If you have not yet read the manga or seen the anime, I suggest you do that before you continue down this page.
I am writing this to show how One Punch Man is an excellent allegory of society, that it is akin to works like Brave New World in representing the people and classes of the world. One, the author, has masterfully blended this allegory within his work of art through a combination of comical sarcasm and satire.
The Hero Association
The Hero Association is representative of the rungs of society. Only by entering Hero Association, can a Hero have his works be recognised. This is akin to how a shame society operates, in many East Asian cultures, if you are ostracised, your existence is rarely recognised. People like Sonic fit into this category, as well as Saitama, before he joined the Association.
C-Class Heroes are the Masses
C-Class heroes are the average people of society, the salarymen that must work day in and day out in order to keep their status. They do the menial jobs, likewise to the common working men. Yet a world cannot function, as they are the wheels and pulse of society, they probably work the most but receive the smallest reward.
Many heroes in the C-Class work hard towards the goal of becoming a B-Class one day, hoping to not have to work everyday in order to exist as a ‘hero’. This is seemingly a bonus that many heroes in the upper classes take for granted, similarly to the way the rich who do not have to work in the real world, rarely see the fortunate position they are in.
The Social Climbers and the Social Boundaries
Tank Top Tiger, was the one at school who followed the cool kids around. He bullied others for his insecurity. He was the social climber who did anything, without regard for others, to achieve his goals. He believe that it was in right, that he was predestined to a higher place in the world. The type of person that posts an extraordinary amount of themselves on social media, making their life look more perfect than reasonably possible.
The scariest part, is that Tank Top Tiger is within all of us, he is the vigilante mob laying dormant in our minds. The scene of where he tries to shame Saitama is one that angers many but sows the seeds of injustice within the audience. Thus, creating a parallel, where the viewer and the onscreen bystander both different version of the truth. Tiger’s greed is able to illustrate how in each of us can easily be manipulated to hate so easily, it is a frightening aspect of the human soul, that in our thirst for good and justice, we can commit such acts of hate.
The wrongly accused victims of massed mobs is no stranger to human thought. Famously, Jesus, is crucified amidst the hate and anger of a crowd that had been manipulated by the Roman government. In Asia, heroes like Yue Fei, Yuan Chonghuan and Yi Sun-sin were falsely accused by Eunuchs and Officials alike that felt change would cause change within society and thus damage their own places in society’s ladder. As many Asian societies to this day hold a strong belief in the Iron Rice bowl, these usually white collar jobs that have great stability, which are the ambitions that people work for, to not having to worry about the next meal. The officials and eunuchs who plotted against these real life heroes, were doing it for the safety of their own rice bowl, they are not evil villains.
Saitama was only trying to help the people but instead his efforts gained him the rage of the hive mind. This is because Saitama shattered the boundaries of society so hard, that it threatened the facades of people like Tank Top Black Hole. Though Black Hole, is a Class B hero, he fervently believes in the hierarchy of the Hero Association and his superiority towards the C-Class.
Black Hole takes on the mantle of leadership within the duo, as he is the one who stops Tiger from immediately attacking Saitama. The miasma he created in regards to Saitama’s role of the destruction of the asteroid, was to validate and stabilise his position in the B-Class, hoping to dissuade the ambitious from climbing the ladder too quickly. Tiger was merely a lackey of Black Hole’s motives to preserve the status quo, even though Black Hole led him to believe that the move would benefit both of them.
The Selfless C-Class Heroes – The Everyday Hard Workers
Mumen rider is the embodiment of the greatest hero. He is not the strongest hero nor is he the fastest. But he is the kindest and most hard working among the heroes. Despite his lack of natural talent and special powers, Mumen rider is just as important a crux in society as the S-Class heroes with their superhuman powers. Even in his appearance, Mumen Rider, displays that he is not a hero for the fame and wealth but he does out of the pure goodness of his heart, he hopes that the world will become a better place. Mumen Rider does what is needed. Similarly, rarely does the common worker get recognised for the achievements of a company.
For every human is able exhibit some part of Mumen Rider in his selfless behaviour. As Mumen is just the extreme version of all the good and hard work in our hearts. Without the Mumen Riders of our life, there will be no one left to do the dirty gritty boring and menial work that people do. Not everyone can be celebrities or leaders, there has to be the hard working type who does it for little reward. These type of people have been written in allegories before, such as Boxer (Animal Farm) who is the literal workhorse of the farm. He puts in more work than everyone else and only receives the shallow praise from the leaders, whereas enjoys little of the luxuries the leaders possess.
One, the author, is able to intelligently place Mumen Rider as a character that easily annoys most of the audience, as he is always as a goody two shoes that puts his nose in everything. This is another use of asymmetric information by One, as he is able to paint Mumen Rider as an unpopular type of teacher’s pet character at the beginning, for it is only after the Sea King saga, does the audience see the generosity and selflessness of Mumen Rider, where he stands up to an opponent with aeons more strength than him. “It’s not about winning or losing” for the Licenseless Rider, no, he does it because there has to be someone that carries the slack. Without Mumen Rider delaying the Sea King, the people trapped in the shelter would have surely been massacred. One shows that anyone can make a difference in society, if they choose to work for it.
