Friday, June 8, 2018

Why I Love Mob Psycho 100 – And You Might, Too


Mob Psycho 100, Bones 2016

"They came out at your request. These are my emotions."1

He has powers beyond his control, powers no one else can understand. He's one of the world's few espers, able to bend reality using his psychic abilities. But he doesn't care about that. All he wants is to earn the affections of his childhood crush... and try to keep his powers—and his emotions—under control.

Because when he doesn't, people get hurt.

Adapted from the manga by artist and writer ONE, Mob Pyscho 100 follows middle-schooler Shigeo Kageyama, AKA Mob. He's the world's least-assuming, least-ambitious kid. Mob doesn't care about grades. He's terrible at sports. He doesn't even care about the only thing that sets him apart: his incredibly powerful psychic abilities.

Mob Psycho 100, Bones 2016
They're really more of a burden than anything, after all. As Mob himself points out, psychic powers aren't like food and water; you don't need them to survive. They can't help you win love. They can't even help you with math homework.2

Ultimately, Mob sees his incredible abilities as something that separates him from everyone, especially the people he'd like to be closer to. No one in his family seems to understand his abilities. His childhood crush isn't impressed by floating objects.

The only useful thing he can do with his powers is help his employer, Reigen, an outrageous con-artist who survives off luck and relies on Mob's abilities to fuel his dream of running an exorcism business.

I love Mob Psycho 100. And if you like incredible powers, laugh-out-loud humor, and flashy fight scenes all used to tell a meaningful story, you might too.

Mob Psycho 100, Bones 2016

Genre: Shounen/Coming-of-Age, Paranormal, Action, Comedy
Year Released: 2016
Studio: Bones
Licensed By: Funimation
Director: Yuzuru Tachikawa
Episodes: 12 and 1 OVA

What You Might NOT Like About... the Visuals

Mob from Mob Psycho 100's first volume cover
published by 
Dark Horse Comics
Fair warning: Mob Psycho 100 is highly stylized to fit ONE's simplified artwork. Mob is defined by his blank-looking face. Mob's love interest, Tsubomi, has almost obnoxiously exaggerated features. And most other characters are downright hideous. In short, you're not gonna find any lookers here.

However, this is all intentional. Mob Psycho 100 is a bit of an anime parody, tweaking the nose of anime tropes. Unlike most anime that utilize highly attractive and idealized character designs, Mob Psycho's character portrayals are a bit more realistic—ironic for a show about psychic users pitting their skills against each other. Like an artist's brutally honest self-portrait, everyone is presented bluntly. This "warts and all" approach may turn some viewers off, however.

The simplistic art style does get more detailed and impressive during the hectic fight scenes. This is when the animation doesn't hold back, firing up the screen with crazy flashes of color and impactful animation that highlights the power of each hit. One thing's for sure: fights are never boring in Mob Psycho 100.

What You Might Like About... the Writing

You know what else never gets boring? The show's sense of humor. Irony abounds here, as many of the jokes play off Mob's general social cluelessness. This allows for some great situations of dramatic irony, such as every time Mob's con artist employer Reigen nearly gives away his lack of psychic powers.

Even better, the jokes never make fun of Mob. For a show this humorous, it takes its protagonist quite seriously. Characters who put Mob down are regularly shown to be in the wrong. Mob Psycho may not take itself too seriously, but it certainly doesn't do so at Mob's expense. This enables the viewer to not only feel for Mob but also to relate to him if they've ever struggled with bullying, not fitting in, or just generally not understanding others.

Because surprisingly, this show is not just for kicks and giggles. While humor permeates the show to the very last episode, Mob Psycho 100 also has its emotionally stirring arcs and some truly profound life lessons covering topics such as social anxiety, the highs (and lows) of having an innate talent, healthily dealing with emotions, and much more. And the show perfectly paces out this transition from a comedic slice-of-life to something particularly meaningful.

The Characters

This show succeeds both in its ridiculous humor and in its serious notes. And no two characters display this better than Reigen and Mob.

Reigen


Mob Psycho 100, Bones 2016

Reigen is this show's Captain Jack Sparrow. He's so hilariously over-the-top that you can't help but fall in love with him. He's got the charm of a devilish rogue while not always getting his way, and he can talk his way out of almost any crazy situation he gets himself into. He's a terrible person while actually being a pretty great guy. While his business couldn't function without Mob, it's also clear he cares about the kid, as he goes out of his way to protect Mob, even putting his life on the line to do so. He's a barrel of contradictions that somehow perfectly remains one cohesive character.

Mob


Mob Psycho 100, Bones 2016;
photo from Crunchyroll
Contrasting with Reigen's over-the-top nature, Mob is quite subdued. He seems like an unnaturally straight-faced and slightly socially awkward kid, but he has a vulnerability that makes him incredibly endearing.

For instance, one of Mob's defining characteristics is his frequent deadpan expression and his frequent lack of strong emotional responses. He'll get embarrassed or flustered, but he's usually neither extremely happy or sad or angry.

But this is purposeful: Mob is afraid of his emotions.

