Warning: Contains spoilers for chapter One-Punch Man 168.
The popular manga One Punch-Man has just proved that its main character, Saitama, is still full of surprises. Fans were led to believe that Saitama’s strength was a plot device that made the main character simply “stronger than everyone else”, but the last chapter of the manga showed that in fact Saitama can still improve and become even stronger, which makes him a completely different character.
The whole idea of One-Punch Man is that the main character, instead of fighting and improving over the course of history, has already become more powerful than everyone else, including enemies and allies. This was used by the creator of the character One to parody the senen manga and their classic images, but then One-Punch Man was able to develop his own story and become an exciting own senen. A digital remake of the manga of the original One-Punch Man webcomic with a One story and an illustration by Yusuke Murata has further developed Saitama’s character beyond his original premise, especially in the most recent chapters. Recently, Saitama showed strong emotions for the first time after seeing the death of his best friend Genos, and even began to reflect on what it means to be a hero.
Chapter # 168 of One-Punch Man showed that Saitama’s strength is not an “absolute” quantity, as many readers have believed until now. During the battle between Saitama and Garu, the Hero Hunter notices that after initially copying Saitama’s power with his own technique, which made him almost as powerful, the bald hero completely suppresses him. In fact, Saitama is getting stronger by the moment, and the manga even uses a rarely seen third-person narrator’s voice to emphasize this fact. The reason for the exponential growth of the hero is “a surge of emotions, the like of which he has never experienced”, in connection with the disaster of Saitama due to the fact that he could not save Genos’ life. The idea that Saitama can really get better and stronger is a complete surprise, and it shows that he is a different character than what readers believed.
Perhaps even more interesting is the revelation that Saitama was always growing up, there just wasn’t anyone close enough to his level to notice it, until Garu. This shocking secret completely contradicts the plot of the series. Saitama is now more like any other main characters of senen, who are usually defined by their ability to constantly improve and become stronger by overcoming difficulties. Of course, Saitama has no real problems in terms of opponents who could defeat him, but he has other obstacles to overcome, such as how to become a better hero. A few chapters ago, this kind of reasoning would have been completely alien to Saitama, who was distinguished by his aloofness and complete apathy, as well as the fact that he did not need to improve in anything.
The chapter also shows that Saitama’s power is now greater than the plot move. If a hero improves, it means that his strength has a real, definable value, even if it is so great that it cannot be measured. This is especially important for the future of the series, as it seems that the showdown between Saitama and the mysterious villain God is getting closer and closer. With each new chapter, “Wanpanchman” gets better, as the manga shows that its main character Saitama is turning from a parody of senen heroes into a character with deep nuances.