Mob Psycho 100 Episode 8
by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Mob Psycho 100 ?
Dear lord, this week's Mob Psycho 100 was gorgeous. I know that's not exactly useful criticism, but I really had to pull myself together for a moment after this episode's climactic battle. Even by the lofty standards Mob has already set for itself, this was a barn-burner of a spectacle. The annual number of TV anime that look like this can be counted on one hand.
It was beautiful in a variety of ways, as well. Early on, when Mob was getting pummeled by the agent of Claw, there was a very clever mixture of animation styles. Mob Psycho isn't afraid of going cartoonish - as Mob got kicked and punched, his body would stretch impossibly to the sides, emphasizing the power of the blows. But at other moments, Mob and his attacker's motions were animated with careful attention paid to musculature and bone structure. Moments like Mob getting back up after being knocked into the sky or his attacker's final flurry of motions were given the weight of physicality, where you could tangibly see the impact of blows through the ways the characters moved. By positioning itself in such an artistically fluid world, Mob Psycho 100 is able to take advantage of both the cartoonish exaggeration and precise human articulation that make anime so compelling.
Things only got more impressive when Mob finally hit his limit. As usual, Mob's psychic powers were represented through a mix of kaleidoscope rainbow swirls and the literal fraying of his physical form, but this episode went far beyond his showdown with Dimple. Mob Psycho's generally loose character art helped as well; as Mob's anger grew more intense. The lines that composed the borders of his hair and sleeves became more and more ragged, his energy conveyed through a growing looseness in his presentation. The show's reliable painted highlights were put to terrifying use here, as Mob was represented as a mass of black energy in a red void from the Claw esper's perspective .
Consumed with rage at this esper attacking his brother, Mob's final attacks displayed even more animation acumen than pure visual experimentation. Two sequences in particular, Mob dragging his opponent into the sky and then slamming him back down, were true bravura displays. For both of them, the “camera” swung with the momentum of the characters - first sliding along the incinerating building as Mob carried his target up and then falling with both of them until it swung outwards to match the final impact. Tricks like that aren't just cool visual flair - in order to have the camera's gaze follow a character around a visual corner and forward through space, every single element of the frame must constantly be redrawn to simulate the shifting of perspective. At the moment when Mob's powers were most impressive, Mob Psycho understood that it needed to pull out all of the stops.
All that, and I still haven't talked about what actually happened this week. Most of this episode was taken up by that exhilarating battle, but I also appreciated the scenes leading up to it, where Mob learned the truth of Ritsu's powers. As with Hanazawa, Mob's response to Ritsu's challenges wasn't anger; it was legitimate happiness at his brother's success. Although he was certainly shocked by Ritsu's actions, those choices didn't make him lose faith in the brother he loved. Mob has tremendous psychic power, but for the second arc in a row, he's demonstrated that his true strength may be the understanding that he offers others and the humility he embodies himself. Learning Ritsu had done wrong didn't inspire him to use his powers on someone else; it was only when a third party attacked his brother, the person he cares about most, that he was roused to anger.
I'm guessing next week will be a bit less intense than this one, given the pattern of the show so far. That's certainly fine by me. With Mob Psycho pulling off semi-regular showcases like this while consistently adding texture to its characters, the show often leaves with me very little to complain about. Sensitive character moments plus gorgeous visual highlights equals one happy critic.
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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