The success of Mob Psycho 100’s first season was to be expected in many ways. The manga’s creator, simply referred to by the pseudonym, ONE, is known for having a brilliant mind for story telling and a firm grasp of comedic writing and direction. With his use of self-aware humour, he had already proven this through producing one of the biggest breakout hits in the world of manga, and later anime, One Punch Man: an anime adaptation that pushed the boundaries in terms of animation, while also grounding and humanising its characters with a masterful control of tone. The story of Mob was told in the same manner and executed as effectively as his previous work’s adaptation, with the added caveat of their goals being inversions of one another. Mob looked to be normal, to blend in, and live a life like those around him. With humour and hijinks, this was as successful as would be expected when dealing with a temperamental power of this magnitude, the building percentage of psychic power increasing with each episode, until it inevitably broke free like a psychically powered bull in the proverbial china shop.
With this second season, the characters, the tone, and the supernatural machinations in the background are very familiar and follow the template established by the first season; however, something is changing, and it is Mob himself. This is where the second season develops from what we have come to expect into something quite unexpected.
The series continues the story of middle-school boy, Shigeo Kageyama, nicknamed Mob due to his forgettable character. While appearing rather subdued and boring, Mob has a rare gift and is actually an incredibly powerful psychic, known in this world as an esper. He continuously keeps his emotions in check so as to not lose control of his abilities and hurt those around him, resulting in him being rather withdrawn from his classmates. For guidance in controlling his psychic abilities and many other aspects of life he looks to his employer, Reigen Arataka, a self-proclaimed psychic who in reality is a con-man with no psychic powers to speak of. The pair are frequently getting into trouble through encounters with evil spirits, other espers or the evil organisation Claw.
Mob Psycho 100 II starts immediately after the events of the previous season, with Mob stepping back into his everyday life at school. Mob returns with his growing group of friends, though having gained some experience through awkward school drama and psychic battles alike, Mob himself is beginning to change. His power is growing, but so is he as a character. Beginning early in the season, Mob becomes much more introspective and starts to really look at who he is, his weaknesses, and the sort of person he wishes to be, each episode presenting another situation for him to learn from.
Mob Psycho 100 has always had a great grasp of tone, inverting expectations and jumping effortlessly between its humour and more serious moments. This is also true for the diverse range of circumstances Mob finds himself in, from the first few episodes where he mostly wrestles with typical teenage issues, to the many bizarre psychic and spiritual adventures he later finds himself in. This wide array of challenges, whether comedic or not, and how he approaches each of them, provide a series of opportunities for Mob’s growth and improvement. This is the major thread running through the show and really makes it a joy to watch, as Mob matures as a character, all while still remaining endearingly humble and sympathetic.
The relationship between Mob and Reigen was at the core of the first season and is still a central element. The heart that lay in a relationship that on the surface appeared as a master simply taking advantage of his student was a standout feature for both comedy and the overarching plot. But with the student growing more independent and confident, this dynamic also shifts, resulting in some fantastic character development and a great example of the series being able to progress, in many ways, moving past what was one of its strongest aspects in the beginning.
Over its 13-episode run, Mob Psycho 100 II starts from a very typical, everyday place with school life and only grows in the stakes placed on Mob to deal with as it progresses. It is an incredibly well-paced series with a fantastic range of events and plot development in a relatively low number of episodes, with a satisfying conclusion. With this said, there is still enough material left from the source material to make a third season, but if it concluded here, it would still work effectively as an endpoint to Mob Psycho 100 as a whole.
The OVA concluding Season 2 is a good additional story taking place after the main events of the series. It’s an enjoyable look at a working day with Mob and Reigen that isn’t vital to the series’ plot, but is a fun addition that involves newcomer, Serizawa. Considering his introduction at the end of the series, allowing little time for the viewer to grow familiar with him, this episode-length OVA acts as a good means to show his dynamic among the cast.
The performances across both Japanese and English dub are excellent, particularly in conveying the series’ rather unique tone. ONE, as a creator, is well known for the self-aware tone he writes with. This often involves performances that are rather deadpan in the face of strange situations. The cast are great at conveying this unique tone, in both Japanese and English. Mob’s dry delivery from both Setsuo Ito and Kyle McCarley is still great but the real standout is once again Reigen’s characterisation from Takahiro Sakurai and Chris Niosi. The humour of the series is delivered incredibly well by both casts and is delivered in a style that even Western audiences unfamiliar with anime would enjoy thoroughly.
Studio Bones is again at the reins for this season and has continued to push the series’ unique and ambitious animation. The loosely-drawn style continues to ooze character with a range of animation that brings fluidity to everything from school activities to colourful and explosive psychic battles. It’s all an absolute joy to watch with animation that has effectively pulled these unique characters right out of the pages of the manga. The high level of animation on show throughout is excellent but the final episodes of the series truly demonstrate some ambitious animation that creates a strong conclusion to an already excellent season.
Mob Psycho 100 theme is “99.9” by Mob Choir and continues the series’ trend of having absolutely fantastic and catchy openings. It carries just as much energy as the previous opening, somehow managing to provide even more insane and trippy visuals that act as an amazing piece of tonal table setting for the strange adventures ahead in the series. In contrast, the closing “Memosepia” by Sanjou no Hana, is a more heartfelt song with more simplistic, but equally charming, watercolour stills of the cast with a vibrant array of colours. It’s a more sentimental song to wind down to after what was most likely some psychic mayhem.
From the strong precedent set by Mob Psycho 100’s first season, it was expected that the second season would follow in a similar vein. With the creative mind behind it, excellent source material and a proven studio at the helm of a story with a vibrant world inhabited by bizarrely wonderful characters, it didn’t really require much to be as enjoyable as the preceding season. Instead of following the same pattern of embarrassing comedic fumbles, we see a more introspective Mob assess these failures and grow. The familiar relationships and confrontations change due to what he has learned, and those involved develop in turn with Mob. The unexpected was the changing of an already established centre of the series, Mob, allowing him to mature and triumph as a character, but never lose the qualities that endeared him to us in the first place, creating a follow-up season that is stronger and improved in virtually every way, but has the same heart at the centre of it all.