Mob Psycho 100
Despite its title, this show is NOT about a demented yakuza; it is, instead, about a middle school student nicknamed Mob (real name Shigeo Kageyama) with incredibly powerful esper abilities who wants to lead a normal school life, despite exploitation by his "senpai" ( a fake exorcist named Reigen Arataka); despite the issues his "perfect" brother Ritsu has with him; despite the weirdos, human and not, that want to hang out with him (and ALSO use his abilities for their own benefit, like Reigen does); and despite some bona fide villains. He's remarkably laid back and calm, but when his stress level finally does build to 100% (this is where the "100" in the title comes from, and it's actually tracked during the show), he can lose complete control of his powers.
Crunchyroll was actually running ads for this show in movie theaters when they first started streaming it; perhaps they thought they had a major hit on their hands. It's interesting, to say the least: its character art is simplistic, stark, and frequently grotesque (one minor character is drawn as a literal blockhead); it also has some very good gags, particularly in the first part of the series. (The twist ending of the second episode is hilariously brilliant, though since the show took the whole episode to set up that gag, there might be some issues with economy-of-storytelling.)
The show can roughly be broken up into three sequential plotlines. In the first, we concentrate on Mob and his relationship with Reigen. Reigen is, of course, a complete charlatan, but he tries to hide this from everyone (particularly Mob) with the powers of persuasion that only a gifted con man can muster. The weird thing is that he actually can give good advice to Mob (even while only paying him 300 yen an hour, and claiming the lion's share of the credit, and of course the cash, for himself.) Because the art of the con involves knowing what the "mark" wants to hear, and Mob, being an idealistic young man, expects his "master" to also endorse such sentiments, then Reigen does so, and so help me, he's either one of the best in the business, or on some level he really DOES care for Mob beyond just protecting his "cash cow", because he almost sounds sincere at times. By the same token, the show does imply (especially toward the end) that Mob IS aware that Reigen is a bit lacking in actual psychic talent, but Mob goes along with it- maybe because he needs to have someone who at least pretends to be a good role model for someone with psychic abilities. Like several other characters here, Mob has a distinctly weird appearance, with a bowl haircut and irisless eyes, though he DOES get irises when he's nearing 100% on that running stress meter. We'll actually see him hit 100% several times during the series, even though he's extremely placid by nature. He lives in "Seasoning City", and attends "Salt Middle School" (ALL the schools in the city are named after condiments, of course.)
My personal favorite character was Teruki Hanazawa. Also an esper, he originally appears as the toughest fighter of "Black Vinegar High School", using his psychic ability mainly to augment his fists. Mob ends up (reluctantly) taking Teruki down a peg and teaching him humility, and thereafter he becomes a friend to Mob and a reliable ally, albeit with some tendency to overcompensate (you'll see what I mean; pretty good sight gag too.)
This brings us roughly to the show's first switch of story. We begin focusing on Ritsu, Mob's brother, who's been quietly jealous of Mob's psychic abilities for some time, and these feelings, along with two individuals (one human, one not) trying to steer Ritsu toward the Dark Side, make a fascinating middle act for the show, and I was eager to see where they went with it...
...and THEN the show LOST ITS NERVE, and gave us a final Third Act that revived the old chestnut of the "evil organization that wants to exploit our gifted youngsters". It's a MUCH too well-trodden path (by shows like Himawari Too! and their ilk) to really engage me, and while there are plenty of battles (action fans won't be disappointed), I just couldn't really get "into" this final story arc, especially since it ends in what I consider a muddled and (even for a show like this!) implausible fashion.
So my own take on it: some of the jokes were great; the character art is a matter of taste (it's not really MINE, but might be someone else's; being an old geezer, I'm pretty old-school there); the show's flirtation with some really dark stuff for Ritsu MIGHT have been developed into something truly impressive....but we surrender to cliché, in the end. A pity really, and there was a penalty in stars...
If only it had kept its story as "edgy" as its art... — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Fantasy violence, though no blood. There's absolutely no female exploitation (fan service) in the show; in fact, the only female character that gets a fair amount of time at all in the show is the long-suffering president of the Telepathy Club.
Version(s) Viewed: Streaming on Crunchyroll.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Mob Psycho 100 © 2016 BONES
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