One-Punch Man: Saitama Inspires a New Ally … and a Villainous Upgrade
WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for One-Punch Man Season 2, Episode 9, “The Ultimate Dilemma,” available now on Hulu.
The world’s top-ranked martial artist, Suiryu, and his associates put up a noble effort in the previous episode of One-Punch Man but proved to be no match for combined efforts of hulking monster, Gouketsu, and a surprise traitorous turn by the newly minted behemoth, Bakuzan. Fortunately for Suiryu, Saitama finally stepping into the fray of the rising monster apocalypse meant the martial artist is not only rescued by the unassuming, bald superhero but discovers his new calling through him.
Picking up for the cliffhanger ending of the previous episode, Saitama faces Bakuzan, initially not recognizing him thanks to his monstrous transformation and the immediate ease at which he defeated him earlier as a human during the martial arts tournament. Withstanding Bakuzan’s relentless opening assault completely unfazed, he ponders why the four-armed beast recognizes him, before landing a single, mighty punch to dispatch him.
Disappointed by the relative ease with which he killed Bakuzan, the hero then departs to face the other monster responsible for the attack on the tournament, Gouketsu, despite Suiryu’s warnings about the other monster’s power levels.
True to form, Saitama quickly tracks down the elder monster immediately and, after a brief unseen battle, sends his head catapulting into the stadium. Mission completed, Saitama then returns and continues talking to a shocked Suiryu. After Suiryu confesses that he had dismissed the possibility of joining the Hero Association and becoming a superhero himself, Saitama explains that if he could go on to become such an overpowered hero, anyone can.
One-Punch Man has always been a good-natured parody of superhero escapist stories, with monsters and heroes so commonplace they each have their own organizations and ranking systems. Saitama started out as a relative nobody who saved a child from a crab monster. Inspired, Saitama underwent a fairly nondescript training routine and went from unpowered unknown to an overpowered unknown, underlying the importance of achieving one’s dreams through diligence and hard work… even if he has trouble recognizing his own accomplishments himself. Awestruck, Suiryu pledges his loyalty to Saitama and asks if he could follow him as a new acolyte, only to be flatly denied.
Saitama’s heroic activities have largely gone unnoticed by the general public, resulting in an unflattering superhero name being thrust on him, “Caped Baldy,” and relatively low ranking from the Hero Association. Despite this, more and more individuals are noticing the unassuming protagonist’s true power, and either aspire to become a protege to the hero, like Genos and Suiryu, or swear revenge for earlier humiliation like Speed-o-Sound Sonic.
While doubting his own worth as a hero in the latest episode of One-Punch Man, Saitama has become an inspirational figure in the community. And, he could very well be the one person best suited to stopping the monster apocalypse once and for all.