B-Class and A-Class are the Wealthy and The Privileged
B-Class heroes are the wealthy and the privileged in society. These are the type of people who are able choose more freely their role in society as they are no longer as burdened by the need to work everyday. They are able to make a difference in society and make the change in the world if they do so, as they possess the power and talents to do so. The heroes of this class represent the different aspects of the rich and privileged. Be they the purely ignorant or the good hearted philanthropist.
All the Privilege, None of the Heart – I Exist To Fuck You Over
Sweet Mask is benefited with the most privilege of any in One Punch Man. He is tall, handsome, famous and talented and he is the most popular hero of the Hero Association despite not being even in the top class. Rarely is Sweet Mask seen rushing to the scene of a disaster, as he is more focussed on being the gatekeeper of the S-Class.
One uses Sweet Mask as a tool to contrast with Saitama, in showcasing how it is not the most talented who reaches the top of popularity and fame. If it were not for Saitama’s out of this world talents, he’d be a nobody, not even a B class hero. Instead we have Sweet Mask, who with his sweet mask of a face is able to beguile crowds of girls and the media despite doing little to actually help people.
It makes you question the fairness of all this, on what has Sweet Mask done to deserve all this recognition besides having a pretty face and media control. Is it fair that he is more popular than heroes who are ranked higher and contribute more than him. Sure, he is no Kardashian, as he actually possesses some talent in the ways of martial arts and perhaps music, but without a doubt, Sweet Mask has reaped far more popularity than his skill set entitles.
If Sweet Mask was to actually use his fame and powers for the good of people, he could make great progress in assisting humanity. He is a central media figure, being a popular pop star and actor, he holds enough weight politically to unite people during times of disaster. Sadly, as seen in his press conference, when the city was under attack from the Dark Matter Thieves, he really could not care less and rather slag off and put pressure on others who were actually trying to solve the issue. One is not saying that Boy Band lookalikes are the detriment of the society but instead that media if used incorrectly, can have incredibly warped consequences.
The Good Ones of the Upper Half
Lightning Max and Stinger are part of the larger group of heroes in the A-Class and B-Class that care for the people. They put their lives on the line for the cause, and truly believe in dealing out justice in the name of the Hero Association. There is little that need to be said of this group, be it Spring Mustache, Golden Ball or Laian, they are all out there in the world trying to help the world when called upon by the Association.
The reasoning for this has been said before, as they are in relative security, comparatively to the aforementioned Tank Top Black Hole or the A-Class hero Snek. Their relatively low ranking of 81 and 37 respective, are near the bottom of the rung in their classes. This means, the insecurity and the danger of being overtaken by people Saitama shrouds their minds. As this has already been proved, previously in the paragraph about social climbing, I will go no further in reiterating it.
The point is, that even in the upper echelons of society, there in itself is a difference in the standing of people. In many works of literature, such as The Great Gatsby, the characters are actively trying to integrate within to the old money. The lower parts of the A and B classes can be seen as the the newly rich, those who are always actively trying to prove their position, or are in danger of being overlooked of something they believe themselves to be.
S Class Are the Leaders and Rulers
The S-Class, apex of the Hero Association, are similar to the leaders of our modern world. One illustrates these heroes as mostly disinterested in day to day affairs of the modern people, as well as being thoroughly disconnected from the general population. They are few and far in between but each hero controls great power. These people are akin to the political world leaders, the big corporations and others that hold enormous sway in the running of our world.
The heroes in this class are quite varied despite the small number. There’s Bang the Silver Fang, who is relatively wise and rarely speaks out, having accepted society for what it is, but yet still tries to do his best in helping humanity. Then on the other spectrum you have Metal Knight, a technocrat that cares only for the collection of high technology, showing little to no compassion for the lives of people.
The S-Class heroes have only been seen to be working together when the world is threatened, for most cases, they rarely appear, unless it personally interests them. For instance Puri Puri Prisoner only came to fight the Sea King in order to rescue his ‘boy’ that he had a fondness of. Metal Knight turns up to the Meteor in order to test out his new missile system. The only actual time most S-Class heroes appeared together against the enemy was during the attack of the Dark Matter Thieves. Even then, it was only because they were attending a meeting beforehand.
Likewise in the argument of Sweet Mask, who is perhaps pretty much a S-Class hero but in name, the heroes if they worked together, could change the world. Almost like a parody of world politics, where countries just cannot get along together, or there else there’d be peace and harmony, of course the matter is not all that simple. The fact that pretty much all the heroes in this class can make a enormous difference in other peoples’ lives is saddening. They rarely utilise their skills for the needs of the common people. Only when they are in trouble, do they care, such as in God tier threats, as their world and thus their own existence might be vanquished.
Feel free to share with this link http://wp.me/p73nvf-mO
End of Part 1
Explanation of Outcasts, Enigmas and More in Part 2, Coming Soon.