Mob Psycho 100 – 03

You want anime? I got your anime right here.

Mob Psycho 100 - 03 -1This was the first episode of Mob Psycho 100 that I truly came into cold, having seen a preview screening of the first two at Anime Expo.  To say that it lived up to my expectations would be an understatement.  The premiere of this series gave a little taste of what was possible, what was to come; the second delivered on a sizable chunk of that possibility.  Now we see Mob Psycho in its true form, just as we see Mob in his true form – this is a series that’s so much more than the superficial flash and style (though that itself is pretty damn impressive).

Mob Psycho 100 - 03 -2As we begin, Mob is trying to find his way in the Body Improvement Club – a process that once again proves that if God exists, being a 13 year-old boy can be a cruel joke.  Fortunately for all concerned, the Body Improvement guys actually turn out to be a pretty decent sort –  they let the derelict Telepathy Club use their equipment room, and they kindly carry the unconscious Mob into the care of the Telepathy Club after he passes out.  Kurata-san is highly skeptical of Mob’s ambitions to be popular (cruelly so, in fact), and of his psychic powers.  A demonstration quickly puts a stop to that, and Kurata’s moment of inspiration is a comic highlight of the episode (Tanezaki Atsumi is a hugely underrated comic actress).

Mob Psycho 100 - 03 -3Comedy is part and parcel to what Mob Psycho 100 is, no doubt about that, and Tachikawa-sensei clearly understands how to maximize it.  Take the moment when the “psychic” on the street tries to guess what’s troubling Mob, and only after trying every other possible answer gets it right with “love” (duh – he’s 13).  And in reply, Mob completely sums up the farcical appeal of real-world psychics with “How did you know?!” The scenario for this episode is no accident, I think, because MP100 is definitely a series where there’s a lot going on underneath the laughter – which is really just what gets us in the door.

Mob Psycho 100 - 03 -4Religious cults are serious business in Japan, for starters, at the center of some of modern Japan’s darkest moments.  It’s pretty clear from the beginning (even if you aren’t an esper) that the “Dimple” religion the woman drags Mob off to see is a sham, and a sinister one.  Also present is Mezato Ichi (the stellar Fujimura Ayumi) – you’ve seen her already if you’ve been paying attention – Mob’s classmate who’s investigating the cult for the school newspaper.  There’s also a hapless dude who got snatched off a park bench – a “victim of the recession” as the cult’s leader calls him.

Mob Psycho 100 - 03 -5That leader calls himself Dimple, and he’s played by no less than Ootsuka Akio, who for my money is one of the flat-out best seiyuu in anime history.  And thank goodness because, yes, this is an important character – Dimple is only the tip of the iceberg.  And the cult storyline is only the tip of the iceberg too, because the real drama in Mob Psycho 100 is always what’s going on inside Mob’s head.  If you could imagine the most awkward cult for Mob-kun to be stuck in the middle of, it would be one where everyone laughs and smiles constantly – because Mob has locked all that up deep inside himself.

Mob Psycho 100 - 03 -6So now the meaning of that countdown becomes clear – not that it was a huge mystery.  As set pieces go, I think it would be hard to ask for much more than the showdown on Level B3 – ONE, Tachikawa and Bones showing what happens when all the elements are in harmony.  It’s darkly comic and sinister at the same time, and pretty heartbreaking at the same time as it becomes clear just how deeply Mob is wounded.  “Get a clue” has never sounded colder or more cruel, and it cuts to the very heart of the alienation Mob feels.

Mob Psycho 100 - 03 -7It is indeed a “complex” as the narrator (who’s also Ootsuka Akio, by the way) describes it – knowing how dangerous his powers are and how they set him apart from others, Mob suppresses them.  But in doing so, he’s suppressing himself.  That this is an explosive combination is an obvious understatement, and Mob’s explosion lives up the hype.  This is not a boy you want to piss off – yet even in rage mode, Mob doesn’t become a senseless tornado of violence – he channels it expertly.  His nature asserts itself even when he loses control of his pent-up emotions.

