WARNING: The following contains spoilers for One-Punch Man Season 2, Episode 9, "The Ultimate Dilemma," available now on Hulu.
After making his debut as the Saitama's supposed nemesis of Season 2, Garou has spent the last several episodes of One-Punch Man laying low. Despite growing up sympathizing with monsters and referring to himself as the "Human Monster," the hero hunter kept a relatively low profile when the monster apocalypse broke out, even refusing an offer to join the Monster Association. Make no mistake, though, Garou isn't about to undergo a full redemptive turn. Rather than affiliate himself to a villain squad, he stayed independent and challenged the S-class hero, Watchdog Man, to a fight.
Garou's full confrontation with Watchdog Man is only shown in flashback, with the aftermath leaving him badly beaten, just barely escaping his fight with the superhero with his life. The hero hunter reasoned that his martial arts training had prepared him for battles against human opponents, and with Watchdog Man fighting like his canine namesake with blinding speed and power, Garou found himself outmatched and forced to retreat for the first time.
Despite the setback, Garou remains characteristically undeterred. In fact, he's invigorated by his recent defeat. Like many fighting anime characters, including his counterparts in One-Punch Man, Garou has constantly sought to improve upon himself and attain new levels of power in his continuing vendetta against superheroes.
While he affirms his commitment to growing even stronger, Garou spots Saitama and the top-ranked hero in the world, King, walking towards him. Saitama had easily dispatched Garou with a single karate chop earlier in the season, mistaking him for a mugger on the street. However, the hero hunter doesn't recognize the unassuming superhero in his official gear, and instead targets King, charging at him full force.
At the beginning of the season, King was quietly revealed to be a fraud; constantly being awarded undue credit for Saitama's victories while his lower ranked counterpart eluded the spotlight. Upon learning this, Saitama befriended King, bonding over their mutual love of video games, leading to the popular hero becoming a supportive sounding board for Saitama's own personal doubts.
Having failed to find a worthy opponent at the local martial arts tournament, Saitama realizes he has become bored (again) and confesses to King that he is now questioning the time and effort he has put into his superhero career. King points out that in his quest to find a proper challenge, Saitama has lost sight of himself and urges his friend to keep moving forward.
The moment of vulnerability and introspective reflection between the two heroes is abruptly interrupted by Garou's surprise attack... but only for a moment, in true One-Punch Man form. Before Garou can lay a single finger on King, Saitama simply kicks the hero hunter out of the way, propelling the villain straight through a nearby wall as the two friends continue on their way.
The duo fails to recognize Garou at all and even ponder if the notorious hero hunter is still on the loose, hoping to catch him, not knowing that Saitama has summarily laid out their unsuspecting quarry once again.
Garou and Saitama's accidental rivalry has now become a recurring joke in Season 2, with the two fighters constantly failing to recognize each other both times they have fatefully crossed paths. Each time, Garou's overconfidence has continued to be his downfall as Saitama has been able to defeat him with a single blow, only ever coming across as a minor inconvenience.
With Garou now enduring two back-to-back defeats, it will interesting to see how desperate the hero hunter will get to reach new levels of power.
Produced by J.C. Staff, new episodes of One-Punch Man debut every Tuesday on Hulu.