Anime Reviews: "Mob Psycho 100 II"
Some Basic Info About This Sequel
Title: Mob Psycho 100 II
Series Length: 13 episodes
Air Dates: 1/7/2019 to 4/1/2019
Age Rating: 13+ (mild violence, mild language)
Summary: Shigeo Kageyama, nicknamed "Mob" by those who know him, is a shy and unathletic middle-schooler who happens to possess incredible psychic powers. But these powers don't impress the girl he likes, so he has since joined the Body Improvement Club to become a more athletic person (because his crush, Tsubomi, has a thing for strong and fast guys). But Mob's life has changed drastically in other ways: He has learned that his younger and more well-rounded brother, Ritsu, has awakened to his own psychic powers, he now struggles with balancing his burgeoning social life at school with his job duties working under con-man-slash-life-coach Reigen Arataka, and his role in dismantling a branch of the sinister Claw organization that was bent on world domination has attracted the attention of their head honcho. Life can be quite turbulent when you're only 14, but with turmoil comes opportunity for improvement, and Mob's about to experience a tremendous amount of turmoil!
The Good: Takes everything great about the first season and cranks it up to the max
The Bad: Relies a bit too much on its narrator at times; unorthodox art style may deter potential viewers; now we gotta wait for season three!
The Ugly: Realizing you're the kind of person the series is criticizing
How did I end up here?
As these last few years have gone by, Mob Psycho 100 has endeared itself to me more and more. Not just because of its unique presentation, quirky characters, and bombastic action set-pieces, but also because of its core message: You are more than a single defining aspect of yourself, and thinking you're special because of that one aspect is extremely dumb, because there will always be someone better than you at that thing, so the key to living a more satisfying and productive life is to foster multiple traits rather than focusing on just one. And this is a good message for a show to send.
But now Season 2 is upon us, and I was an eager beaver to see where this new season was going to go. Would it build further upon the theme of self-improvement? Or would it branch out into other themes? The answer turned out to be a little bit of both. So now a different question arises: Does Mob Psycho 100 II exceed its predecessor, or does it fall short of those lofty heights? Let's find out, shall we?
How does Mob Psycho 100's sequel stack up to the original?
So this section of positives is going to include a lot of things the first season already did very well. Because Mob Psycho 100 II is the best kind of sequel--the kind that takes what its predecessor did and improves on its every facet.
The art and animation of Mob Psycho 100 is, of course, very quirky and odd and not immediately attractive, but nonetheless holds a unique charm that kept me coming back for more. Now in its second season, Bones have gone above and beyond in making these ludicrous character designs perform even greater feats of animation, especially during the many bombastic and exciting action sequences. Every episode has at least one thrilling and gorgeously-animated battle (of some kind) in it, and the visuals range from the hyper-kinetic and earth-shattering, to artsy and atmospheric and downright bleak. And there's so much emotive acting in the animation, too! You wouldn't think these character designs could display so much range of emotion, but they do! The first season was already excellent on all these fronts, but season two really stepped up to the plate and delivered more!
Of course, part of what made these quirky character designs work in the first place was the quirky characters themselves. While the first season dedicated its time to establishing these characters, their motivations, and setting up initial struggles for them to overcome, season two decided it was time to start fleshing them out more and putting them through the wringer of change--Mob becomes more sociable and begins to make (more) big changes as a person, Reigen's deceitfulness becomes more apparent and heads to a point where he seems to be digging his own grave, Ritsu comes to terms with his inferiority to his older brother and becomes a better person for it (as does Hanazawa), Dimple's ambitions for Mob shift and change as he takes close note of his potential vessel's personal growth, and even more former villains pop out of the woodwork and have changed in various ways. Naturally, change and growth are part of what makes a serialized narrative satisfying in the first place, and these arcs are a huge part of what makes Mob Psycho 100 II a great improvement over its already outstanding first season, but it also leads nicely into my next point:
Change and growth. These are the fundamental themes of this second season, and through its characters, both old and new, Mob Psycho 100 II does a phenomenal job of executing them with finesse. The first season was all about how having talent doesn't innately make you better than other people, and that focusing solely on your talent and refusing to flesh out your other traits makes you one-dimensional and, frankly, a waste of potential at best and an outright liability to society at worst. Now, in its second season, we focus on a related message of how change and growth are necessary to improve yourself as a person and as a member of society, because those who refuse to change or grow foster a toxic mindset that, while not exactly as the show depicts, can threaten to bring the entire world down.
Throughout the franchise, the message is clear: You are not special because of your talents. Your talents do not make you better than anyone else. But your talents are, nevertheless, a good thing, and you should use them to create bonds with other people or to improve the lives of others. "People can't live alone," the series might say. Each arc of this season sets out to prove that thesis through its characters. And it's great.
Oh, and I'd be a filthy, filthy animal if I didn't give props to the new opening theme "99.9" for being an incredibly satisfying jam. It's just an incredible song with incredible animation accompaniment, and I'll fight anyone in the streets who says otherwise.
So yeah, basically, in terms of visuals, characters, story, and theme, Mob Psycho 100 II is superior to its predecessor. And that's awesome. We could only be so lucky if every sequel was like this.
And where does this series fall flat?
Trying to think of flaws for this series was pretty tough, actually, because I couldn't really think of anything that really brought it down. Maybe some nitpicks here and there, but nothing too big.
Maybe the biggest nitpick I have is that there are a few too many times when something psychologically or physically abstract is going on, and the series' narrator chimes in to explain what's happening to us. Which isn't a bad thing for a show about complex emotions, psychology, and abstract powers to have, really, but this season I did notice the narrator speaking up more often than before, so it felt a little odd that he was needed as much as he was. But oh darn, the biggest flaw of the series is that we're being briefly informed about some things that aren't immediately obvious. What a tragedy.
I also have to make mention, like in the first season's review, that the art style may be a turn-off for some people. Personally, I like it, I love it, I want some more of it, and I've tried so hard but can't rise above it, but there are plenty of people out there, I'm sure, who will take one look at these character designs and immediately dismiss the show out-of-hand. Which actually is a tragedy, because this franchise is phenomenal, and they're really missing out.
And of course, I know for a fact that the story is not yet complete. We got a fantastic ending for this season, but it's patently obvious that there's still more to come, and season three isn't out yet. There is going to be a season three, right, Studio Bones? Right?! RIGHT?!?
So, what's the verdict?
A near-perfect sequel series to what was already a modern classic masterpiece, Mob Psycho 100 II is near-mandatory viewing for any anime fan, and maybe even some non-anime fans who are perfectly okay with the franchise's unorthodox visual presentation. It has it all--bombastic action, poignant drama, wacky comedy, character growth, and lots and lots of Reigen. I laughed, I cried, I laugh-cried, and I got plenty of reaction images for online usage. And best of all, I've got a new franchise creepin' into my Top 10 Anime list, as this season pushed the franchise over the top and into that most prestigious of lists. I love Mob Psycho 100, in case that wasn't obvious by now, and here's to hoping season three comes out sooner rather than later.
Final Score: 10 out of 10. The Mob Psycho 100 franchise has only improved as time has gone by, with increased proficiency in its visuals, writing, and dedication to its themes of improving one's self to better society as a whole, making it a modern classic that should be seen and enjoyed by anime fans the world over (if it hasn't already).