Forum - View topic
This Week in Anime - Mob Psycho 100's Greatest Hits




Note: this is the discussion thread for this article

Anime News Network Forum Index -> Site-related -> Talkback
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
InimitableUman



Joined: 09 Nov 2013
Posts: 78
PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:52 pm Reply with quote
What is this "son" crap?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Gwydion



Joined: 16 Feb 2008
Posts: 132
PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:05 pm Reply with quote
Well at least one of them was properly shamed into finally catching up! LOL

Seriously, though, as someone who also almost put off season 2 until I could marathon it, I'm so glad I didn't, and it's always fun hearing other people talk about why this season was so good. Because there really are a lot of different points you could talk about, and seeing what stood out to others is always interesting for me. I, for example, didn't give nearly as much notice to Serizawa - thought he was fine, but Mob stood out to me more in their confrontation episode than he did - so I like seeing others' perspectives on his character.

But I have yet to see anyone dislike the Body Improvement Club, and that fills me with a special kind of joy.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kotomikun



Joined: 06 May 2013
Posts: 602
PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2019 7:08 pm Reply with quote
I was convinced the orange-haired kid was a girl until his evil dad called him "son." That's a pretty good demonstration of my awkward disconnect with this show.

It seems good on paper. Animation and direction are largely beyond reproach. But it feels like watching several different anime simultaneously. It's hard to keep track of what it's trying to say at any given time; many of the statements it makes, while accurate, feel half-baked and crammed together and usually don't last long enough to have any impact. It's about coming-of-age, and online radicalization, and scam psychics but also real psychics, except increasingly the real psychics are basically MHA characters, and bodybuilding as a metaphor for general self-improvement but also literal bodybuilding, and exposition on the nature of modern society, and emotional manipulation, and uncontrollable anime powers of doom, and religious cults, and young love, and divorce, and... and... for Mob's sake, please, slow down for just a second.

I don't know how to engage with that many different things at once, so I end up overthinking things instead. Like, "muscles built with hard work beat psychic muscles," okay, great, so training beats talent. Except what actually happened there was psychic muscles beat the regular muscles, until Dimple stepped in and made it psychic muscles vs. regular+psychic muscles. So are they saying you really need training and talent? Or the part where Mob lectures the psychic goons about how they don't know how to make the products they're stealing, so they aren't superior and can't run the world on their own. True, but wouldn't psychic powers make all sorts of production a whole lot easier? Mob can make plants grow instantly and reassemble shredded documents just by thinking about it. He could probably end world hunger (which in the real world is a distribution issue, not a supply issue, but I digress).

Maybe its strategy is to throw ideas at you so quickly that you don't have time to think any of them through. But I think the main issue is that all the serious real-talk introspection doesn't mesh well with the barrage of anime superpowers. (The column says the exact opposite of this, though, so go figure.) The one consistent thread is needing the support of other good people to be a good person yourself. Which is... confusing, because Mob's mentor is literally a con artist who gives him (mostly) good advice almost entirely by accident. And Mob himself has such overwhelming and versatile powers that he only truly needs other people to take care of him when he runs out of energy and faints. Sometimes it feels like a realistic character drama with psychic powers pasted in later; other times it's the reverse. It hardly ever feels like it's in sync with itself.

And, just as icing on the cake, not many of the numerous characters are female, and all of them are tertiary at best (off the top of my head: a handful of lower-ranking psychics, Mob's love interest that he rarely interacts with, Mob's throwaway love interest from the season 2 pilot, the leader of his fanclub, and Definitely Not Haruhi Suzumiya). Probably why I thought orange-haired-rebel was a girl... wishful thinking.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Gurren Rodan



Joined: 04 Jan 2018
Posts: 114
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:52 pm Reply with quote
kotomikun wrote:

It's hard to keep track of what it's trying to say at any given time; many of the statements it makes, while accurate, feel half-baked and crammed together and usually don't last long enough to have any impact. It's about coming-of-age, and online radicalization, and scam psychics but also real psychics, except increasingly the real psychics are basically MHA characters, and bodybuilding as a metaphor for general self-improvement but also literal bodybuilding, and exposition on the nature of modern society, and emotional manipulation, and uncontrollable anime powers of doom, and religious cults, and young love, and divorce, and... and... for Mob's sake, please, slow down for just a second.

