After it was pretty clear that One Punch man was becoming a hit, several studios started a "bidding war" to obtain the rights to animate the other ongoing series of web-comic artist gone mangaka "ONE", namely Mob Psycho 100.
But the expectations were set extremely high after the hype train that was One Punch Man. How do you top the over-the-top balls-to-the-walls phenomenon that was One Punch Man? Is that even possible?
Let's find out and get this show on the road!
V Reviews - Mob Psycho 100
A: Some brief backstory
I already talked a bit about ONE in my One Punch Man review, so I won't repeat what I mentioned back then.
But let's flash back to 2012 here. After the first hype started for One Punch Man (in 2012), web artist ONE started creating another series named "Mob Psycho 100" on Ura Sunday, an online weekly magazine. Publisher Shogakukan helped print the story and to this date the manga has resulted in 13 volumes already.
After the One Punch Man anime became a phenomenon, Studio Bones was quick to obtain the rights to animate Mob. And in summer of 2016 we ended up with the anime of Mob Psycho 100 Season 1 (of many, hopefully?).
Oh and what I didn't mention last time around, is that you can follow ONE on twitter (in Japanese): @ONE_rakugaki
Shigeo "Mob" Kageyama is an ESPer in an otherwise normal world. But he's so powerful he represses his emotions in order not to "break". Due to this repression, it feels as if Shigeo has no personality and easily blends in as a background character (which gains him the nickname of a "Mob" character.
Due to him becoming a teenager and feeling things he didn't have before (like having a crush on another girl), he notices that controlling his own psychic powers becomes more difficult and thus seeks out a mentor to help him.
But in his search of a "psychic mentor", he ends up with self-proclaimed exorcist Arataka Reigen. Reigen is nothing more than a very talented con-man. But after seeing Mob's powers, he allows Mob to study under him (although it's only to abuse Mob's powers for his own profit). But one of the few lessons Reigen teaches him does stick around in Mob's head: "Never use your powers for your own gain, never use your powers to harm other humans."
And it is with good reason that Reigen keeps repeating this to Mob, because when he breaks his own limit (100%), he loses consciousness and his powers go out of control. The best way to compare this, is a limit break from the Final Fantasy games.
While the anime starts off with a series of misadventures of Reigen and Mob, the show slowly evolves into an action series, when other ESPers enter the field. First one is Teruki Hanazawa, who is the "gang leader" of another school whom Mob gets involved with. Then the evil Claw organization who wants to incorporate every ESPer into their ranks, in order to take over the world.
Mob finally shows cracs in his emotional "barrier" when one of the bad guys (Koyama) goes all out against both him and his brother, whose powers recently awakened. When Koyama has beaten both of them, he kidnaps Mob's brother. It's now up to Mob and a few unlikely allies to infiltrate the Claw organization and free his brother.
Can Mob uphold his own creed of not harming humans, while all of his opponents try to push him to his limit?
|Shigeo "Mob" Kageyama: Main character. Has amazing psychic abilities, but 0 social skills and 0 athletic skills.He finds an unlikely mentor in the con-man Reigen. But while Reigen clearly exploits Mob and really is not quite the teacher Mob sought, he is also like a surrogate father and Mob does look up to him.|
|Arataka Reigen: #1 con man in anime ever! Has 0 psychic powers, but that doesn't stop him from promoting himself as an exorcist. But while he clearly is powerless, he always is able to help his clients due to many other talents (like massaging, having psychiatric talks with patients, having a green belt in Shaolin boxing and many others) and obviously having Mob as an actual psychic helping him.
