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Mob Psycho 100 II: The AniTAY Review

The year started with a bang when we were treated with the second season to the wildly popular Mob Psycho 100 series. This bizarre coming of age story of Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama wowed audiences with impressive animation and satisfying fights. Enjoy this review by our AniTAY writers Doctorkev, hybridmink, RedStripe118, XMetalWolf, and DilKokoro. You can watch Mob Psycho 100 II on Crunchyroll, VRV, and FunimationNOW

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Doctorkev

If the overpowered psychic main character of Mob Psycho 100 has one defining characteristic (other than his bowlcut), it’s his precocious emotional intelligence. Mob, the diminutive high-schooler with the telekinetic skills of a god, overflows with benevolence and the belief that no matter how apparently unpleasant an individual, everyone has the capacity to change for the better. That’s what makes him such a sympathetic protagonist. Through his many trials and tribulations, you’d have to harbour a heart of stone not to cheer him on.

MP100 is the “other” creation of ONE, writer (and original web-manga artist) of One Punch Man. Both series concern themselves with subverting expectations - OPM plays with superhero genre tropes, while MP100 deconstructs and inverts typical shonen action staples like power creep and challenges emotionally constipated toxic masculinity. Mob is a hero for our complex, confused and polarised world.

Much like a typical shonen protagonist, Mob defeats his enemies and wins them over - but not with his (formidably apocalyptic) strength. Mob sees the world through simple, idealistic eyes. Other characters at first underestimate him, or try to take advantage - even his “sensei”, the (ultimately gold-hearted) con-man Reigen is guilty. Mob’s vision cuts through the layers of artifice people build around themselves and identifies their core problems - they’re unhappy, or selfish, or creatively frustrated, or ashamed of some aspect of themselves. With his compassion and firm moral compass, he finds ways to bring out the best in people. One of my favourite scenes is when he repairs a girl’s creative writing book after her “friends” tear it up - despite the fact that she had just recently asked him out for a joke.

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Series 2 of MP100 ups the ante in terms of sheer spectacle, in an interesting counterpoint to the emotional tenderness of the storytelling. Almost nothing else this year can hold a candle to the hyper-detailed, fluid and trippy animation MP100-II employs during its frequent and very impressive action sequences. It isn’t often that an anime can balance intelligent writing along with breathtaking visuals - normally one would outrank the other. Not so with MP100-II. Don’t be put off by the deliberately simplistic character designs - look closer like Mob does - underneath beats a smart, moving and meaningful heart that is well worth your time to meet.

TL;DR: Mob Psycho 100 II is a flashy but deep emotionally affecting spectacle that anyone with a human heart should enjoy.

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hybridmink

If I were to objectively evaluate Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 in the style of a 90’s era video game magazine, I would look at: animation, characters, story, humor, and maybe music. Once again, art is rough but animation is fluid. Action is easy to follow and enjoyable, and the mundane is still engrossing to watch. The story includes some fun one-off tales and a fairly shounen style grand battle, very similar to the first season. Humor and music are still on point too, making for a worthy follow-up to the original. However, one key difference this time around is its characters.

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In season 1, we got to know the shy, introverted Kageyama Shigeo (Mob) and the smooth ‘n selfish Reigen Arataka. Mob gained some confidence and Reigen stole our hearts at every turn. Going into season 2, you had to wonder how much growth was left for these guys. I won’t go into details, but seeing the fruits of the previous season come to fruition was very satisfying. To me, the most captivating moments in anime are when characters open up to one another. The more nonchalant the better. Towards the middle of the season, there is a situation where their friendship is tested and the end result had me smiling until the end of the episode and then some. I walked away and thought to myself, ” I think this is the best anime I have ever seen.”

