Warning: Contains spoilers for One-Punch Man chapter 177.One-Punch Man chapter 177 sets up a fight between Saitama and Tatsumaki, and in doing so, confirms why the series needs to stop following the webcomic.
The One-Punch Man manga recently started adapting the Neo-Heroes saga of the webcomic, and just like in the webcomic, it begins with Tatsumaki and Fubuki getting into a fight over the notion that Fubuki’s team are holding her back. Saitama then steps in when Tatsumaki begins to use force to make Fubuki listen to her, and the chapter ends with the implication that they’re about to fight.
The One-Punch Man webcomic spent years building up to a fight between Saitama and Tatsumaki, and it ended up being one of the series’ highlights. The manga has had a similar build-up, but the circumstances behind it end up being very different from One-Punch Man’s webcomic. The various changes make sense with how differently the manga has done things compared to the webcomic, but at the same time, it exposes a big problem plaguing the manga.
The webcomic’s original fight between Saitama and Tatsumaki worked because Tatsumaki was a terrible person. The fight even saw Tatsumaki wanting to kill the Fubuki Group out of a twisted desire to make Fubuki stronger. In the manga, however, Tatsumaki is a much better person and her motives in the current arc are established as being genuinely good. Saitama and Tatsumaki don’t need to fight in One-Punch Man, so the manga trying to have one happen just because of the webcomic comes off as forced.
This issue started even earlier than this. The Human Monster saga ended with various characters not having the same arcs they had in the webcomic, which made sense, as they were all based around them seeing Saitama’s true power, which never happened in the manga. Despite that, the manga forced them back into their original arcs by having Genos just tell them about Saitama’s power as opposed to them seeing it themselves. While it was odd that the Human Monster saga didn’t include those story beats, having the manga hastily bring them back is nothing but lazy, and it’s hard to defend.
Yusuke Murata’s One-Punch Man is constantly being held back by its adherence to the webcomic, and the easiest way to fix that would be for the manga to simply stop following the webcomic. The manga constantly trying to keep to the webcomic even when it doesn’t make sense only holds the manga back from being its own thing, and each failed attempt at going back to the webcomic only invites discussion of which one did something better. If the manga only kept to the basic outline of the webcomic, however, then it would be free to tell its own story and make comparisons between the two far less relevant.
What makes that idea work even better is how the manga has already diverged from the webcomic in some significant ways. In addition to Tatsumaki being a nicer person, the manga has done far more to explore One-Punch Man‘s God and Blast than the webcomic, including having Blast physically appear with a fully fleshed-out character of his own. The One-Punch Man is already being used as a way for ONE to explore ideas he didn’t use in the webcomic for one reason or another, so the next logical step is for the manga to just become its own thing without having to worry about being tied to the webcomic.
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