[Synopsis]: Were it not for his powerful psychic abilities, Kageyama Shigeo (Itou Setsuo), also known as Mob, would be a completely average, middle school student. While he may be incredibly gifted with supernatural powers, he isn’t able to become friends with the girl he likes or be cool like other students. Under the tutelage and guidance of the self-proclaimed psychic and exorcist Arataka Reigan (Sakurai Takahiro), who in reality is an over-obvious conman, Mob uses his powers to exorcise evil spirits as a part time job. Despite Mob’s simple ambitions and desire to lead a normal life, the world of the supernatural steadily pulls him in.
Mob Psycho features an extensive and hilarious cast of enjoyable characters. Though it centers around Mob’s exploits, the supporting cast embodies all of ONE’s dry humor and comedic character writing which makes them just as memorable as they are funny and entertaining. Naturally they aren’t all as well-rounded as some of the more central characters however their exaggerated designs and personalities really added to the absurdity of the atmosphere and presentation in a grand way.
The complexity of Mob’s characterization I think speaks volumes about what kind of show Mob Psycho is. Upon introduction, he appears very average. He’s exceptionally kind, understanding, and socially awkward. He possesses absolutely extraordinary psychic powers however he doesn’t believe that they make him special and they don’t bring him the happiness he desires. His insecurity is depicted in how he bumbles from one introspective question to the next – how do I become popular? How do i read the mood around me? He’s very genuine yet kind of aimless and detached from himself. He’s confused and young.
What complicates him so brilliantly is the way in which he handles his psychic abilities. Scared of hurting those around him and taught by Reigan to never use them against another human as a weapon, he suppresses his powers to the point that they only fully manifest when Mob becomes emotional. This is illustrated by the steadily rising percentage number progressing towards ‘Mob’s explosion’. When he fails to control his abilities or is forced to use them in a way that doesn’t fit with his moral outlook, Mob is honestly distraught. It’s very dramatic and endearing to see him distressed in this way and between this internal struggle with his own ability and the relationships he shares with his brother and Reigan, Mob is an exceedingly enjoyable and well-written character.
Some special attention should be paid to Reigan as well who, while he doesn’t outright steal the show, is an absolute riot whenever he appears on-screen and offers a similarly complicated characterization to Mob. First off, he’s hilarious. He’s utterly transparent in how he cons people yet his pride in his profession and the charismatic way he goes about his work further emphasizes this dry humor. What’s more is that, in attempting to become better at scheming people and pretending to be a powerful exorcist, he has picked up a variety of genuine skills and trades that could enable him to be practically anything he wanted to be – yet he remains a laughably translucent con-artist anyway.
Comedy aside, what makes Reigan such a great character is his relationship with Mob. Initially it appears pretty obvious that he is taking advantage of Mob’s real psychic ability to scam people and accomplish tasks he could not. However, he provides such authentic guidance and insight and instills in Mob such a healthy mentality that Reigan strikes a peculiar balance between laughingstock and endearing guardian – the likes of which I have never seen elsewhere. Despite his absurdity, he cares for Mob a great deal and the legitimacy of his beliefs both flesh out his character and speak directly to several of the narrative themes present in Mob Psycho. Like many of the cast members of the show, he was highly entertaining and a pleasure to watch.
What might initially turn people away from the show is its seemingly awkward design. The character designs and general aesthetic of the show more closely mirrors ONE’s original art style than his more popular animated adaptation, One Punch Man. While this style is unconventional, prospective viewers should not be fooled. Mob Psycho is an absolute visual feast, possessing some of the most impressive and expressive animation to date. The animation is full of personality – it’s erratic, sketchy, and wild. The phenomenal action sequences aren’t just flashy. They’re full of colors, chaos, debris, and style that fully illustrate just how much passion the show has for its presentation.
