Posted by Lenlo on 5 April 2019 with categories: Anime Reviews, Finished Series: Slice of Life/Drama, Mob Psycho 100 II, Reviews by Lenlo

Upon finishing this series, the only question on my mind was how many animators did Bones sacrifice on ONE’s altar to achieve this. Following their prior season, Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 continues Bones adaptation of webcomic and manga author ONE’s 4th work, Mob Psycho 100. ONE has also authored the critically acclaimed One Punch Man series, redrawn for Shonen Jump by Yusuke Murata, and was later also adapted to anime by Studio Madhouse. Both were fantastic, and both pushed the envelope in terms of animation for TV anime. Following these up was no easy task. And yet, somehow, some way, Studio Bones did just that. They created an anime that you can find, almost in its entirety, on Sakugabooru. A blog dedicated to beautiful animation. But is there any substance, any depth, to what that animation portrays? Let’s find out.

Welcome to Mob Psycho 100 S2, lets jump in!

Animation/Art

Before we go any further, I want to go a little more in depth on Mob Psycho’s animation and art. I made it clear in the introduction that Bones went a little crazy here, and I meant it. There is not a single episode that, in motion, you can say looks bad. Take the above for an example. Initial look, it’s just a scratchy doodle. But in motion, in context, the emotion of the scene, the sheer awkwardness of the character shines through. The emotion and passion Mob Psycho conveys is simply astounding. There is nothing I can say here that I have not already said previously, so the best thing I can do is this. If you are not convinced on Mob Psycho’s animation, just go read my Episode 5 write up here. The examples I give and gushing I do should be more than enough.

Compounding this, Mob Psycho also doesn’t tie itself down to any one style. There is a baseline art style, that being ONE’s original art, but Bones never feels constrained by it. Often throughout the series they will change it, or even jump to completely different mediums, if it fits the scene. Multiple times throughout the season we see unique mediums such as paint on glass, sand, watercolor or sketches, that really make the scene standout. This helps break up what little monotony Mob Psycho has. And one you start taking color into consideration, the entire series just pops. It really felt like Bones just let their animators and artists do what they wanted, trusting them. And what results is a series that, visually, is wholly unique. With only anime such as Ping Pong coming to mind to compete with it.

Direction

As far as direction and cinematography goes, this is hand in hand with Mob Psycho’s animation. It takes what was already technically skilled work and, through framing and informing animators how to setup the shot, enhances it. One could easily take jabs at and joke about Mob Psycho’s direction. About how Episode 5’s almost constant use of Letterboxing is pretentious or showy. It’s a valid criticism to make, however in my opinion the Letterboxing accomplished its goal. Mob’s time in the dream was clearly separated from the real world, it differentiated it. To take this a bit further, Mob Psycho isn’t afraid to take a gimmick and commit to it. Never half-assing any particular shot, no matter how ridiculous it may otherwise seem. Basically, if you draw something with enough passion, people will accept it. And that is what Bones did with Mob Psycho.

Story/World

However, here is where Mob Psycho starts to falter a bit from its otherwise perfect record. The early stories are fantastic! Each one either being a well done standalone episode, or a 2 parter that tells a longer story. I don’t think there was a single arc prior to episode 10 that I did not enjoy in some way. From the opening establishing episodes to the more emotional such as Mogami or Reigen’s, they all told their stories well. In particular, I found Reigen’s arc of discovery and admittance of his actions to be the highlight of Mob Psycho’s run. There was no bombastic action set piece, not real stakes at play. Just a single man and his friendship with our lead. Yet it was the most emotionally impactful arc of them all. Sadly, Mob Psycho doesn’t manage to keep this up through to the end.

You see, Mob Psycho’s finale is nothing short of a disappointment. For most anime, this is horrendous, but for Mob Psycho it’s worst arc is still good. Simply not as good as the others. In my opinion this final arc has all the hallmarks of a good Mob Psycho story. It’s issue however is that it doesn’t do anything new or unique this time around. All of the major plot points or set pieces can be found in previous arcs, even ones in this same cour. For example Suzuki, the villain, is just a poor man’s Mogami, while the arc itself is Season 1’s Claw Arc on a larger scale. For the sake of not needlessly repeating myself, here is a link to my episode 13 write up here. Suffice to say, Mob Psycho really shot itself in the foot narratively with this last arc, though it wraps up well.

Characters

Mob Psycho picks itself back up with its characters though, as all of the important ones are fantastic. Mob and Reigen, our two leads, carry every single episode on their backs. Reigen’s sheer charisma making him a joy on screen while Mob captures the hearts of the viewers. Together, their chemistry is perfect, with Mob acting as Reigen’s straight man. Mob also grounds Reigen’s character, helping him never get too absurd, acting as the focus for Reigen’s more serious emotions and dilemmas. This isn’t to say these two leads are the only good characters in the series, not by a long shot. Mogami is a terrifying villain and Serizawa a unique take on what Mob could have become. However, Mob Psycho is by no means perfect in this regard. For every good character in the series, there is dull and pointless one with no reason to be there.

You see, for as varied and colorful as Mob Psycho’s cast is, I could only tell you the names of maybe… 10 of them. A large portion of the cast is just dead weight. Nice enough in their individual episodes, but not needed most of the time. Now, this isn’t actually a problem until the final arc. Until then, Mob Psycho never has any of them overstay their welcome. However once the final arc comes along, in its desire for a big Shounen set piece, Mob Psycho focuses to much on them and reveals their problems. Take Sho and his posse for example. I don’t care about any of them but Ritsu, and none of them were introduced until the end. Yet here they are having a fight with one of the big Ultimate 5. These characters take away from our leads, instead of playing off them, and its sad.

Ending

Lastly, I have to talk about the ending, as I have lambasted up till now. You can find a fuller breakdown in my post on episode 13 as was linked higher up, but here’s the short version. The final arc of Mob Psycho Season 2 is… unfocused. Prior arcs had an emotional throughline, hit on a single section of Mob’s personality. Where as this finale just feels like a standard Shounen arc for the sake of having a big fight. Suzuki the villain is a weaker version of Mogami, the fights are fantastic but often devoid of any emotional weight, and the plot itself is just dull. This is a fight to save the world from domination, yet Mob Psycho’s strong suit until now has been the deeply personal connections of its stories. Simply put, the arc is to grand in scale to fit with the rest of the series.

Conclusion

So all in all, to long didn’t read, how was Mob Psycho 100 Season 2? It was a lot of fun! A stupendous amount of fun. Every episode was hype, and you could find almost the entire season in Sakugabooru clips. Yet at the end, I just felt… empty. With every episode building on the previous and getting more and more emotional, Mob Psycho built its own hype to impossible levels. Making it so the final arc could never hope to live up to it. So while the series was fun, and I enjoyed watching it, that’s all it is. I won’t remember the series for its emotional impact or how it changed my life. When people bring it up in conversation the first thing that will pop into my mind will be its animation. It’s because of this that Mob Psycho falls short of perfection, landing in squarely in “good fun”.

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