Mob Psycho 100 s1 – The New Guard

mob psycho 100 s1

 

  • Genre : Action, comedy, supernatural, urban fantasy, science fiction.
  • Episodes: 12
  • Studio: Bones

 

Being a teenager is hard. Your body does all sorts of crazy things, your hormones go wild. And you’re supposed to figure out who you are through all that? How is that a reasonable plan? And what if there’s a chance that “who you are” is someone very dangerous to everyone around you? But certainly, that couldn’t apply to Mob! If anything, the boy is too soft in every sense of the word. He couldn’t hurt a fly. Even if he somehow manages to summon up the emotional rigour, there’s no way he could catch the fly and still have the strength to do anything else. No, a boy like Mob is not someone to worry about. Not when you have evil spirits, shadowy psychic organizations and smooth-talking con artists to deal with already. What could some quiet, unassuming boy possibly do?

Well, it certainly took me long enough to get to this one. The second season is already out and done before I got my lazy behind to watch the first. There’s no real reason for that. I always knew that I wanted to watch Mob Psycho 100, I just didn’t know why.

Mob Psycho 100 ep1-4 (5)

get ready to have your mind blown!

I don’t think I’ll shock anyone by saying that Mob Psycho has a very distinctive look. I’m not sure how to describe it. “Sketchy” as in it looks like sketches. The outlines are a little rough. The character models go through wild transformation on a regular basis. The colours are purposefully flat. It’s not at all in line with a lot of the more popular trends in current anime aesthetics.

I loved it. I thought about at least 4 people I could recommend Mob Psycho 100 to on the art alone. But I also know of at least 2 people who refuse to watch the series for the same reason. I guess you have to choose for yourself.

One of the definitive upsides to having more “naive” art and fluid character models is that animation becomes less restricted. There are some crazy physics going on in this show and it’s really fun to watch. One thing I noticed is that while everyone else zooms around the screen, Mob is largely immobile during combat. For a second I thought this might be an animation shortcut but I quickly realized that this goes hand in hand with the running joke (pun intended) of Mob having no physical stamina. Nice little animation character building!

Mob Psycho 100 ep1-4 (34)

he might need a bit more than encouragement

As the show is unexpectedly character-driven, I was happy to hear such an accomplished cast. I can’t really single any performance out. For me, I would say the strength lies in the undeniable chemistry between characters. The relationships are very important in the narrative and the actors’ performances go a long way toward selling them.

I had heard a lot of vaguely good things about Mob Psycho 100. Mostly personal to the writers. It’s simply a show a lot of people like. However, as I was planning on watching it, I never looked too deeply into why people were enjoying it so much as I didn’t want to spoil myself. That’s probably why I never heard just how smart this show is.

The writing in Mob Psycho is clever and witty. Not just the dialogue mind you. The setups, the visual metaphors and yes, the dialogue, all of them are just..smart. clearly smarter than me. For example, there’s a running gag about Mob accidentally bending the spoon he’s eating with during dinner. His mom exasperated tells him to try and be careful while his dad jovially chimes in that “he’s a teenager, let him bend a few spoons”. I love this joke. It my type of absurdist humour but even if you don’t, I can still use it to illustrate my point. First, it works on many levels. The Yong ones may not register it as a joke at all, older viewers might register the light nonsense, while the others could pick up on the innuendo. It’s like Pixar at it’s best, offering the possibility of being understood and appreciated from multiple angles and therefore by varied audiences.

Mob Psycho 100 ep5-8 (33)

spoons are a recurring visual metaphor for Ritsu’s insecurities and inability to relate to his brother, often shown in how refections get distorted in the curved surface… 

But it goes beyond just that. These dinner scenes are some of the extremely rare occasions we see Mob’s parents at all, yet we instinctively get so much from them. We know they eat as a family regularly enough for this to be a repeated event, probably just about every day. We know both his parents are comfortable enough with Mob’s powers to either scold him about them or poke fun as if it was no more special than talking with his mouth full. We know his mom is a bit fussy but cares about him and his dad is easy going. We can tell that Mob has a caring and close family which partly explains his crippling fear of accidentally hurting loved ones. We know all this, from one very short , very natural, running gag. Impressive!

