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Saitama's Powers From One Punch Man Explained

A typical shonen anime protagonist becomes — over the course of the series — extremely powerful. An increasingly strong central character is essentially a genre necessity due to most shonen series' long lengths. At the start of the average shonen series, be it "Naruto," or "My Hero Academia," or one of countless other mega-successful franchises, the central character is generally weak but passionate. Their inevitable training soon leads to newfound abilities, which are then tested in turn against a powerful foe. This cycle is more or less replicated ad nauseum. So, even though Naruto, for example, may not be a particularly powerful ninja in the series' opening, he becomes extremely capable in battle not too long after, and only ever grows progressively stronger from then on.

As a result, the strengths of many shonen anime protagonists can reach rather gnarly heights. For example, Goku (who isn't even the strongest character in the "Dragon Ball" series) wields a power only comparable to his universe's literal gods.

"One Punch Man" seeks to subvert this genre norm by presenting its protagonist, Saitama, as a Goku-like superhuman from its outset. Not only is Saitama famously capable of defeating virtually any opponent with a single punch, but his ability to do so was attained in a manner absurd in its straightforwardness.

Saitama is a real-life fitness guru

As Saitama explains early on in "One Punch Man," he attained his godlike level of strength by doing 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and a 10 kilometer (roughly 6.2 mile) run every day. This regimen responsible both for Saitama's signature strength, capable of vanquishing any foe in a single punch, and causing his hair to fall out, granting him his iconic bald head. Exactly how a workout routine doable by an average human with the requisite time and willpower could both grant superpowers and induce hair loss, is, of course, the joke at the heart of the very existence of "One Punch Man."

Saitama is intended to possess a swiss army knife of superpowers, thus parodying a wide range of shonen protagonists. His strength, therefore, manifests not in a sort of signature attack, like Naruto's Rasengan or Deku's One For All in "My Hero Academia," but as all-around combat proficiency. Saitama is, at various points, shown to be able to move quickly, jump high, withstand powerful attacks and, of course, hit hard.

Some fans of "One Punch Man," upon witnessing the fictional Saitama's pedestrian explanation for his prowess, thought to try out his signature workout for themselves. The results have been shared widely all over the internet (via Men's Health, Roam Strong, Calisthenicmovement). While the round and unchanging numbers of Saitama's routine underline its inherently comedic nature, it's nevertheless been described by proponents as an effective workout for certain fitness goals. Though the routine may not grant real-life superhuman strength, the justification for Saitama's powers remains a punchline so well-written that it manifested in the real world.