Mob Psycho 100 Episode 7
by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Mob Psycho 100 ?
Mob Psycho stayed largely in Ritsu's perspective this week, as the startling twist at the end of last episode led into him embracing his sudden psychic powers. Though Reigen isn't exactly the most reputable teacher, his presence has still had a relatively positive effect on Mob's life - by contrast, Ritsu's new relationship with Dimple only brought out the worst in each of them. And so Ritsu found himself in a crime spiral, with bad action inspiring bad action as he assumed the mantle of Salt Middle School's Teruki.
I liked the overall trajectory of this episode, as a sequence of poor choices put Ritsu further and further in the hole. It's understandable that Ritsu's initial willingness to go along with the student council president would make him feel trapped, prompting further concessions to his initial humanity. And Dimple played into Ritsu's insecurities in unintentionally effective ways, offering the possibility of Ritsu becoming even stronger than his brother. Having Shinji's ultimate downfall come about almost as an afterthought in Ritsu's journey was another nice detail; although Shinji's presence was initially important to Ritsu, Ritsu's own bad choices ultimately had so much momentum that they didn't require Shinji at all.
That said, I was much less of a fan of this episode's pacing. It felt like we were rushing through at least two episodes of material. Ritsu may have started this episode already having made a bad decision, but that's very far from the megalomaniac he became by the end. The episode's extreme pacing meant that many scenes felt either rushed or out of place - the brief interlude with Mob and Reigen had virtually no relevance to the rest of the episode, and it took barely a scene for Ritsu to move from “are we still really doing this” to goading Shinji into even more terrible actions. The pacing also significantly lessened the impact of the episode's final sequences; in particular, I felt Ritsu's final confrontation with Shinji, where he talked about how both of them “had done something they couldn't take back,” was meant to come at the end of a far longer period of moral degradation.
The episode's hyper pacing also undercut its thematic aspirations. ONE has always been extremely on-the-nose when it comes to the evil of crowds or society in general, and this episode left no time for more than a bare summary of Ritsu and Shinji's social ostracization program. The fact that Mob's one major scene starred a pair of “evil” con artists didn't help matters; it only emphasized the idea that in this show's world, most secondary characters can be reduced to binary “good or evil” categories. The actual stars didn't fare much better - Ritsu ended up coming off like a one-note villain, and Shinji's motives were cast aside entirely. ONE's thoughts on society at large are a lot less interesting than his ability to specifically evoke Mob's unhappy headspace, and capturing Mob's mentality requires a significant amount of dedicated screentime. When the story is reduced to rapid-fire bullet points like this, it comes off as bitter and simplistic.
This episode's visual execution was also a step down from Mob Psycho's usual excellence. There were some occasional animation highlights (even small moments like Ritsu twisting some spoons were given great delivery), but the episode relied on stills more heavily than most previous ones, and many of the visual tricks were ones we've seen before. My favorite visual flourish of this episode was the sequence where the show cut to black and white figures, as Ritsu stepped forward through heavily crosshatched shadows. The episode's use of shadows was particularly strong overall - even though I might complain about this episode's execution in relative terms, it's still far more visually compelling than the vast majority of shows out there.
Overall, this was definitely a weaker episode of Mob Psycho 100. I'm guessing the show is currently rushing through material in order to hit some specific arc conclusion, and the current material is suffering the consequences. Hopefully, whatever the show is in such a hurry to get to will make these concessions worth it.
Mob Psycho 100 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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