While you know that you should despise this man since he's an obvious con artist, he makes it very hard to hate him. He's an excellent mentor and is able to tame Mob's inner turmoil.
|Ritsu Kageyama: Mob's little brother who has no psychic powers and is somewhat jealous of his brother's talent. To compensate for not having powers, he tries his best to become an honor student instead. He has A+ scores on everything, is very athletic and beloved by many girls. But when the student council stresses him out beyond belief and his psychic powers do awaken, we see a side of him even he never expected.|
|Ekubo (Pimple): A spirit who possesses people and founded a cult religion called LOL (no, seriously named LOL). After Mob defeats him, he keeps hovering around Mob and his brother Ritsu, in the hopes of becoming stronger again and using the naive boys as a springboard to "godhood". While possessing people, Pimple is able to release the full psychic potential of its host.|
|Teruki Hanazawa: A strong ESPer who uses his powers in his daily life to gain various benefits (cheating in gym, beating and ruling over bullies, etc). Is strongly opposed to Mob's way of using power in his daily life (or lack thereof), but eventually ends up becoming his ally when facing the Claw organization.|
There are other characters like the Psychic club members, the Body Improvement club members, the other psychics and the members from the evil Claw organization.
There's a LOT to talk about here. Bones assigned Yuzuru Tachikawa (director of Death Parade) as director and Yoshimichi Kameda as art director. Together they gathered some veteran animators, together with a bunch of young and upcoming talents. Then they told the animators to go crazy, wild and creative in their animation style.
What we ended up with was not only a great story, but some of the most creative animation I've seen in years. This show is not only one of the best anime of 2016 (if not, thé best), but will serve as a bookmark for the following years to show people where certain masters of the craft have started.
Not too long ago, animation fans were starting to worry that several masters in animation were either dying or growing old and sickly very rapidly, while younger generations were more "meek" and "copycats" at best (and I'm not even mentioning the worst). But with Mob Psycho 100, we can now flip that page with confidence. There IS a new generation of animators that are willing to take risks and do new and inventive stuff with animation. As long as we allow them to run wild.
And if you want some proof? When people were discussing suggestions for the Crunchyroll awards, two fight scenes of Mob were suggested for the category "best fight scene" (only one got through). The one that got in the Crunchyroll awards ended up being the Mob Vs Koyama fight. The other one that people suggested was the "special" fight in the last episode (no spoilers here). And guess who won the award?
One name is all you need: "Kenji Kawai". *drops mic*
Seriously, if you do not know who Kenji Kawai is, you don't know much about Japanese music composers. Kenji is one of thé most famous names among composers, both in anime and in Japanese Live Action movies. I'll just list a few and wait until you picked up your jaw from the ground. Next to Mob, he also did: Ranma 1/2, Patlabor, Ghost in the Shell (both movies), The Ring (the Japanese movies), Fate/Stay Night (+ the UBW movie), Gundam 00, Death Note, Eden of the East, Joker Game and many many more.
So yes, he created the soundtrack for Mob. And he delivered another great work!
Next to the regular soundtrack, there's also the opening theme. It is not just any random OP, it is THE single best opening song of 2016.
The mysterious Mob Choir with 99. The composer is sound engineer Junichi Sakaki (which is weird, but interesting). The Mob Choir itself are a group of musicians who work in the industry and consist of both "unknown" people and people with several credits (like sound composers Takeshi Masuda, Kana Yabuki, Satomi Kawasaki and others). For the full list of people singing in the Mob choir, check the VGM database: http://vgmdb.net/album/59425
F: Any negatives?
Well... Let's be honest here. If you take away the "rule of cool" from this anime and discard the amazingly animated fight sequences... then there's not much left but an average story with a crude character designs that look like a beginner drew them (to copy the web artist's crude drawing style).
I personally like the fact that the animation studio tried to copy the web artists crude designs and only slightly improves on it for animation purposes. But I can understand that the people who give this anime a negative review are pointing to the crude art style and average story as negatives.
Also, a lot of haters are pointing to the many similarities between Mob and Saitama from One Punch Man (the other ONE manga). And I can't blame them for thinking that way. Mob kind of looks like Saitama with a bowl haircut of hair and they both have a disinterested look on their face (though for different reasons) and both are amazingly overpowered in their own right.
I personally loved this anime from beginning to end. But then again, I am a sucker for shonen action series. And this is a great shonen action series you can suggest for anyone to watch
But if you don't like the character and art design of this anime (which is entirely possible) and if you are looking for a greater and more amazing story, you can pass on this.
For everybody else, this is a must-see. I'm giving this a 9/10.
Onto the next one, now.
Until next time, V out.