Mob Psycho 100
ONE saves anime. Again. 100% recommended.
Why are you still here? Go watch it.
Mob Psycho 100 is a webcomic created by a Japanese artist (so to speak) calling himself ONE and recently got adapted into an anime. In fact, it is the second one of his webcomics to get such an adaption. The first one was a little series you might not have heard of – it’s pretty underground – called ONE PUNCH MAN.
Naturally, since OPM was absolutely fantastic, expectations for this show were only a little bit higher than Hideaki Anno whenever it’s time to do another Evangelion-retcon/reboot/thingamabob. And as I already mentioned at the beginning, Mob Psycho 100 did not only fulfill those expectations, but might actually have surpassed them, if such a thing is even possible. But let’s start from the beginning.
I went into this series knowing no more than that, so after having watched the opening (go check it out – don’t worry, I’ll wait), I primarily had two thoughts: “Holy hell this music is awesome” and “what the fuck did I just watch?”. To describe it as trippy would be an understatement, and while the show itself is nowhere near as much of a mindfuck (in fact, the imagery will start to make sense after you watch some episodes and get the context), ONE’s personal blend of wierdness permeates the entire series, perhaps even more than in OPM.
So, what is Mob Psycho 100 actually about? The series centers around a little kid in middle school called Shigeo Kageyama, usually referred to as Mob (which apparently means “background character” in Japanese, since he’s pretty unremarkable on the surface). Mob has the usual problems of kids his age. He tries to do as well in school as his perfect honor student brother, he wants to be popular, there’s a girl he’s trying to muster the courage to talk to and he regularly fights powerful ghosts and psychics. …wait.
Yes, Mob is not quite as unremarkable as he seems. For one, he bottles up his emotions in order to keep a tight leash on his powers so that he won’t hurt anyone. In some episodes, he gets pushed far enough to lose control of his emotions, which causes …something in him to take over and unleash his full power, with devastating results. After school, he works for a man named Arataka Reigen, putting his talents to good use by exorcising (read: destroying) evil spirits and getting paid a pittance for it. (300 Yen per day, or about three Dollars.) Mob deeply admires Reigen and considers him to be a vastly more powerful esper (i.e. psychic) than himself. However, it’s immediately obvious to everyone except him that his beloved teacher is actually a con-artist that has no supernatural powers whatsoever and can’t even see spirits. Since Reigen is a very charismatic man and most of his clients complaining about spirits have about as much of a ghost-problem as people in the real world that visit psychics, it usually works out fine. When it doesn’t, he asks Mob to take care of it, gives an excuse why he couldn’t take down the spirit himself and lets him defeat it effortlessly.
Don’t get me wrong, though: Reigen is probably the best character in the series, especially considering certain events in the last episodes. While he is being blatantly dishonest about his psychic abilities, he does actually relieve the problems that his clients have, whether the ghost supposedly causing them is real or imaginary. Furthermore, he genuinely cares about Mob, acting as his mentor and actually giving him good advice. The relationship between the two is equal parts funny and heartwarming and definitely one of the highlights of the series.
Speaking of highlights, it would be a crime not to mention how fluid and good-looking the animation is. Studio Bones has done marvellous work, which is all the more impressive considering what they had to work with. I mean, let’s not beat around the bush here: ONE is a fantastic writer, but he is an atrocious artist. Admittedly his Mob Psycho 100 manga looks better than his One Punch Man manga, but Jesus Christ, look at this:
The anime essentially gives us the best of both worlds by retaining the unique style that characterizes the series, but without the artistic shortcomings. If Touhou will ever be made into an anime (no, fan projects don’t count), this is the way it should be done.
The music is well-done, although it gets overshadowed by the incredibly memorable opening theme. The other characters in the series are also great and quite entertaining – special mention goes to Mob’s brother and the wonderfully written relationship between them. In the initial episodes he only acts in one way: Kind, understanding and always willing to offer help and support to Mob. Without giving away much more, later events show that he is nowhere near as one-note as he acts and let you see those previous scenes in an entirely different light.
Alright, now that we have all of that out of the way, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
In a lot of ways, this series is very similar to One Punch Man – and I’m not just talking about the fact that Mob is a growth spurt and a shave away from being Saitama. Borderline invincible main character who is a bit emotionally blunted and has problems that his overwhelming power can’t help him overcome? Check. Incredibly skilled character who sees Mob as a rival and gets utterly humiliated? Check. Show begins with a few “monster of the week”-episodes until an overarching plot about a shady (and, in the case of Mob Psycho 100, evil) organization full of people with superhuman abilities kicks in? Check. Hell, there even is a group of evil espers that tried to take over the world in OPM!
Now, don’t misunderstand me here. For one, it’s not like the series is in any way uncreative and these similarities aren’t bad. Considering both have the same author, they were bound to have some things in common. Even more importantly than that though is the fact that Mob Psycho 100 isn’t a rehash of One Punch Man with espers but very much has it’s own identity, characters and themes. Plus, while it is primarily a comedic series, it has a little bit more drama than it’s counterpart, which is helped by the fact that Mob is not invincible. He has incredible power at his disposal, but he can die like any other person if he messes up and even his super mode (if you can even call it that) comes with it’s own set of consequences. I should mention while I’m on the topic how refreshing it is that Mob Psycho 100 didn’t go the Bleach route by turning the main characters hidden “evil” side into something he has to tap into to finish every fight or even worse, a Get Out Of Jail Free card (the Ulquiorra-fight says hello).
At last, we get to the age-old question: Is this show worth my time? If you think my answer is going to be anything other than an incredibly enthusiastic YES, then you haven’t been paying attention. I enjoyed Mob Psycho 100 as much as, if not more so than One Punch Man and recommend it to anyone and everyone who likes anime (hell, even to people who don’t).
Seriously, why are you still here? Watch it.
-The animation is simply spectacular.
-Characters are endearing, interesting and have distinct personalities.
-The story is wrapped up nicely and has a great ending while leaving the door open for future seasons.
-Has both comedic and serious moments and does both equally well.
-Outside of the opening, the music isn’t too memorable.