Friday, June 14, 2019

Mob Psycho 100 - Full Season 2 Review


This post will contain spoilers for


Mob Psycho 100 Season 2



You have been warned.



Mob Psycho 100 season two was a crazy ride. It hit some bumps along the way, but there were also plenty of thrilling turns to enjoy.

The Tone Gets Dark—Fast

Funimation 2018-2019
Episode one of season two may have been a good indicator of the themes the show would explore, but it certainly doesn’t prepare the audience for how dark things are about to get. In the very next episode, horrifying so-called “urban legends” become real due to the public’s growing fear of them. One monster brought to life this way nearly kills three people.

Though danger was never far away (especially with the evil esper cult Claw), Mob was always a show that reassured you that things would be okay in the end. Not so in season two, and I’m not sure I like that. As I mentioned in episode one’s review, I loved the mix of silly and only slightly intimidating that most of Mob’s enemies featured. This contributed to the feeling that everything would turn out okay in the end.

But in season two, they introduce a plethora of incredibly dark elements seemingly out of nowhere including stalkers, possessions, psychopathic serial killers, and much more. Introducing elements like this so abruptly feels like too drastic a shift for this series that was known for its comedy.

The worst offender, and the darkest arc by far, deals with a deceased esper named Mogami who secretly worked as a hitman to earn money for his sick mother’s medical bills. When she died despite the treatments, Mogami went completely insane, absorbing as many evil spirits as he could to become an exceptionally powerful evil spirit that possesses and kills people.

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Not only is Mogami’s story a breakneck shift in tone for Mob, but it spreads like a disease to affect Mob directly: after beating Mob in psychic combat, Mogami places Mob in an illusory world in which Mob undergoes six months of brutal bullying without his friends or family as his support base. This actually causes him to violate his code of only using his powers for defense, which is a massive shift in Mob’s character that felt completely wrong. “Mob wouldn’t do this; this isn’t Mob,” I kept thinking as I watched. It was the first time I’d felt the show had completely failed its characters. This dark tone was too far a departure for the character and the series as a whole.

A Pleasant Surprise

However, one benefit to season two being darker is that it wasn’t afraid to take Mob’s employer, Reigen, to his lowest point. I never would have guessed Reigen would undergo a character arc in this series, let alone predict where that arc would take him.

Reigen’s conning shenanigans, which we’ve become used to him getting away with for an entire season and a half, finally catch up to him. He and Mob have a falling-out when Mob finally stands up for himself and walks away from Reigen’s manipulative behavior. Initially, Reigen seems to bounce back and still manages to make a decent name for himself, peaking in popularity enough to even appear on television. What Reigen doesn’t realize is that it’s a trap set by one of his rivals. Reigen’s publicly exposed as a fraud on live TV. He becomes a laughingstock and a pariah, left without friends and even without Mob to support him.

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With nowhere left to turn, Reigen realizes what a jerk he’s been to Mob and how much healthier Mob has become, no thanks to the things Reigen had said and done. He and Mob make up, and although Reigen continues his exorcism business, he does nothing but support Mob from there on out.

Great Expectations

Season two contained dark elements and character arcs I wasn’t expecting. But did it have the elements I was anticipating? How well did I predict season two?

I was a little disappointed the organic cell control ability Mob uses in episode one never really returns, though one could argue it was this ability that created the giant broccoli on the site of Mob’s big clash with Toichiro, the leader of Claw.

I always wondered why there was so much broccoli imagery in the intros...

But what did unfold according to my hopes and predictions was season two featuring Reigen, Ritsu, and Teru. With Ritsu’s character arc completed in season one, he unsurprisingly plays less of a role in season two, but he’s still present throughout, from the little moments cheering on Mob to bigger moments like fighting evil espers later on.

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I’d been disappointed we hadn’t seen even more of Teru working alongside Mob in season one, and season two made up for it beyond my dreams. We got to see plenty of him beating bad guys with his quick-thinking, cool-headed skills. And we also got to see how much he continues to respect Mob. Teru is an absolute bro who is still humble enough to admit Mob is his superior—and friendly rival.

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Everyone supports Mob so much this season, and it’s so heartwarming to see. Mob’s family is no different, continuing to support him throughout season two. It’s wonderful to see this healthy family dynamic. As mentioned before, Ritsu always has Mob’s back. But Mob’s parents are also soundly in his corner this season. The episode where they emphatically cheer for him as he runs in the school marathon, noticing and being so proud of his personal (and physical) growth, was so incredibly heartwarming it may have been one of my favorite scenes from this season.

Funimation 2018-2019

I’ll admit, I’m somewhat disappointed Emi didn’t make a real reappearance in the show, though it does explain why her arc was started and completed in just one episode. Mob’s encounter with her certainly left a lasting positive impression on him, so I can’t complain.

I’m just glad this show didn’t become an “all the girls love Mob” show. Unlike what I’d thought, Mob’s classmate Mezato does not seem to have any romantic interest in Mob. The show does seem to imply Mob’s crush Tsubomi actually reciprocates Mob’s affections, but the arc is never concluded with any certainty.

(I still think he’s too good for her. Stay away from my son! Get a clue, Tsubomi!)

Funimation 2018-2019

Also allaying my fears, we did indeed get to see the budding espers from the Awakening Lab in season two. Not only do they make fairly regular appearances, they actually play a key part in fighting Claw by the end of the season, and you get to see that each of them have grown in their esper abilities. It was really neat to see their progression!

