by James Beckett,

Mob Psycho 100 II BR/DVD Limited Edition

Mob Psycho 100 II BR/DVD Limited Edition
Life in Seasoning City is as complcated as ever for Shigeo Kageyama - aka Mob - though things have been getting better lately: He has been making slow but steady improvements in his middle-school's Body Improvement Club, his once rocky relationship with his younger brother Ritsu is on the mend, and he has almost started to work up the courage to confess his feelings to his longtime crush, Tsubomi. Mob's work with Reigen at Spirits and Such Consultation still threatens to throw everything out of balance, however, what with the numerous malevolent spirts that try to kill him, not to mention constant threat of Mob's emotions reaching the breaking point, which would unleash a flood of destructive pent-up psychic power that Mob can barely control. When personal dilemmas and the violent schemes of outside forces threaten to overwhelm Mob and Reigen both, however, the two will be forced to discover whether or not "getting better" is enough when the fate of the world is at stake.

For a while there, it seemed like One-Punch Man was going to make out as the spectacle-driven ONE adaptation that the fandom would adore forever and ever, but I think time has been much kinder to Mob Psycho 100's inaugural season, and for good reason. With OPM, Madhouse stuck with the cleaner and more traditionally “cool” aesthetic of Yūsuke Murata's take on ONE's original webcomic, and it generally played Saitama's impossible strength as a joke. While Mob Psycho 100 tackles its titular hero's immense psychic potential from a much more serious angle, which I think works perfectly for the kind of story its trying to tell. The source material is even weirder and more willfully bizarre looking than OPM, and the immensely talented artists at Studio BONES put ridiculous amounts of effort translating ONE's singular sensibilities without ever diluting its personality.

Compared to the first season, Mob Psycho 100 II's animation is as crisp, playful, and almost recklessly gorgeous as ever; the bouncy and dynamic music complements the show whether it is being comedic, spooky, or bombastic; and the story expands on old themes while introducing important new ones, and pretty much every major character and plot-thread that got introduced in Season One comes back in one way or another. The voice-work continues to excel, too, both in Japanese and in English, especially for the leads. Both Setsuo Ito and Kyle McCarley are in their own ways able to capture Mob's conflicted nature without ever losing his fundamental goodness, and Reigen's deceptively simple charming con-man act comes through in spades in either Takahiro Sakurai or Chris Niosi's performances. Here's another thing that differentiates the two famous ONE anime, though: While the reception to OPM's sequel series was mixed to say the least, Mob Psycho 100 II doesn't just live up to its predecesor's lofty standards – it surpasses them in practically every way.

When you strip away all of its attempts to impress you with its drop-dead gorgeous production values and make you laugh with its goofy style and sense of humor, what remains is a truly compelling story about two characters that are desperately trying to become better versions of themselves. Mob is a socially awkward esper with a self-esteem issue that almost matches his extraordinary potential as a weapon of psychic destruction, but he has made great strides in improving both his body and his mind since his journey began back in Episode 1. He is more confident, more willing to express himself when he disagrees with his boss' way of doing things, and the relationships he's built with his brother, his fellow members of the Body Improvement Club, and his other friends at school have started to shape him into a healthy young man. Throughout Mob Psycho 100 II, Mob's capacity for growth is the emotional lynchpin that allows the story to deliver masterful moments again and again, to the point where Mob working to prepare for a tough school Marathon is just as exciting a plotline as the more complicated and action-oriented conflicts that develop in the season's back half — I would even go so far as to argue that the smaller, more emotionally grounded stuff works better than the flashy action most of the time.

Then there's Reigen, who becomes an even more complex and compelling character in this season, since his own emotional shortcomings start to conflict directly with Mob's burgeoning sense of self-reliance. I never expected to start tearing up or feeling painfully sympathetic over the trials and tribulations of the guy who is probably best known for his status as a short-lived internet meme. Yet his struggle with figuring out his own identity and sense of purpose as a grown man hit me like a ton of bricks, and I ended up loving the goofy idiot even more, in spite of how shady he can be. Other side characters, new and old, get similarly thoughtful treatment even in the briefest of roles. Despite everyone in this universe looking like one-off gag characters with obscenely lame haircuts, they're all people, and their stories all end up mattering by the time the season draws to a close.

Lest you action-lovers out there begin to fret over all of the mushy-gushy feelings I've been talking about, don't worry: Mob Psycho 100 II delivers the goods when it comes to spectacle, and then some. The legendary fifth episode of the season, helmed by rising animation star Hakuyu Go, outdoes anything we've seen either in the previous season or in One-Punch Man, to the point of being one of the most jaw-droppingly impressive works of televised animation I've ever seen, period. That says nothing about all of the other standout animated sequences of the series; I'd be doubling the length of this review if I tried to list them all here. It isn't even just about action; everything from seemingly random incidental shots to the mid-roll bumpers used to split up commercial breaks have been crafted with painstaking affection and an unforgettable sense of style.

I don't know how else to put it: Mob Psycho 100 II is about as close to perfect a season of television as I can imagine. Could I nitpick some of the abrupt tonal shifts that occur in the final arc of episodes, which is perhaps a bit over-cluttered in general? Sure, but then I would be pointing out the fairly arbitrary differences between episodes that are merely “incredible” and the ones that are downright masterpieces. If you haven't seen the first season of the show, I implore you to seek it out and watch it immediately, so you can enjoy this sublime sequel. If you're a longtime fan wondering if the set is worth a buy: Absolutely. If I had my way, a copy of this Blu-Ray would be hand delivered to every single person on the planet that enjoys good things. Since I lack that kind of world-altering authority as of right now, I will have to settle with this: I am willing to bet that Mob Psycho 100 II will go down as one of the best seasons of anime ever produced, and you owe it to yourself to experience it first-hand.

Overall (dub) : A+
Overall (sub) : A+
Story : A
Animation : A+
Art : A+
Music : A

+ A modern masterpiece of animation that needs to be seen to be believed, the Limited Edition comes with plenty of goodies for collectors
Not every episode is a stone-cold knockout, it eventually ends

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Production Info:
Hiroshi Seko
Yuzuru Tachikawa
Takebumi Anzai
Kenichi Fujisawa
Hakuyu Go
Ayako Hata
Masahiro Mukai
Yuji Oya
Shinji Satoh
Katsuya Shigehara
Yuzuru Tachikawa
Atsushi Takahashi
Hiroshi Takeuchi
Itsuki Tsuchigami
Episode Director:
Kenichi Fujisawa
Hakuyu Go
Takahiro Hasui
Shōhei Miyake
Yuji Oya
Katsuya Shigehara
Toshiyuki Sone
Yuzuru Tachikawa
Hiroshi Takeuchi
Tsuyoshi Tobita
Itsuki Tsuchigami
Unit Director:
Ayako Hata
Yuzuru Tachikawa
Original creator: ONE
Art Director: Ryō Kōno
Animation Director:
Yūichi Fujimaki
Hakuyu Go
Kōji Ishida
Yoshimichi Kameda
Hayate Nakamura
Shin Ogasawara
Nayumi Okashiwa
Hiroshi Takeuchi
Naoto Uchida
Kanako Yoshida
Director of Photography: Mayuko Furumoto
Shūhō Kondō
Akio Matsuda
Masahiko Minami
Sôji Miyagi
Hirotsugu Ogisu
Shinji Ōmori

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