by Cecilia D'Anastasio
Mob Psycho 100, this summer’s soon-to-be-hit anime about a psychic middle school boy, premiered yesterday. From the creators of One-Punch Man, Mob Psycho 100 looks as if Fooly Cooly’s flawlessly erratic animation style met Paprika levels of psychedelia, all wrapped in a One-Punch Man burrito of action/humour. The anime’s first episode is a special, confident blend of over-the-top animation and bone-dry wit.
Today’s “Self-Proclaimed Psychic: Reigen Arataka And Mob ” takes us from huge, laser-beaming leeches through middle school maths class and finally lets us off at an explosive exorcism. Mob, the show’s kid protagonist, is the protégé of the charlatan psychic Reigen Arataka, who runs an exorcism business. He’s a real-deal ESPer whom Arataka exploits to keep his business afloat.
The first episode’s natural arc follows Mob’s progress toward exploding. When his emotions, usually dampened, hit level 100, he goes berserk. It may sound simple, but One-Punch Man succeeded off the premise of a guy who kills everything with one punch.
At every moment, mundanity and high-stakes plot points are balanced for maximum entertainment value. A butt-chinned spirit haunts a mysterious tunnel; Mob accidentally bends a spoon he’s using to eat an omelette (Mob’s father comments, “He’s going through puberty. Let him bend some spoons”). At the same time, in another scene, Arataka and his client, who wants her ugly face exorcised, wait for Mob in a haunted building, in full view of the evil spirit Mob is being called to exorcise. The camera pans out to a scuttling cockroach while they pass time. Like this, Mob Psycho 100's wry humour resembles One-Punch Man’s, although many fans contend that One-Punch Man made for a better comic.
Even Mob Psycho 100’s creator, ONE, was “dumbfounded” at how much life the animators put into his drawings. Nods to ONE’s sparse comic style appear in the form of black-and-white sequences in high-intensity moments. But director Yuzuru Tachikawa also adds spark where critics say the manga falls short; for example, its slow-moving beginning.
Nods to One-Punch Man appear throughout the episode, Reddit commenters point out. For example, the butt-chinned boy (this is a theme) who appears in OPM’s first episode is apparently featured as an adult:
Also, Saitama, OPM’s protagonist, is Arataka’s cellphone background:
Every Monday at 17:30 UK time, Crunchyroll will simulcast a new episode of Mob Psycho 100. Get on it if you’re into One-Punch Man, ESP, or very good absurdist anime.