It’s no secret that I used to be a huge anime fan. It’s also no secret that I really don’t know anything about what’s going on in this scene anymore. I watched part of My Hero Academia and laughed my ass off in front of Pop Team Epic last year, but that’s about the only interactions I had with this side of culture in the past few years. I don’t really know what JoJo is about and I’m perfectly fine with that (at this point, I’m honestly too afraid to ask).
However, when Mob Psycho 100 II popped up on my TV Time list, I was intrigued. To be completely honest, I could not remember much of the first season, only that I had enjoyed it. I’m generally bad at following TV shows (ask the nine full seasons of X Files I have left to watch even though I started the show three years ago), especially ones with long runtimes: I could not resist the prospect of 13 episodes of 24 minutes. And since it was readily available on Crunchyroll, I figured out that I could give it a try.
Mob Psycho 100 is known to be a show that even non-anime fans have shown enthusiasm for — and watching it, it is fairly easy to realize why. Nothing about the show is complicated. There’s no long backstories to learn, no ungodly amount of characters, no complicated mythology. Sure, it does have its supernatural element, but at this point, what doesn’t ? In 2019, you’re a nerd if you don’t watch the show about dragons. Even us anime newbies can deal with a bit of ghosts.
Watching the second season of Mob Psycho 100, I remembered almost immediately why I had enjoyed it the first time around. I may have distanced myself from Japanese products, but I still know good animation when I see it. MP100’s isn’t just good: it’s great. Even when I got a bit lost in the first episodes because of my poor recollection of what had happened in the preceding season, the constant visual spectacle in front of me made it impossible for me to quit. It’s colorful, vivid, almost hypnotic, always full of life and originality. You can’t advert your gaze — but at the same time, you truly have no reason to.
What makes the anime so accessible is that even despite the focus on all of his super abilities, the heart of the show is Mob as a person. In his own subtle way, he is a deeply unconventional shounen protagonist. He’s not the chosen one or anything special, or at least he doesn’t think he is. He doesn’t realize his own power at first, and once he does, he doesn’t care that much. What he cares about ? Well, more or less the same things that other teenage boys care about. He wants to have good grades. He wants his family and his mentor to be proud of him. He wants his friends to be safe. He wants the girl he likes to notice him. He doesn’t wish for much except for a bit of happiness.
This is where the show succeeds. Unlike other shounen where the quest is to be the best, the strongest, the one that will surpass all other, the only thing Mob concerns himself about is perhaps the most important: kindness. In every episode, it is made a point to demonstrate that ability isn’t much without a heart to lead it correctly. Mob doesn’t ever take pleasure in hurting people. In fact, he’d much rather not fight at all.
Similarly, it is in fact outside of its action sequences that the show works best. Before the inevitable big battle of the last episodes, Mob is given plenty of opportunities to grow. We are never once allowed to forget that we are seeing a young teenager rather than a superhero. It is as difficult for him to fight against the most powerful person he has encountered than to learn how to finally stand up for himself. There is something truly touching about the way the show handles its main character. He’s going through a lot — but the show loves him enough to always believe he’ll always be alright in the end.
There are also a lot more Reigen-centric episodes, where the professional scammer is allowed a lot more character development than previously. These insights into what had previously been mostly a comedic resort and occasionally antagonistic are useful in deepening what the first season had established. The show is clearly built on the relationship between these two, and seeing its twists and turns is what makes it such an entertaining and rewarding watch.
Unfortunately, these parts of the shows are so successful that once the big fight does come, it feels a bit tired. Don’t get me wrong, these sequences are beautifully animated and intelligently choreographed and scripted — but we can get that very same thing in plenty of other shows. The long action scenes we get in the last few episodes of the season just get too long, too impersonal, almost inauthentic. As well made as they are, at some point we’re just sort of waiting for the finale to be over, which is a shame in a show that started off as well as this one did.
However, these few complaints are not enough to obscure the season as a whole (and may honestly be a matter of personal preference more than anything else). Sure, Mob Psycho 100 II could not be everything I wanted it to be — but it comes pretty damn close. Despite occasional flaws, it shines through its comedy, its characters, its animation, and most of all, its unmistakable heart. With the show’s unmistakable success, a follow-up of some kind is inevitable, whether in the form of a third season or a movie — and it will be a pleasure to return to Mob’s always heartfelt little world.
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