Review/discussion about: Mob Psycho 100
When I was in the fourth grade, I wanted to do what no other kid had done before: multiply together two really huge numbers.
My task was daunting, my obstacles numerous. For both my multiplier and multiplicand, I chose the number 777,777,777,777. My reasoning made sense: I wanted to practice writing out multiplication by hand and working on my sevens. I wasn’t doing this project for school, and I wasn’t getting any reward. I simply wanted to flex my mathematical skills as best as I could.
I failed many times along the way. Carrying the wrong remainder, adding up the totals incorrectly, not giving myself enough room on the paper. Eventually, though, I succeeded. The answer? 604,938,271,603,728,395,061,729. (I wish I had memorized it.) And the byproduct of my product? A tight grasp on my multiples of seven and a sincere appreciation for the existence of calculators.
Mob Psycho 100 does not deal with huge numbers, but that one hundred in the title signifies that it cares about digits to at least some extent.
Mob Psycho 100 finds Mob, an overly timid and entirely too meek middle-school boy, with unimaginable psychic powers. Reigen, his “master,” is a spiritual guru and fraud, but watches over Mob as they take part in various supernatural phenomena. And as Mob’s powers ramp up, he finds himself facing more than just misplaced emotions.
This debut season for Mob Psycho 100 means a lot. The first chance to entice audiences, prove itself, and generally show what it has got. And, for the most part, the anime does just that.
Four arcs make up the narrative this time around: Introduction, Black Vinegar, Ritsu, and Claw. In the first arc, the different characters are presented and the premise is detailed. In the second arc, Mob’s character conflict and the existence of other espers appear. In the third arc, Ritsu takes center stage. And in the fourth arc, the evil organization is confronted and defeated.
Throughout all these arcs, the anime takes on the standard comedy, drama, and action fronts.
For its comedy, jokes heavily rely on exaggeration. Caricatures, screaming, ridiculous events, hyperbolic reactions. This contrast between the exaggerated jokes and the everyday depiction of Mob’s life holds parallels to Mob’s powers and himself. That is, the comedy adopts the “same” format as Mob’s characterization, fitting within the show’s overall intentions.
For its drama, the anime plays mostly on Mob and his relationship to Ritsu. Multiple flashbacks of Mob’s childhood, the unfortunate incident that occurred, and nearly the entire second half of the season. Like the comedy, the drama holds close ties to Mob’s powers since emotions drive his outbursts. In doing so, the drama not only serves to fill the plot but also acts as a key factor in supporting this vital aspect of the anime itself.
For its action, the anime has the advantage of imagination. “Psychic powers” leaves a lot of room to work with, and the anime uses that space as much as it can when it hurls projectiles, bounces enemies around a hallway, and produces gravity-defying death balls. Just as it was with the comedy and the drama, the action holds a higher purpose. In this case, it’s the culmination of the two, allowing the characters to test their ideologies and conflict with or against one another.
Having each of the higher-level parts of the show connected to its overall premise demonstrates some writing chops. However, to be honest, this content as is does not come off as anything special. The kooky comedy, the brotherly drama, and the psychic action are fine for what they are but lack certain worthwhileness.
However, Mob Psycho 100 becomes worthwhile through the premise itself.
Mob’s tale is an underdog one. Coupled with the select moments where he goes as all out as possible, the anime strikes a chord with its audience in showcasing a story filled with rooting and intensity. But, more than these qualities, the premise involves a lot of meaning.
It’s seen right in the show’s title: 100. The anime often alludes to this number or at least the lead up to it. Mob’s mental state creeps ever closer to that 100% breaking point, forcing him over the edge emotionally. It also serves as a comedic tool such as when the anime describes Teruki’s new wig. But, again, it’s mostly for Mob’s mental state.
