If you are a fan of the incredibly witty, extraordinarily funny, and still amazingly deep story that is One Punch Man, then you will most likely enjoy ONE’s second series Mob Psycho 100. TheBetterCup and I have seen every episode up to date, and even started the manga, and we have to say Mob is a cute baby angel you can’t help but cheer for. Unlike Saitama, who is an adult and has his own mind made up as to how he should live his life, Mob is only a kid struggling to find balance with inner struggles.
Mob Psycho 100 is about Shigeo Kageyama, or Mob (which apparently means background character). Mob is a simple young student in middle school who is average (or a little below average) in his grades, athletic abilities, social life, and just about everything. He dreams to be normal and even a little popular at school. He also seems to lack emotions when he interacts with others and often cannot read the atmosphere. Through the story, you learn that Mob actually has esper abilities (which he has had since a very young age) and that he is also incredibly strong. Because of his esper powers though, (which are connected to emotion, and when overwhelmed emotionally can spill out in dangerous ways), Mob keeps a blank stare and emotionless exterior, which also lends to his inability to socialize. More trouble than just his own personal struggles come his way though as he meets other espers and gains friends he needs to protect.
Mob: Shigeo Kageyama is the main protagonist of the story. He is a quiet and average looking 8th grader with incredible esper powers and absolutely little to no other talents or skills (other than empathy, the ability to refuse to harm even the bad guys with his powers, altruism, and the wonderful talent of hard work and willingness to change himself instead of bitching *cough*Ritsu*cough*). He has lived most of his life suppressing his emotions because when overwhelmed his powers leak out in incredibly dangerous ways, often unknowingly harming those around him (others have described him of having some dark and dangerous monster within). Mob is also very perceptive. He works part time at a spirit consultation office with Reigen (his master/teacher). His biggest goal in life is to live normally, and he feels that esper powers aren’t necessary for day to day life.
Reigen: Arataka Reigen is a spirit counselor, and demon exorcist, and scam artist that uses Mob’s powers to keep up his business. He is Mob’s teacher and a self proclaimed psychic (con artist). Though he seems like scum at first, he actually really cares about Mob and is able to help him through many of his own personal demons. He is very clever and quick on his feet, excelling in persuasion and understanding situations on the fly. He truly is Mob’s mentor, viewing Mob’s inner conflicts and taking them seriously, often giving Mob advice that truly helps him find himself morally.
Ritsu: Ritsu Kageyama is Mob’s younger brother (by a year and in the seventh grade). He is smart, athletic, popular, handsome, a student counsel member, praised by his parents and colleagues alike, and everything that Mob strives to be. Though sweet and perfect on the outside, just like Mob, he has a complex, where he wishes he was as talented as his brother (Mob). The only difference is that Ritsu lets this eat away at himself instead of trying to change for the better. His obsession for power leads him down a terrible path that causes him a lot of strife and guilt later, but thankfully, he loves his brother and Mob loves him back so they always have each other by their side’s.
The art is adorable, bizarre, and simple yet colorful. The animation flows very well with exagerated perspectives and it reminds me greatly of the weird, very Japanese, colorful surrealistic style that can be found in animations such as Mind Games (great movie by the way) or Tatami Galaxy (also good check out my post on it: https://espressocomsaudade.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/tatami-galaxy-by-tomihiko-morimi/). Side Note: Both Mind Games and Tatami Galaxy (by the way) where directed by Masaaki Yuasa, who also directed an episode in Adventure Time (the Food Chain), Space Dandy, and worked on some of the animations of Samurai Champloo. We really love his style.
Anyways, the animation is really top notch and gives it that strange quality to the world that underscores Mob’s strange place in it. We really loved the characters, especially the Body Improvement Club (who are all super strong and scary, but prove to represent the ‘good’ choices that Mob can make such as refusing to be violent and choosing to better one’s self for personal reasons other than shallow ones and accepting others readily). Mob is truly a sweet baby angel who like other Shounen heroes, fights to stick to his moral code even as the world tries to trample over it. He has his own issues concerning his powers, which others would love to have, but he would rather not. We also really loved his relationship with Reigen, who at first seems like a bad con-artist, but whose advice helps Mob try to find his own way to come to terms with both living a normal life and having powers (Arataka is the shit!). The contrast with his own brother (who serves as a foil to Mob) really emphasizes his character. It is by comparing his ability to be considerate and gallant even though he views himself as dangerous and others see him as a loser, to that of others (who also share similar views about themselves but have better lives) that we see how empathetic he is, how perceptive he can be and how heroic he truly is. Also this shit is funny as fuck, but it’s the little details that you watch throughout that add up and emphasize thematically all the inner turmoil and moral struggles that characters face (both normal characters and espers alike).
-Blog Barista and TheBetterCup