How are your stress levels? Good? Then excellent, strap in as we explore the psychedelic world of Mob Psycho 100 on this week’s A.S.S.
If you’re the manga artist under the pseudonym One, I have to imagine you’re quite happy and content with what your two webcomic series (One-Punch Man, Mob Psycho 100) have become. They’re both gigantic hits in the manga world, with One-Punch Man being remade with art from the incomparable Yusuke Murata, and your other series Mob Psycho 100 being a huge seller and then both series having successful anime. While both series are viewed as “stylistically primitive” in terms of art direction in One’s hands, the OPM remake is astoundingly gorgeous on every page thanks to Murata, and Studio’s Madhouse and Bones have created two spectacular anime with each property; but art isn’t necessarily a deterrent in enjoying either series. Each series may share occasionally similar aesthetics, and the main characters can occasionally look alike in certain moments (simply a staple of the mangaka’s style), the two series couldn’t be more different in a lot of ways.
(I need to clarify something: I’ve already covered One-Punch Man a couple of years ago when I was starting A.S.S., so I won’t spend much time on it, rather this is focused on Mob Psycho 100, but I still needed to address the series links, and similarities somewhere. It might happen a lot more than I’d like, given they’re from the same creator, but I’ll try to limit relying on it too much.)
Mob Psycho 100 takes the rather simple premise of an average kid, Mob (real name Shigeo Kageyama), and throws in a variety of psychic abilities, villains, and antiheroes to create a world all its own. The series starts out as a more slice-of-life, day-to-day adventure with Mob working for a complete charlatan/entrepreneur Reigen Arataka who runs an exorcism business that does extremely well thanks to Mob’s help. Mob also attends school and tries out for various clubs and teams offered, with various episodes devoted to these ventures. Mob is a likable, genuinely pleasant character, often mellow and laidback with a soft-spoken voice that isn’t common for an anime like this. He still emotes and reacts as expected in several moments, but he’s typically deadpan in his delivery. It’s only when the eponymous counter of Mob’s stress level increases that we see more from Mob than ever expected. His mellow attitude reaches its apex and transforms him into a diabolical, yet almost nirvana-esque being that will wipe everything around him into nothingness. His grip on his powers is completely lost, and he must reset his stress to return to a normal state. In the beginning of the series, the counter is a sort of running gag that slowly increases before act breaks or as an episode ends, but we do see the impact it can have more than once through the three arcs.
In fact, the bulk of the first third of the series is merely setting up Mob’s world and character, we eventually get tonal shifts and more action-heavy arcs later, but expect the first few episodes to be a bit slower and not deliver too much action that something like One-Punch man did its first few episodes. Mob Psycho 100 is a bit more delicate and slower paced in comparison to a show like that. In fact, full disclosure, this slow pacing and development was what put me off of the manga and show for many months. I was hot off of catching up to One-Punch Man that I wanted more, and I thought Mob Psycho 100 would be the answer and I was wrong. The latter two-thirds of the series present a more crucial, interconnected story, especially the middle arc which takes the series to an even more absurd degree. But, they were my favorite parts of the series and I’m glad I stuck around and finished out the series.
Mob Psycho 100 still ranks on a “good-to-great” scale for me, but there is a lot to like about it in an animation and storytelling understanding. Without a doubt, the animation and art directors they have through the show rocket Mob Psycho 100 to an animation level many other series only dream to reach. It’s very apparent they had a lot of fun creating wacky and zany scenes of destruction and battles for the anime. Fights are so unbelievable and over-the-top that any semblance of real harm to the characters is impractical. Bodies are launched into buildings, into the ground, and then into the stratosphere before being driven through more buildings and the ground once again, before walking away with a few scratches and bruises. They kind of explain how it’s possible thanks to barriers the psychics place upon themselves [read: literal plot armor] to survive these atomic attacks, and If you cannot handle that, walk away now, because Mob Psycho 100 never goes back from that. There are a number of predictable plot points, but also occasional moments of surprise in Mob Psycho 100, moments that hooked me back in after nearly wanting to tap out once again.
With news recently that Mob Psycho 100’s animation studio was gearing up for more of the show, I thought I’d give Mob Psycho 100 another go and I’m glad I did. It’s certainly not the best action show around, nor is it the worst, but it creates a living world that’s fun to spend time in and learn about. The creativity of the show shines in the animation and action, and even out of context, you can look at Mob Psycho 100 as an artistically pleasing show. It may not be everyone’s style or preference, but every now and again an absurd premise accompanied with insane action is welcome and freshens up stale rom-coms and fantasy anime that are rampant. I personally prefer One-Punch Man and its world and story far more than Mob Psycho 100, but I absolutely appreciate the more unconventional storytelling the series presented and commend it for it. Additionally, I’d actually place Mob Psycho 100 before One Punch-Man in terms of an audience recommendation for younger viewers. The violence is bloodless, although bruises and scratches occur, and there is no fan service that the industry usually is rampant with. It could be perfect for a younger viewer that would eventually level up to more adult series. If you need a reminder of how bonkers anime can be, or perhaps want a series to wash a bad series from your memories, Mob Psycho 100 can be that show. Look to Crunchyroll to offer your subbed option, while Funimation is handling the dubbed and subbed distribution for US home media.
Like most people here, I’ve been watching anime for many, many years. I owe blocks like Toonami for getting me into the medium. Shows like Dragonball Z and Ronin Warriors shaped my beginning years, while shows like Neon Genesis Evangleion and Cowboy Bebop showed me that there’s some true artistic ability and expression found within anime (moreso than big burly dudes punching and screaming for hours on end). I now try to watch anime showcasing many genres and storytelling. Anime is just another great, creative medium for telling stories, and I’m happy to share my thoughts on the series I enjoy with you!