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Can Saitama Beat Goku? What Their Villains Can Tell Us

The goal and mission statement for many shonen anime and manga basically boils down to the same thing. Whether we're talking Deku (Daiki Yamashita/Justin Briner) in "My Hero Academia," Ash (Rica Matsumoto/Veronica Taylor) in "Pokemon," or, perhaps most notably, Goku (Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel) in the "Dragon Ball" franchise, many shonen series focus on being the best or becoming number one.

That's what makes "One-Punch Man" so subversive and funny. Saitama (Makoto Furakawa/Max Mittelman) has already achieved the dream of most shonen protagonists at the start of the story. As a result, the hero is always depressed and listless with regard to his ability to take out even the strongest villains and monsters with only a single hit.

With this in mind, when you consider who might be stronger between Goku and Saitama, it can be hard to parse out who would actually come out on top. Still, the more you look at Saitama's insane track record in "One-Punch Man," the more it starts to seem like he could edge out a victory even over anime and manga's OG "Dragon Ball" strongman.

Goku is one of the strongest heroes in anime and manga history

Now, anyone who has watched Goku's journey from "Dragon Ball" to "Dragon Ball Super" will know that the Saiyan is no slouch when it comes to battle. The kindly warrior has been pushing himself to the limit and beyond against one foe after another for decades and has even returned from the grave more than once.

However, despite his overwhelming strength and his drive to dig deeper and come back harder after every challenge he faces, Goku has been defeated more than once. Not only that, but many villains, such as Vegeta (Ryo Horikawa/Christopher Sabat), Frieza (Ryusei Nakao/Linda Young), and Cell (Norio Wakamoto/Dameon Clark), have had the cheerful Saiyan on the ropes time and time again during their long-running rivalries.

On the other hand, the further Goku is pushed by his foes, the more he grows and adapts, learning new skills like Instant Transmission and taking on bold new forms like Super Saiyan or Ultra Instinct that make the hero more formidable than ever. As a result, Goku is often at his most dangerous when he's at his lowest point in a fight.

Saitama may be the most overpowered hero in all of anime

Meanwhile, Saitama has barely had to break a sweat to defeat even the strongest foes over the course of the "One-Punch Man" anime's two seasons. At worst, it's taken him a few hits and some mild effort to win the day, and even when characters like Boros (Toshiyuki Morikawa/Chris Jai Alex) survive more than a single punch, Saitama is able to make quick work of them shortly thereafter. This also includes members of the Monster Association like the powerful Orochi or martial arts experts like Garou who, despite their unbelievable power and prowess, were easily put down by Saitama nonetheless.

If anything, Saitama's weakness in a bout with Goku might be that he underestimates the Saiyan, being that he's been so successful in every battle that he's undertaken since becoming a hero. But even though this could give Goku an edge, it's hard to imagine even one of anime and manga's greatest warriors ever could really stand up to Saitama for long.

While the legions of "Dragon Ball" fans might not like the sound of this, it certainly looks like, with all things being equal between their two universes, Saitama would likely be able to defeat Goku. The only real question is how many punches it would take the overpowered hero to do so.