One-Punch Man

So I’ve been really enjoying One-Punch Man (eng), a webcomic that has recently transitioned to tankobon and, apparently, anime. I hate superhero stories, but it seems to have been written by someone who has the same feelings about the genre that I do. It’s also legitimately funny and clever. I also love the shitty art.

However…

It’s a depressingly beautiful example of unintentional sexism, among other things. Unlike, say, Urubutchi, who seems to have some really seriously hateful ingrained misogyny, ONE (the author) doesn’t seem to have any pervasive enough issues with women that it’s really affected my enjoyment of the comic. However, he’s obviously not thinking about women’s issues, and obviously has some real problems with socially acceptable homophobia and gender roles (the only two female heroes so far both fight telekinetically, for example, and the only other female character is the typical old-woman-prophet who dies). There’s also smaller cringey moments, like the use of ‘retarded’ as an insult. On the bright side, neither of the female heroes are sexualized, but I’m sure that changes in the adaptations.

I get the impression that if someone pointed out these issues to the author, he would go, “Oh shit, sorry, didn’t mean anything by it.” It doesn’t come across quite as aggressively or combatitively as with someone like Butcher. (I just realized the similarity between ‘Butcher’ and ‘Urobutchi’…) But it’s still there, and it’s a shame, because it really pulls me out of the comic and it’s just disappointing. It mars the whole experience.

So, yeah. It is, unfortunately One of Those Things. But I do like it, and if clever uses of the genre are your thing, you probably will too. It’s a grain-of-salt rec, though, and can’t really be anything more.

edit: Just because it feels remiss to only say it in passing, the comic also has a pretty significant homophobia problem:

 

59 Comments

  1. Roarke says:
    On the bright side, neither of the female heroes are sexualized, but I’m sure that changes in the adaptations.

    Oh, yes. Yes they are. I still consider the manga worth reading, though.

    I’ve been wondering how willful/conscious the sexism that pervades entertainment is since following this blog. I feel like ONE, for instance, just has a general irreverence for everything, and isn’t as much a misogynist as he is a misanthrope. He does specifically go for a gendered flavor to his insult, if not a sexualized one, so I see where you’re coming from. I think he’s just a troll trying to get a rise out of people. The disturbing part is when I read people commenting on his work saying shit like “best line in the manga” and “so true” unironically.

    Nasu, I think, just holds on to gender roles a little too strongly. He’s actually very good at writing women as people instead of characters, but only when he puts effort into it and doesn’t get distracted by drawings of Takeuchi’s dick.

    Butcher knows feminism by hearsay. The Dresden Files is his earnest attempt to reach out to a female audience.

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    1. SpoonyViking says:
      Nasu, I think, just holds on to gender roles a little too strongly.

      A lot strongly, I’d say. He’s very genderized in his writing, for the most part.

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      1. Roarke says:
        Yeah, I’m just understating it because I like Nasu past the point of reason. Act’s gone over it somewhere in the Fate route – Nasu’s great at writing interactions wherein gender differences aren’t getting in the way, like the girl talk, or the RinxSaber tactical discussions, but terrible once he has to make a boy and girl interact.
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        1. SpoonyViking says:
          Indeed. We should give props where it’s due – Rin and Akiha (calling Shiki “brother” during sex notwithstanding), for instance, are awesome characters -, but it’s something which gets more noticeable in the spin-offs. I’m actually curious to see how well he handles those issues in… …”Maho Tsukai no Yoru”, I think? The one with Aoko as the protagonist.
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          1. Roarke says:
            Rin is straight-up the Natasha Romanoff of the Nasuverse. She’s there and she’s badass in almost every installment.
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            1. SpoonyViking says:
              …You think so? I think Black Widow was weaksauce in every MCU movie other than “Captain America 2”.
              And don’t get me started on the comics…
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              1. Roarke says:
                Yeah, that comparison sounded better in my head. Imagine if Nasu got to write for Black Widow. Now that would be worth seeing.
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              2. actonthat says:
                This is only mildly related, but:

                http://www.amiami.com/top/detail/detail?gcode=FIGURE-013273&page=top

                That is a seriously badass action figure of a character that gets shitty memorabilia treatment.

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              3. illhousen says:
                I see the spiral curse got her hair, too.

                Otherwise, yeah, that’s pretty badass.

              4. actonthat says:
                Yeah, the hair is odd (PlayArts Kai is terrible at hair) and I wish the shoes had a thicker heel so it was more boot and less stiletto, but overall I’m pretty damn impressed.
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            2. Mathias says:
              I don’t think Nasu is terrible at writing male-female interaction. I think that’s solely a Saber-Shirou problem and not a general problem in the Nasuverse. There are questionable bits but in general, I don’t think he’s as you say. For example, the relationship between Shirou x Rin and Rin x Archer are fantastic, and while Sakura x Shirou has some problems, it doesn’t stems from female:male but a whole other array.

