One Punch Man: Why Saitama suffers from existential crisis despite being the strongest hero

Saitama as seen in One Punch Man manga (Image via ONE, Yusuke Murata)
Saitama as seen in One Punch Man manga (Image via ONE, Yusuke Murata)

Saitama and his strength to neutralize any threat with a single punch makes him the strongest character in One Punch Man. A hero for fun, he has taken down extraterrestrial and cosmic level threats like Boros and Awakened Garou without so much as even breaking a sweat. However, being the strongest doesn't always mean you get to live a life full of excitement and challenges.

Since his superhero work began, no opponent or threat has been strong enough to give Saitama a proper challenge, thus making the concept of being a hero boring and unstimulating for him. The lack of opponents caused him to suffer from an existential crisis, with his ability to feel emotions getting dulled considerably.

Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers from the One Punch Man manga and webcomic.


Being the strongest hero in One Punch Man resulted in a lack of challenge for Saitama

Saitama being bored by how weak the villains are (Image via Madhouse)
Saitama being bored by how weak the villains are (Image via Madhouse)

Saitama was a normal guy when he fought against Tiger-level threat, Crablante. He was able to defeat the monster after a hard fought battle which sparked a desire in him to become a hero. The main motive behind this was to fulfill his childhood dream and help people. Thus, he began a rigorous training regime which ended up making him strong enough to defeat any opponent with just a single punch.

However, the situation was far from ideal for Saitama as having overwhelming strength made his life boring and empty. Becoming a hero wasn't even exciting anymore because he could defeat any villain with just one punch. There was no challenge to be had, making his strength meaningless.

Saitama confesses about his dulling senses in One Punch Man manga (Image via ONE, Yusuke Murata)
Saitama confesses about his dulling senses in One Punch Man manga (Image via ONE, Yusuke Murata)

Saitama's looming existential crisis is evident throughout the series as he becomes increasingly disillusioned with his overwhelming strength. The manga panel above gives us an insight into his mind, showing us how trapped he felt with his strength. In his inner monolgue, Saitama mentions his strength having no effect on society and also reveals his emotions becoming dull with each passing day.

It seems like, in the One Punch Man series, Saitama represents a maxed-out character in a videogame whose strength itself makes the game boring. The objective becomes easier and the reward in the end isn't satisfactory enough, making the character yearn for something greater.


Final thoughts

Saitama as seen in One Punch anime (Image via Madhouse)
Saitama as seen in One Punch anime (Image via Madhouse)

The original writer of One Punch Man, ONE, is known to give his protagonists complex character traits and make them invincible. However, be it Saitama or Mob from Mob Psycho 100, being the strongest doesn't mean having a fullfilling existense. ONE uses these overpowered protagonists to tell a story where their staggering strength works towards their detriment.

Saitama's strength in the end makes him lose touch with basic human feelings, making him a monotonous husk of a human being who existed just for the sake of it. Even after being the strongest, he had nothing to show for it and had a hollow existence.

This depicts why challenges are important in life because without them a person loses their will to live as there seems to be nothing to live for. The existential crisis Saitma faces in One Puch Man is beautifully crafted as it depicts how isolated being powerful can make one feel.