One way to describe Mob’s build up is through a single term: potential. As is regularly seen, Mob has the most potential out of anybody alive thanks to his immeasurable powers. But it’s more than just his powers; he has a wealth of potential as a human being. He trains his body in a club that doesn’t suit him whatsoever. He befriends an esper like him despite the differences in ideology that they hold. He fights to save his brother Ritsu regardless of how the little bro treated the older.
Almost the entire season explores potential in some form. And not just with Mob. Reigen’s potential as an adult and mentor. Ritsu’s potential as a psychic and brother. The members of Claw and their potential as not-so-evil henchmen.
Altogether, the anime argues that everyone has the potential for greatness. While Mob may not be able to fully control his powers, Reigen may be a fraud, and Ritsu may lose sight of what truly matters, they prove that anybody has the potential to reach beyond their current state. That people really have no limits – except the ones they place on themselves.
Mob Psycho 100 does not go without its own set of problems, though. Tsubomi, despite having a certain modicum of relevancy, gets oddly ignored. Unnecessary narration plagues some of the show’s scenes. And Ritsu arguably earns way too much focus in the second half even though this anime is Mob’s (title and all).
However, when the anime follows through on its events with satisfaction, like with Mob’s duel against Teruki or the second “fight” between Mob and the kidnapper from Claw, it alleviates some of these issues. Coupled with its solid comedy, drama, action, and thematic exploration, the anime makes it hard to talk down on its story.
Mob Psycho 100’s visuals are quite charming in their own right.
Normally speaking, its style follows a polished roughness that capitalizes on simplicity, pushing forward its mechanisms for greater animated fluidity. However, the anime loves its over-the-top depictions.
Reigen’s “special abilities,” many of the jokes, and the different reactions of the characters rely on extreme exaggeration to achieve their separate effects. Whether the scene shows a white page with just a few squiggly black lines drawn together into a face or the guys of the Body Improvement Club turn into statues with an intimidating glare, these more involved moments get at the show’s brand of comedy as well as its focus on extra details.
But the show’s best examples come from Mob’s explosions. Upon breaking that 100% threshold, the anime takes on a new life of its own, showcasing some incredible artistry and attention to animation. The location crumbles around Mob, he moves with extraordinary speed, and his various actions take on hyper, imaginative outcomes. Often, all three are shown simultaneously. Indeed, Mob’s everyday look combined with his incessant refusal of violence turn these contrasting scenes from simple entertainment to pure spectacle.
As for the other designs of the characters, they work. Teruki’s large wig gives him a comedic standing. Reigen’s suit simultaneously masks his unprofessional career and highlights his adulthood. And Dimple’s dimples are eponymous, but it’s his green, gaseous form that reflects his equally smelly personality.
Mob is an uninteresting fellow. Less than average in all walks of life. He doesn’t have very many friends, he doesn’t take part in extracurricular activities, and he certainly cannot talk to girls without quaking in his sneakers.
However, what Mob lacks on a social level he makes up for on a psychic level. Mob can exorcise spirits, bend spoons, and control the space around him with undue ease. Reigen understands how incredible his powers are, so he took Mob in as an “apprentice” to help him with these “difficult” tasks.
Despite his powers, he has never managed to obtain the life he has wanted. Part of that comes from his own characteristics. Part of that comes from Reigen and his teachings. Part of that comes from a bad accident involving Ritsu that he (subconsciously) holds in the back of his mind.
Thus, he has always kept his powers within himself, refusing to use them even when he can. In turn, this self-containment has led to his expressionless behavior. More specifically, it has kept his emotions corked, locked up inside him and ready to burst forth.
But they do more than just burst; they explode. In a torrent of hyperbole, Mob’s feelings uncork, pushing him and his powers to their absolute limit. Rage, sadness, animosity, rejection, gratefulness. His emotions dominate his very person when he can no longer keep them in check, leading to dazzling displays of psychic mastery.
