The winter 2019 anime Mob Psycho 100 II is wildly popular, and I understand why. While I don’t consider it anywhere near an anime masterpiece, Mob Psycho is visually and emotionally exciting, funny, beautiful, and moving. And it’s a shounen fighting show, so of course millions would watch it. Here, I’ll review the series by examining story, art, sound, characters, and personal enjoyment.
Story, Structure, and Themes: 8/10
The base plot is Shigeo’s life as he becomes more mature, which by itself can be a pretty difficult type of story to pull off. However, the second part of the plot is about psychics, and how Shigeo must fight off evil ones to protect his home and family. For the most part, Mob Psycho 100 II does a good job with story-telling, but the structure is abnormal and rough, making it seem messy and less professional.
The following is a commonly used type of structure for twelve- or thirteen-episode series. I believe it’s better for storytelling in general. The plot flows smoothly and consistently, and in episodes 1 and 3 there are exciting events that hook the viewer. The climax or biggest reveal of the first half of the story should be in episode 6. Buildup interspersed with key conflicts happen within episodes 7-10. The finale is 2-3 parts, like episodes 11-12 or episodes 11 to 13. Good examples of this kind of structure type are Puella Magi Madoka Magica, My Hero Academia season one, and the first 12-13 episodes of Death Note.
The structure of Mob Psycho 100 II is nothing like what I described above. So why did I give the story category an 8/10? Because the themes in the series and the way the story lets them naturally play out are amazing. The messages communicated over the course of the series are important and deserve respect. They’re more than enough to make up for technical shortcomings. The themes include kindness, making your life your own, power, place in society, the need for people to rely on others, human goodness, self-control, self-expression, assertiveness, identity, and personal growth.
Art-style and Animation: 9/10
The art-style for the characters is very simple and the linework is thick and dark. It’s very stylized, but in a good way. The excessive simplicity and plainness of the characters is balanced out by the detailed, explosive, and colorful fight scenes, full of movement and dynamic camera angles. I am not a visually-oriented person at all, and I don’t know much about drawing or animating; but even for someone like me, it was beyond entertaining to just gawk at the astounding visuals. They are particularly great in episodes 1, 5, 11, and 13, in my opinion.
The instrumental OST had some really good tracks. I was impressed by the creepy music that plays when the Claw leaders were together in the tower, and the various themes used for action sequences. I’m not much of a fan of the opening or ending songs. They don’t seem like they “fit” to me, though this is entirely subjective. The (Japanese) voice-acting, though, was great. It’s so much fun to hear so many voices you know and love, many of them playing comical roles with enthusiasm. Mob’s voice is so cute, and who doesn’t love the sometimes sarcastic, always over-the-top voice of Reigen?
Here are some of the seiyuu who I recognized from other anime series, or who might be of interest to readers. Takahiro Sakurai, who played Reigen, has done voices in so many anime I would recognize him anywhere, from Suzaku in Code Geass to the oldest brother in Osomatsu-san to the uke character in Junnjou Romantica. Teruki was voiced by Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, most famous for playing Kirito in Sword Art Online. (I recognized him as Sorata from The Pet Girl of Sakurasou.)
Shigeo/Mob is voiced by Setsuo Itou, a young seiyuu relatively new to anime and obviously talented. Miyu Irino, voice of Ritsu, I recognized from when he played Jinta from Ano Hana. He was also the main characters in Seraph of the End and Requiem for the Phantom, and Sugiwara from Haikyuu! Akio Ootsuka has been in a ton of anime, but I know him as Iskandar from Fate/Zero and Ubogin from Hunter x Hunter (2011). He played Ekubou or Dimple in Mob Psycho.
The supporting cast aside, Shigeo, Reigen, Ritsu, Dimple, and Teruki are unforgettable characters. In the second season, they are all given time to shine, and the audience is given opportunities to analyze their personalities and psyches. Most of them go through some good ups and downs of character growth, but without changing any of their core traits. The following are examples of a few character-related elements I found entertaining or touching.
Though we don’t get much time with them, some of the villainous Claw members have interesting character concepts. For example, the one who got most of episode 12 to himself, Serizawa, was interesting from a psychological standpoint since he was a hikikomori. Also, speaking of Claw members, it was good to see so many faces come back from season one, even if they didn’t get any development. We got to see a bit more about Sho Suzuki, and I liked him and his independent thinking.
Over the course of episodes 6 and 7, Reigen truly and finally realizes that he shouldn’t just “use” Mob, and that Mob is doing fine with his social life and setting boundaries without any help from him. Though I did think Reigen using Mob so shamelessly was a bit funny, I also felt irritated for Mob’s sake. So I was really glad this character growth happened. The way Shigeo forgave him, having known most of the truth all along, was quite moving.
Speaking of which, Mob too saw a lot of growth in this season. He became noticeably more assertive. He went through a lot– from the despair of being bullied in episode 5 to the horror of thinking his family was dead in episode 9 to the way he almost let his power control him in episode 13. Yet his core self, always gentle and honest, never changed.
Enjoyment and Overall Score (8/10)
What I liked most about Mob Psycho 100 II were the themes which I mentioned in passing in the story category. The theme of self-expression goes hand-in-hand with self-confidence. Reigen says that Mob is able to get through to the people he fights because of his ability to honestly express exactly what he feels. It’s true. Think of when Mob was fighting Serizawa. He communicated that he didn’t want to hurt Serizawa without insulting him with pity. In addition, he made it clear he was angry but that he wanted Serizawa to recognize that Suzuki wasn’t his friend. Mob became better at saying what he thinks to people he’s not fighting, too, like when he told Reigen he had a life of his own and stopped coming to work. If not for the Claw terrorism, Mob would definitely have told Tsubomi his feelings.
That’s just one example of a theme I liked. If I detailed them all here, it would take up a lot of space and more of your time, so let me just give one more case of a theme I liked and then I’ll shut up. Everybody needs others, in both emotional and practical ways. I liked the way Mob made this point several times throughout the show, like when he was dealing with the thieves at the convenience store in episode 10, and when he was fighting Suzuki in episode 12.
To sum up my personal enjoyment, I loved the themes and the main characters most of all; plus, I recognize the artwork as exquisite. My enjoyment was at 80% for another 8/10. If we add up the numbers of story, art, sound, characters, and enjoyment, we get 40. Divide by 5 and my overall rating for Mob Psycho 100 II is 8/10, excellent! The hype is completely right this time. This is an anime tale of fantasy, supernatural, shounen and comedy that’s worth your time!