Never mind beating Goku, can Saitama defeat Arale?
Since the appearance of One-punch man anime in 2015, the incredible power of Saitama has been the subject of conversation and comparison. “But can he beat Goku?” is a question often thrown into the mix whenever there’s a discussion of a powerful anime character, but it might be the wrong question in this case.
Who would win between Saitama and Goku is definitely an interesting question; however, there may not be a lack of a definitive answer. A better question, which might go deeper, might be whether or not Saitama can do something Goku didn’t, and defeat Arale Norimaki, a character from Akira Toriyama’s gag manga, Dr. Slump.
Arale is an android built by scientist Senbei Norimaki. She is energetic, naive and completely lacking in common sense. Arale is also ridiculously strong, doing things like accidentally destroying cars while dashing through traffic. Arale is an almost perfect android, his only flaw being his myopia. Arale is subjected to something some people have called “Toon Physics”, in which things that would regularly be fatal are simply brushed off, and various impossible feats are made possible as a joke. His stats are insane, like being able to destroy the Earth with a single punch, walking at Mach 1 speeds, and various other unfathomable skills.
In Dragon Ball Super, Arale made an appearance in Episode 69, where she faced Vegeta and Goku one after the other. She completely embarrassed them both, but Vegeta made a key observation: Arale operates by an entirely different set of rules – gag manga rules. After applying the ridiculous illogicality of the gag manga to his fight, Vegeta was finally able to land a blow on Arale. It’s for this reason that Arale vs. Goku or Vegeta is an unfair match, and by extension, pitting Saitama against a similar set of characters raises the same incongruity.
To further illustrate Arale’s impossible strength, she combines a Kamehameha fired by Goku in his Super Saiyan Blue form with her own ki shot, before following the resulting beam fight with another 100 times more powerful ki shot. than the last. This puzzled Goku, who was happy to see her again, saying she’s as strong as she remembers. Essentially, Goku has never beaten Arale, and the only character she officially couldn’t beat is another Dr. Slump character subject to the same forces.
Like Arale, Saitama is the protagonist of a gag manga and possesses incredible power, as the title of the series suggests. Due to his power being an inherent quality of One-Punch Man as a narrative (sequence or otherwise), Saitama’s immense strength is also by definition a similar aspect to Toon Physics in regards to its consequences. Like Arale, Saitama is unbeatable, seemingly impossible to damage, and overcomes any opponent with relative ease. Like Arale, Saitama faces a few strong characters from her own universe, but unlike her, Saitama has never been unable to defeat another character from the One-Punch Man universe.
Arale’s special position
Both characters are defined in their respective universes as characters of unparalleled strength, operating within the rules of the gag, the ambiguous and amorphous realm where character limitations are delightfully inconsistent or impossibly the opposite. Gag anime characters like Saitama and Arale operate in their own distinct metaphysical category, where the very nature of their being is irreconcilable even though they exist in universes filled with elements that function in their reality similarly to them, to similar degrees. Arale does not necessarily defeat all opponents in a single attack like Saitama does; but she’s capable of planet-destroying feats and incredible strength that Goku has struggled to keep up with, at least as recently as Super Saiyan Blue. The air pressure from Saitama’s punches (those that don’t come into contact with anything) is powerful enough to level cities, and it was said by the series’ manga artist Yusuke Murata that Saitama could destroy the planet Earth if he wished.
These two are perhaps very well-matched characters subject to physics (or lack thereof) in the realm of the gag they inhabit, and also in the context of the permanence of comparisons to Goku when it comes to the strong characters. What gives Arale relevance in this case is the fact that while fans can’t find a definitive answer as to who would win between Saitama and Goku, there has been evidence that at different times in his life, the benchmark of strength that is Goku was never able to have a conclusive victory against Arale. It’s hard to say who would win between Saitama and Arale given their incredible strength and durability, but perhaps this question can bring fans closer to deciding who they think would win between Saitama and Goku. This is due to Arale’s unique position of having inhabited a universe other than her native, consequently existing canonically in both gag and non-gag media; in addition to being a character who has faced Goku several times without losing a single time.
MORE: One-Punch Man: Why Is Saitama So Strong?
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