MAJOR One-Punch Man spoilers for chapter 166 ahead.
The latest chapter of One-Punch Man out of Japan is a doozy, full of spectacle and highly anticipated moments, but one moment stands out even in a chapter this packed: the apparent death of a major character.
One-Punch Man follows more than just Saitama, and as the Monster Association arc ramped up, more and more time was spent following the arc's villain Garou than the series' protagonist. Garou began as a rogue martial arts student from the S Class hero Bang's dojo, and began using his skills to defeat professional heroes that he felt weren't worthy of the praise. This caught the attention of the Monster Association, which was making its own big move in attacking cities, but Garou wasn't interested in comrades throughout One-Punch Man. He began fighting the monsters as much as the heroes, gradually transforming and becoming less human with each step. Despite being fully transformed into a monster, Garou still couldn't stand up to Saitama. Or at least, that was the case until the evil God got involved.
In the previous chapter, while showing off his newfound abilities from God, Garou launched a Cosmic Ray attack, spewing some of the deadliest radiation in the universe at his opponent. The attack could've wiped out the planet, and even with Saitama deflecting it, the heroes (and hostages) in the immediate area quickly began suffering from radiation poisoning. While Bang courageously kept Garou busy, the already badly damaged Genos launched an attack--literally, as he propelled himself from the ground without arms or legs and crashed into Garou's abdomen. Garou decided that he needed to infuriate Saitama to draw out his true power, and so ripped Genos' power core right out of his torso.
While Genos has suffered some absolutely devastating damage before, this power core has always been shown to be absolutely essential. The core contains a phenomenal amount of power, used to fire off those massive beam attacks as well as power his more mundane actions, but even when it's near depletion, Genos has remained functional so long as it was connected. Without the core, he won't be able to move and whatever living tissue he may still have will lose life support, which is about as close to "dead" as a cyborg can get. One-Punch Man has long been hesitant to kill off characters, with even minor characters like One-Punch Man's Sweet Mask surviving ludicrously deadly attacks, so it's easy to say "he'll be okay." This is different in one major way, however: Genos' death has occurred for story reasons, to force Saitama to use his true strength, and plot-related deaths are often much harder to reverse.
Whether Genos does eventually get revived is irrelevant at the moment. All that matters is that Saitama saw this happen, and he believes Genos is dead. For the first time in One-Punch Man's history, fans may be about to see him at full power, but it comes at the cost of one of the fandom's favorite characters. One thing's for sure, though, and that's that the next chapter can't come soon enough.
Read the latest chapter of One-Punch Man now on Viz Media's Shonen Jump app!