Review: Mob Psycho 100

As quirky as its name sounds.

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The Lowdown:

Show: Mob Psycho 100

Studio/ years aired: Bones, 2016

AniB’s thoughts: It’s been a while since my last review, but I’m following up one Bones production (My Hero Academia) with another one in Mob Psycho 100. Despite coming from the same production studio, they are markedly different shows, and this one in particular can be be described as “quirky.”

Mob’s a show that certain audiences will eat right up, and another subset will find it off-putting. Its characteristic animation style is somewhat befitting in a world of “espers”- powerful psychics that possess extraordinary abilities at the highest levels- and if Mob’s face looks somewhat familiar to fans of One Punch Man, it’s from the same creator.

This anime was another watch that I was completely unsure of what I’d find on the other side, but it proved to have a unique aesthetic that was fitting for what it wanted to do as a show. Its characteristic spontaneity and “weirdness,” per se, is somewhat charming in a way, but can be off-putting as well. However, the most impressive part about Mob Psycho 100 is how surprisingly grounded in reality the titular protagonist’s main goal is (find a purpose in life beyond just his extraordinary powers) and the unpredictable resolutions to the many problems and scenarios that crop in this show.

Overall, I might have expected a bit more from Mob, but it was still a compelling little experience and most importantly, was unique without being pretentious. At the present time, there’s a sense that a season 2 will come along, provided by the unresolved plot points in development upon the season 1 finale, along with some talk that there will in fact be a continuation. For all intensive purposes, this review could wind up being merely a preliminary take on the series, but for now, it will just focus on the 12 episodes that exist without judging on speculation.


 

Animation Quality: 2-D animation. Mob features a unique style with characters that have generally expressive, simple eyes and varying levels of definition, from very simple designs like Mob himself to that of the Body Improvement Club (a club at his school) that have incredibly well defined musculature, as an example. The range and style of different techniques is worth noting, and does a good job helping to set the mood, while conveying the story. Finally, fight scenes pack a punch and properly convey the power each combatant in ways that are both eye-catching and easy enough to follow.  4/5 points.

 

Characterization:  The titular protagonist, Mob (whose actual name is Shigeyo Kagayama) is an unremarkable looking boy noted for his bowl-cut hair and simple appearance. However, he does possess extraordinarily strong psychic abilities, and within that, also has a “mode” of sorts that can activate under extreme duress, which reflects his usually repressed emotions. Despite Mob being a prodigy, he prefers to look for a purpose in life without relying on said abilities; he treats people kindly and without any sort of ego, and is the protegee/ assistant of Reigen, his “master” (who’s more like a life mentor).

 

Speaking of which, Reigen Arataka is the self-proclaimed “Greatest Psychic” in the world; in reality, he’s a smart con-man who runs a small-time spiritual consulting business, and his assistant is Mob, who helps him with *real* supernatural issues and other smaller tasks, such as paperwork. Despite his inflated ego, Reigen has sound life advice for Mob through the show and is shown to be a quick thinker on his feet and a master debater.

 

Mob’s younger brother is Ritsu, who initially is all the things Mob is not- popular, an honors student and a member of the school council. However, he desperately wishes to have psychic powers awakened above all else, and aside from caring about his big brother, it is the one thing he wishes to gain, even to his own detriment…

 

Teruki Hanazawa, best known as “Teru” in the show, appears as the shadow boss of Black Vinegar Middle School (yes, there’s turf wars.) A powerful Esper himself, Teru winds up challenging Mob in an ill-conceived battle… Popular, charming and smart, Teru’s world changes after his encounter with the titular hero.

 

Finally, there’s Dimple. Initially a power evil spirit controlling a certain group, he was defeated and reduced by Mob down to a weak little remnant. He sticks around, hoping initially to get back his power but winds up helping Mob and his allies as the story progresses.

 

The rest of the supporting cast includes a number of recurring characters with varying amounts of importance in a given episodes, and are often over the top hammy mixed in with more serious sides, demeanor and goals, depending on the cast member or situation. It fits the show’s unusual dynamics rather well; and while the side cast doesn’t get a lot of depth, the main characters are dynamic and receive some interesting developments as they proceed further into the show. It’s an all around solid effort. 4/5 points.

 

 

Story quality: Following the standard story arc progression of most anime, Mob also has a pseudo-episodic quality, with the daily misadventures of Mob and others on the main cast (and also occasionally the supporting cast) proving to be both self-contained stories and parts of a bigger plot that comes together in an impressive final stretch of episodes to end the season.  It’s definitely convoluted, but this show by and large makes it work. 3.75/5 points.

