Welcome back! This is my first official entry on my 2018/19 Year of Anime lineup and what a way to kick it off with a bang. I’m so pleased that I finally got the chance to sit down and watch Mob Psycho 100 and can now talk about it! Practice makes perfect, so I hope that this review helps my writing a bit. Without further ado, onto the review!
Mob Psycho 100 was originally a webcomic created by ONE, the same author behind the acclaimed One Punch Man. The story follows Kageyama Shigeo aka ‘Mob’ and his attempts to suppress his psychic powers by living as normally as possible. Unfortunately, problems seem to find Mob on their own, and his high school life becomes the least of his worries. In only 12 episodes, the show manages to make Mob’s journey believable and even teaches a lesson at the end. The show reminded me of Akira, but Mob’s personality is so opposite to Tetsuo’s that it makes me wonder if this was almost making fun of the iconic 80’s opus on psychic powers.
Characters and Dynamics
Our protagonist, Mob, is a bit too no-nonsense for his own good, and has such an admirable moral code that he rarely uses his psychic powers. His blank expression and bland character design make him stand out amid all the wacky antics happening around him. Overall, I couldn’t find much to praise or criticize about Mob because he was simply what the show needed him to be. He’s the perfect way to experience Mob Psycho because he does not let his emotions get out of control and gives everyone a fair chance to see the world of the show on their own. When Mob’s emotions do get out of control, it is always motivated by his moral code, and I found that this defined his character really well.
Mob Psycho’s sibling dynamic between Mob and Ritsu was something I didn’t expect to be so important to the show. Each complemented the other: Ritsu was aggressive and popular, Mob was passive and outcast. I found it really interesting to see how the brothers envied each other and supported their differences. Ritsu became a really compelling character in his weaknesses, and seeing him grow along with Mob was extremely satisfying!
Reigen was the surprise success of the show. We meet Reigen in Episode 1 as a fraud psychic, ‘exorcising’ spirits for his clients. He meets and hires Mob as an exorcist assistant, when he is really just using Mob to back his con artist work. I loved the way that Reigen used his resources to come out on top even when he was severely outmatched. His idiotic business approach actually ended up helping him in a lot of situations, and this also helps him to pair well with Mob on their adventures. His character takes some getting used to, but believe me when I say that it really pays off by the end.
Characters in Mob Psycho were generally a really great blend of over the top and subtle, with their personas gradually shedding over time to reveal their true selves. Even the minor characters would start off as laughable stereotypes and gradually become more well-rounded. Interestingly, Mob is the only character who is the reverse of this, since he starts out as his stable self and slowly unleashes his powers over the course of the show. Despite all of these observations, character was not even the main draw of Mob Psycho!
One thing I need to say right off the bat about Mob Psycho’s animation is how difficult it is to take screencaps and how difficult it is in general to try and talk about all the explosive movement in this show without just showing gifs and/or entire sequences. The animation style is so kinetic- that is, it has a lot of movement and things never sit still. RIP my fingers and screen capture action keys while I tried to write this review…
There are 2 parts to Mob Psycho’s animation: there is the more static and simple animation used for Mob’s everyday life and the mundane parts of the show, and then there is the sakuga, the extremely detailed and fluid animation used for the psychic battle sequences. What I love about this contrast in animation is how it shows just how powerful Mob is. If the animation was more consistent and was of high quality for most of the episode, Mob’s powers would not stand out as much. However, with the really simple style added into the mix, the sudden outbursts of movement and colour make Mob’s abilities stand out and mark him as extremely powerful. Almost everyone talking about Mob Psycho mentions sakuga at some point, mostly because of how good of an example this show is of that technique. I would like to add onto this conversation and say that the sakuga also helps to understand Mob’s relationship to his environment, and that his emotions are literally linked to how the show looks. Mob’s emotions are also tracked in another interesting way: through counting!
Mob Psycho is obsessed with numbers. As the title suggests, Mob’s abilities peak at 100% and once he reaches this number his emotions are let loose and he can unleash his full power. Episodes will cut to the percentage slowly rising from 0 to 100, tracking Mob’s progression to his inevitable blow up. The opening song also features a background counter from 1 to 100. Everything about numbers in Mob Psycho is climactic, and approaching 100% is something dangerous, yet vital for Mob to understand his abilities and his emotions. He literally goes from 0 to 100 through his psychic powers, the very thing that he wished to suppress.
I really love it when shows will use animation to illustrate points that are found in their plot (Kill la Kill is another excellent example of putting the image into every facet of the show, like it does with clothing) because it makes the viewing that much more meaningful. It’s a great thing when a show can justify itself in ways other than the plot. For Mob Psycho, the constant attention to numbers means tracking Mob emotionally as well as physically. It keeps him in check and evaluates his progress. Ultimately, it’s Mob’s journey to fully realizing himself at 100%. On a more meta level, numbers also help the show to keep track of itself much like Mob’s character. Perhaps I’m reading way too much into this, but I really latched onto this idea while watching the show and it fascinates me so much. I may consider writing more about this in the future!
Mob Psycho 100 is a wild ride through psychic powers, family, and good intentions that really gets its points across over such a short run time. I was drawn into the world that the show created and loved how its technical aspects fed into its narrative.
While the show could have done a little better juggling its characters, I do believe that Mob Psycho displayed an amazing array of responses to psychic powers, all centred around Mob’s neutral feelings and exploding out from there. As a result, I feel like Mob Psycho had an incredible amount of focus and stripped a lot of unnecessary filler that would have weighed down its simple concept. If you haven’t given Mob Psycho a watch, I highly recommend you do! It entertains, but it also gives you a little more to chew on, which I always love in anime. And if you haven’t seen Akira or One Punch Man, I highly recommend that you seek those out to get a bit more into what Mob Psycho offers!