The Spring season of anime is officially over. With it, the hugely disappointing One Punch Man season two is finally done letting us down! So, to put my mind to rest, I want to dissect the other main character of the season: Genos.
Because let’s be real: Saitama may as well not even been there this season. He had all of two scenes that didn’t bore me to tears.
In a series built around subverting Shounen tropes, Genos is built to be your typical main character. His backstory, motivations, and actions all scream classic Shounen anime. This, to me, is what makes Genos so interesting. He’s a typical protagonist in a not so typical setting.
Wound: Every Basic D&D Character Ever
Genos’s backstory is so simple and cliche that it’s basically a joke. In fact, it was a joke in the first season.
In his childhood, Genos’s family and hometown were destroyed by a powerful and evil cyborg. He was rescued by a kind and genius doctor, who repaired his damaged body and made him into a cyborg himself. Thus, Genos was reborn, Robocop style.
This Wound, just like any good character’s, directly affects every other aspect of Genos as a person. His Want, Need and Lie are all built solely around it. For example:
The Lie: Might Makes Right
In most Shounen stories out there, most conflicts are resolved through strength. Dragon Ball, Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and many others follow this mentality. Whoever wins the fight is right in their mentality and beliefs. As a typical Shounen protagonist, Genos is built to believe this same thing.
However, it doesn’t work like that in One Punch Man land. In this world, power isn’t what makes you right. Typically, the strong people are either a) assholes or b) monsters. True happiness and the completion of the soul cannot be found through power alone.
Saitama is a perfect example. He is the strongest man alive, but he is bored and depressed. Only in his interactions with others, with the friends he makes through his kindness, does Saitama find happiness.
Genos doesn’t realize this. He believes that people flock to Saitama because he is strong. He fails to realize that it’s Saitama’s heart that draws others to him.
This mentality also goes to his fighting. Over the course of the second season especially, Genos gets upgrade after upgrade, including new abilities to make up for previous shortcomings. Genos hates using these upgrades, as he considers them acknowledgments of his weaknesses. He doesn’t understand that power alone isn’t enough to win a fight.
Which is why he always loses his fights. But he never learns his lesson. Every time his lie is challenged, he goes to the worst man to ask: Saitama. Saitama doesn’t understand that Genos needs more than strength, as he thinks the only thing he lacks is power, so he continuously reinforces Genos’s lie. We see this in the finale of season two, in which Saitama does just that in front of a horrified King, who realizes the fault in Genos’s lie.
The Need: A Helping Hand
Genos’s Want is exceptionally simple: kill the cyborg and get revenge. However, his Need is a bit more complex than that.
As we discussed in the Lie, Genos believes that he must become stronger. He thinks that he needs more power. However, as we see over and over again in the series, it isn’t power that Genos needs. What he needs is a helping hand.
From the moment we meet him, this Need becomes obvious. Genos loses basically every fight he’s in, despite his extreme power and high intellect. He charges in alone, regardless of the danger, in hopes that it will make him stronger. Typical Shounen hero stuff.
But Genos needs assistance. Every time he gets his ass beat, he gets rescued by someone, typically Saitama. He needs to acknowledge his shortcomings and accept assistance from his friends and comrades. If he wants his revenge, Genos must overcome his lie and accept help.
That’s right. The power of friendship will save Genos’s soul!
Genos is often the butt of the jokes in One Punch Man. Everyone, from the writer to the fans, makes a point to mock him for his inability to win a fight. But we often overlook the fact that he is still a very well-written and interesting character.
He’s not the strongest OPM character. That crown still lies with either Saitama or Garou. But he is a perfect character for the series, one that will hopefully drive the story forward for seasons to come.
If the anime survives past this lackluster second season. That’d be nice.