Mob Psycho 100 Review: a cynical look at human capability

The animation of Mob Psycho 100 is far from traditional but matches the show's tone and style accurately.
The animation of Mob Psycho 100 is far from traditional but matches the show’s tone and style accurately. (Google)

By JENSEN LIM LEONG
Staff Writer

Mob Psycho 100 is an anime produced by Studio Bones (Fullmetal Alchemist and Noragami) and written by manga artist ONE (One Punch Man). Just like One Punch Man, Mob Psycho 100 was met with warm reception by both fans and critics. The series stands at about 80,000 reviews on MyAnimeList, which rates the series at 8.51/10.

The story of Mob Psycho 100 follows Mob, a child with immeasurable psychic powers, who will transform when his emotional cap reaches 100. He also tries to fit in at school while having a job after school helping exorcise spirits with his boss, Reigen. Reigen is a con artist who “exorcises” spirits for any client who is gullible enough. On the off chance there is a real spirit, Reigen calls in Mob to take care of any actual threat. They eventually come into contact with an organization that kidnaps and trains psychics. It is not until Mob’s younger brother, Ritsu, is kidnapped by this organization that Mob tries to save him.

The story, however, is not the main appeal of Mob Psycho 100. It is serviceable, but there is nothing truly unique about an introverted kid wishing to be popular in high school; countless anime use high school as a background for their narratives. Mob stands out as mostly a character-driven story as opposed to a plot-driven story, as its main grab is for the viewer to see the characters grow and develop.  The enemies the main character faces are not major obstacles for Mob because he is so overpowered, so it offers more time to watch these characters grow, showing an intentional emphasis on character development.

Certain characters have more interesting arcs than others. Midway through the season, the audience is introduced to Asahi, a gang leader. When Mob is forced to confront Asahi, it is immediately noticeable how much stronger Mob is. The fight is less about any action and more about the conflicting ideologies of the characters. Asahi uses his powerful psychic abilities to gain popularity and power, but Mob, who has so much power, is essentially a wallflower. That clashes with Asahi’s ideology because it makes no sense to him. When Mob is forced to his 100 percent emotional cap he easily defeats Asahi, and Asahi understands why Mob does not take a fearmongering approach with his powers. Taking the easy way would never allow for growth, which otherwise would be boring. Mob does an excellent job creating these characters that have great relatable arcs.

The antagonists in Mob tend to take the easier route through life. Most of the cults and gangs use fear tactics to gain popularity and power because it is easier than being nice. Even those who are not particularly evil still take the easy way out. In the second episode, Mob is confronted by a club who wants him to join their ranks so that they can keep their room. The club does absolutely nothing productive, so the room is to be given to the Body Improvement Club. The first club is filled with introverts that Mob would probably get along well with, but he is socially aware enough that he realizes most of the popular kids are athletic. In a hysterical turn of events, Mob decides to join the Body Improvement Club. The scene is a great way in satirizing the typical high school anime genre.    

Mob Psycho 100 is animated incredibly. ONE’s past work, One Punch Man, was redrawn and brilliantly animated by Studio Madhouse. Mob is animated from ONE’s original webcomic, and it works to the studio’s advantage. ONE’s drawing style is unrefined and lacks detail, but the simple emotions that the characters emote complement the humoristic tone of the show. The animators of the show add a great amount of motion to each frame to make the animation flow smoothly.

The overarching theme of Mob is self-improvement through hard work. Most narrative themes try to prove everyone is unique and special in their own way, but this anime takes a more cynical approach. The message by Mob Psycho 100 is that no one is particularly special, therefore, anyone can achieve what they want to through hard work – a perfect theme for a distinctly unique show.  

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