Superheroes are often portrayed as larger than life juggernauts who are able overcome any challenge. It can be difficult to imagine them being vulnerable like a normal person, let alone having a mental health condition. Yet anime series like One-Punch Man aren’t afraid to show how messy the lives of superheroes are, or the types of problems they suffer with on a regular basis.
Mental health is a crucial part of One-Punch Man. There are superheroes and supervillains that battle against disorders throughout the series. Here are four characters from One-Punch Man who struggle with their mental health.
The main character, Saitama, displays signs of severe depression. This is demonstrated through his transformation from an average person to the most powerful superhero in the world of One-Punch Man. When Saitama first started fighting villains, he felt a rush and a passion for it. But it got to a stage where all he needed to defeat his enemies was with one punch.
Saitama’s quest to find an opponent who can reignite his happiness for battle can be likened to what a depressive goes through. Saitama has shown symptoms of low mood, a loss of pleasure in activities, slowed speech and paralysis. All these symptoms are indicative of depression.
Despite his depression, Saitama hasn’t let it stop him from being a hero and striving to make the world a better place.
Saitama’s friend and disciple, Genos, has a history of mental health problems that goes back to the death of his parents. Genos’ town and family were wiped out by an evil cyborg. As the only survivor, Genos developed feelings of extreme guilt and low self-esteem. These emotions evolved into an obsession with finding the cyborg.
Genos was willing to turn himself into a cyborg to satisfy his need for revenge. He set out on a journey to find his enemy and threw himself at every villain along the way. On meeting Saitama, Genos grew to respect his master’s power, but also became jealous and looked to become stronger.
However, Saitama taught Genos that he didn’t need to give up happiness in his life at the expense of avenging his parents. As a result, Genos learned to loosen up and live in the present.
As one of the most powerful characters in the series, Tatsumaki has an arrogant and entitled personality. There are very few superheroes or villains that can challenge her, though it doesn’t mean she is without her fair share of complexes. Quick to anger and moody, Tornado has displayed symptoms of intermittent explosive disorder (IED).
Whenever Tatsumaki feels someone is ignoring her, she’ll fly into a rage that cannot be quelled easily. She is also sensitive about her appearance, with other characters frequently mistaking her for a child. When this happens, her answer is to always threaten physical violence.
The superheroes of One-Punch Man aren’t the only people to struggle with their mental health. The alien villain Boros suffered from depression and anxiety, as shown from his desire to find an opponent who was worthy of testing him.
He travelled from planet to planet, destroying everything in his wake. On encountering Saitama, Boros’ passion for fighting was rekindled. It’s interesting how Saitama and Boros’ stories mirrored each other in that they wanted to stop feeling numb and know what it was like to be happy again.
Although Saitama held back during the fight, Boros became the first opponent that he couldn’t defeat with a single punch. It made him optimistic that he would be able to find a fighter that could successfully give him the challenge he craved.
To learn more about how the series handles mental health, be sure to read the article I’ve written for Otaku USA called Punching Depression In The Face: Mental Health In One-Punch Man.