WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for One-Punch Man, Season 2, Episode 12, "Cleaning Up the Disciple's Mess," available now on Hulu.
While the popular anime/manga series One-Punch Man features a whole host of incredibly powerful heroes and villains, two that stand above most of the colorful cast are the cybernetic S-class hero, Genos, and the sinister hero- hunter, Garou. While standing on opposing sides of justice, the two characters have dealt crushing defeats to the vast majority of their enemies over the course of Season 2 with several notable exceptions for each. And when both characters are faced with overwhelmingly superior opponents in the season's finale, they each undergo their own existential crisis as they ponder their own, respective self-worth.
In the last few episodes, Garou faced setback after setback, barely escaping a fight with the S-class hero Watchdog Man and being knocked out by one mighty kick from Saitama when attempting to assault the top-ranked hero, King. Bloodied and exhausted, Garou was nearly overtaken by a group of A-class heroes, enduring more wounds and being poisoned, only to pull out a victory by turning the team's hubris against them.
However, in facing Genos, Garou may have finally found his match in the cyborg, beaten and blasted at every turn. The fight took a more personal turn as Garou faced his old mentor, the martial arts master Bang, who stepped in to confront his former student. As the battle resumed, Garou suffered the worst beating we've seen so far, faced with imminent, definitive defeat.
Throughout the season, Garou has been excited by the prospect of facing opponents stronger than himself and the challenge to overcome the odds and improve himself, even turning down an offer to join the Monster Association and upgrade his power level. However, as he was repeatedly beat down, the self-proclaimed human monster began to realize he simply faced his own limitations as a normal human.
As for Genos, he has often worked in the shadow of his own traumatic past and in awe of his self-appointed master, Saitama, despite outranking him considerably within the Hero Association. Whenever he's bested in combat or witnesses another incredible display of power from Saitama, Genos vows to improve upon himself and had undergone two separate sets of new cybernetic upgrades over the course of the second season, greatly augmenting his strength and abilities, the final set of which were done after recovering from his defeat at the hands of the Monster Association lieutenant, Gouketsu.
After besting Garou, the Monster Association comes to the hero hunter's rescue, with Phoenix Man swooping in to fly off with Garou as Elder Centipede covers their escape. As Bang and his older brother Bomb seek refuge with the defeated A-class heroes, Genos valiantly battles the armored monster by himself to buy them time.
With its impenetrable carapace, Genos targets Centipede's face with his most powerful attacks, only to discover the behemoth possesses a rapid healing factor, quickly recovering and defeating him. It is only through the timely intervention of Saitama and King that the creature is utterly obliterated with a tremendous, single punch.
Faced once again by his mentor's awesome strength, Genos asks Saitama how it would be possible to even come close to his level and prove himself worthy. Nonchalant as ever, Saitama responds he needs to simply gain more power. Immediately encouraged, Genos vows to do that just that, shocking King that he would even consider Saitama to be a baseline superhero.
With One-Punch Man Season 2 coming to such an abrupt end, both Genos and Garou had faced superior foes and walked away disheartened before vowing to improve themselves. When the anime series returns for its inevitable third season, the two characters may have grown significantly stronger since the last time audiences saw either of them.