Mob Psycho 100
by Nick Creamer,
The summer 2016 anime season was a strong one in many regards, but two of its finest properties have recently been resurfacing in similar ways. Both Mob Psycho 100 and Thunderbolt Fantasy stood as two of the best action anime of that whole year, and now both shows are revving up for second seasons with short tie-in productions. Unfortunately, just like with my review of Thunderbolt Fantasy's Sword of Life and Death, it apparently falls to me to burst the bubble on this promotional side story. It's nice to see Mob Psycho again, and I'm excited for the upcoming second season, but this Reigen-focused OVA is entirely skippable.
OVAs that accompany full show releases tend to feel superfluous in similar ways. With more focus on comedy or fanservice that doesn't really affect the main narrative, they generally exist just to offer more time with some beloved cast members in their element. By contrast, this Reigen OVA clearly has a different goal: hype up all the existing Mob Psycho viewers out there by refreshing them on the first season in time for the second one. With this goal in mind, it makes sense that this OVA doesn't really offer any new narrative material; like the second half of Sword of Life and Death, it's more concerned with using a framing device to turn a recap if the first season into a more watchable format than fast-forwarding through the season itself.
To accomplish this, the OVA opens with Reigen announcing his plans to write (or more accurately, force Mob to write) a biography of all his own grand adventures. This plan guides us through the following hour of recap, as we revisit the action-packed highlights of Mob's first season with Reigen continuously embellishing all his own contributions. By the end, Reigen's fabrications grow from simple lies of omission to actively placing himself in all the heroic roles, his blank face comically stickered over whichever character was actually accomplishing some great deed. It's a funny and very Reigen-appropriate trick, and the OVA mines a reasonable amount of comic mileage out of the various ways Reigen stretches the truth, all while sincerely touching on most of the major thematic, emotional, and narrative beats of the original series.
Unfortunately, a cleverly framed and sharply edited recap is still ultimately a recap. If you're still relatively familiar with the events of the first season, the vast majority of this OVA will be spent rewatching scenes you already remember well. By the end of the OVA, the relative thematic importance of the on-screen action means even Reigen's embellishments disappear, and the original series' climactic battle is basically just viewed straightforwardly. And with the vast majority of the visual content being taken from the original series, it feels odd to even assess a work like this in terms of its “visuals”. I mean, they're great, but we've seen all of this before.
The silver lining to this OVA's relative superfluousness is that it succeeds well as a recap. If you're a little hazy on the events of the first season, this is a snappy summary that also offers some endearing new banter between the show's leads. If you're still fresh on Mob, you can skip this without any worries about missing anything important. In the end, my own happy takeaway from this OVA is that Mob Psycho itself clearly places great importance on its messages about the arbitrary nature of power, the fundamental humanity of every person, and the astonishingly transformative power of simple kindness. It was those ideas that made me love Mob Psycho in the first place, and they're all well-represented here, once again articulated by the most unlikely of mentors. Reigen's just here to get us ready for what's to come, and he does a very fine job of that.
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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