Character Design is perhaps one of the most important things to consider when planning out a manga or anime. I mean, both are visual mediums. If the aesthetics don’t catch your eyes, you’re wasting your time. But sometimes, a strange character design just works. Turns out, you don’t always need a good-looking Bishoujou protagonist for a character to be well-liked. I mean, just look at Saitama from One Punch Man, a bald superhero with the plainest features I’ve ever seen on a protagonist.
Saitama has been Shonen’s unironic ‘It Boy’ ever since the One Punch Man manga came on the web manga scene. With gorgeous artwork that juxtaposed the almost comically simple character design of Saitama, its protagonist, One Punch Man quickly became a favorite of many anime enthusiasts. The best part? Tomohiro, better known as ONE, is one of the most talented mangakas of his generation. So that bland design? It’s by choice!
But why choose such an unappealing and simple design when you can create an intricate character with no issues? As we’ve mentioned before, it’s not like ONE can’t. The other characters from the same manga such as Genos, Saitama’s cyborg apprentice, and Tatsumaki, the ‘Tornado Of Terror’, are gorgeously illustrated with details that make them stand out. With a character as powerful as Saitama, maybe the hair loss was to make him look unique against a roster of other conventionally good-looking heroes?
And make no mistake, Saitama is absurdly overpowered. He is probably the strongest character in all of anime history and yet when you compare him to other OP protagonists like Goku from Dragon Ball and all the JoJo leads from various JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures seasons, he is the most unassuming and plain to a fault. But is that merely a stylistic choice or does it serve a greater purpose? How did Earth’s mightiest hero lose all his hair? Let’s discuss!
How Did Saitama Lose his Hair?
Thanks to how humble and genuinely straightforward Saitama tends to be, it’s easy to forget that he trained extensively to reach the current power level he is at. After all, before he gained the ability to end all enemies and foes with a single blow, he was just a normal salaryman with a dream. And a full head of hair.
So, most fans agree that it was likely due to this training that he started losing his hair. The idea to be a hero full time came to him around 3 years before the start of the original series, when he was job hunting and had to save a kid from the supervillain Crablante. Afterward, he resolved to train himself with strictness so that he could raise his strength.
This training was a balanced routine but allowed for no flexibility. It consisted of a daily training regimen made up of 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and a 10 km run. Every day, for three whole years! Even when Saitama felt sick, or injured, he never gave up on this routine.
He practiced daily, alongside adopting healthy eating habits, and reinforcing his mental strength until he became the One Punch Man we know today. And we all know that must’ve taken a toll on his body, since it is around this time, he mentions losing his hair.
Is Saitama A Parody Of The ‘Power Unlocked’ Aesthetic?
This was my first assumption when I started reading One Punch Man! I mean, the comparisons between Goku and Saitama were just so easy to make.
Both are extremely overpowered, to the point of being used regularly as a meme on the entire Shonen genre and its tendency to one-up its heroes. I mean, every time Goku unlocks a new Super Saiyan level, his hair grows exponentially! And it’s not just him. The whole ‘hair becoming feral and long when accessing secret power’ is a trope that is deeply embedded in Shonen culture. You also saw it with Naruto Uzumaki and Sasuke Uchiha from Naruto Shippuden.
It’s weird, but its aesthetic adds to the feel of a character powering up for a big battle.
Less Is More: Saitama’s Blandness Stands Out!
Maybe, it isn’t that complicated at all! Perhaps the only reason Saitama looks the way he does, bald with plain eyes, is that it gets attention. When compared to the other characters in the manga, he receives so much more focus! I mean, isn’t that what we’re doing right now? Pondering over his style because he stands out so much?
If so, it’s an ingenious decision on the mangaka’s part. Because the design for Saitama is now so iconic, you can’t help but mention it! I mean, when did you last see a Shonen protagonist and talk about how plain they look VS their coolness?
Doing the most while technically making the least amount of effort makes sense! And personally, I think this is the most legitimate reason for Saitama’s hair loss.