His psychic abilities are strong as it is, but they only reach full power when he's overcome with emotion. In this 100% state, Mob struggles to control himself, becoming almost monster-like with his unparalleled power. This means that any emotional outburst could be potentially devastating to everyone around him. Couple this with Mob's intense concern for others and his steel-hard morals (refusing to use his psychic abilities to hurt others), and it's easy to see how he began to bottle up his emotions. But Mob learns the hard way that this is not a healthy way for anyone to deal with their emotions, least of all him.

And that's just one of the many serious topics Mob deals with. Told you this show wasn't just for kicks and giggles.

The Conclusion

Mob Psycho 100 is a hilarious anime with a ton of heart. It perfectly balances humor with real life lessons and never mocks its characters or over-simplifies real-world problems. My only complaint was the hole in my heart this show left once I finished its 12 episodes.

So if you're on the hunt for shows about powerful espers, you can find the subtitled version of Mob Psycho at Crunchyroll. And if you decide you need more, good news! Season 2 is currently in production.3 There may not be a release date yet, but you can be sure this fan will keep you posted!

In the meantime, enjoy your romp in the wild world of Mob Psycho 100.

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Notes and References:
  1. Shigeo "Mob" Kageyama, Mob Psycho 100, “An Invite to a Meeting ~Simply Put, I Just Want to Be Popular~,” Episode 3, Directed by Katsuya Shigehara, Written by Hiroshi Seko, July 26, 2016, Funimation.
  2. Mob, Mob Psycho 100, “Idiots Only Event ~Kin~,” Season 1, Episode 4, Directed by Tomoaki Ōta, Written by Hiroshi Seko, August 2, 2016, Funimation.
  3. Joseph Luster, “'Mob Psycho 100' Anime Lines Up Season 2 With Same Staff,” Crunchyroll (blog), March 18, 2018, accessed June 6, 2018.
All photos property of their respective owners and used under US "Fair Use" laws. Unless otherwise specified, all are from VRV.

Mob Psycho 100 and all related names and terms are the property of Funimation.

Review format adapted from Curtis Bell's Iridium Eye. If you're bored of the usual flicks on Redbox or Netflix, check out Iridium Eye for a medley of movies and shows I can guarantee you've never heard of.

From Him, To Him

27 comments:

  1. I've seen the name of this series multiple times around the net, but I didn't know what it was about. It's ccol how the series plays with psychic tropes. I'm seeing a trend in your anime posts that you seem to be a fan of Studio Bones.

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    1. Haha, I guess so! I don't even look at the animation studio until I decide I'm going to review a series, honestly. Because I don't study animation, I judge a show based on its story, not the animation. I think it's funny though how Bones keeps showing up on my list of favorite shows!

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    2. Maybe. Hahaha! That's fair. Bones does have a good track record from a visual animation perspective and they've made some anime that I like, but I do feel like they can pander to otaku way too much and that's not getting into them being a go-to reference for Sakuga culture. I do think it's interesting how Bones shows up more often than not.

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    3. Sakuga culture is a sect of the anime fandom where you have people caring only about high quality animation above anything else. Usually studios such as Madhouse, Bones, Kyoto Animation, Production I. G., and some of the newer studios I'm not familiar with are a part of it. I first heard of that term sometime last year when I started following some anibloggers after some of them saw my reviews. One of them did an article had a post critiquing it, and I agreed so much. Animation is important for anime (obviously), but it's not everything or the only thing that matters.

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    4. Ahh, that explains why I'd never heard that term before. Could I perhaps be anti-Sakuga since I don't really care about the animation quality? :P

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    5. I guess so! Hahaha! Now, I do like high-quality animation when there's a good story and characters involved. One thing I've also noticed is the selective attention when it comes to "Sakuga bait". You have all these fancy looking anime series and movies, but I'm surprised some don't get mentioned. For example (all of them are from a pure visual production quality standpoint): Texhnolyze never gets mentioned and MADHOUSE animated that series. Gankutsuou rarely gets mentioned and the animation style was incredibly original and had a movie-budget despite being a TV show. Heck, Jungle Emperor Leo (1997) blew me away with the animation quality and it looks better than most Disney or Dreamworks animated films (especially the Blu-Ray remaster which is just jaw-dropping).

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    6. I've actually seen some Youtube anime reviewers mention Texhnolyze, though I struggle to remember if it was Otaku Gonzo Journalism, Super Eyepatch Wolf, or someone else. So at least it's getting some attention!

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    7. That is really surprising to me. Rarely anyone talks about Texhnolyze let alone anything Yoshitoshi ABe has been involved in with the exception of maybe Serial Experiments Lain. Good on whoever for talking about it. That is a very underrated anime that mixes so many genres brilliantly despite the dark story.

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    8. My guess would be it was Otaku Gonzo, since he seems to be a big Yoshitoshi Abe fan! He's talked about Lain in at least two of his videos that I can think of.

      Always nice to see underrated anime get noticed too!