Mob Psycho has some masterful exposition free character building. By the middle of the very first episode. Having only seen Reigen and Mob, I already had a pretty good idea who they were and how they related to each other even though I knew almost nothing about them. To me, that was smart writing. And to a lover of character driven shows, it was irresistible!

You may be wondering about my lofty title. You see, while watching the show a few things started to bubble in my brain. There were these themes of growing pains, of having a hero with the mindset of an ordinary guy in extraordinary circumstances, of self imposed isolation through guilt and fear as well as difficult family bonds and disappointing mentor figures. Basically, it really reminded me of Evangelion. I said so on twitter.

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Surprisingly only one person was horrified by this statement. But I stand by it. I prefer the subtler approach of Mob Psycho 100 and I will happily point at this show when people tell me quality anime is no longer being made.

Of course comparing Mob Psycho 100 to Neon (grrrr) Genesis Evangelion is rather pointless. Save from the themes and character archetypes, they are drastically different in tone, genre and even message. It’s apples and oranges. In fact when I mentioned Pixar earlier, it wasn’t random. There’s a lot about Mob Psycho that makes you think it’s a kid’s show. A smart one that can easily be enjoyed by adults but still remains accessible to younger audiences. Consequences never get too bloody, villains are fairly uncomplicated evil so far. You always know exactly who to cheer for. Despite all its wit, it stays straightforward in its morality.

But who cares. There are many brilliant works that are written in a way that can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages. That’s part of the brilliance really! And this is one of them.

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dimple was a great sarcastic audience surrogate

Favourite character: Reigen

What this anime taught me: When you shave hair it grows back twice as long

One should always be drunk. That’s all that matters…But with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you chose. But get drunk.

Suggested drink: Clairvoyant

  • Every time Mob performs an exorcism – take a sip
  • Every time Reigen uses a “special move” – raise your glass
  • Every time Mob attempts to run – take a sip
  • Every time we see the super awesome Body Improvement club – cheer!
  • Every time Mob’s % changes – take a sip
  • Every time the art style changes – take another sip
  • Every time Ritsu protects Mob – take a sip
  • Every time Dimple possesses someone – take a sip
  • Every time Reigen gives good advice – listen..in stunned silence
  • Every time we see the Kageyama house – take a sip
  • Every time we see a spoon – get a snack!

Mob Psycho 100 ep9-12 (14)

I love Bones’ visuals. They really speak to me. So once again I uploaded a whole bunch of screencaps to Pinterest and Imgur.

 

 

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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8 Responses

  1. Dawnstorm says:

    I still remember when this aired. I was sceptical. All I knew was that it was written by the same guy who also wrote One Punch Man. And while I thought it had some poignant scenes early on, that one got repetitive quickly and started loses me after episode 4. People told me I really shouldn’t expect One Punch Man; this was lots better. And considering a few of the early scenes in OPM, I thought there was some potential there, so why not check it out.

    I wasn’t prepared for how awesome this turned out to be. The core concept is actually fairly similar to OPM: if you have an overpowered character, make that power the real antagonist. However, this one’s actually a really sweet coming of age story. And everything, and I mean everything, comes together here: the art style, the animation, the characters, the story… you can’t change anything without hurting the whole package. It’s amazing.

    And, yeah, Reigen is awesome. Superficially, you have this shifty guy who’s using this naive kid, but he never actually forces Mob to do anything and is quite flexible in his goals. His and Mob’s relationship is great, too; they both have something the other lacks (and I’m not talking about psychic power in Reigen’s case) – though Reigen’s side won’t be as developed as Mob’s until season 2.

    Certainly one of the best anime of the decade. (I wonder how people instinctively define decades? I tend to go 2010 – 2019, but others might prefer 2011 – 2020. I still remember the fierce discussion about when the new millenium starts…)

    • Irina says:

      It really was a revelation and having finished season 2 yesterday I went from very pleasantly surprised to flabbergasted… There better be more to come

  2. kimchisama says:

    I too, waited too long to watch this awesome show! The art didn’t appeal to me but it really became a part of their character and now I love it. I’m fickle like that :D.

  3. alsmangablog says:

    Reigen is my favourite character as well. I loved how he managed to defeat some of the psychics in the final battle by making them feel bad about themselves!

  4. This is a great show, though for me it’s season two where things reach another level. I cried and cheered and Mob has become one of my favourite characters in any anime. I love the way the show explores and develops him, all under the guise of this absurdist shonen set up.

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