I’m one of those guys that swears by Cowboy Bebop and FLCL as the greatest “Japanimations” ever made.” I never thought either could be topped. They were the shows that took anime as a hobby and turned it into a problem. I consume too much of it. I’ve grown jaded by modern tropes, poor writing, and cheap animation tricks. In recent years however, I feel like we’ve been blessed by some of the best shows this medium has to offer. Mob Psycho 100’s first season was one of these shows. It is objectively good by all accounts I mentioned above. More importantly though, Mob Psycho 100 has heart. If you watched season 1, you know this. Season 2 takes it even further, portraying character growth that rarely falls into the usual trappings accompanying both unique and familiar scenarios with its own fresh take. Filled with heartwarming and maybe even heart-wrenching moments, it provides a payoff that fans of the first season can’t miss.

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TL;DR: Season 2 somehow manages to surpass its predecessor with sincere character moments and unrivaled 2D animation. Reigen continues to be the most likable flawed character in anime.

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XMetalWolf

Roughly three years after its debut, Mob Psycho 100 finally graces us with its second season. The show’s original run was a spectacular journey right from episode 1 as we were introduced to the most powerful and mundane boy in the world who was nicknamed Mob. As the season went, stakes jumped higher, new friends and foes were introduced and we, the audience, were treated to ever impressive bouts of animation. Yet, despite all the extravagance that coated the tale as it went on, the heart of this story was simply seeing the boy slowly but surely open up and try to change himself. Mob made a few strides towards his goal but, unfortunately, the season came to an end before he could truly reach it. Now, however, Mob’s tale has finally continued and in doing so reached heights beyond that of its predecessor.

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If season 1 was the initiation of Mob’s growth, then season 2 is the culmination. The end of the first episode clearly demonstrates this change in Mob and every subsequent storyline that follows further illustrates on it. For all the flash and humour that fills this season, which are great in their own regard, it is Mob’s journey that easily makes the show worth experiencing. Though as a sacrifice to elevate its main character, the rest of the show’s cast, save on, remain on a shallow field, character wise, making their existence seem perfunctory in the grand scheme of things. However, I did say “save one”, that one being Mob’s mentor, Reigen.

Reigen had some absolutely wonderful moments in the first season and its easy to come to love his “fake it till you make it” attitude coupled with moments of genuine sincerity for his pupil. Nonetheless, despite Reigen’s affection for Mob, there was always an air of deception that permeated their relationship. Thankfully, the arguably, highlight arc of season 2 does an incredible job of ramming right the heart of this odd pair and thus allowing for a re-examination and reconstruction that brings out the true heart of their relationship.

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It’s not just the writing that brings its A-game this season, for the animation in Mob Psycho 100 season 2 goes above and beyond what you’d expect in a TV anime with its highs easily eclipsing that of its predecessor. Tachikawa Yuzuru and his team at Bones have done a phenomenal job of bringing ONE’s manga to life. The spectacle, fluidity and visual creativity of the fights definitely made them the crowning moments but even the more subtle scenes were beautifully directed and framed, one in particular that always elicits tears no matter how many times I see it. Despite what a glance might tell you, Mob Psycho is a gorgeous looking show and season 2 only enforces that statement.

TL;DR: Mob Psycho is back and its raised the bar for its central tale and animation that its preceding season already set so high.

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RedStripe118

I do not say this lightly. Before this year, my list of definitive all-time favorite anime was five shows or movies long. The fifth one joined that list just last year.

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Yet somehow, in January 2019, there is now a sixth. Mob Psycho 100 is one of the best anime to come out in years, and one of my absolute all-time favorites.

Thank goodness that it was afforded the time of a second season to get to that point. Sure, the first season was excellent, a vision of anime in practically its most idealized form—action-packed, hilarious, and heartfelt in equal measure, all delivered via some of the most joyously bonkers animation committed to screen—but it did not truly and totally ignite my soul. Within the first couple of episodes of Mob Psycho 100 II, that promptly changed.

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That all had to do with how the second season, coming as it did three years after the show’s 2016 premiere, began. When we last left the prodigious psychic Mob, his sleazy yet still somehow kind-of-wholesome mentor Reigen, and company, they thwarted the schemes of a villainous organization, one whose machinations still continued in the shadows, promising to cause more trouble for our heroes in the future. The big bads—the long-term conflict—had revealed themselves!

