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A Brief History: One-Punch Man

With the autumn anime season wrapped up, one series making big waves is One-Punch Man; a story about a hero who has become too strong for his own good. The laid-back demeanor and beautifully animated fight scenes have made the series one of this season’s must-watch shows. Even more interesting than the show itself is the history behind its evolution from the popular Japanese webcomic to the anime series we’ve all come to know. Here is a brief look into the creation of this unique series: from webcomic, to manga, to anime.

One-Punch Man in webcomic form
A scene from ONE’s original webcomic version.

In 2009, a mysterious mangaka known only as ONE, started publishing the One-Punch Man webcomic. He posted sporadic updates only in his spare time. The comedic writing and casual art style gave the series a certain charm that attracted a small fan base across Japan. In 2011 his fan base had expanded to readers all over the world who were eager for new updates, and by 2012 the website had 7.9 million hits. Despite the popularity of the webcomic, ONE continued to update inconsistently. That same year, long-time fan and professional manga artist Yusuke Murata, approached ONE asking if he could redraw the series and submit it to be published in Weekly Young Jump’s spin-off manga website Young Jump Webcomics. Murata explained that because he wanted to treat this manga as a special art project, the updates would be ready only when he was satisfied with the quality.

One-Punch Man as a manga
Murata’s version of the same scene.

Yusuke Murata, most widely known as the artist for Eyeshield 21, added a brand new layer to the webcomic. His ability to display motion on paper, combined with mind-blowing two page spreads, took the series to the next level. ONE and Murata became fast friends after working on the first few chapters together, and even published several doujinshi for Comiket. At the same time, ONE’s other manga, Mob Psycho 100, was picked up by Weekly Shounen Sunday, further limiting his time to work on One-Punch Man. Initially this led fans to Murata’s version in hopes of more frequent updates. Unfortunately this was not the case; Murata had begun to deviate from drawing reproductions of the original pages to include flip-book-like chapters which did not add to the plot, but instead focused on a single action scene. While stunning to look at, the spreads extended the length of time it took to release plot-relevant chapters.

The unique flip-book chapters caused fans to refer to the project as the “well animated manga”, and rumors of an anime in the works began to circulate. Fans took to Murata’s livestream and asked if he and ONE had any plans for the production of a future anime. He gave no solid information, stating only that if an anime were to happen he and ONE would be heavily involved in the process.

Anime Version of One-Punch Man
The same scene in the One-Punch Man anime.

After two years of speculation, the anime was finally confirmed in early 2015. ONE and Murata hand-picked the animation team, choosing a mix between novice and more experienced animators from Madhouse studio. The amount of excitement the animators had for the series played a major role in the selection of team members, and it was joked that during development animators often fought over which scenes they wanted to work on. Murata himself helped with keyframing, as he had begun taking a few jobs in the animation industry, and ONE assisted with character design and story direction. With these two talented artists working on this series it’s not a surprise that it packs a punch that everyone seems to be feeling.

Watch One-Punch Man on Viz.com »