One-Punch Man has been a series that plays to the strengths of superhero storytelling by producing some comical situations and over-the-top moments. Last volume, a monster named Garo ended up fighting other monsters to save a little boy. Problem is, he doesn’t care at all about the kid, yet saved him anyway. Is there a hero inside him he’s unaware of? Given a huge chunk of the 19th volume is all about him killing the most powerful monsters in the Monster Association, the answer might be yes.
This volume opens with Hero Association business that’s dramatic and tense. Customary of the series, we cut to One-Punch Man eating hot pot with a group of heroes to remind us they’re all very casual about this sort of lifestyle. It’s the big comic relief of the volume before diving headlong into Garo’s adventure killing monster after monster in the Monster Association hideout. Running at an extra-long 232 pages, this manga is essentially a quick check-in with the heroes and a super long fight sequence.
That fight sequence is drawn very well with some impeccably designed monsters and cool full-page splashes to show off the beasts. Garo once again is saving the little boy, Tareo, reluctantly and for the most part, is fighting these monsters because he can’t help but adapt and endure. They want to fight him they’re going to get the horns. The monsters he faces off against get bigger and more powerful, and yet he endures. This leads to a major conflict between Garo and the head of the Monster Association which leads to even more surprises from Garo. It’s starting to become clear One-Punch Man may have the magic 1-hit attack, but Garo is as resilient at taking punches. Are the creators setting up a showdown between the unstoppable force and the immovable object? It seems like it!
Unfortunately, the Garo sequence runs on way too long and gets old. Without any breaks in the action it feels repetitive as he attacks, is shocked the attack doesn’t work, and then another attack does in fact work. We see this more than a few times and the repetition loses all its dramatic significance. I started wishing he’d lose already or at the very least we could cut away to One-Punch Man. Alas, the battle goes on for well over 2/3rds of the volume.
I like what the creators are doing with the overall theme of Garo being a reluctant hero even if he doesn’t know it, but a balance of humor and plot development is required to keep the action from getting stale. It all looks good, however, and I’m excited to see where they take Garo going forward.