One-Punch Man does not follow the traditional way of publishing. Not only is there no set release schedule, but there are also multiple authors. This causes quite some confusion and misunderstandings, which will be discussed in this article.
A question that often occurs and shows this confusion is “Is the One-Punch Man webcomic canon?“. Not only is the One-Punch man webcomic canon, but it is also the original source material. The webcomic comes first, the manga comes after. While it was the manga that allowed One-Punch Man to turn into a published Manga and Anime, it would not exist without the webcomic.
Let’s discuss both sources and their connection further below.
The creation of the webcomic
The webcomic was created by Japanese manga artist ONE in 2009. Originally it was not meant as a long-lasting series, but simply a means to test a new graphics tablet and some accompanying software.
After meeting with unexpected success, the webcomic got a long life and is now up to almost 120 chapters. As the webcomic is where the story is published first, its story is ahead of both the anime and the manga.
There is no set release schedule for the webcomic. The frequency of updates is inconsistent, largely depending on ONE’s other projects. The best way to be notified when a new chapter is released, is to regularly visit the One-Punch Man subreddit.
All webcomic chapters are uploaded to ONE’s website and are free to read. English translations can be read at Mangadex. As the webcomic is non-profit, the best way to support ONE is to buy manga publications,(Amazon affiliate link) to support the Anime (Amazon affiliate link) or to buy anything related to ONE’s other work, Mob Psycho 100 (Amazon affiliate link).
Art style and quality of the webcomic
There is a large difference in style between the webcomic and the manga. This is probably the main reason that people sometimes wonder if the webcomic is even canon. You will even sometimes see the question raised if the webcomic is the work of fans, rather than drawn by the original author.
ONE has however never been a bad artist and has also improved over the years. There are some elements he is very strong in, such as creating a certain mood/atmosphere and facial expressions. It is easy not to recognize that right away when comparing it to the superb drawing talent of Yusuke Murata in the Manga.
I would definitely recommend giving the webcomic a chance. If it turns out the art style is not your thing, however, that’s totally fine. You can simply wait for the story to be transformed into Murata’s gorgeous drawings.
The creation of the Manga
After starting the webcomic in 2009, ONE published a lot of extra chapters were published when meeting with unexpected success. Recognition does not pay the bills, however, so ONE went on hiatus to get a real job the year after.
Realizing soon after that the regular office life was not for him, he decided to give himself one year to try and make it as a manga artist. It was around this time that he was contacted by Yusuke Murata, who was a big fan of the webcomic.
Murata was struggling with his health at the time and was even hospitalized at one point, suffering from infected organs and swollen windpipes. He had trouble breathing and feared for his own life. It was this that made him realize that although he was already an established artist, he wanted to continue drawing stories he really loved doing, such as ONE’s stories.
The timing of both events matched well and a collaboration was quickly arranged. They pitched a few story ideas, but luckily for us it was One-Punch Man that was then accepted for publication starting from 2012.
One last side note: it is mentioned that a redrawn version by ONE himself was considered, as he believed he could do a better job than he did when working on the project as a hobby. After trying this for a few chapters, however, they decided it wouldn’t sell well in his style. He would later get the chance to draw his own work with Mob Psycho 100. If you like his work, I definitely suggest you check it out at Crunchyroll. As the second season has already finished airing, you can watch it with a free account.
Webcomic vs. Manga: difference in story
Apart from the fact that the webcomic is further in the storyline, there are a few other key differences that are worth noting:
- The Manga heavily expands on the original webcomic story, adding a lot of extra story. To name one example: the tournament arc never took place in the webcomic. Existing story arcs from the webcomic are also fleshed out further in the Manga
- A lot of characters seem to have received a significant power boost
- Many extra characters are added to the Manga
Where to read the Manga
The Manga, just like the webcomic, does not have a fixed publication schedule. Updates are more consistent though: we usually get a new chapter every two to three weeks. The amount of pages per update varies widely.
Just as with the webcomic, the best way to get notified when a new chapter is released is to regularly visit the One-Punch Man subreddit. After a new chapter is uploaded by Murata, this is immediately posted about. Once the chapter has been translated (usually within 12 hours!), you will also find the relevant link on the subreddit.
The raw scans of the manga are publically viewable once approved by ONE and uploaded by Murata. That means that you can read it for free on many places on the web. If you want to support both the author and the artist, however, you can buy the published versions. Most volumes are already available in English on Amazon (affiliate link).
Does the Manga have fillers?
As mentioned earlier the Manga has a lot of extra story elements. This often leads people to think that these extra story elements are fillers. Fillers are story elements added to stretch for time. They are not canon and the canon story cannot move forward, which means there can be no significant developments.
Many seem to think that the Tournament Arc, for example, was thought up by Murata. One possible explanation was that ONE was too busy with other projects to give Murata the source material needed to continue the canon story.
This is a misconception though. The extra story elements are added by the request of ONE, who is taking the chance to flesh out the story a bit. ONE writes storyboards for all of these extra parts of the story. As these are not published anywhere, it makes sense for this to be a lesser-known fact. You can find an example of such a storyboard below.
It is also worth noting that characters who first appear in the Manga are also not filler. A lot of heroes, for example, are first introduced in the Manga, along with their rank. These ranks are canon and these characters can show up later in the Webcomic.
The B class hero Bone, for example, appeared in the Manga first, rescuing a C class hero from a bus thrown by the Demon class Octopus defeated by Flashy Flash (one of the many scenes omitted in the anime). This same hero then appeared in the webcomic during a much further part of the story. In other words, there are no fillers in the Manga.
Murata’s Influence on the story
While Murata does not think up extra story elements by himself, it is an exaggeration to see he has no influence on the story.
Murata is a master in drawing exciting action scenes and he uses this skill often to add extra panels to a fight. He also changes up the dialogue a bit if he has a reason to do so.
All changes suggested by Murata have to be approved by ONE, with mixed results.
The changes are often met with praise. The fight between Boros and Saitama, for example, is awesome in the Manga format partly due to Murata’s contributions. Once Murata got in the right mindset of “the power of Boros is that he keeps his dignity even against Saitama” (which caused him to redraw the whole fight from scratch), ONE had little extra comments.
Other changes/additions have to be reverted when they don’t receive ONE’s approval. In the fight between Metal Bat and Garou, for example, Metal Bat at one point uses an effect shot on a sewer grate to hit Garou. ONE however decided that this did not fit Metal Bat’s style and so this scene did not make it into the final publication.
From what point should you pick up the Webcomic and/or Manga?
That depends on what your goal is. The Manga does have quite a few extra stories, as well as extra scenes in the main story (more so in Season 1 than Season 2). You may as such want to start reading from the start. There are other options though:
- If you loved Season 1 of the Anime but were not a huge fan of the second season, you should start with Volume 8 (Chapter 36) of the Manga
- To continue where Season 2 ended, you should start with Volume 17 (Chapter 86) of the Manga
- To switch to the Webcomic after the Manga ended, you should start with Chapter 65 (at the time of writing).