The protagonist of One Punch Man is known for laying waste to all enemies with a single blow. But he’s not some kind of supernatural being, so how did Saitama get his powers in One Punch Man?
Saitama followed a training regime that put him way above the power available to a normal human. This was achieved via Saitama breaking his internal limiter, which mainly seems to be a mental barrier.
One Punch Man makes meta references to common tropes and so doesn’t need to really explain how things happen, so let’s explore the admittedly unsatisfying reasons why Saitama is so powerful and how he got those powers.
One Punch Man: What Is Saitama’s Origin Story?
Saitama decided one day to start training as he had always wanted to be a hero. He follows a workout of 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and 10 kilometers of running per day for about a year and a half, and already starts to notice superhuman strength.
It should be pointed out that almost nobody believes him that this is how he got his powers.
Some other aspects which may have contributed include his constant battling with various villains during this period, or that he took no rest at all between the above mentioned individual exercises.
Others have expressed that Saitama just doesn’t know how he got his powers. Genos considers that Saitama is just falling back on his routine, and hopes that by spending a lot of time fighting with Saitama he will uncover the secret.
What Is the Explanation for Saitama’s Powers?
Dr Genus has done a lot of research to work out where the powers come from, and one common strand seems to be the limiter.
First seen in chapter 88, a limiter is the internal limit that all humans have, but it can be conquered and thereafter what a human is capable of is not yet fully explored. Throughout the One Punch Man series, we see Saitama destroy everything and never really get injured.
His almost one-dimensional fighting style is so powerful in one direction, that his lack of variety is not even a weakness. Saitama has to hold back in so many of the fights that he is a part of.
While there are several theories on the limiter, it has not really been proven and is not dealt with in any depth in either the manga or anime.
Why Is Saitama So Strong and Unbeatable?
To really get why Saitama is portrayed the way he is, we first have to acknowledge that One Punch Man is definitely not taking itself very seriously. One Punch Man falls squarely into the comedy genre of manga/anime.
The series makes more sense if you consider it like a parody or satire. This is glaringly apparent in the liberal use of tropes relating to the action genre, such as montages, references to training regimes, and of course just obliterating people with a single punch.
If Saitama were some sort of otherworldly being or a god, then this might make sense, but otherwise it’s just a ridiculous precept.
The constant stream of enemies and supervillains that just get knocked out without any real planning or effort on the part of Saitama really solidifies this as a series that is not holding itself out as some kind of realistic series.
Part of the entertainment value is seeing how ridiculously weak his opponents are in comparison, even specialized fighting cyborgs and robots are no match. Indeed, Saitama’s powers are intentionally not fully explored, and seem to scale with whoever he’s facing.
This is sometimes referred to as plot armor, in that Saitama just always has the tools necessary to survive and it’s never explained. Indeed, some quotes from the original creator have pointed to Saitama being unbeatable and will always use a single punch to win.
Admittedly, this sounds like a dumb premises because who would watch such a thing? Guaranteed to always win easily is not a great reason to make your character a certain way. It’s why I never understood the appeal of Superman or Goku since he got Ultra Instinct.
A whole article could be done on the myriad of comedy references, manga tropes and other homages in One Punch Man, but just quickly a lot of them are just absurdist repackaging of shonen tropes.
For example, the extremely short time period of Saitama’s training still resulted in him basically being the most powerful character ever. There’s also the friendship trope that sees certain characters band together to win, only to be vaporized immediately.
Saitama’s power is a plot device, used as a way to continue the story with a human protagonist that so often would be defeated by magic or technology. Instead, Saitama just overcomes these threats without any real explanation as to how.
References to this are even made in the series itself, as others apparently follow his exact regime only to find it was a big waste of time, adding yet another layer of silliness. This isn’t always the case, however, with the examples of King and Genos being top examples.
These characters are said to have broken their limiters or at least gotten close to doing so. Genos certainly is said to have dedicated himself to a regime like Saitama’s, and perhaps most importantly, pushing himself as hard as Saitama is said to have done.
But then again, we have characters like the Mumen Rider who arguably worked even harder than Saitama and ended up being so pathetic he got steamrolled worse than almost anyone else.
King Boros has proven one of the toughest matchups for Saitama, and it was revealed that Boros is an alien leader. So the next question naturally arises: is Saitama an alien as well? Is he in fact getting his powers from alien technology or the environment?
The series hasn’t resolved the question either way, and indeed the showing of Saitama existing on Earth his entire life through various flashbacks and memories shows that it if Saitama is an alien, he’s been on Earth for a long time.