              Rin doesn’t appear in most of nasuverse works, she’s fate inclusive(Thought I’m hoping for a London novel along the line), but she is definitely the character that appears the most. On the contrary, Saber’s face is plastered everywhere because people just have bad taste and Takeushi is horny for blond ditz.

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              1. Roarke says:
                I don’t think Nasu is terrible at writing male-female interaction. I think that’s solely a Saber-Shirou problem and not a general problem in the Nasuverse.

                Terrible is an overstatement, yes, but Nasu does have a bit of a weakness in this regard that he recognizes himself in one of his interviews.

                Rin doesn’t appear in most of nasuverse works, she’s fate inclusive

                The Fateverse is pretty much what I meant, my bad.

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              2. SpoonyViking says:
                Counterpoints just off the top of my head: the interaction between Avenger and Bazett in “Hollow/Ataraxia”, and the characters Nero, Tamamo and Kiara in “Fate/Extra” and “Fate/Extra CCC”.
                Also, while some of the issues are revealed through Shirou’s relationship with Saber, they’re actually applied much more broadly (for instance, Shirou’s comment on how the stuffed toys store was the domain of girls and he shouldn’t be there).
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              3. actonthat says:
                I agree. The Saber/Shirou thing was bad, but it was also worse because it was so anomalous in his works. Like, one of the things that I loved about KnK was the Mikiya/Shiki dynamic, where he recognized that she was stronger than he was in basically every way possible, and he was 100% okay with being the one staying home and doing the paperwork while she beasted around the city. I’m not really sure what exactly happened with Saber/Shirou aside from his own feelings that the relationship was ‘meh’, but it’s super weird.

                The only other real criticism I have of Nasu from this standpoint is he tends to default to ‘violence against women is always sexual violence.’ Though at least he recognizes that rapists are bad guys. It’s a low bar, but surprisingly few people pass it (Urobutichi, again).

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              4. SpoonyViking says:
                By the way, Act, have you watched the KnK movies? Do you recommend them?
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              5. Nerem says:
                They’re actually pretty solid adaptations as far as I can tell. I enjoyed them.
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              6. SpoonyViking says:
                But can someone who didn’t read the novels follow the plots with little to no issues?
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              7. Nerem says:
                Let me put it to you like this: I understood it better after watching the anime, largely because the only translation of the novels wasn’t very good.
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              8. SpoonyViking says:
                Nice! And thanks.
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    2. actonthat says:
      Oh, yes. Yes they are. I still consider the manga worth reading, though.

      I already bought the first volume xD I figure he deserves money with how much I’ve liked it so far. I am dreading what happens to the sisters, though. I also thing it’s going to lose something, tonally, by having a real artist.

      I think the thing that’s so insidious about social biases is precisely that we don’t know we have them. Even someone like Butcher, who wrote this terrible, misogynistic series, I think he genuinely just thinks that’s how the world is because he’s a billion years old and if you tried to explain to him he’s hurting women and isolating female audiences he’d be horrified and offended.

      And like with ONE, I don’t think he has any ill will at all, and I agree he’s been trying for a bit of a sendup, but without the consciousness of these issues to realize that a critique-less sendup that regurgitates these tropes is just perpetuating them.

      No one wants to believe they internalize negative messages by mistake. I sure as fuck don’t, it’s horrifying, and I find myself justifying my own internalized misogyny sometimes and then catching myself. Because we want to think we have real, logical reasons for the things we believe, but sometimes it’s just society being fucked up, you know?

      But that’s why thoughtful critique is so important, I think, because once you know, you can’t unknow, and that’s super powerful.

      As for Nasu, I think part of why I’m so forgiving of him is that it seems to me that throughout his career he’s become aware of these things, he’s willing to look for them in his own work, and he’s made a concerted effort to be better. And really,for me at least, that’s all you can ask, you know? And I respect people like Nasu who can do it. Also he writes really, really badass women.

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      1. Roarke says:
        Yeah. Nasu is really introspective; you can tell that the thoughtfulness and self-awareness of his characters (well, all the first-person narrators) is actually coming from something real. Hell, you can even see how hard he tries to empathize with people by how many different types of narrators he can write.
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      2. Farla says:
        And like with ONE, I don’t think he has any ill will at all, and I agree he’s been trying for a bit of a sendup, but without the consciousness of these issues to realize that a critique-less sendup that regurgitates these tropes is just perpetuating them.

        There’s also the punching up/punching down/punching sideways issue.

        I think a lot of the no ill will people just assume it’s all equal sideways punching forever and have no concept of up/down at all. Stuff like “don’t make fun of this group like that!” sounds to them like “I’m the real bigot who thinks those people are too delicate to take a friendly punch unlike the rest of us and hate equality and fairness!”