I don't think the show is "about" all those things, so much as those things are various angles by which the show addresses its main themes, which I think could be boiled down to something like self-improvement and responsibility. Mob is a character who is gifted with incredible power, but recognizes that it doesn't solve every problem he has; so he looks for other ways to better himself, because one can always improve somehow. Mob also uses his powers with certain care, because he knows what they're capable of and he doesn't want to cause harm. By helping himself, he can better help others, and that's what's lost on many of the other characters until they meet Mob: those seemingly without skill might be susceptible to bad influence, and those with recognizable power often end up being that bad influence.

Quote:
...Like, "muscles built with hard work beat psychic muscles," okay, great, so training beats talent. Except what actually happened there was psychic muscles beat the regular muscles, until Dimple stepped in and made it psychic muscles vs. regular+psychic muscles. So are they saying you really need training and talent?

I think the point here was that the villain's psychic muscles weren't "real" - they were purely psychically enhanced. In raw power, yes, they were stronger than physical muscles; but once Dimple provided his own psychic enhancement, to a body in significantly better shape, the results were profoundly better. It goes back to the idea of self-improvement: the club prez had far greater potential than the villain did, thanks to his own hard work. It also affirmed to the audience one way that Mob's own efforts could be worthwhile.

Quote:
Or the part where Mob lectures the psychic goons about how they don't know how to make the products they're stealing, so they aren't superior and can't run the world on their own. True, but wouldn't psychic powers make all sorts of production a whole lot easier? Mob can make plants grow instantly--

Don't forget, those tomatoes apparently tasted awful. This actually ties to what was displayed in the muscles issue: psychic powers are the cheap & easy way to accomplish some things, but not the most effective. Hard work is still the best way to accomplish some things. I wouldn't be surprised if those tomatoes had worse nutritional value as well.
I think you're right about general production, though; honestly it would have been neat to see the story consider that angle, but alas.

Quote:
The one consistent thread is needing the support of other good people to be a good person yourself. Which is... confusing, because Mob's mentor is literally a con artist who gives him (mostly) good advice almost entirely by accident. And Mob himself has such overwhelming and versatile powers that he only truly needs other people to take care of him when he runs out of energy and faints.

There are two points to make about this:
1: yes, it's ironic that Mob's mentor is technically a con artist; but Reigen does legitimately seem to help his clients, regardless of their actual issues, and overall Reigen appears competent at a variety of things. His advice to Mob may not be the most well-informed, but it's largely effective because Reigen is genuinely trying to help Mob. Reigen displays versatility and experience in a way that inspires Mob.
Of course, Reigen's practices are still shady, and they do come back to bite him during his own arc midway through the season. This leads to an interesting side point: I think Mob has officially surpassed Reigen in growth, and Reigen realized that during the press conference. Reigen is good at what he does - but he hasn't gotten better in any particular way (extra ironic, since this is essentially the same problem the villainous psychics all have, and what Reigen himself lectured the Scars on last season: selfishly relying on one skill without actually contributing anything to society with it). Mob is constantly looking for ways to improve himself, in multiple aspects; and that's what Reigen himself admires in Mob.
This leads to point 2: there' more to Mob than simply his capacity for psychic power. That's really the whole point of his character development. Mob outclasses virtually everyone in psychic power; but a lot of his abilities reflect what he's observed from others (learning to do an out-of-body experience after witnessing someone else achieve it), just like how - more importantly - his character has grown due to the influences of others. Mob has made it this far specifically because of the ways Reigen, the body improvement club, and other individuals have supported him and guided him, while also learning from the misbehavior of his opponents. Mob is gifted with extraordinary power, and blessed to be surrounded by good people - something Mogami even calls Mob out on, in criticism of Mob's "privileged" position. Here is where the theme of responsibility comes in: Mob acknowledges his good fortune, and then uses his own situation to benefit others. Like I said before, by helping himself Mob can better help others, and he DOES help others. He exorcises evil spirits in his work for Reigen. He saves the girl from Mogami, and in the process gives her new perspective on herself. He's strong enough to stand up to Claw and try protecting the city; and he not only "beats" Serizawa and the boss, he's able to connect with them - Mob uses his power to match his opponents, and then reach out in friendship instead. Mob is able to offer the same positive influence that he received himself from the people around him.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kotomikun



