Publisher: Shonen Jump Manga
Writer/Artist: Yusuke Murata
Having watched One Punch Man more times than I care to mention (or than is perhaps healthy), I decided to dip into manga for the first time to see where the TV series came from.
For those who don’t know the history of One Punch Man, it started out as a webcomic by ONE, then got noticed by renowned manga artist Yusuke Murata who redrew the webcomic source material for Shonen Jump. The book was then picked up for a TV series, drawing near universal acclaim from fans and critics alike.
I recently finished reading volume 1-7 of the manga which covers the same material at the 1st TV series and, I’m happy to report that it’s every bit as good – if not better – than the show. The TL;DR of this review is: If you like the show you will love the books.
Up until this point I had never brought or read any manga aside from quick a glance in Waterstones or Forbidden Planet. I was unsure if I would enjoy the new reading pattern (manga reads from right to left) or if the artwork would live up to the show.
I can easily say that after just a few pages I felt right at home. The art style of the show has been clearly lifted from the manga and in printed form it is even more glorious. The two-page spreads could easily be displayed in an art gallery. You can feel the power and action pulsing off the page and I continually found myself trying to turn the pages fast enough to keep up with the characters. The depth and detail in the art is second to none and goes beyond 95% of the comics I have ever read. It is clear to see why Murata is held so highly.
Despite the art being incredible, it isn’t actually the best part of reading the manga. Much like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones when people say the books are better it is because the characters are more developed and have more nuance to them, and that’s exactly the same for this series. In the main story and side manga we get to see more the characters personalities and philosophies. My personal favourite side story is titled Pork Cutlet Bowl.
This for me is what makes the manga stand out from the TV show’s impressive shadow. Learning more about the various characters (including more of the Hero Association staff) we get a richer, better developed world that you can’t help but find yourself caring about more.
I know One Punch Man is supposed to be a parody series, and it still is, but it has some of the most compelling storytelling and deepest characters I have ever seen. In my opinion it puts the genre of books that are being parodied to shame. I couldn’t imagine DC, Marvel and the others doing anything approaching this rich, detailed series.
There is one thing I would recommend for maximum enjoyment of the One Punch Man franchise; the viewing order. Watch the TV series, then read the manga, then the webcomic. This way you naturally dig down deeper and deeper into the lore and characters. You can thank me later.
Overall Score: 6/5.
The writer of this piece was: David Gladman
David Tweets from @the_gladrags