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- Saitama's nearly constant apathy to life. He fulfilled his dream to become a superhero thanks to his Training from Hell, only for him to get a Story-Breaker Power that takes away all the challenge of being a superhero. It is Played for Laughs but it can make anyone sympathize when the things you loved and dreamed to do ultimately turn meaningless.
- This is made incredibly stark in the first episode of the Anime with his dream about fighting the Subterraneans. Nearly all of mankind is dead. The city is rapidly falling into ruins. And yet for the first time in years, Saitama is truly, genuinely happy and alive as he gives the battle his all against an entire species of truly worthy foes and the music soars beautifully. And then he wakes up.
- The first fight we see Saitama take part in on the show is as epic as epic can be. Huge monster, one guy nonchalantly takes it out and saves a life in the process ... and then he falls to his knees in disappointment and misery. From Saitama's line afterwards, we can HEAR all the pain he's holding in daily from his ennui and desperation for a challenge.
Not again ... all it took was one punch ... ! DAMMIT!!!!!
- Just seeing how the public treats Saitama. While he doesn't care what they think of him, just watching the people say bad things about him after he saved their lives and disbelieve his abilities is quite painful to watch knowing that he deserves better than this.
House of Evolution Arc
- Genos' backstory may be treated as an Overly Long Gag in the series, but it is quite a tragedy. At age 15, his family was killed and his town was destroyed with him being the lone survivor at the brink of death. He then sacrificed his humanity in order to destroy the cyborg who killed his family. His desire for revenge lasted for 4 years and would have led to his death against Mosquito Girl had he not met Saitama.
- It's even worse knowing that later in the manga, his greatest fear is not being able to save anyone, and even triggers a moment of Heroic BSoD that's likely spawning from the event.
Hero Association Saga
Sea Monster Arc
- Several of the heroes risking their lives to try and halt the Deep Sea King. Sure, they failed, but that really doesn't justify that one Ungrateful Bastard practically mocking their efforts.
- Mumen Rider's speech against Deap Sea King. And the crowd cheering him on fervently.
- Saitama sacrificing his reputation so the other heroes get the appreciation they deserve. The pained look on Genos' face just says it all.
- In the anime, while Puri-Puri Prisoner goes to the hospital to visit Stinger and Lightning Max, he sees a newspaper on the ground with an article calling him an "S-Class Failure" and he just stands there in silence with a solemn look on his face.
Alien Conquerors Arc
- Saitama walking away with a solemn, yet somehow sorrowful expression after killing Boros. Because he just gave him another reminder that he really is Lonely at the Top.
- Just look at Saitama's expressions throughout the whole Boros fight. It's clear through the whole thing that, while Saitama wants to believe that Boros is a Worthy Opponent, he's feeling the same sort of apathy as ever. And despite the apparent beating he takes, the closest thing to 'damage' Saitama takes is a torn cape.
- Boros is also the only villain to take Saitama seriously up to that point, treating him as a Worthy Opponent from the very beginning. Yet in the end, he knows Saitama was unable to feel the same excitement that he felt and is likely saddened that he failed to live up to Saitama's expectations, mournfully saying his name before dying.
- Not counting the very last scene with Saitama and Genos, the anime's credits end over the image of a memorial surrounded by flowers, erected to commemorate all the people who perished in City A's devastation. It becomes even more poignant with the ending song lyrics "Kanashimitachi wo Dakishimete" (literally "Clinging to Our Sorrows") in light of the recent real-world tragedies.
Riding a wind heading for tomorrow, we cling to our many sorrows
Its alright, lets just rest a bit. Then lets move forward again.
The world will keep on spinning, until we eventually come to know pain
that wont ever fade.
Nonetheless, we close our eyes
and our memories will become smiles
Our hopes allow it to be so
And when the sun begins to suddenly wane, were enveloped by sleep.
Oh memories, turn to smiles!
Once weve carefully stashed away only the happiness of our meeting,
Well say, Goodbye
and wave our hands tenderly in parting.
Human Monster Saga
Super Fight Arc
Hero Hunt Arc
- When Bang finally confronts Garou, there's a brief flashback to the angry and misguided kid that Bang first took pity on and decided to train... before cutting back to the animalistic monster Garou has deliberately turned himself into.
Monster Association Arc
- Chapter 105 has Pri-Pri Prisoner find out that his old prison inmates had become monsters because of the Monster Association, and while they had actually let themselves turn into monsters to spite Pri-Pri Prisoner and his gay tendencies, Pri-Pri Prisoner is basically in denial when all this is going on, thinking that it was because of the Monster Association that the prisoners became this corrupted, refusing to believe they chose to be evil from the beginning. He then accidentally kills them when trying to pursue Dragon-Class Monster Nyan. Poor guy.