Mob Psycho 100 II begins by completely ignoring those reveals. Instead, they decide to lead off with a small personal story about Mob possibly maybe getting a girlfriend, the ways in which that ends up affecting his psyche, finding out that it was all started as a prank, and how he handles the fallout of that with graciousness and empathy.

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That this is what the second season decides to start with told me everything I needed to know about what it valued and where it was going. The big stuff? The looming dangers? The epic heroics? That all can wait. This is a show, first and foremost, about the life and times of a reserved and gifted kid nicknamed Mob.

With twelve prior episodes as a basis, they take that premise to fascinating places. Mob and Reigen get challenged and dissected, and thereby significantly evolve as characters, in ways that would have been virtually unthinkable at the start. They deal with moral and ethical quandaries. They get plunged into downright psychedelic memory trips in confrontation of internal demons. The duo even splits apart for a while, and we get to see them do their own things independently of each other. All of it is handled with unparalleled sharpness.

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Mob Psycho 100 was always a delectable feast for the imagination. With Mob Psycho 100 II, all of that wondrousness got infused with boundless humanity. It’s all the better because of it.

TL;DR: This is anime at its best.

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DilKokoro

Mob Psycho is the kind of show that paints a beautiful picture of how kindness and character can overcome many obstacles in sociocultural issues. There is an old axiom that for the most pure look at humanity, we simply need to listen to the youngest individuals in our communities. Mob Psycho takes long, hard looks at the grimy sides of a dark, adult world while never staying too long in the dark. Indeed, the comedy and bizarre nature of this show are a lifesaver, thrown out just in time as Mob sees a troubling development or reality surrounding him. What is the most impressive, however, is that this show hammers hope and kindness through all of this noise and over-the-top action. With so much going on between people at rock bottom, a young man filled with unmatched power and an underworld of the occult, one would expect this show to lose its’ messages through the busy agenda. Mob Psycho not only traverses its own complexity, but it also does it in a simply satisfying fashion.

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Any given episode is a social case study on someone who has taken on the hardships of life to varying levels of impact. Some have been crushed so badly by the physical world that they live on and haunt others in their afterlife, some desperately attempt to carve their place to live in peace, while others are washed up psychics or struggling conmen. These dives are all taken through the perspective of the titular Mob, who at this point in the story is grappling with the difficulties that come with having very real social struggles while also learning the responsibilities of his world-breaking psychic powers. Both of these facets are very similar to one another since Mob compares society and the occult worlds to find, ironically, that both of them show similar hurdles with fakes and bitter feelings. Despite this, the young man finds his own voice and way through the obstacles of both. It is in this that there are beautiful flowers of relationships between people and hope in dark times that blossom.

As I am sure many know, this show is brilliant from an animation aspect as well. The less patient may nitpick the “between” scenes that look less than favorable, but when the show revs up the engine (even if it is only for a few moments an episode), audiences are in for a treat. Indeed, the show lives up to its hype with remarkable action sequences that push the boundaries previously believed to be in place for animation. In all fairness, this show had to push those boundaries. The action and nature of this show dictated that we had to see something that was remarkable and otherworldly. There were a few moments through the series where I was waiting after the episode ended and the ending crawled where I needed a moment to process all of the wild animation that the studio used. Truly, this show is worth seeing for the animation spikes alone (even if you see it secondhand via social media).

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TL;DR The new Mob Psycho season hits on everything it does and provides amazing looks into the sociocultural elements of school, family, friends, and the occult. Fans of stellar action and animation will be right at home here, while those wanting moving drama will find a winner too.


You’re reading AniTAY, the anime-focused portion of Kotaku’s community-run blog, Talk Amongst Yourselves. AniTAY is a non-professional blog whose writers love everything anime related. Click here to check us out.

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