If anything, the sheer impressiveness of the visuals practically become a gag in and of themselves in how they are juxtaposed to Mob’s typically distant and bored expression. The art and animation impart a kind of personality to the show that is so closely married to its narrative tone and characters that the result is nothing short of a highly emotive, gorgeous, feast for the eyes. Whether you enjoy the art style or not, give this show a shot and see if it doesn’t blow you away regardless.
Mob Psycho’s narrative is quite odd in how it’s constructed. Upon introduction, the show is lighthearted, comedic, and fun. The first episode carries out a fairly standard introduction of the characters and introduces the viewer to a new world full of psychics and supernatural beings. It’s fun but the beginning of the show doesn’t do much in the way of foreshadowing what is to come and there’s hardly any sense of a greater narrative at work in the first few episodes. This can leave the early parts of Mob Psycho feeling kind of aimless and so if you aren’t enjoying the fantastic character comedy or the whimsical interactions and developments in Mob’s life then this part may seem a bit dry to you.
It doesn’t take long however for Mob Psycho to begin developing something else alongside the show the viewer has become familiar with. Gradually, as the story progresses, the show features more and more fight scenes and dramatic developments that eventually build into an action-packed, exciting battle arc. What I think is important is that this shift towards conflict and action isn’t a change in tone for the series. Despite the subject matter of its episodes changing substantially over time, Mob Psycho never loses its sense of style or personality. It’s visually stunning and exciting to watch but, at the same time, it’s never far from a joke. The characters behave much in the same way they normally do despite their shifting circumstances and it all feels extremely natural. The story is fun and endearing but it’s also goofy and weird and the way in which these tones successfully blend together is quintessential of ONE’s sense of humor and storytelling.
To tie everything together, Mob Psycho exhibits a handful of themes that further accentuate certain parts of the story and the characterization of the cast. The most pervasive idea concerns the idea of psychic abilities. Desperately sought after and thought of as a powerful tool that might even place their user above the rest of humanity, the show talks a lot about how they aren’t that useful. Mob himself, possessing a very rudimentary sense of ambition, doesn’t find that they make him special at all or are capable of bringing him the kind of happiness he wants.
This can be exacerbated in various ways and there exists this captivating dialogue all throughout the show of what it means to be different or more better-off than another person. Mixed with themes of conformity, independence, adolescence, and repression, Mob Psycho proves itself to be just as emotional and provocative as it is electrifying and hilarious to watch. These sentiments mean a lot to the characters and ultimately their beliefs heavily influence both the style of the show as well the manner in which its narrative evolves.
Mob Psycho’s soundtrack was a lot of fun. While not as individually distinct as some other shows, the music fits tightly with the show’s subject matter of the bizarre, the supernatural, and the weird. It captures this disconcerting effect while simultaneously lending itself well to both Mob Psycho’s initially relaxed, slice of life tone as well as its later dramatic developments. The soundtrack exhibits great flexibility in this way and while it’s hard to pick out individual tracks to say the music isn’t memorable is a substantial understatement.
[Final Thoughts and Rating]:
Mob Psycho was a blast to watch. It was very unclear what kind of show it would ultimately become when viewing only the first few episodes however what it grew into was even more captivating and engaging than when it first started out. It was full of highly memorable, well-written characters, possessed a fantastic sense of humor and wit, and presented some of the most impressive action sequences I’ve seen to date.
I gave Mob Psycho a 9 because of the myriad of ways in which it entertained and impressed me. It possessed a fantastic blend of humor, action, and emotion all of which was delivered in a remarkably fun and interesting style. The characters were a pleasure to watch.
I would recommend Mob Psycho primarily on behalf of its action and comedy. While it takes a bit of time to ramp up, it’s action scenes were absolutely incredible and I’m sure will effortlessly impress and entertain any fans of the genre. Additionally, Mob Psycho is incredibly funny but these two elements don’t compromise each other in the slightest. On the contrary, the way in which the two modes of the show intermingle and influence each other betters both of them while presenting something unique and highly memorable.