Mob Psycho 100 is a Japanese web comic created by famed One-Punch Man creator ONE, who is basically to superhero comics what Suda51 is to the video game industry. Although he only really has two titles to his name along with a bunch of other smaller projects no one has ever heard of, as well as some of the worst drawing skills to ever grace the comic industry, he quickly achieved a massive following due to his subversive storytelling combined with his unique brand of dry humor, and this was before his works ended up getting adapted into the best animated injections to the superhero genre most humans have ever laid their eyes upon.
While OPM is easily the more mainstream of the two and is definitely fun in its own right, Mob Psycho 100 is the one that more people admit to liking on the Internet due to its more relatable protagonist and more unique (yet somewhat more controversial) style of animation. It was considered by many people, including me in retrospect, to be their anime of the year (disregarding all those movies that we couldn’t see at the time unless we lived in the right area), and it seems that a majority of the Internet’s vocal sector is declaring the same for its sequel this year. Obviously, those sort of early declarations is what intellectuals call “jumping the gun”, but it also speaks volumes of the kind of reactions Mob Psycho 100 gets out of people compared to other critically acclaimed anime, especially in a season that was full of them. Are we going to be remembering The Promised Neverland and Kaguya-sama: Love is War in a few months the way we remember Mob? Or even Jojo? No idea, but I can definitely say the positive reaction they get haven’t created many “Anime of the Year” discussions.
And I get it. Objectively speaking, Mob Psycho 100 has a lot of things mainstream audiences want in an anime. Great production. Great music. Great characters. A story that speaks to those who suffer from social anxiety, jealousy, being an older sibling, and all of that good stuff most anime fans relate to. ONE’s humor is practically the cherry on top of what’s practically a perfect combination of the perfect elements. Oh, and who can forget the beautifully shot action? If Mob had the ability to make the viewer cry, it would transcend anime and enter godhood.
But you know what Mob Psycho 100 doesn’t have anymore? Freshness. The anticipation of diving into the unknown and discovering something new. And while I know there are a ton of anime fans who are salivating at all of the recent sequel announcements from the new season of Re: Zero to another Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, the only one I have any real anticipation for is the sequel to Oregairu SNAFU because it looks like we’re finally going to be reaching a conclusion to Hachiman’s character journey (assuming that infinitely delayed final light novel doesn’t cause issues), plus the second season set up a whole bunch of plot threads that look really exciting. In contrast, why would I want to watch more of Re: Zero? I’ve seen Rem get rejected and Subaru go through more torture porn than an HBO series set in prison. What exactly is the sequel going to do to match that? The same thing again, but on a global scale according to that trailer? Escalation isn’t exactly what I mean when I say I want “new”.
It’s really hard for an anime sequel to impress me because I’m always wanting for things to get better over time, and anime in general has a tendency to peak too early. Sure there may be some loose ends that would be left unresolved if a sequel didn’t happen, but tying up all the plot threads is overrated compared to ending on a strong emotional high. I mean look at what happened to Eden of the East and those godawful movie sequels if you want proof of that. And while the first season of Mob did end in a way that I anticipated more, most of the “more” I was referring to was related to those evil espers and what they plan to do in the future. In regards to Mob himself, he still had room to grow in regards to improving himself and confessing to his crush, but given how his crush has less character than a guest star in Friends, I really couldn’t care less if he ever actually reached that end goal. If we’re going to continue to have him as the main character, Mob is going to have to experience some true personal challenges like getting a girlfriend or growing up from Reigen.
Well it looks like the creators of this series heard my silent pleas, but because they were silent, they didn’t understand the full grasp of what I wanted. Mob Psycho 100 II continues the daily life of Mob and his boss Reigen as they deal with supernatural conflicts whilst Mob himself continues to improve himself as a person. He gets confessed to by a girl in this season and despite rejecting her (plus it turns out she did it on a bet), he ends up walking her home every day and encouraging her to be confident in herself…for a single episode before it’s never brought up again. He ends up getting trapped in a world where he can’t use his powers and is mercilessly bullied by the inhabitants until he eventually re-awakens to his 100% and fights back until he’s reminded never to use his powers against humans. It’s a decent one-off story about what would happen to Mob if he couldn’t fight, but he doesn’t learn anything new from it after all is said and done.
In fact, I think a quarter or so of the episodes exist just as an excuse to have more action scenes in this series. They’re all beautifully animated with more impressive choreography than the first season’s when the characters end up getting physical, but they rarely further the story like they used to. I know Mob Psycho 100 has never really been about creating villains who leave a good lasting impression, but we don’t even get good supporting characters as a result of these conflicts like Dimple and such. Instead, we get Reigen growing in popularity to the point that he ends up getting to show his “skills” nation-wide on television. Then when Mob decides he needs to take a sabbatical from Reigen’s low pay, the latter ends up getting blasted on social media.