Joined: 06 May 2013
Posts: 602
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:03 pm Reply with quote
Gurren Rodan wrote:
Don't forget, those tomatoes apparently tasted awful. This actually ties to what was displayed in the muscles issue: psychic powers are the cheap & easy way to accomplish some things, but not the most effective. Hard work is still the best way to accomplish some things.


That last sentence is the general message the show seems to have, yes, but this also demonstrates the main thing that kinda bugs me about how it presents that message. It seems arbitrary. He can make a tomato grow instantly but, whoops, it tastes bad and probably isn't healthy... because... well, because the point needs to be that cheap shortcuts are a bad strategy. This is usually true in the real world for tangible reasons, but in Mob's world it often seems to be true because the writers said so. He can hurl swaths of buildings around, channel a psychic explosion into growing a mountain-sized broccoli, dive into someone's mind to drive out an intruding spirit, but his telepathic tomatoes suck. That doesn't feel consistent.

The same goes for the idea that psychic-boosted muscles aren't "real"; that explanation does make sense, but using it requires you to take yourself partway out of the fictional universe. Without peeking through the fourth wall, you could easily imagine that the all-psychic guy was much stronger than Dimple and still managed to overpower the mundane-muscles guy even with some extra energy applied. It's a very common trope in anime for power levels to come from emotion, determination, and the necessities of the story being told, which always sort of bugs me, and this show isn't really any different in that regard.

I don't disagree with any of the things the show has to say; my dissatisfaction comes partly from how the logic to it is mostly external instead of internal, and partly from the extremely fast pace and a tone that seems to leap all over the place uncontrollably. Is it comedy? Drama? Trippy weirdness? Dragonball Z? By the time I've figured out what it's doing, it rolls the dice again and moves on to a new thing. That type of show doesn't work for me. I prefer stories that make a reasonable amount of sense in and of themselves, and can't really get invested in something that seems to want to be absolutely everything but (as you'd expect) ultimately can only tie itself together with a few vague general themes about self-improvement and not being a narcissist. This sort of shonen Gurren Lagann fighting epic about personal strength and teamwork usually comes off as entertaining but forgettable. (Literally. I rewatched the entire first season of Mob before remembering I'd already seen most of it.)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Gwydion



Joined: 16 Feb 2008
Posts: 132
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:22 pm Reply with quote
kotomikun wrote:
He can make a tomato grow instantly but, whoops, it tastes bad and probably isn't healthy... because... well, because the point needs to be that cheap shortcuts are a bad strategy.


The point about the tomatoes is that while he can grow them, he can't infuse them with nutrients. Plants gain nutrients from water and soil. Psychic abilities infuse them with psychic energy, and that's not the same thing. They might look nice, but they were never given the proper nutrients to be of any use for human consumption. It's using the logic of both how plants gain nutrients and what humans need from plants in order to make eating them worth it to back its point.

