Alternative Names: モブサイコ100
Art Director: Ryou Kouno
Length: 12 Episodes
Every once in a while, we have that one series that slips under our radar for superficial reasons. Perhaps the art looks like something you wouldn’t vibe with. Or maybe it just sounds like something you’ve seen done before. Whatever the reason, you cast it aside to the ever-growing graveyard of ‘maybe if I’m bored enough,’ knowing full well that day may never come. For me, Mob Psycho 100 had fallen prey to that category. If it wasn’t for a recommendation from a close friend, I probably would have never given Mob Psycho 100 the time of day. When I finally got around to giving it a chance, I was blown away. What I had originally dismissed to be a One Punch Man knock-off turned out to be one of the most brilliantly innovative shows I’ve seen in quite a while. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that Mob Psycho 100 transcends the Shounen genre its often prescribed to. It is a show that avoids the pitfalls and tropes that often cripple Shounen narratives with a strong, colorful cast of unpredictable characters that all act consistently according to their motives and beliefs. It didn’t take me long to realize that Mob Psycho 100 is the gem of 2016.
At first glance, we’ve heard the story of Mob Psycho 100 before. The protagonist, Shigeo Kageyama (who also goes by Mob), is an average middle schooler who just wants to live a comfortable middle school life. Except as it turns out, he’s actually not so normal. In fact, he’s a powerful Esper whose skills are unrivaled. Rather than showcasing his skills to gain leverage against his peers, he actively hides them in hopes to live a normal life. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it literally parallels the story of Saitama in One Punch Man. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone to know that they’re both made by the same creator, One. However, the similarities stop there.
After being introduced to Mob’s boss (and mentor), Reigen Arataka, it quickly becomes apparent that unlike Saitama, Mob is rather naïve to the world. You see, Reigen poses as a powerful psychic for his own company, but he actually can’t even see low level ghosts. Instead, he lures unsuspecting clients with his quick-tongue and bag of tricks to secure a job, only to have Mob finish the ghost extinguishing. Throughout the entire series, it’s unclear whether Mob knows his mentor is a phony, but it doesn’t matter anyway. Reigen isn’t a one-dimensional gag character. He actually shows a surprising amount of compassion for his pupil, attempting to guide him onto the right path (on his own terms). After the first episode, It doesn’t take long to realize that for all the comedic moments Mob Psycho 100 has, it’s surprisingly serious.
Every scene in Mob Psycho 100 is purposeful, falling under a strong overarching narrative that propels the plot forward. When a character’s ideals or beliefs come into question, it means something in the grand scheme of things. There are no coincidences. The characters constantly re-evaluate and reshape themselves, shifting the narrative in clever and often unforeseen ways. When Mob meets the evil spirit Dimple and vanquishes him, I would’ve never guessed he would come back as a likable character. But he does and it’s in a way that’s consistent with the character’s beliefs. As time goes on, we see Dimple reassess his values and, to our surprise, show a compassionate side for Mob. The best part is Dimple is only one of the many characters that shows an immense amount of emotional growth. There’s so much more to the characters than they let on and that’s what makes the series so awesome.
There is never a dull moment in Mob Psycho 100. When a battle erupts, the tension is felt consistently from the pulsating music, to the raw, expressive lines used to render the scenes. The art alone is reason enough to watch this anime, if nothing else.
The quality of the animation should come to no surprise once you know that Studio Bones was behind it. They’re known for such titles such as Space Dandy, Cowboy Bebop, Boku no Hero Academia, Soul Eater, and Full Metal Alchemist. It should also be mentioned that the art director was Ryou Kouno, who has worked on Space Dandy and Kaiba (two very gorgeous series). Studio Bones did an outstanding job with the art, staying stylistically true to its Manga roots. There’s a certain pencil-like quality present that gives the artwork a life of its own. This especially stands out during fights, when the lines begin to merge with a vibrant color palette. The fights are utterly breathtaking.
It should also be mentioned that the OP and ED of Mob Psycho are awesome jams. The remix at the end of episode 12 was among one of my favorites of the year.
Whether you like beautiful animation, fun characters with over-the-top moments, or a story with a lot of substance, there’s something in Mob Psycho 100 for everyone. If you were like me and had dismissed Mob Psycho 100 as a cheap imitation of One Punch Man, do yourself a favor and just give the series a try. You might just find yourself with a new favorite.