- The death of Tongara in Chapter 110. As the head of the Narinki Squad, he was a ruthless mercenary who would take any job as long as it got him good coin. After being made a love slave of Do-S and subsequently freed by Atomic Samurai's disciples, he seems ungrateful and cocky at first, looking down on the heroes for following a code of honor. But upon being faced with Evil Natural Water, Tongara bravely throws away his life to save Bushidrill by pushing him out of the way of the lethal water streams. He laments his own rash desire to be a hero at the last second, and sadly tells them to leave him behind. In his final moments he recalls the atrocities he's seen and committed as a mercenary, admitting that there are no real heroes in the world and that he was a fool to try. As his body is washed away by Evil Natural Water, his corpse is mercilessly devoured by Mad Doctor Fish.
- Darkshine is one of the strongest and nicest heroes there is. Yet, as Garou eventually gets the better of him, he comes to the realization that he wasn't battling in the aim of pushing his own limits or fighting for justice but instead to feel good about himself. As the thought he could lose comes to his mind, his insecurities dating from when he was weak, before he started to train resurface. He starts to question himself: if he fights to feel good, is there any worth in his accomplishments, is he even a hero or just a phony pretending to be one? Even after the attack against the Monster Association, the fear still haunts him.
- In the webcomic, when Saitama and Garou clash, Garou unleashes a Motive Rant about how villains and monsters are needed to save this world, because heroes just can't do enough. Given how most of the heroes in this story are selfish jerks, he's not wrong.
- Then Saitama drops him with his own Breaking Speech, in that he decided to be a monster because it was easier than being a hero and standing firm against the world.
- When Garou is finally defeated, most heroes decide that the only appropriate action to take is to kill him now before he causes more trouble. Saitama objects to this while Garou is a broken man. Silver Fang offers to take care of things, beating up his student and calling him an idiot but in the end he is unable to kill his student. Then Amai Mask offers to finish the job. It's only when the kid Garou saved earlier confronts Amai Mask that he finally decides to escape.
- In Chapter 166 of the manga is a tear jerker cavalcade:
- Awakened Garou's body starts to emit cosmic radiation thanks to the powers God granted him, and most of the heroes present start to die of radiation sickness.
- As the heroes die of radiation sickness, we see that King - a normal human being with no powers, mind you - stayed conscious long enough to crawl on top of Fubuki and Tatsumaki to try and shield them from the black radioactive rain.
- Later, as Monaco tries to runaway, only to notice an unmoving body of a child - Tareo.
- Bang, unwilling to accept that his student's ambitions have finally become outright murderous, angrily demands that whatever entity is controlling Garou release him, only for Garou to coldly reply that everything he's doing is of his own free will.
- In a last ditch effort to stop him, Genos (who at this point doesn't even have any limbs left) propels himself towards Garou and headbutts him, but it has no effect. Connecting the dots that Genos is Saitama's disciple, Garou decides to kill him in order to draw out Saitama's full strength, which he does by punching him straight through the chest and tearing out his power core despite pleading from Bang. Saitama arrives at the scene too late, and can only look on in horror at the surrounding carnage.
- Looking at Genos' corpse, Saitama recalls a moment from the House of Evolution arc when Genos complimented him on his punctuality, only for Saitama to reply that he's actually usually late to most things. What was formerly an amusing display of Saitama's laziness has become a crippling flaw that resulted in the death of his closest friend.
- The most heartbreaking part is that Garou knowing about Genos's connection to Saitama didn't come from God, but rather from what he witnessed between these two. Genos has mentioned Saitama during his bout with Garou a few days prior, and earlier Saitama ignored Garou in favor of tending to Genos. On what was supposed to be a display of heartwarming respect and friendship is what allowed to Garou to connect the dots and exploit this bond in the most horrific way possible.
- As Saitama throws an earth-shattering punch that could kill countless lives, in his left hand he's carefully cradling Genos's heart.
- Just the idea of this in general. Saitama has just failed in every sense possible: as a teacher, as a hero, as a friend.
- Chapter 167 has Saitama lamenting that he may have gotten what he wished for, the very fight that he'd crave so badly since the start of the series, and doesn't even feel one ounce of excitement for it.
Neo Heroes Saga
Psychic Sisters Arc
- Tatsumaki and Fubuki's relationship is littered with bits and pieces of tragedy that cultivate into a very sad, dysfunctional relationship.
- Tatsumaki was born with immense psychic powers. When she was 7, her adoptive family sold her into an research facility where she was locked up and subjected to human experimentation for 3 years. When a disaster occurred, all the researchers escaped and left 10 year old Tatsumaki behind. She was saved by Blast, who then told her never to rely on anyone but herself. After the traumatic Break the Cutie experience, Tatsumaki developed an unhealthy obsession over Fubuki - the only loved one she had left - and was determined to keep her safe at all costs, even if it means driving away everyone who dares to approach her. While she truly cares about her little sister, her controlling and tyrannical attitude pains Fubuki and keeps driving her further away.