Speaking of which, if there’s anything I can say that is truly new and heartwarming about Mob Psycho 100 II, it’s the two-episode arc centered on Reigen when he’s left to his own devices. I know the guy is popular to the point that he got his own spin-off manga, but as much as I like him, I’ve never really felt like he could carry a show on his own because Reigen never felt like someone who actually needed any growth. We’ve already seen him become nicer whilst never really being a “good” guy through his experiences with Mob in the past and suffice to say, nothing really changes about him after this particular arc is finished either other than the audience having more reason to like him. Still, it is nice to get some background on the guy, as well as realize that he needs Mob just as much as Mob needs him. It’s something different at least, although Mob is going to have to outgrow Reigen eventually. No matter how good the parent, it’s not healthy for the child to always depend on them, especially when they grow up.
The last third or so of the series is when the core antagonists come back, and suffice to say, they are a lot stronger this time around. Although I can’t remember the main bad guy’s name for the life of me, his philosophy that he does whatever he wants because he’s too powerful for anyone to challenge him is interesting, especially when it turns out Mob can match him power-wise. And this time, the evil psychic users are so destructive that they wreck a large portion of the city, although it’s hard to take that too seriously considering Mob Psycho 100 is clearly not aiming for the Devilman Crybaby audience with its breakdown of humanity. I didn’t believe that cliffhanger when Mob’s parents appeared to be dead for a second, and I wouldn’t have cared too much if they did die because they never really had much presence in the series.
Said last third is when all of the other psychic users from the first season come back as well. Yeah, I should probably point out that the majority of the show is mostly just Mob and Reigen hanging out with a bunch of new one-off characters whilst the main supporting cast like Ritsu and the surprising amount of school girls in Mob’s life make cameos here and there. It sorta makes sense since Ritsu and a few others completed their characters arcs in the first series and thus none of the main supporting cast have any room to grow, but it makes things very jarring when the final arc forces them to be in the spotlight again.
But of course, as soon as they start fighting the bad guys with beautifully animated strategical beatdowns, my problems with their sudden reappearance immediately get replaced with the amount of visual adrenaline invading my brain. I don’t care if it’s a little silly that when Mob gets really mad, he starts looking like Goku. It’s always a pleasure to see what happens when a normally calm guy like him gets pushed too far. That and it makes for a really emotional conclusion that while a bit predictable, was still viscerally satisfying to watch.
That said, I can’t say the ending deserves as many analyses as it got. Mob relying less on his powers and more on his inner strength to solve issues has always been a core part of the show’s appeal. I’m not really sure why anyone would have expected any different from him even at the very end. Hell, even the top rated comment on that video I linked above questioned the need for the analysis.
And overall, I can’t say I feel like Mob Psycho 100 II in particular deserves all of the attention it gets in general either. You can make an argument for the series as a whole of course, but with the way people focus on this particular iteration, you’d think it was an improvement on the level of March Comes in Like a Lion S2. The story is the same core “Mob is trying to be a more normal person whilst Reigen tries to be a more dependable guardian” story as before with no new characters to replace the ones who had their arcs concluded in the first season. And the core antagonists are absent for so much of the series that it feels like they were thrown in with the same amount of obligation as an Avengers movie. I’m sure ONE is a big superhero fan and all, but similar to the ghost girl from Ant-Man and the Wasp, who’s actually going to remember these antagonists after the series is over?
Mob Psycho 100 II is less an evolution of everything established by the first Mob Psycho 100 and more of an expansion. It does a lot of things that are new on the surface, but the achievements gained from them are mostly just extensions of plot lines and character arcs we’ve already seen before. Even the opening song is basically the same as the first season’s except they added a 0.9% to the original 99%. It’s fine to be reminded every once in a while that Mob Psycho 100 is good, but when you’re hoping that the inevitable next season is the final one just so that you can be done with the show, it almost makes one feel glad that Madhouse doesn’t even know the definition of “second season”.
- Hey VRV, can you stop recommending I watch that hour-long Reigen special? I sat through it on your fucking awful platform twice already!
- I’ve seen some people say The Promised Neverland has all but disappeared from public consciousness, but I’m still seeing popular Youtube videos on it, so I have no idea what they’re talking about.
- Maybe I should take a break from binging the big Winter shows and rewatch Legend of the Galactic Heroes or something.
- If I made a top five “best popular anime of 2016” list now, Mob Psycho 100 would be first place, Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu would be second, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress would be third, and the other two would just be obligations I probably don’t care about anymore.
- Ending image originally drawn by RyuZU2’s.