’s a selfish goal. Is it still a good goal for the benefit of society? Yes, but it’s driven by a need for vengeance, not for the sake of it being the right thing. He wasn’t concerned with the law or being a part of the Hero Organization, simply doing his own thing and attempting to fulfill his own goals and desires.
This type of hero is usually very popular, they aren’t necessarily an anti-hero, but they have sympathetic motives that encourages us to cheer for them and hope for victory. Genos has a desire to bring his family’s killer to justice, but not necessarily because it’s the right thing, but because he desires vengeance. This is an emotion many can relate to. How many people wish they could get revenge on their enemy at work? Genos has the power and ability to do what many wish they could do. This is the Driven or the Chaotic Hero.
The Meh Hero
Saitama is the next Hero to be looked at. He is the neutral good hero. While he is a hero just for fun and as a hobby, his actions have shown that he is this way because he truly values what is right and good. With his power, he could very easily become a villain, yet he doesn’t. Why? Because he values goodness, or at least, values what he believes is essential to be a hero. This is a hero who values what is right simply because it is right, but doesn’t care about society. While he did join the Hero’s Organization to gain fame, his actions in it have shown he still cares more about what is right then what people think, going so far as to shame himself in order that the sacrifice of other heroes would not go unnoticed.
In this particular example, Saitama has been given an interesting tension to keep him interesting to the audience, he desires a strong fight, but has risen so far above everything that each fight is over as soon as it begins. Yet he continues to fight, even though he is bored, why? Because in his heart, there is still a desire to be a hero, to be a good guy. This speaks to the audience on a deep level, how many of people are unsatisfied with their job and yet continue with their “100 push-ups every day” in order to be the hero of their family? Whether that be by providing food or by keeping an ordered house, and yet are often unappreciated or viewed as a horrible individual by the very people they serve? This is the Meh, or Netrual Good Hero.
The Super Hero
The last hero, the Lawful Good, is represented perfectly in Mumen Rider. Mumen Rider follows the rules of the society, valuing the Hero Organization and the structure it provides, but he also strives to do good where and how he can. This is most perfectly shown in the Sea King fight. He knew exactly that he was outmatched yet still rode to confront him because it was his duty as a hero to do so. He fought not just because it was good to defend the innocent, but because it was the expectation placed on him as a hero.
He speaks to the audience, and once again, it is brilliantly done. Most lawful good heroes are seen as boring or uninteresting, (cough cough Superman cough) and yet, he has one of the most compelling scenes and is widely regarded as a favorite even with a few minutes of screen time. How many individuals desire to be able to have the courage to stand up and do exactly what is expected of them even when it is hard? How many wish they had the courage to be able to tell the abusive boss exactly what they think, regardless of the consequences? Mumen Rider takes the viewer on a journey, showing them what a true hero, who recognizes his own weaknesses yet stands up in spite of them, all in the name of goodness and justice.
The final punch
One Punch Man is a unique anime, literally with every kind of hero. One where the main character is not a character of the story, but the idea of Hero, and what it means to be one. One who inspires those who wear a costume and take on a name, or one who simply wakes up each morning, and takes on the title of parent, or student, or any of the many titles in our society. Teaching us that anyone, yes anyone, can be a hero.