A thematically-fascinating episode suffers from poor animation but sets up an exciting finale.
As previously noted, this season has suffered from mixed animation quality, largely due to the change in the studio producing it. While several episodes have actually had great animation, this was not one of them. In fact, it had what were probably the worst fight scenes this entire season. I suspect this is saving the budget for the last few episodes, to help produce a dynamic and memorable finale. However, considering One Punch Man’s popularity I’m still unsure why this was even an issue.
But enough on the animation quality, let’s take a look at what’s going on in the episode. “The Resistance of the Strong” still has some laugh-out-loud ridiculous moments, but the tone and focus are a bit more serious than usual, allowing for some intriguing late-story character development. Spoilers ahead!
Immediately after Suiryu is announced winner, a troop of monsters led by Goketsu invades the arena, demanding that all the Martial Artists consume the monster cells. It appears my prediction from last week was right, the monster cells (or “monster seeds” as I called them) are what transform people into monsters. It turns out Goketsu was the winner of the first martial arts tournament, and he was not killed by monsters years ago. He was kidnapped and taken to their headquarters, where he chose to consume a monster cell. Already powerful, he became the, well, monstrous monster he is today.
It’s interesting to see which of the contestants consume the monster cells and which don’t–along with their reasonings why. Perhaps the most surprising decision was by Suiryu, who chose to not eat one and stayed to fight the monsters. After he was defeated in the last episode by Saitama, he’s exactly the person I would expect to want the kind of power the monster cells offer. Apparently not. His reasons are not noble, however. It is out of vanity, he doesn’t want to look “ugly”.
Some heroes even return to help who lost early in the tournament, bewildering Suiryu. He simply doesn’t understand why someone would willingly put themselves in harm’s way to help others. What makes it all the more ironic is they came back to help him. Eventually, it doesn’t matter, all the contestants are either defeated or “monsterfied”, including Shuiryu, who is being beat up by another strong monster, Bakuzan (the name reminds me of Bakugan, I wonder if there’s any connection, or if it’s complete coincidence and they just sound similar). Finally, at the last moment, Saitama returns, suit on, answering Shuiryu’s cries for help. It’s a nice “hero moment” that plays out pretty effectively, and having learned that the monster’s headquarters are right outside Saitama’s home city, we can expect some, well, punching to happen soon.
On a side note, we finally got to see Watchdog Man in action. It was a fun moment that’s been teased since last season, but unfortunately, it was pretty short. Hopefully, we’ll see more of him in the last few episodes of this season.
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