So, if you (like me) pay attention to the world of anime and manga, you might be aware of a dark horse show that managed to take the industry by storm late last year. The show is One Punch Man, the story of the titular hero (or, well, Caped Baldy as he is known in universe) as he struggles to find interest in his life now that he has officially become Too Strong. It is a hilarious show that tackles all of the tropes prevalent in today’s super-hero-crazy culture, asking questions that range from “Do superheroes get paid?” to “Who’s rebuilding the cities that get flattened every day?,” all through the lens of the lamest (yet strongest) hero in the world. Coupled with beautiful animation, the entire thing ended up being a hit with audiences both near and far. However, this blog post isn’t about One Punch Man, but rather about its author and the story’s humble beginnings.
(Our guy is in the middle there. Yeah, the one with the ice cream. Image Credit Yusuke Murata)
Starting it off in 2009 on his own website, the author ONE began publishing a short format webcomic based on the adventures of Saitama, an average hero (who incidentally can defeat anything with a single strike.) While this beginning is not interesting by itself, the part that makes ONE’s rise to fame sort of inspiring can be summed up with the first image of Saitama.
(Image Credit ONE)
It isn’t TERRIBLE to be sure, but one of the key parts of the original webcomic is the, erm, lackluster art. There are a dozen other examples that can be found with a cursory Google search, but they all show basically the same thing: ONE was not an innately talented artist. However, he was not deterred from making his comic; unpaid and with only a small following, he continued through the years, spending a solid amount of time on this passion project of his. And while he may not have been the best artist, ONE proved himself as a capable (and humorous) writer, and by 2012, his comic had over 7.9 million hits. Eventually a very prominent manga artist approached ONE via Twitter about a possible collaboration, and the two of them went on to create a manga that has been a bestseller both in Japan and in America, as well as being nominated for both the Manga Taisho and the Eisner awards. In 2015, Madhouse (a Japanese animation studio) turned the manga into an anime, and it currently holds a 9.2 rating on IMDB (unofficially putting it in the top 10 best tv shows of all time).
“But Grant,” you ask, giving me a look of condescension, “we don’t read this blog to see your bad anime recommendations. What’s the POINT of this?” Well, the point is that ONE started out as a no name author making a poorly drawn webcomic. For free. On a website that he managed (also for free) by himself. He wasn’t making this comic for anyone but himself, and despite its less-than-aesthetically-pleasing beginnings, his determination and hard work got the attention of the world at large, and six years later it has payed off, with him writing (and drawing) two serialized comics for the world at large. It’s really an Underdog Story/Parable About Not Giving Up/Follow Your Dreams Message; if you create something, people will notice it and perhaps love it. It’s really all about taking the first step - you might really be onto something.