Mob Psycho 100 II
by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 13 of
Mob Psycho 100 II ?
What's a king to a Mob? Well, this self-appointed ruler is still strong enough to give our young psychic lad some trouble putting the villain in his place. This is the grand finale we were waiting for, and it's truly a worthy capstone to an uncommonly wonderful anime full of both spectacle and tenderness. The tour-de-force of artistry is in full swing, bringing together a potpourri of animation styles from some of the most talented voices in the medium. Narratively, it's also Mob's opportunity to articulate the philosophy of kindness that he's cultivated over the past season. There aren't many surprises here; it's just a solid and satisfying conclusion, executed with grace.
Mob Psycho 100 has spoiled us so royally that I can't even be surprised at how good this finale looks. What Yuzuru Tachikawa and his team have accomplished should not be taken for granted, and it's absurd to expect any TV anime to look so good this consistently. This episode certainly indulges in the colorful spectacle of two godlike beings clashing in the skies above, but I really appreciated the care taken to illustrate the characters' emotions. Suzuki breaks out of his stern exterior and looks like he's genuinely having fun being able to go all-out against a worthy opponent. Mob also gets swept up in the hot-blooded shonen excess of hurling entire office buildings at your enemy, but instead of going full ???% again, a single glance at Ritsu brings him back down to Earth. After losing control enough times, Mob possesses the self-awareness to recognize his moments of weakness, cultivating the strength to rein himself in (with the help of his friends and family, of course). It's a classic struggle between controlling power and being controlled by it, but Mob's emotional journey amplifies this coming-of-age trope into something with immediately personal stakes. He ends up crying at the prospect of being unable to do anything but beat Suzuki solely with his strength. That breaks my heart!
Mob Psycho 100 approaches all things with empathy and nuance, and this final confrontation is no different. It fits thematically, and it also makes the battle more interesting from a story perspective. After a certain point, it's impossible to be too concerned with which superhuman has slightly stronger esper powers than the other, but that's not the real battle in question. The battle is Mob trying to make Suzuki want to be a better person. It's ultimately in vain, but it makes the stakes so much more interesting and crystallizes the major difference in philosophy between Mob and Suzuki. Suzuki believes his power gives him the right to do anything, while Mob asserts that those with power have more responsibility to use their privilege for the greater good. Acknowledging yourself as the protagonist of your own story doesn't mean exalting yourself; it means making the choice to take care of yourself and be cognizant of how you affect the people around you. Like Mogami said last episode, some people just can't be reached through kindness alone, and Suzuki ends up being the one to lose control of his powers and go berserk. There are a lot of good punches in this episode, but it's important that the battle's resolution isn't a physical blow. With Suzuki's selfishness overflowing and threatening to blow up everything, Mob prioritizes getting his friends to safety and containing the blast. Exercising your power carefully is a value at the heart of the best superhero stories, so I'm glad chose to follow that path.
I mentioned last week that I thought someone like Suzuki was beyond redemption, but I'm not surprised to see Mob Psycho 100 approach him with a more sympathetic angle in the end. I'm also pleased at how it manages to do so without reducing this episode to a treacly last-minute pity party for the villain. Mob asserts earlier in the episode that Suzuki wasn't unlucky, and that turns out to be true. He had a wife who loved him (I'd question what she saw in him but he does have great eyebrows) and a son he could raise, but he squandered both of those bonds with his tunnel-vision perspective. It's not that he was incapable of being a good person due to his circumstances, but that he had the potential to do good and selfishly ruined it. His arc doesn't end with him turning over a new leaf—that would come off way too clean. Instead, it ends with him realizing what he's squandered, with some unspoken reflection on where he went wrong. He can't redeem himself so easily, but he's taken the first baby steps toward being able to put the work in to redeem himself. While that seems small, it feels like a huge victory for Mob.
In the end, Mob Psycho 100 is about how tiny acts of deliberate self-improvement can help you blossom over time into a better version of yourself. Granted, we're not all capable of channeling our negative thoughts and energy into growing a giant broccoli, but we're all capable of similar acts on a smaller scale. The Scars lose their titular markings and start thinking about how they can start working and helping other people. Serizawa goes from being an evil mastermind's star henchman to interning for Reigen, which is honestly my favorite part of the episode. Serizawa is an awkward nervous wreck, but he's deliberately leaving his comfort zone and putting in the effort to better himself, and that's what really matters. And he's cleaned up into such a handsome young man! Reigen puts Mob in charge of the guy, and I can't think of a better note to end on. It's the perfect encapsulation of Mob's growth, and while he's still not fully comfortable with himself or his new role, he's ready to start leading others. Reigen, despite being a scumbag conman, continues to be the best mentor Mob could have asked for.
With a strong beginning, strong middle, and strong end, Mob Psycho 100 has all the makings of an instant classic. While I loved Mob the first time around, this sequel easily blows it out of the water. Mirroring Mob's own growth, this season refocused the already-superb elements of its first season into a more thoughtful and mature work, where every dazzling feat of animation was paired with down-to-earth humor and a powerful themes on the power of self-reflection and kindness. It's a balm for increasingly worrying times and a statement of intent from the many artists behind its creation. Simply put, Mob Psycho 100 is the kind of show that makes you fall in love with anime. I hope its memorable warmth is something that continues to resonate with anime fans for years to come.
Mob Psycho 100 II is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Steve is a friend who's good at watching anime and can be found making bad posts about anime on Twitter.
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