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      3. Wright of Void says:
        and if you tried to explain to him he’s hurting women and isolating female audiences he’d be horrified and offended.

        Eh, I wouldn’t be so generous. There are lots of people who internalize this stuff so much that they assume hurting women and isolating female audiences is just how the universe should work. See Gamergate for instance.

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        1. actonthat says:
          That’s true, but the reason those people are a problem is because they don’t recognize things like, say, insisting women are weak and need to be protected, or that they’re all inherently sexy and there to ogle, are damaging. They just think that’s how the world works, objectively. I bet if you brought up Harry’s need to ‘protect’ women by not telling them things, Butcher would be like, but those women are weaker than him, they *need* to be protected, that’s just how it is.

          He’s not sitting down cackling and going, “How can I fuck over women as a class today!”, and that’s the insidiousness. Though for the record I do think there are people who do that. Like Gamergaters.

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    3. actonthat says:
      Gotta say, i was not prepared for mosquito lady cameltoe in the first book. Like, did the mosquito monster really need to be sexy? Sometimes men concern me.
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      1. Roarke says:
        Haha, I totally forgot about her (better check my privilege). Also, ‘need’ doesn’t quite seem to be the right word to apply here. ‘If there’s no reason not to make her sexy, she will be made sexy’ is pretty much the prevailing philosophy in manga, Dresden Files, and, well, a lot of other stuff.

        It’s weird because I wouldn’t even really call manga a male-dominated field, at least not to the extent that western comics are. And yet these attitudes seem more prevalent in manga.

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        1. actonthat says:
          Looks like the artist is just kind of a douche, too.

          And yeah, manga is a lot more egalitarian than comics, but I think that it’s still so segregated — shonen in this corner, shoujo in this one, and NEVER MIX EVER — is probably the issue. Any field where you have dudes running wild and unchecked is going to result in this kind of thing, at least in the current climate where our culture is so gung-ho about objectification.

          That said, it still concerns me a little that he was like, “You know what would be cool? A sexy mosquito.” You do that, guy, you do that.

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          1. Roarke says:
            Yeah, there’s really no excuse for that cover. If it’s literally better to just cut the girl out, then you’re a douche.
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            1. actonthat says:
              It is kind of hilarious though.
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              1. illhousen says:
                It’s like one of those illusion pictures where you see two women when you look at a certain angle, then a vase when you look at another.

                Here, it’s all muscle wizards ready to attack, and then whoa, there is a girl here as well, was she here before? Is her panties formed from muscle silhouettes of surrounding characters?

                Wait, no, she doesn’t fit right…

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          2. Nerem says:

            I know this is hyper late but since someone is already posting on old-ass threads, it makes sense when you realize that ‘shounen’ and ‘shoujo’ aren’t so much proper genres but expected/intended demographic. Which is why a lot of stuff about big burly men fighting is shounen and a lot of romance-novelly stuff is shoujo. There is also Seinen and Josei, which are more of the adult versions of Shounen and Shoujo. Seinen tends to blend together with shounen more, whereas shoujo and josei don’t quite so much.  In fact, josei is probably more likely to be about stuff you’d expect in a shounen manga.

             

            Though recently I have seen a surprising amount of shoujo manga become more combat oriented, even beyond magical girl stuff, so perhaps its because known tastes are evolving.

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    4. Axel Grease says:
      Of course, to you, showing anyone female in anime/manga/videogames/any media ever is sexist. I don’t really like the ableism, but he’s not describing ALL women, just the stereotypical ones.
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      1. Nerem says:

        Are you literally just going through her entire blog and screeching “HOW DARE YOU THINK THIS IS SEXIST” at literally everything? Wow.

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      2. Farla says:

        What a very interesting point you bring up.

        Stereotype, of course, means the way one assumes a group to act. So if someone says, “I don’t hate women, just the ones that act like how we think women act!” how do they feel about women?

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        1. Nerem says:

          It reminds me of a very uncomfortable conversation I had with some people who sprung the n-word on me, and when I confronted them on it, they went “I wouldn’t call all black people n-words, oh no! Only the ones who are n-words!” And when I tried to get them to explain the difference, it was basically ‘black stereotypes I hate!’ They had heard the Chris Rock joke (that he disowned because literally this) and decided to adopt it.

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  2. SpoonyViking says:
    I hate superhero stories,[…]

    No, you don’t! You love “Unlimited Blade Works”! :-P

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    1. illhousen says:
      But she wasn’t very impressed by the superhero ending, The Mind of Steel.
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      1. SpoonyViking says:
        Ah, but Mind of Steel isn’t the superhero ending, it’s the antihero one. Or, to put it in other words: in UBW, Shirou is Spider-Man; in Mind of Steel, he’s closer to the original portrayal of the Punisher way back in the late 70’s / early 80’s.
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        1. illhousen says:
          “in UBW, Shirou is Spider-Man”

          What, you mean he’s going to make a deal with the World, which would break up him and Rin?

