One Punch Man is less about Saitama and more about the supporting characters

Matthew 28:8-15. Go tell my brothers

For those who watch anime, One Punch Man stands out of the shounen genre (Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, One Piece, etc.) as a parody where the main character (Saitama) is, by default, unbeatable already. In a sense, this contradicts the traditional hero’s journey of shounen protaganists of self-discovery, coming of age, then achieving one’s dreams. One Punch Man is fascinating not because the main protagonist is “perfect” already, but because of the development of “supporting characters” that surround this seemingly omnipotent character.

The premise of the Catholic faith is that Jesus is God, and in a way, this makes it hard to understand or relate with Jesus as a character in a story. Yes, we can be amazed by His miracles and His passion, but it’s hard to put ourselves in His shoes (and it begs the question, should we even attempt to do so?)

Thus, what gives me a second wind in enriching my understanding of the gospels is the perspective of the disciples. Cowardly, selfish, sinful, foolish. In a sense, the reader or the faithful would inevitably notice first the glory of the resurrection; however, there seems to be a wealth of insights awaiting those who view the resurrection story in the eyes of the disciples. Are the disciples not more relatable?

Let’s say that the resurrection is indeed one of the cornerstone miracles and beliefs of the Christian faith. From the supernatural perspective, it is the most important and bewildering. However, in my personal view, the most “pivotal” miracle from a historical perspective is the radical conversion of the disciples and to evangelize a faith in the True Good post-resurrection. Imagine: how many things have to go right just so Christianity as a faith can spread throughout the world?

The sacrifices and passion of the ordinary believers have allowed the teachings of Christ to withstand the tests of time. Imagine an ordinary life radically changed because of an intimate encounter with God – isn’t this a more compelling narrative and personal journey?

In a sense, from a pessimistic view, we could be “accidents of creation”. We don’t have control over the context in which we are borne in, like the disciples who succumbed to the structures, norms, culture, and sin that surrounded their existence. Each had their strengths and flaws.

But their encounter with Jesus allowed them the opportunity to redirect their talents for the good, much like the supporting characters of One Punch Man developed themselved through their humorous encounters with Saitama.

(Disclaimer: this is not to say that Saitama is Jesus!!! Haha!!! But I’m highlighting the how our view of supporting characters in One Punch Man can help inform how we view the disciples in the gospels).

Thus, blessed are the disciples, for God intimately revealed Himself to them. Therefore, the challenge for us: how can we seek the Risen? How can we prepare better for the moment where He would reveal Himself to us in our personal journey or in the Second Coming?

The imperative for us is to bloom where we are planted. If the discipled flourished despite their sinfulness, why couldn’t we?

[DAILY GOSPEL INSIGHTS AND REFLECTION FOR MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATION 108: APRIL 18, 2022]

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