Mob Psycho 100 – Review
Mob Psycho 100 was awarded as a Runner-Up for Best of Summer 2016 in our Anime Awards.
Mob Psycho 100:
Original Air Dates: July 11, 2016 to September 26th, 2016
Synopsis: Kageyama Shigeo, also known as “Mob” is a young man who finds it difficult to express himself. He also happens to be a powerful esper. Keeping a low profile, and to keep his ESP powers in check, Mob joins up with one Reigen, a supposed local psychic and shaman to utilize his powers and train them so he can better control them.
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: The first thing any audience will first gravitate towards with an anime is its art. Mob Psycho 100 offers an art style that differs greatly from the more common artistic choices of most seasonal anime. It’s art is more rounded, less commonly stylistic and could even be accused of a more ‘amateur’ look. Whether you appreciate this particular style or not, Mob Psycho 100 makes up for it/bolsters it with such fluid animation you can’t help but be impressed during the series’ more dramatic and epic fight scenes. In fact, by episode twelve you’ll have become so accustomed to the sheer quality and fluidity of the art that it’s that much more jarring when the series ends on a gag skit with animation and art far less impressive than what they’ve otherwise delivered upon.
Linny: Mob Psycho 100 definitely grabs your attention from the very start with its sheer uniqueness and in-your-face colour palette. If you’re someone who strongly prefers traditional animation or is more accustomed to it, Mob’s rather unique style may almost come off as jarring and even ugly. However, it also helps the show establish a unique vibe and appeal to those who like to watch experimental art and animation styles. Even for those who start off neutral or disliking the art, there’s no denying that after a few episodes, the OP and its catchy theme song will leave a pleasant impact on you and have you tapping along to the music.
Tom: Shigeo, or Mob as Reigen refers to him, is only truly introduced as the character he is several episodes into the series run, making it a pity the complexity of his persona doesn’t come across in the first episode. While the first episode portrays Mob as exceedingly bland and apathetic, he’s much more than that. He’s a young man struggling with his own inner demons, turmoil, and questions about life. While the series as a whole is perhaps not as genius as some might like you to believe, it does do some wonderful genre and character analysis through Shigeo himself, providing subtextual commentary on the troubles Shonen, as a genre, suffers from. It makes Mob more than just an interesting character, but an outright critique on the tropes and traps of shonen itself. But none of that comes across in Episode one, which I feel does a poor job of selling the series for everything it really is.
Linny: Mob Psycho 100 definitely has one of the more misleading and disappointing premiere episodes that fails to give viewers a true sample of how much the show and story actually has in store. Sitting through the first episode, most viewers might walk away thinking the show is going to consist of a lot of slapstick humour as Reigen the con artist, over acts out the wazoo while taking advantage of idiotic clients and bland Mob. It’s a rather misleading introduction, which may have been done on purpose to give Reigen a surprising or impressive 180 character development. However, the show lays on the hamminess with Reigen so strongly in episode 1 that viewers might be tempted to drop the show because of it. For those who decide to persevere, or enjoy Reigen’s initial impression, know that he comes to play a much more heartwarming and important role as the show continues. In a similar vein, the story has several other characters who turn out to be the direct opposite of what you’d assume based on their appearances and shonen/anime cliches. For example, the Muscle Club at Mob’s school might turn out to be one of the most lovable muscle clubs one has ever encountered, one that will make you want to be a member even if you hate exercising with a passion. These subversion of expectations give Mob Psycho not only the element of surprise but also unexpected layers of depth and sweetness.
Tom: Reigen really does grow on you, especially after the series eases up on the one note and overplayed “con-artist” gag, which even gradually becomes funny again when it’s revisited sparingly towards the back half of the season. In fact, Reigen’s ideals are worked so well into the anime’s finale that it helped me to grow to appreciate him much more as a character, even if I believe his initial introduction was a huge misstep. The only other characters we spend any significant amount of time with are Dimple, a once villain turned ‘good guy’ spirit, Shigeo’s brother, Ritsu, and Teruki, another villain turned goodie. In fact, all three of the characters go through the same sort of path to redemption, although they each start in different places and their catalysts for change vary enough that they don’t feel like carbon copies of one another. Ritsu though, easily gets the most development as we really explore the journey of his psyche from having lived in his brother’s ‘shadow’ as it were. Additional cast members pop in and out of the series frequently, and while many return for one final appearance in the finale, many have very little bearing on the series final arc as a whole, making them feel disconnected from the events as a whole.
Linny: The show does seem to struggle in balancing and introducing its cast efficiently. Some of its cast seem to have been introduced into the show without ever playing any important role in the story making you question if they were ever necessary to begin with, while others seem important yet disappear and reappear randomly. It might be frustrating for viewers who get really attached to a certain character only to find they have a very small part. At the same time, these sudden insertions and unpredictable nature of the cast and their importance in the story might engage and amuse viewers who like their entertainment more unpredictable.