Mob does not like either extreme. He does not like how his bland personality prevents him from socializing with those around him, and he does not like the uncontrollable outbursts that overwhelm him. Thus, he tries his best to change himself. He joins the Body Improvement Club to make himself more fit and more confident (especially so that he can speak with Tsubomi). He looks up to his younger brother Ritsu as a role model. He seeks guidance from Reigen.
Through Mob’s challenges and the people he interacts with on his way to improving his very being, a singular question is asked: What is one’s self-worth? Mob Psycho 100’s story tackles potential, a concept that holds close ties to self-worth. Where the former targets what someone can be, the latter targets what someone already is.
Take Reigen. He has zero powers whatsoever and is the butt end of many jokes throughout the season. Essentially, Reigen is “worthless.” But, in actuality, he is the adult that gives wisdom to Mob. That is, Reigen’s worth is not his job at “Spirits and Such Consultation” or the constant lies he makes about his nonexistent abilities. His worth comes from the fact that he helps Mob understand himself that much more, giving him the confidence and support he needs as a maturing teenager.
The same approach can be seen when discussing both Ritsu and Teruki but to a much greater degree since, with these two boys, their self-worth is directly explored, forming the basis for their conflicts and their eventual development.
In Ritsu’s case, he does not feel as if he has reached his peak because, despite his success everywhere else, he does not have psychic abilities and therefore cannot compare to his older brother. His jealousy and his want to be like Mob spurs his negativity, leading to his subsequent obtainment of powers and his spiral downwards towards immorality.
While he follows a dangerous path for a time, he thankfully corrects his behavior. Mob’s prostration before the other thugs, Ritsu’s leadership during the escape from the facility, and the reunion between the two prove to Ritsu that he already has power. That is, he understands that his self-worth stems from his reliability and penchant for always doing what’s right no matter what.
In Teruki’s case, he never felt below himself but instead priceless. His psychic powers allowed him to always get what he wanted whenever he wanted, inflating his ego as the head of the Black Vinegar School’s gang, as the attention of the girls, and as the unopposed brawler.
However, when Mob appears, Teruki’s worldview gets challenged. Mob contradicts Teruki’s outlook, advocating nonviolence and passiveness in contrast to arrogance and aggressiveness. Their ideologies clash, and, in the end, Teruki gets put in his place. He comes to think less highly of himself, and, in doing so, discovers that his self-worth derives not from his “godly” skills but instead his potency as a crucial friend.
Besides Ritsu and Teruki, many of the side characters follow this theme on self-worth, too. Dimple represents what happens when self-worth is ignored altogether. The lesser psychic users who work with Ritsu to escape the facility represent that self-worth comes in all shapes and sizes. Tenga, the delinquent who Ritsu (unfairly) frames, represents that self-worth goes beyond surface-level descriptions and depictions.
These examples are not huge points or even overly important, but having even the extra cast members following the same direction makes for not only grander thematic exploration but also a higher level of execution overall.
What about Mob?
As expected, Mob also highlights this theme on self-worth quite well. Many of those around him try to place value on him in different ways. Ritsu wants to be him. Teruki sees him as his rival. Reigen needs him for his abilities.
In contrast, Mob doesn’t place any value on himself whatsoever. Where the others find worth in him in some form, he views himself as worthless. To him, his abilities have brought nothing but problems for these guys and everyone else he has encountered. And because he thinks he has nothing left to offer, his sense of self-worth plummets further.
But, as the audience understands, Mob does have self-worth. More so than anybody else around him, Mob has a determined sense of sincerity – both for himself and the ones he cares for. He does what he can to better his person, and he makes sure to be there for his friends and family. If nothing else, his refusal to use his abilities all willy-nilly and his loyalty to Reigen’s teachings (don’t use powers against people, don’t hit women) highlight his sincere personality.
Taken together, Mob and the rest of the cast capture the spirit of Mob Psycho 100 itself. A thoughtful mentor. A doting brother. A kind friend. A sincere boy. That is, one’s self-worth comes not from some random psychic powers but rather from themselves. The actions made, the words shared, and the ideas upheld.