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          1. SpoonyViking says:
            …Forget Takeuchi, we need an “it’s all Quesada’s fault” meme here for DQ. :-P
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            1. illhousen says:
              The question is, who’s Aunt May in this scenario? Ilya?
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              1. SpoonyViking says:
                Well, she has the narrative importance and Archer is implied to have a soft spot for her, but in UBW, she’s already long dead by that point. Maybe Sakura?
              2. illhousen says:
                Hmmm… Taiga?
              3. PostguestivePostistPhase says:
                I see the obvious Taiga and raise Uncle Kerry. Also, all in; Issei is Jameson, Shinji is Flash, Rin is MJ and Ilya is doomed to be Gwen. Kirei gets the top shelf (aka Osborn).
                Furthermore (since it’s fun) Lancer=Shocker, Berserker=Rhino, Rider=Morbius, Caster=Doc, Assassin=some random B lister like definitely Kraven, Goldie=Kingpin, Lameassin=Mysterio. And Archer is, ofc, Venom. Saber is, also ofc, Black Cat. Angry Man is like Galactus or something, we don’t even know when we started having this weird crossover. Then Zook is Red Skull and we give up on trying to unravel this crisis crossover thing.

                Am I forgetting someone? … Nah, there’s no one else left. No wait, there was the punchman. He’s Doc’s arms.

                …It’s a perfect match. Perfect I say. Who knew FSN was secretly Spiderman fanfiction? It’s like poetry, it rhymes.

              4. EnviTheFool says:
                …so Shinji gets crippled during the Grail War, only to be recruited later on by the Mage’s Association for their material transmutation project and becomes Archer?
              5. PostguestivePostistPhase says:
                Unlimited Arm Works.
              6. SpoonyViking says:
                Wait, what? Hold on, little of those choices make sense! For starters, Issei likes Shirou! :-P
              7. PostguestivePostistPhase says:
                It’s either JJJ or the other guy whose name nobody remembers.
              8. SpoonyViking says:
                Ah, Robbie Robertson! Ok, that works. Then that extremely annoying friend of Rin’s – the one in the track team with a darker skin tone – can be J. J. J.
              9. illhousen says:
                Zelretch is JJJ.
  3. SpoonyViking says:
    Just read some of it, it’s lots of fun. If you liked the concept, I really recommend Adam Warren’s Empowered – with the added bonus that Emp is actually a likeable character, unlike Saitama. :-)
  4. Farla says:
    On the bright side, neither of the female heroes are sexualized, but I’m sure that changes in the adaptations.

    Given the artwork, that may simply be that this wasn’t designed with eye candy in mind. Isn’t it getting redrawn? Be interesting to see what happens now that the writer knows it’s an option.

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    1. Roarke says:
      In the manga currently being serialized and drawn by a professional artist, the woman the above misogynist comment was directed at is eye candy. Though in fairness she’s portrayed as fairly capable and good to her subordinates, and actually has some justifications for acting ‘hysterical’.
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    2. actonthat says:
      That’s one of the great things though, the female characters are there to be part of the story! I’m sure the limitations on the art are part of that, but if so, thank god for art limitations, you know?

      Now that there’s Big Executives involved, I’m sure that’s all out the window.

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      1. Roarke says:
        Reminds me of the jump from Fallout 1/2 (which I’m still heartily recommending to you) to Fallout 3. I think I’ve talked about it on this blog before – the decade in between those games allowed technology to advance enough that rendering big-breasted women in lingerie became possible, and thus, necessary.
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  5. illhousen says:
    “I just realized the similarity between ‘Butcher’ and ‘Urobutchi’…”

    Urobuchi is actually called Urobutcher in certain circles. No connection to Butcher, though, the nickname is due to his love for dark plots.

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  6. PostguestivePostistPhase says:
    ^^^ This blog needs like a dedicated Nasuverse commenting post, considering how much Nasu talk pops up under random and unrelated posts.


    Maybe he thinks nonhysteric women are fine on top, what does he think of hysteric men?

    Also that egghead is terrible. Drawer should be ashamed and commit sudoku until a noticable skill increase happens.

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    1. Socordya says:
      Thank you for teaching me the phrase committing sudoku. I will use it wisely.
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  7. Emmannuel Alexandre says:
    This reminded me of Shirou and his insufferable behavior towards Saber throughout the course of FSN’s Fate Route. It is such an ingrained mentaliy among the japanese that the authors end up sounding like a bunch of crappy sexists and/or broadcasting a bad reputation concerning themselves without even being aware of it, sometimes.
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