Tom: Mob Psycho’s humor was dangerously one note early on, but it gradually improves, offering humor that’s more varied, but sometimes still lingers on jokes that are less amusing than the series’ assumes, often running them into the ground or at least letting them carry on a tad too long. If you manage to become engaged in Mob’s more epic story, however, it’s humor eventually exist as more of a minor annoyance.
Linny: As mentioned earlier, Mob Psycho starts off feeling one note as the first episode is relentless about what a huge conman Reigen is. It definitely takes a couple of episodes for Mob Psycho to hit its stride and unravel itself to reveal exactly what kind of story and message it wants to tell. While the promotional material and the first episode did make it feel like almost all the focus would be on Mob, the truth is that it’s actually also about the growth and experiences of other characters. Indeed, it’s after the introduction and implementation of characters like Ritsu and Teruki that the show starts to become truly engaging and entertaining. So if you weren’t impressed by the initial episode, Mob Psycho is definitely one of those shows that deserve a couple of episodes before you can dismiss it.
Tom: Mob Psycho is still at its best when it’s focusing on story, world building and epic battles rather than its comedy. It’s the subversion of expectations that are often its biggest highlights, and while the final episode might perhaps prove all the more divisive for how it chooses to subvert the classic finale battle tropes, it generally is where the series shines through the most. It’s focus on the more mundane day to day of Mob’s life is where it remains at its weakest with comedy that’s so subdued/tame it feels pointless, as for example the last minute skit the series chooses to go out on.
Linny: When talking about inconsequential or disappointing characters, Ichi Mezato, a member of the Newspaper Club in Mob’s school, comes to mind. She is introduced early in the show, in the third episode and her depiction makes it feel like she might have quite a bit to add to Mob’s story. However, she all but disappears for most of the show, having a minute long cameo in the final episode as if to remind us that she still exists. Maybe she plays a bigger role in the manga and has been integrated into the show in preparation for another season where she might have her true potential and role revealed. For now, she remains one of the best examples of a character that the show forgot and then jammed in for appearance’ sake. Otherwise, for the characters it does successfully keep in the spotlight, the show does a great job of plotting out their transformations and developments and maybe that’s why it feels more frustrating when it fails other characters.
Tom: One of the perhaps more debatable criticism is how Shigeo, much like Saitama from One’s other work, One Punch man, is overpowered. Shigeo often sits as a level far and above any of his opponents, making this the second of One’s works to delve into this particular style of protagonist. And while One does find plenty of ways to work creatively around an overpowered main character, he doesn’t always manage to shake the feeling that there’s no real danger to Mob or his companions. As all they need to do is let lose and they’ve won the battle. The series kind of even damages its own final episode as it allows a lesser character to take center stage and bring the conflict to a close. In fact, that outcome leads to another issue and that’s that Mob Psycho ends in what feels like the middle of a much longer arc. Shigeo and the rest have defeated but a small component of a much larger problem, and it feels like the series just sort of sputters out an ending in the middle of all that. While the characters themselves wrap up nicely, the larger narrative is left hanging. As a final criticism, while the Countdown Clock to Mob’s eventual explosions initially felt intriguing and unique, it gradually loses its novelty, eventually adds little to the proceedings outside of the necessity to keep this particular quirk going or else face criticism for dropping it.
Linny: Most casual viewers will be picking up Mob Psycho 100 based on their familiarity or fondness of the creator’s other big hit series, One Punch Man. With that in mind, comparisons between the two are unavoidable from both a critical and a casual angle. There’s that distinctive mix of over the top comedy and action, an oblivious protagonist and characters that turn out to be surprisingly braver and kinder that you’d assume at first glance. While the shows are in no ways carbon copies of each other, there’s enough of a feeling of familiarity to brand them as creations of the same person and should in some ways, ensure that fans of one show should warm up to the other as well. That said, Mob Psycho might throw people off with its art style and its much younger and reluctant hero. If you’re picking this up solely in search of another One Punch Man, you’ll probably going to be disappointed. The best approach to trying Mob Psycho 100 is to acknowledge it as its own separate entity that might take more than an episode to win you over with its particular brand of comedy and action. At the very least, you’ll walk away taking note of how experimental and fluid the animation is.
Tom: Mob Psycho 100 shows some of the same trappings as One’s other work, One Punch Man. It perhaps signifies that One, in his effort to subvert Shonen Tropes in general, perhaps suffers from his own. While he’s managed to wriggle his way around within his own set of tropes, producing enough subterfuge to keep things mostly fresh, it feels as if he’s set a challenge for himself that’ll only seek to gradually constrict his creativity. But for those who don’t care of discussing the author’s quirks, One has delivered yet another solid shonen on his hands that manages to criticize the genre while keeping things fresh and fun, for the most part.
Mob Psycho 100 is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com.