In short, self-worth is not defined by one’s strengths – but instead by one’s heart.
One of the better parts of Mob Psycho 100’s sound direction is in the original soundtrack. It contains a lot of Egyptian, exotic influences that establish feelings of otherworldliness, coinciding with the psychic-power backdrop quite well. Other tracks, like the grating, foreboding piece that plays before Mob goes psycho and the guitar-laced, fast-paced piece that plays during, round out the OST to a fine sheen, indeed.
Equally as impressive is the opening track. The various forms of counting provide progression and weirdness, the guitar riff in the first half is catchy, and the long, held notes of the vocalist add grandiosity where needed. Some of the English lyrics don’t fit the tempo of the piece (“If everyone is not special…”), but the trailing instruments at the end and the general quickness of the song itself make the OP more than fun.
While the ending track is worse than the OP, it has its strengths. Specifically, the guitar riff played at the beginning and the end stand out, and the uplifting nature of the song is undeniable. Unfortunately, much of the middle of the piece blurs together as the vocalist and the drums compete for the audience’s ears.
As for the voice acting performances, nobody has anything too noteworthy. The only one is Setsuo Itou as Mob in his first main yet only second role ever. Mr. Itou performed nicely, voicing Mob with apathy throughout the season, unleashing those rare emotions whenever required.
The best way that I can personally describe this anime is that I recognize and appreciate what it did, but I would not call myself a fan. I don’t hate the show; I’m not that into it either.
I like Mob for his underdog qualities and the awesome psychic powers he wields, but he is not too interesting to me. Same goes for Ritsu and Teruki. These two are not quirky or fun enough to make me care for them to any noticeable extent. And that’s my biggest beef with the show; the main cast members lack appeal. Like any anime, not liking the characters makes for a less-than-favorable time.
Yet the worst offender was Reigen. His can-never-do-any-wrong attitude gets on my nerves, his “abilities” are not funny, and his fakeness, how he basically lies to Mob and uses the poor kid, turns him into an annoying character with ease. Reigen at least guides Mob with some nice wisdom, and his final fight against the members of Claw is a faux-berserk-Mob battle, so he isn’t completely insufferable. But, if I had the option, I would remove Reigen from the anime entirely.
The high points for me were definitely Mob’s wicked battles. Whenever he went berserk, the music started playing, and the effects were in full swing, I couldn’t help but find it all impressive. His battle against the Claw kidnapper in the alleyway was easily my favorite of the bunch. Snapping concrete. Quick spooky frames. A Charizard-esque Seismic Toss freefall into slow-motion.
Unfortunately (and understandably), the anime could not always show off Mob in a tirade. Instead, it often leaned back on its comedy which, sadly, was not to my liking either. Its over-the-top roots contained too many overreactions and obscenely goofy stylizations that rarely made me laugh. I preferred the more subdued moments, like when Mob’s head was replaced with the drawing of him from the wanted poster. These comedic points were more natural and not blatant attempts at trying to get me to laugh.
Mob Psycho 100 may not reach its favored percentage, but it does come together as an interesting show thanks to its solid narrative foundation, its artistic flair, and its theme on self-worth. Multiplied by its exotic-sounding soundtrack, this anime equates to a cool experience.
Story: Good, action, drama, and comedy are supported by a theme on potential, but a few plot elements are noticeably weak
Animation: Great, charming visuals in their own right, and incredible segments filled with lush movement, attention to detail, and intriguing artistry
Characters: Great, Mob, Reigen, Ritsu, and Teruki explore the concept of self-worth to a strong level
Sound: Fine, good OP, okay ED, good OST, and okay VA performances
Enjoyment: Bad, indifference to the plot and most of the cast, Reigen was more than annoying, the comedy was tiresome, but Mob’s berserk moments were awesome
Final Score: 7/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3
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