The Spring season of anime is coming to a close. With it, the disappointing but still somewhat enjoyable One Punch Man season two is wrapping up. Thus, I feel the need to talk about one of the show’s most interesting characters: the Hero Hunter, Garou.
Of all the villains we’ve had in One Punch Man, Garous is easily the most fascinating. Every other monster before him can be boiled down to “I BECAME CONSUMED BY THIS THING SO NOW I AM THIS THING AND NOW I WILL KILL YOU!!” And then they get punched by Saitama, and we move on.
Garou is different on every level. His motivations are incredibly fascinating and oddly relatable, at least for me. Plus, despite his goals being inherently wrong on numerous levels, he has a strong moral code that makes him a very likable anti-hero. He is an awesome and captivating character who single-handedly steals every scene that he’s in!
Though considering how high the bar is in season two, I guess that’s not saying much.
The Wound: Go, Villain, Go!
Garou isn’t driven by an especially tragic wound. In reality, if you think about it, his motivations are actually quite silly and childish. But that mentality, that of a little kid, does play very well into his morals in a lot of ways.
Growing up, Garou watched the same TV shows as all the other kids. However, he didn’t root for the heroes like everyone else did. Rather, he rooted for the monsters that they’d face each week. He saw that the monsters fight tooth and nail for their goals, even if they are totally alone, and he wanted nothing more than to see these monsters win. So, when he realized that they never would, his desire became clear.
I can oddly relate to Garou here. As a kid, I’d always root more for the villains than the heroes. When I watched Star Wars, Darth Vader was my favorite character, and I rooted for him to find the droids and beat Luke at every turn. My siblings called me weird for that and laughed at me.
Well, who’s laughing now?! I’m talking about anime on the internet in my spare time! Clearly, I came out on top in the end!
The Want: The Strongest Monster
The Hero Hunter doesn’t have some monstrous scheme. He doesn’t want world domination, nor does he want to kill the universe. His goal is rather simple: to become the strongest monster around. If the monsters will never win, then he’ll become a monster too powerful for anyone to beat!
This simple desire motivates every action he takes, all of which are equally plain. Every episode, Garou goes off to hunt down another hero to fight. He doesn’t do this for the sake of random assault. Each fight, to Garou, is a learning opportunity. A chance to learn and become stronger. They are a stepping stone that leads to his objective.
Which leads nicely into his need:
The Need: What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger
As you can likely guess, Garou’s need is exceptionally simple. In order to become the strongest monster around, he needs to become stronger. Not just physically, mind you. He needs to refine his martial arts, as well as his ability to think strategically.
Simply put: Garou needs more experience. And he needs to acknowledge this lack of experience in order to overcome it. However, this leads into the final section:
The Lie: No One Can Beat Me!
From the moment he is introduced, Garou puts his lie on full display. He turns around, looks at everyone in the room, and declares in no uncertain terms “I CAN BEAT ALL OF YOU!!” This establishes his lie absolutely flawlessly.
He thinks that he’s the strongest. He thinks that no one could possibly beat him. And this line is constantly put to the test.
Garou doesn’t just get hurt badly in most of his matches. He has actively lost several. These include two separate encounters with Saitama, who annihilated him immediately without even knowing who he was.
Despite his clear defeats, Garou never lets go of his lie. As soon as he recovers, he goes right back to his old mentality. He doesn’t take his defeats as the lesson that he isn’t the strongest. Rather, he uses them to encourage his lie. “I wasn’t the strongest before,” he’ll say to himself, “But I must be now!”
But as the audience, we know he’s wrong. There are several characters that are clearly stronger than Garou, even if we exclude the titular One Punch Man. But Garou never let’s go, and it continues to drive him further and further into darkness.
Which will undoubtedly lead to his defeat. Probably. I haven’t read the manga or webcomic, so I’m unaware of how his story will end. No spoilers, please.
In the midst of an interesting but fundamentally broken season, Garou is an incredible breath of fresh air. He is an incredibly deep and interesting character, one that has had me captivated from the moment he was introduced. He is the perfect anti-hero for a story like One Punch Man.
Honestly, I could keep talking about him for ages! I absolutely love every scene this character is in! His moral code, which shines through when he shows kindness to the children of the world, adds an incredible layer of empathy to his character! He is easily my favorite character in One Punch Man, and one of my new favorites in anime as a whole!
And apparently, the animators agree with my opinion. The animators keep giving him the good fight scenes. Like… uh… episode eleven. And… uh… episode eleven.
Hey. At least we still have Mob Psycho.