I was just reading my entry on the first season of Mob Psycho 100 back in my “Top 10 Anime of 2016” post and I realized my appreciation for the show has changed after watching this new season. Not in a negative way, rather I have more things to like about the show now. There, I only gushed about how great the animation is and made an unnecessary reference to Kameda’s work in FMA where Mustang chars Envy (still one of my favorite moments in anime) – I was a huge sakuga fan back in those days, then overexposure to clips in sakugabooru over the next couple of years numbed me to it a bit. Anyway, I wasn’t all that awestruck by the writing, Mob, more like I didn’t need to because the top-tier animation and the smooth deadpan comedy already had me loving the show. As for characters, I loved Reigen, though; I still do and it has only grown since then. Thinking back, the pacing of the first season was kind of sluggish, especially near the tail-end. But all these criticisms have only gotten so obvious to me after finishing this new season.
Because the second season felt like a “leveled up” version of what Mob Psycho was about in the first season when it came to the protagonist’s story. Here, right from the first episode, Mob tries to be more expressive about his emotions – and that immediately made me feel more invested in the protagonist.
This smooth shift in Mob’s reactive openness, together with some great character building arcs, helped me to care about what happens to him in context of the overarching plot of the show. Mob didn’t just react to everything whenever reached that 100% threshold, he started to actively control and understand his psyche and learn from that. Specific points in the anime that made him more of a compelling character for me include his dilemma in episode 3, where he starts to see spirits as conscious beings instead of pests that need to be exterminated, and his interaction with a psychic-turned-evil-spirit opened him up to a negative perspective to self-insert oneself on to. And he did, which was a moment of vulnerability for him in terms of being overpowered and being the impressionable teenager he is supposed to be. Of course, let’s not forget the moment were Mob took rein of the dilemma and chose to hang out with his friends rather than doing Reigen’s work all the time.
Sure, these are pretty skeletal and straight forward modes of character building but there’s some level of elegance in the timing, balance of tones, and in how these dilemmas are presented. I don’t think there were a lot of memorable moments like this in the first season but it’s undeniable that such character building moments wouldn’t timed better without the first season.
It’s no secret that one of the central themes in Mob Psycho is about self-improvement and making yourself into a better being, and the show really shaped the character writing around that, with Mob’s moments of learning to take rein of his emotions, him taking the initiative to do something about approaching Tsubomi (though this started early in the first season), and, of course, Reigen’s heartwarming arc.
Reigen was already my favorite character from the first season. Even though he’s a con-artist there’s still some semblance of sincerity when it came to dealing with Mob. And that was confirmed through a two-episode arc, where Reigen went through some self-reflection and thought about Mob’s growth. Although the conclusion of the arc was kind of predictable, it still hit hard because of the emotional context that moment had, and how well the show built up to that by laying Reigen’s thought-process and past bare to the audience. It was a weight lifted off his mind when Mob openly acknowledged him, and through that, him and Mob developed a even more nuanced teacher-student relationship with each other. Reigen’s whole arc of self-rectification made him one of my favorite characters in anime of all time, he’s best boy.
The technical aspect of the show – animation – that made me be a huge fan of it in the first place stays that big of a spectacle throughout this season as well. The fights in the last leg of the season are, of course, gorgeously animated.
Speaking about the last leg of the season, I was really impressed with how neatly planned out the progression was with all the moving parts. It really felt like a grand finale. And the show’s humorous edge was still somehow intact in the midst of all these events of apocalyptic scale taking place.
It’s great how Toichiro transformed from being overpowered, nihilistic bad guy to someone who’s actually open to self-reflect and self-rectify himself, and how that feeds into the show’s thematic narrative of self-improvement.
So by the end of this season, the show has essentially leveled up in terms of my appreciation, the character writing, and even the overarching plot arc seem to stem from that idea. Mob Psycho 100 is a great coming of age story, I don’t really care a lot about how it ends (I don’t find Tsubomi that interesting of a character, really), it has already told a wonderfully packaged, hearty story so far. If you haven’t watched this yet, (I don’t know why you just read a spoiler-infested post about it) give it a watch.
Whew – this was a nice post to get back into writing about anime again.
Also, I find the opening to be better than my favorite OP from 2018 (which was Megalo Box’s).