Funimation 2018-2019

Speaking of Claw, much like in season one, Claw again becomes the center of attention during the latter half of the season. And, as I’d hoped, their most psychotic member Koyama does indeed make a return—though I admit I was a little disappointed he had turned over a new leaf since the events of season one. While the redemption was nice, it did pretty much kill what made his character such an intimidating villain.

I just can't take him seriously in that hoodie...

Another character who received a redemption arc I wasn’t expecting was the son of Claw’s leader. Sho Suzuki reveals he’s been storing up power for months, ready to revolt against his father’s evil schemes to put a stop to him. He even recruits Ritsu, who fights off a particularly powerful esper to give Sho the chance he needs to get close to his father.

Funimation 2018-2019

Funimation 2018-2019
Toichiro Suzuki, leader of Claw, was every bit the megalomaniac I could have hoped he’d be. He steals the show as soon as he steps onto the stage. He sees himself as the top of the world, so when Mob arrives and Toichiro realizes he’s got competition, it shatters the man’s deadpan expression and morphs it into sadistic delight. Toichiro and Mob serve as excellent foils to flesh out the themes of season two... and Toichiro actually gives Mob more than a run for his money. It’s fascinating to see Mob genuinely struggle against an opponent.

Themes

I was delighted to see the show follow through with the hints at its themes. Mob has totally accepted his emotions, and this allows him to impact dozens of characters around him, both those from season one and many of those he encounters in season two. Mob has discovered that his life is his own,1 and it’s wonderful to see him growing emotionally, mentally, and physically.

The Body Improvement Club are the best boys. Ever.
Season two is all about Mob finally growing physically and emotionally to the level he was psychically all along. Though he doesn’t complete his school’s annual marathon, he does push himself beyond limits that would have otherwise held him back. He feels more confident while simultaneously being humbly willing to admit his limitations and seeing his need for further improvement.

Mob is finally able to stand up for himself in this season, seizing control of his life due to the growth he’s made by joining the Body Improvement Club. He’s able to say no to Reigen, take time off to enjoy being with the real friends he’s made, and use his growth to encourage others to make healthier choices.

Mob is finally choosing what he wants, like Emi taught him to do, and it’s beautiful to see. He’s finally seeing he is indeed the protagonist of his own story.2

Funimation 2018-2019

And just like with Emi, almost everyone Mob touches is impacted in a positive way through meeting him. The bitter and callous bully Minori becomes more sensitive and even apologizes for the horrible way she treated Mob. The Scars of Claw have reformed due to their experience with Mob and thanks to Reigen’s advice. Even major villains like the newly-introduced Mogami or Toichiro find themselves learning more about the good people are capable of because of Mob’s emotional honesty.

Reigen probably sums Mob’s growth up best in a poignant scene where he talks about how much he respects Mob:
“At first glance, Mob looks pretty unreliable, but his strength is undeniable... [his psychic powers are] just one of his qualities. What makes him truly great is his ability to tell people exactly how he feels. And that speaks to their heart far more than any niceties.”3 
As I mentioned in my post on episode one, the show does carry through on the theme of how important it is to not cast aside the past but instead use it as a foundation to build upon. Mob never would have been able to defeat Claw were it not for all the connections he’d made as a result of all the things he’d said and done in the past. In fact, it’s memories of the past that pull Toichiro away from the black abyss of destruction and make him realize he too can make positive changes in his life and the lives around him.

The past—and the connections we make along the way—are indeed the path to the future.

The Conclusion

Though the darker tone of season two does make it stand in uncomfortable contrast to season one, there were reasons the show tilted the way it did, and though it may not have been the change I wanted to see, almost every other major aspect that was promised in episode one was delivered throughout season two. It was a satisfying season and a great chapter of Mob’s incredible character growth. If the show were indeed to end here as I’ve heard rumors, I could definitely end with a smile; it’s been a great ride, and I’d certainly do it all over again.

---
Notes and References:
  1. Mob Psycho 100 opening, Season 2, Directed by Yuji Oya, 2019, Funimation.
  2. Shigeo "Mob," Mob Psycho 100, “Boss Fight ~The Final Light~,” Season 2, Episode 13, Directed by Yuji Oya, April 1, 2019, Funimation.
  3. Reigen Arataka, Mob Psycho 100, “The Battle for Social Rehabilitation ~Friendship~,” Season 2, Episode 12, Directed by Yuji Oya, March 25, 2019, Funimation.
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 property of Funimation, and I am not affiliated with them.

From Him, To Him

5 comments:

  1. Good job with the review. I didn't realize it got morbid at certain points of the series. The Scars of Claw? Oh, wow. HAHAHAHA! I'm going to let that obvious joke involving a villainous anime lion and his clone slide.

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    1. Haha! I should have known you'd notice that. I don't think they have any connection to said anime lion though. ;) Unless Kimba happens to have ESPers that I wasn't aware of...

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    2. Well, in the words of a diamond smuggler in Kimba, next time you need to be better prepared. X3.

      Kimba didn't have any ESPers and I certainly know Claw (the lion) had no powers besides being able to talk to humans if you count that.

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    3. Haha! You got me.

      HMMM... being able to communicate with another species? I dunno, maybe he DOES have ESP...! :P

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  2. YES! That is one of the funniest (or rather most hilarious in hindsight) lines in anime history for very obvious reasons. it would've been even funnier if Claw was the one who said it. :3

    I'm not sure about that. The animal characters learn to speak "human language" in an episode or two, but it didn't come off as ESP. Although it would be interesting if that were to happen should it be remade again.

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