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    9. Interesting. Lain is ABe-sensei's most famous work, so that kind of makes sense. Funny enough, I read a post from an aniblogger I follow on Wordpress where he had memes talking about different anime fans. One involved the "pretentious artsy anime fan" which has a collage of pictures from Monster, the original Ghost in the Shell movie, Angel's Egg, the original Legend of the Galactic Heroes, and THREE ABe works (Lain, Texhnolyze, and Haibane Renmei) while mentioning quotes like "shonen is trash" or "why are you watching stupid cartoons?". I will admit that it was funny even though I like most of the anime referenced in that meme.

      Sure thing. I'm glad Texhnolyze is getting some love. ABe is one of the most criminally underrated anime auteurs who's work is so artistic and cerebral.

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    10. Just because you like something doesn't mean you have the same attitudes or beliefs as others who like the same thing. ;) That's a pretty funny meme though. I have yet to bump into people like that, fortunately. Almost all the anime fans I've met are actually really accepting and generally just excited to meet someone else who likes anime!

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    11. I know that. Even though I'm more geared towards the artsier anime series and movies, I do my best to not come off as pretentious as much as I worry about it. I've never met anyone like that online or in real life. However, I do get lost whenever people talk about a ton of the anime that came out this decade. It's like "why haven't you seen One Punch Man?", "You haven't seen My Hero Academia?", "What's up with you not seeing Madoka?". I do get overwhelmed with that stuff as I have no time getting into so many of the newer anime.

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    12. Sorry, didn't mean to imply you didn't! I know you're well aware that it's okay for different people to like different things. I was saying that for the benefit of others who are less willing to allow other people to have differing opinions.

      I'm sure nobody means to put you down when they mention the new stuff. If anybody's got zero time for anime, it's you! It's probably just surprising for people since they know you enjoy anime, so they likely assume you're on top of all the popular shows, naturally.

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    13. I never felt that way about your last comment. Even when I disagree with anyone about what they like, I do have to tell myself it's okay. Trust me, after people have bashed what I've liked, I've wanted to do the same to them and others, so I've held back on that.

      I sure hope so, too. I wish these people have sympathy for my situation like with my jobs and just moving. After coming back from an anime hiatus, it's really hard to follow all the newer series. I've told anibloggers that I don't review things seasonally or if things just come out. I just hope most of them don't feel intimidated by me reviewing the more obscure stuff or even older series.

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    14. I think most of the company you keep among anibloggers would be excited to learn about older or more obscure series (or even see some they love that don't get enough attention, as I know has happened to you already). And for those few who DO feel intimidated, I guess that's just their problem. ;)

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    15. You think so? Sometimes, I'm not sure. I do admit that I geeked out when someone talked about discovering Yugo the Negotiator or when one follower watched Shinesman for the first time and personally thanked me on an article about it. There was even a Top 5 list of anime bookworms and I immediately typed in Yomiko from Read Or Die in the comment section. I was happy someone else mentioned her in that same comment thread. I do hope some anibloggers check out my archived reviews and discover some hidden gems.

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    16. I know I certainly will! I think I saw Haibane Renmei is on VRV, so I think I might check that one out as my next anime to watch! I'm super excited that you're into the classic anime, because otherwise I wouldn't really know where to start, since my other anime friends are following all the recent stuff.

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  2. Awesome! I've been hearing about VRV, but apparently some people have been checking it out to watch anime. Please check out Haibane Renmei. It's one of the most artistic anime series out there and the characterization is amazing (especially the Reki/Rakka friendship aspect in my opinion). Okay, I'm not ONLY into classic anime since most of the stuff I like is from the 90s and 00s. It takes effort for me to watch anything older than that or with the modern series. To be honest, it's tough having conversations with anime fans who only know about the series and movies that came out this decade. I get happy whenever I find people who know about older series. Interestingly enough, Irina and I began communicating after I saw her Haibane Renmei review.

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    1. I couldn't remember if it was Haibane Renmei that brought the two of you together. So cool! I can't wait to check it out for myself. :)

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    2. It was that series, alright. I was glad someone else appreciated that brilliant anime series despite the lack of popularity or flashiness to it. Let me know when you get to watch it. Haibane Renmei is certainly one of the few anime series where I can literally think of nothing that's like it and it shows how artistic anime (let alone animation) can be.

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    3. I just finished watching the first episode on VRV yesterday. It certainly captured my imagination just in that first ep alone! I'm looking forward to continuing it!

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    4. HOORAY! The first episode was a good start. The next few episodes have more of a slice-of-life vibe, but they work well with establishing the characters and especially the world-building. Then comes the halfway point where things get dramatic...

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    5. I keep waiting for something terrible to go down and for my feels to be crushed. I have a feeling I'm seeing some signs that not all's right in paradise already after episode 2...

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    6. Hahahaha! There's still going to be some peace for a few more episodes, and then it will hit you in the feels.

      Three words: Day of Flight.

      I will not provide context to those words. It's not going to be what you think, but it will be the first thing to hit you in the feels.

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    7. Uh ohhhh! I MUST PREPARE MY FEELS.

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  3. Oh yes! Trust me, you have been warned once you get halfway through the series.

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