Saitama is obviously the strongest hero around, so why does his rank not reflect this? We answer this question below. This article is written from the Manga perspective, but some notes about the webcomic are added in the last section.
In short, Saitama is a B class hero due to a mixture of circumstances. He has issues selling his worth and society in One-Punch Man is corrupt. The fact that Saitama does not really fit in with society also does not help.
The Hero Association exam
Saitama has yet to meet an opponent that will faze him. He also seems to have a kind heart and, while not always equally friendly, goes out of his way to save people. That seems to make him the perfect hero.
When Genos suggested he should become a member of the Hero Association, things started well. He crushed the records of the physical part of the test. When it came to the written exam, however, he did not manage to get more than 21 out of 50 points. While 42% is not a horrendous result, it is not exactly S class worthy.
The problem with the written exam
So let us ask ourselves why. First: is Saitama stupid? I would say no, he is not. He may be a bit simpleminded, but he is often able to see things for what they really are and act accordingly.
Let’s also not forget that Genos scored full marks on this test. While Genos may be above average in the intelligence department, he has not shown any extraordinary intelligence either. This leads us to the conclusion that the test was not above Saitama’s intellectual capacities.
So what could be the problem? It is likely that Saitama has become so strong, that his worldview does not match that of normal people. He likely did OK with questions about general hero values, but when it comes to delicate combat situations, including saving hostages, he likely just answered: “I would punch it.” It is hard for an examiner to give full marks for that kind of answer without knowing Saitama.
Attribute scores by the Hero Association
The above findings match the attribute scores given to Saitama by the Hero Association. Although his physical attributes are top-notch, his intelligence and justice are lacking. This leads to a mediocre effectiveness score and an unknown fighting power score.
- Stamina: 10 points
- Intelligence: 1 point
- Justice: 1 point
- Endurance: 10 points
- Power: 10 points
- Popularity: 1 point
- Effectiveness: 3 points
- Fighting ability: unknown
Attribute scores by Genos
Genos has given his own opinion on Saitama’s attribute scores. Interestingly, while Genos is obviously fanboying with 15 out of 10 scores, he is not totally oblivious to Saitama’s flaws. He too sees that Saitama’s intellect, while not as bad as the Hero Association sees it, is not his strong suit.
- Stamina: 15+ points
- Intelligence: 4 points
- Justice: 15+ points
- Endurance: 15+ points
- Power: 15+ points
- Popularity: 1 point
- Effectiveness: 15+ points
- Fighting ability: 15+ points
The initial score makes sense
Saitama’s lacking score on his written exam explains his initial score. Although he showed a lot of physical prowess, the Hero Association just wasn’t too sure about him. A powerful person who handles delicate situations in unintelligent ways could actually be a danger rather than an asset.
Still, he obviously has potential, so it is worth keeping him around. But you need to keep in mind that the S class heroes pretty much get free reign. You can’t give that to someone you are not sure about. By giving him a C class ranking to start out with, you can keep an eye on him.
It should be noted that Saitama’s attribute scores do not necessarily prevent him from receiving a promotion. Pig God for example only has an effectiveness score of 8, all his other attributes are unknown. Metal Bat has an Intelligence score of 3 but still made it to S class
So while the initial score makes sense, it seems that something else that is keeping Saitama back.
Saitama and society
Being a hero is about more than just being strong. It is also about being just and, perhaps more unexpected, being popular. The Hero Association operates on public funding after all, which depends on how they are seen by society. And that is where Saitama comes short.
The problem is twofold. One part is related to Saitama’s inherent flaws, the other part has to do with society’s flaws.
Saitama is very unworldly. Before meeting Genos, he did not even know he needed to be part of the Hero Association to receive any recognition. This also shows in his later actions, not bothering to report the monsters he kills to the association. While Saitama wouldn’t mind some fame, he does not really make an effort for it. This certainly hurts his promotion chances.
On the other side of the coin, Saitama is noble enough to give other heroes the spotlight. When he fought the Deep Sea King and the public was turning against the heroes, he deliberately claimed that the other heroes weakened it so that he could swoop in to steal the glory.
The world of heroes in One-Punch Man is very cutthroat, as everyone is looking for promotions. It is as such not surprising that the more corrupt ones do not mind feeding the rumor mill of all Saitama’s exploits being shams, making it difficult for him to get a promotion. He needs a break, such as when he was the only hero around the Deep Sea King for the Hero Association to call on, which eventually resulted in his promotion to B rank despite the rumors.
The webcomic is the original work by author ONE, on which the manga is based. It is much further ahead in the story than the manga. To read more about the differences between the two, please check out this article I wrote previously.
As such there are some spoilers in these closing notes. I will keep them general, related to only the topic of this article, but it’s still your choice to continue or not. To see the spoilers, highlight this sentence and then scroll down.
In the webcomic, Saitama has moved to A rank after the Monster Association Arc which is currently still in full swing in the Manga. While he still has to deal with all sorts of rumors and his real strength is not recognized, he is moving up slowly but surely. The rumors make his promotions come in at a reduced rate, but his extreme exploits are hard to ignore, even when downplayed. It will be interesting to see if and when he will reach S rank.