Mob Psycho 100 - 03 -8One of my favorite elements of the final act (over the credits) is that we get a window into the relationship between Mob and Reigen.  Reigen is a buffoon and a charlatan, but he’s still the one Mob turns to when he’s emotionally devastated by what’s happened – which he sees as having spoiled the cultists’ fun.  Reigen may be a clown but he’s no fool, and not only that, he understands Mob better than anyone.  And he tells Mob exactly what he needs to hear – that he saved those people, and not only that, he was the only person that could have.  And as for the surprise that’s awaiting Mob when he wakes up the next day, well – there’s plenty of time for us to get into that next week.

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21 comments

  1. J

    Yep, this is now what I’m looking forward to the most, which is quite a feat given that it shares the season with Orange & 91 Days.

    So I’m guessing that we’re going to see Mob display his latent powers under a variety of emotional stresses (as expected from a teenage boy), but what happened here doesn’t seem to match up with what we saw at the beginning of the first episode. I wonder what emotion he’s overcome by for that scene.

  2. F

    Why so many screen caps?

  3. s

    did you see the episode? most of it looked like a moving japanese painting (which i think is what they were going for to give it this eerie, trippy, and surreal aesthetic)similar to a tale of kaguya in some ways. I dont blame enzo for trying to capture as many moments as he could

  4. My original harvest was 149 shots, which is at the very high end of my range for a normal episode of anything.

  5. s

    woooooooooooowwww!!!

  6. Trying to get down to the number I needed for RC, I felt like I was on Tiny House Nation during pare-down day.

  7. Watching One-Punch Man and Mob Psycho 100 has made me think that it would be really interesting to read ONE-sensei’s blog – if he had one, that is.

  8. e

    Oh Mob you cinnamon roll you :,) . If I was sure you wouldn’t feel distressed or pained by the gesture I’d be hugging you through the screen kiddo.

    Great episode for all the reasons you stated. As a further bonus… it also feels like a riff on Akira to me. With Akira rewritten as a good guy. In short: so far so very good.
    P.S.: you screencapped the cow! *hearts*

  9. If Mobu smiles, you kinda have to screencap it.

  10. e

    Such udder sensitivity <3

  11. R

    GET OUT

    (jk but between you and Enzo I think I have enough puns for a lifetime)

  12. Yeah, the tribute to Akira (or rather: Tetsuo, the real Akira only shows up one instant at the end) is pretty obvious to me, even just in how the powers look like. There’s also another manga about ESP powers by Otomo that is maybe even closer to this, Domu, where a little girl with mind powers battles a twisted old man who behind a mask of senility is using his to haunt an apartment building and kill other children.

  13. R

    If next week’s episode adapts the entire arc I’m thinking of, it’ll probably be one of my favorites. Although I could also see it taking two episodes to adapt depending on the pacing.

    This is confirmed for two cours right? I’m personally hoping for a sequel after that. There’s just so much good material to get through. It’d be a shame to miss some of the smaller but still heartwarming arcs in order to get through the bigger ones.

  14. Seems weird to see Neferpitou playing Ichi.

  15. F

    Wow, it was a really stellar episode of great animation and soundtrack with a meaningful storyline behind it. If I’m honest with myself I think I haven’t seen an episode of anime where all the constructing elements of this medium fit together so perfectly since ep 10 of Shin Sekai Yori (the episode of Shun’s death). It was so emotionally powerful, visually creative that I’m hard pressed to find words to do it justice. Although I’m still not entirely persuaded that the story itself will hold up throughout one (or two) cours, I’m now eager to find out where it will go from there because the first three eps were a hell of a prologue.

  16. h

    this season got 3 really very good anime (mob psycho,orange and 91 days),mob psycho comes on top for me,couldnt bring myself to watch battery,Bones are doing great jop with Mob

  17. This is a really good anime and I almost missed it. The imagery is really inspired too. The only thing that bugged me was the narration explaning Mob’s emotion near the end. That took me out of the show for a bit. The show don’t tell rule was pretty weel used until now. I hope they don’t do that too often.

  18. Oh and the music is really an experience by itself. I think I’ll actually get the soundtrack

  19. G

    Just the right balance of bombastic and gentle… I guess that’s why Mob always stuck with Reigen even though he probably has an idea how much of a sham Reigen is… he knows what to say to a 13 year old, for all his practice at marketing sales techniques.

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