Kageyama Shigeo, a.k.a. “Mob,” is a boy who has trouble expressing himself, but who happens to be a powerful esper. Mob is determined to live a normal life and keeps his ESP suppressed, but when his emotions surge to a level of 100%, something terrible happens to him! As he’s surrounded by false espers, evil spirits, and mysterious organisations, what will Mob think? What choices will he make? Mob Psycho 100 is an anime based on the original story by ONE, the idol of the webcomic world and creator of One-Punch Man and is now being produced by studio Bones.
Mob Psycho 100 is one of those anime that I heard everybody raving about for quite some time when it first came on Crunchyroll. Despite lots of people giving it rave reviews, I was a little put off. It didn’t seem like the kind of anime that I could get invested in, and there was something about the character design and artwork that just seemed to put me off getting into it. But the reviews persisted, and I learnt a bit more about its background, and I decided to give this one a go. I’ve been late to the game on other hit anime just because I was put off on how popular it had quickly become so I wanted to see just what all the fuss was about.
It’s… interesting, to say the least. The character art throughout to so simplistic and borderline cartoonish. In fact, I could draw Mob in a matter of seconds with his square head, bowl cut and big round eyes that have no irises until he hits his psychic 100% from stress, and that’s when his appearance changes from dull-eyed and mild-mannered to full on psychic king, such as what happened when he was confronted by Teru, a student from rival middle school Black Vinegar (as opposed to Mob’s – Salt Middle School. He also lives in Seasoning City. You might see a theme building here.
His rapport with Reigen at the beginning makes for some good gags and sets the scene for Mob reaching 100% with Reigen taking advantage of his so-called apprentice time after time. Reigen runs a supernatural business with claims that he is a successful medium and exorcist. Of course, he is a complete charlatan but manages to hide it from everyone (including Mob) because he happens to be the perfect conman. And it seems Mob believes him, because he’s an unassuming, idealistic young man. Towards the end of Mob’s adventures, however, it’s alluded to that Mob has at some point cottoned on to Reigen’s ruse and perhaps their relationship has extended past the so-called master and apprentice – or just perhaps Mob’s a nice guy?
One of the most stand-out scenes for me was the episode where Mob faces of against Teru. This was the point where I thought that Mob Psycho 100 could tempt me back into binge-watching it to the very end. With both of them having the same level of psychic power, and yet having two very different beliefs in how they should be used gives rise to the ideological conflict that had been building all through the episode, becoming a supernatural onslaught that brings destruction to everything around them. And it is this fight where the art style of Mob Psycho 100 really makes an impact, using it’s comic-like use of colour and special effects to demonstrate the raw psychic power of these two young men. It’s in these types of scenes where the animation and design just lets loose until everything dies down… and we go back to Mob living his dull life as usual until he hits that 100% again.
Mob Psycho 100, for me, is just okay. The story is fun, has a bit of depth to it and there’s some genuinely funny parts. But for me, everything seemed a little disjointed and episodical and, other than Mob, I didn’t really identify with any of the other characters (not that I’m probably meant to, but the combination of the artwork and the often superfluous actions of the supporting characters, I wasn’t too impressed). I can see why this one has been a hit – it’s different, humorous and a little quirky, and normally these things would have drawn me to it, but there was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on that stopped me enjoying this one as much as I normally would. Perhaps it was the decline of the story towards the end, perhaps it was the artwork… perhaps it was a combination of clichés, characters and missed opportunities. Whatever it was, I ended up more disappointed than I expected.