 

 

Themes: In some ways, perhaps the most impressive aspect of Mob Psycho 100 was its exploration of purpose and philosophies of living in the context of the show. Often times, the show would do something undeniably impressive to point out the different gifts and talents of people, never bringing one aspect up as superior to another, and among the main cast, a great deal of searching and understanding occurred through experience, trials and learning that “the grass isn’t always greener” on the the other side. 4/5 points.

 

 

Don’t insult the viewer: Mob’s got a few unnerving scenes, but overall provided a uniquely strange ride that also proved surprisingly hard to stop watching, which is a solid quality to possess in a show. The OP fits the strangeness of the show well, though whether it fits someone’s tastes is variable.  4.75/5 points.

 

 

Total Score: 20.5/25 (82%). As wild as you’d imagine a show featuring a powerful psychic boy would be, Mob Psycho 100 is an often strange but enjoyable journey through its protagonist’s attempts to lead a happy and fulfilling life, complicated by a never resting world of evil spirits, crazy psychics and unseen magic. It’s worth a watch.


Like what you see? Have you watched Mob Psycho 100? Leave a comment!

A Brief Word on John Lassetter, and the recent string of events-

A lot of joy just got sapped from a lot of people.

Normally, animation is an incredible outlet for creativity and an escape of sorts from the harsh realities we experience in the world. The best productions take us to places and locales we could only dream of, with charismatic characters and incredible stories, waiting to unfold. Unfortunately, that facade can still be broken when a man behind much magic for countless minds over the years has been swept up into the ever-growing Pandora’s Box of misconduct in Hollywood that was often suspected, but never dragged out so openly in the public like it is now.

I write about animation, and I’m perfectly capable of shifting to a more serious topic involving my expertise, and I should start by saying this is *not* at all a defense of John Lasseter. If anything, the story just dropped within an hour of me writing this piece, and while the details haven’t emerged fully in all their detail, the fact that he decided to take a leave of absence himself suggests he was trying to get out in front of a landmine that was set to explode. You can read between the lines about what’s going to happen, and while the implications themselves are ugly, there are other parts of the fallout that are huge here as well: the well-being and security of people, specifically women, and what exactly this will mean for the twin titans of Western animation- Pixar and Walt Disney Animation- going forward.

On the former point, it has been said ad nasuem in other places and contexts, but the potential culture of harassment that may have existed at Pixar and perhaps Disney too as a result of Lassester’s actions is unacceptable and downright despicable. I don’t particularly take sides on “gender issues” as our society today defines them, but a safe work environment, free of fear and of backroom tactics is  key in nurturing positive change. In many ways, it seems the “old boys’ club” mentality still exists in workplaces, and what should be rejected as wrong is instead overlooked due to power, status and position. In Lassasster’s case, it does not matter how brilliant an animator or storyboarder he was- the consideration and acknowledgement of real human lives should always come first, in a culture that too often lacks true compassion for others. The latter point in particular is sickening given what Pixar itself stands for in movies- good, wholesome and downright incredible entertainment.

But it’s just that- entertainment. It’s not reality, much as it’s uniquely able to craft realities of its own- and the magic in those many amazing films became a bit tainted today. I’m not suggesting you have to chuck your copy of Toy Story out the window now, but the man influential in forming many a childhood dream and formative in the dominant decade of Pixar to open the early 2000’s has now been swept up in a growing scandal of powerful individuals that should serve as a warning to the values our culture holds and the sort of diligent watchfulness that should be cast upon those in positions of great responsibility.

Finally, this may in fact mark the end of the so-called Lasseter Renaissance at Disney. While a trivial point to the other aspects of this moment in time I’ve reflected on, it is of some importance in an animation context, as Disney had been rolling off hits since the man took over their struggling animation department back in 2008, and Pixar had still produced some fairly good films in the past decade despite the perception that they took a slight step back (which was more about the ridiculously high standard the studio set for itself.) Whatever happens next for these studios now is no longer connected with Lasseter though, but it will be interesting to see how a very promising 2018 turns out now for both Pixar and Disney’s animation studio.

Here’s hoping the truth continues to show itself, and the proper course of action continues to be taken.


Feel free to chime in on this issue, if you wish. Serious dialogue is the mark of a healthy republic.