- Fubuki was separated from Tatsumaki at age 2, avoided getting sold thanks to her powers not manifesting at the time, and thus was able to keep living in the outside world. But as she grew up and attended school, her powers manifested and she was badly bullied for being a witch. Yet as much as she hated being bullied, she was even more terrified of what Tatsumaki would do to the bullies in revenge, and so couldnt bring herself to interact with anyone in fear that her big sister will personally hunt them down. Over years of living in anxiety, Fubuki developed a severe insecurity complex which led to her establishing the Blizzard group as an attempt to get out of her sisters shadow and become independent, which Saitama pointed out as "just a delusion".
- When Saitama defends Fubuki from Tatsumaki, Tatsumaki states that Saitama is too weak to defend Fubuki and that to prevent her from overly relying on useless people, she's going to separate and isolate her forever from her friends. Saitama stops her and states that he and Fubuki aren't friends. When Tatsumaki asks what Fubuki is to him then, he thinks about it for a second and concludes that he and Fubuki are just acquaintances. Fubuki can only sit there looking lonely and broken from Saitama's callousness and Tatsumaki's abuse.
Neo Heroes Introduction Arc
- Genos challenges Saitama to a rematch and starts it by emitting an intense light to blind Saitama and attack him while he can't see. Then... nothing. As Genos notices that Saitama isn't even bothering to put up some kind of defense, Genos comes to the conclusion that he hasn't made any kind of progress and stops the match right there. In spite of not always being the most perceptive person, Saitama notices Genos is down and tries to act as his teacher and say something helpful. Genos desires to be as strong as Saitama because he believes the next time he meets the Mad Cyborg who destroyed his village, he must absolutely defeat him no matter what. However, as he speaks with Saitama they bring up the possibility that perhaps the Mad Cyborg might have unknowingly been defeated by Saitama, the implication being that perhaps Genos is wasting his life on a pointless quest for power.
- Sonic and Flash have quite a dark history: They were sold into the Ninja Village, an inhumane training camp where orphans were turned into ruthless killing machines under extreme conditions before getting sold off to underworld factories. Emotions were not allowed to be expressed, any act of companionship between participants (even just talking to each other) were strictly prohibited, and there was virtually no connection to the outside world. A day was 72 hours, with only 6 hours to eat and sleep and the rest for training. The food was made tasteless and drugged so that the children couldn't kill themselves.
Supreme Hero Arc
- Amai Masks story is revealed: He was originally an ugly man with an inferiority complex, but resolved to believe in the beauty that came within and tried to improve himself by joining the Hero Association. He started operating as a masked hero and got popular, but as his reputation grew, so did his anxiety. The internalized guilt caused a monsterification process that granted him a handsome face, but in exchange it constantly eroded his mind and pushed him to the brink of insanity. Killing monsters is the only way left for him to retain his humanity.
- After he finally becomes a monster, Amai Mask is proven right when the people he just protected immediately turn on him because he is a monster, regardless of the fact that he just killed the monster that was about to kill them. His next act is to ask Saitama to kill him so that the latter can finally become what he believes an ideal hero should be like.
Amai Mask: Phew... This is a great chance. If you kill me right now, you'll become famous overnight. It would be my honor to witness the birth of the "ideal hero"... Huhu.
Saitama: Ha... You're still going on about that? You really are persistent.
Amai Mask: Take a good look, it's too late for me. Please.
- Chapter 8.5 showed a brief view into Saitamas chidhood at age 12: He grew up in poverty (having brought the equivalent of 2 dollars for lunch), struggled to keep up in class, was distrusted by the teacher, and was bullied by the upperclassmen who were also dirt poor. He had no friends and his parents were neither shown nor mentioned, and he spent his entire childhood wondering if he could ever grow up to become a decent person. That question was answered in the beginning of the series: Saitama grew up to become a depressed, unemployed young adult who knew he had no place in society and attempted suicide at the hands of a monster.
- OVA 1 shows that although Saitama is a Humble Hero with no regard to the opinion of everyone else, his occasional wishing for fans is not actually wishing for fame, but rather out of a desire for someone to appreciate his efforts. Imagine risking your life to protect someone and not even getting a single word of gratitude from anybody for three years. Fortunately, the OVA ends with Genos, who has been studying Saitama from afar, finally deciding to ask him to become his disciple. It becomes heartwarming because Saitama not only gets a disciple, albeit reluctantly, but also a best friend and the first person that ever appreciates him for his heroism.
Saitama: If I continue being a hero, this won't be the last time someones out for revenge against me. That is my fate. It can't be helped. I just need to change how I think. Right! I need to think positively. I just have to believe there will be people in this world who appreciate all the things that I do. I became a hero three years ago. I'm not saying I need fans, but it would be nice if someone noticed what I've been doing... Oh yeah, there was that guy who wanted to be my disciple.