Quote:
The same goes for the idea that psychic-boosted muscles aren't "real"; that explanation does make sense, but using it requires you to take yourself partway out of the fictional universe. Without peeking through the fourth wall, you could easily imagine that the all-psychic guy was much stronger than Dimple and still managed to overpower the mundane-muscles guy even with some extra energy applied. It's a very common trope in anime for power levels to come from emotion, determination, and the necessities of the story being told, which always sort of bugs me, and this show isn't really any different in that regard.


I admit I'm not really sure what you're getting at with this, so apologies if it seems like I read it wrong (in my defense, I am currently sick, lol). Psychic muscles not being "real" makes sense fully within the world if you think of them as what they are: muscles that have been momentarily enhanced by psychic energy. When he is not using that psychic energy, he does not have the same muscle power, hence the powers giving him "fake" - or more appropriately worded "temporary" - muscles. There's no need to remove yourself from the universe to understand this concept; this is how someone with knowledge in psychic abilities in the MP100 universe would view the Claw member's use of his power: he is giving himself a temporary boost of psychic energy to increase his muscles. When his power runs out, that boost is gone.

The moral of this scene isn't that hard work can overcome psychic powers ("training beats talent"); it's that whether you have psychic powers or not, it is important to keep improving yourself. With psychic powers, the Claw member had more muscle strength than any non-psychic human. But because he was content with that, he ended up losing when facing someone who had put in hard work to maintain "permanent"/non-psychic muscles and then added "temporary"/psychic muscles on top of that. The Body Improvement Club captain - Musashi - had kept improving himself. The Claw member did not. Because of this, Musashi's base muscles were stronger than the Claw member's base muscles. That's why Musashi (with Dimple's help) was able to win.

Quote:
I prefer stories that make a reasonable amount of sense in and of themselves, and can't really get invested in something that seems to want to be absolutely everything but (as you'd expect) ultimately can only tie itself together with a few vague general themes about self-improvement and not being a narcissist. This sort of shonen Gurren Lagann fighting epic about personal strength and teamwork usually comes off as entertaining but forgettable. (Literally. I rewatched the entire first season of Mob before remembering I'd already seen most of it.)


I will give you that when season 2 rolled around, I had forgotten nearly all of season 1 outside of loving some of the visuals. There were a few things that stood out, and I remembered liking it well enough, but I had forgotten most of the characters outside of Mob, Reigen, Dimple, and Ritsu, and I didn't even remember what/who Claw was at all. But I think this is mostly due to season 1 really being more of a setup for season 2 than working out super well on it's own. All of Mob and Reigen's character growth in season 2 was set up by the things they went through back in season 1. Without season 1, their growth in season 2 doesn't stand as strong. And without season 2, well, there really isn't a lot of growth for them yet, and therefore while they might be fun/cool characters, it's understandable why their exploits don't have quite the lasting impact.

I would disagree that the show doesn't make a "reasonable amount of sense", though, which is probably obvious in the above two points about explaining the logic behind the tomatoes and the psychically enhanced muscles. It can throw a lot at a viewer, and I completely get that not everyone is going to like that approach and therefore won't like the show, but the things it throws out do make sense within the world.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Gurren Rodan



Joined: 04 Jan 2018
Posts: 114
PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:47 pm Reply with quote
Gwydion already said pretty much everything I could have, but I'd also like to address this:

kotomikun wrote:
He can hurl swaths of buildings around, channel a psychic explosion into growing a mountain-sized broccoli, dive into someone's mind to drive out an intruding spirit, but his telepathic tomatoes suck. That doesn't feel consistent.

Coincidence or not, those examples - and most other examples in the show of supreme psychic power - are rather violent and destructive in nature. Psychic power is great for brute force, but a nuanced goal like growing a healthy plant takes a lot more complicated work. Mob's battle with Mogami was arguably more straightforward in nature: a tactical battle which eventually became a brute force fight again. That broccoli is huge, but it's also no ordinary broccoli anymore. If/when season 3 comes out, you'll see there are problems that arise because of it.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Reply to topic    Anime News Network Forum Index -> Site-related -> Talkback All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group