A Party of One
The trend for so many popular series of the past few years has been to have social underachievers—often stand-ins for the author and/or perceived target audience—suddenly placed into a scenario where they are now innately excellent, who then proceed to exert their power for glory and adoration. That is precisely why we need Mob Psycho 100 back now, more than ever. For while such characters exist in no short supply, the difference in this series is that they’re the villains; their worldview is in need of a drastic wake-up call … which they then receive!
The debut season of Mob Psycho 100 from mid-2016 wowed audiences not only with its top-notch production values, eclectic animation style shifts, and action scenes that literally blew minds while also delivering great humor, memorable characters, and wholesomely sincere morality; a testament to the ability of webcomic author turned pro known only as “ONE,” who is perhaps best known as the creator of the also-returning-in-2019 One-Punch Man. As we start off Season 2, Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama is still the unathletic, unassuming, socially awkward middle-school kid who also happens to be the most insanely powerful ESPer there is, particularly once he’s been stressed enough that he can no longer bottle up his emotions as represented by a percentage.
Mob still works for confidence scam master extraordinaire Reigen Arataka, the TRUE hero of this series, who runs a psychic consultation office despite having absolutely no powers whatsoever. Well, not unless you count throwing salt and being able to see and speak to Dimple, the weakened and not-quite-so-evil-anymore spirit from Season 1 who’s still hanging around. But this is not simply 12 more episodes of the status quo. For as high as the pressure was for anime studio BONES and director Yuzuru Tachikawa to even maintain the same high-quality levels and varied animation methods of the previous season, with the second season of Mob Psycho 100 they’ve surpassed their previous work, from the readily loopable opening credits sequence forward.
Thanks to “Master” Reigen’s thoroughly “Web 1.0” sense of website graphic design, oh and I guess also Mob’s immense psychic powers granting the ability to exorcise actual malevolent spirits, business has picked up at the Spirits and Such Consultation Office, which puts it on the radar of a union of rival spiritualists who don’t much appreciate some outlaw startup siphoning away at their clientele. The first half of the series is certainly not light on supernatural battling as Reigen and Mob take on a series of cases, but elects instead to focus on character growth by way of heartwarming yet comparatively low-stakes tales about growing up, albeit with a fair dose of exorcisms. Mob’s continued involvement with the Body Improvement Club (whose members remain as earnest and fully supportive as ever, the starkest antithesis to the traditional geek media portrayal of “jocks”) has given him just a tiny bit more confidence, and little by little he starts asserting himself. This however, is not without its potential downsides; when you’re THIS powerful, who or what is to stop you from simply venturing down the path of darkness?
Reigen, the rising star “psychic,” also gets a story devoted squarely to him in which his worst fears come to be realized. It’s a very relatable fear for those of us in our 20s and 30s: the fear of being exposed as an imposter and everybody finding out you’re one giant fraud who actually has no clue what you’re doing. Okay, granted, Reigen is as a matter of fact a charlatan, but just as in real life, sometimes it takes other people to point out your virtues and sometimes you’re that person for other people (see sidebar). He sure as heck doesn’t have it together and deception is his forte, but the fundamentally positive reinforcement offered up by Reigen Arataka is what makes him such a beloved trash fire of a father figure. That, and his willingness to beat up children and the elderly. Search social media for the hashtag “#RedrawReigen” and relish in the mountain of comically absurd Reigen tribute art in which he and other cast members take the place of the subjects in various wacky photos.
“Don’t treat other people as though they were NPCs in a video game because you are a part of this world and society, not better than it” is exactly the sort of message popular anime needs to convey more often, and Mob Psycho 100 delivers yet again. Of course, all those fuzzy feelings can lull you into complacency, because when you least expect it, the evil esper organization known as Claw returns and the stakes escalate exponentially in the span of one scene transition. The second half of the series ramps up the flashy action quotient, as a new cadre of super-powered foes arrive to wreak citywide havoc and the previous season’s opponents (now redeemed) return to seek the aid of the being most transcendent of mind over matter. That IS Reigen, right? He’s so good at rock-paper-scissors, after all!
After first being simulcast in 2016, the first season of Mob Psycho 100 was then released on home video by FUNimation before eventually being broadcast on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block from late 2018 through early 2019. The Japanese simulcast of Mob Psycho 100 II was exclusive to Crunchyroll/VRV, and now that Crunchyroll and Cartoon Network are consolidated under the roof of one massive mega-corporation it’s a strong likelihood that a television broadcast of this new season will happen sooner rather than later. Then again, it’s a competing mega-corporation that now owns Funimation, so who can truly say?
In the meantime, Dark Horse has finally started releasing the manga in English now that the series has concluded in Japan, though it’s anybody’s guess whether they’ll get all 16 volumes out let alone make it to the recent single-volume spinoff/sequel REIGEN. There is likely still enough manga remaining to create a third season, but speaking as a fan I’d rather wait a few years for the team that did these two seasons to be available again rather than rush it out and risk it not living up to the astronomically high bar for television animation being raised time and again.
Mob Psycho 100 II is available from Crunchyroll.
This story appears in the August 2019 issue of Otaku USA Magazine. Click here to get a print copy.