#1 One Punch Man, but for psychics
Let’s get the obvious comparison out of the way first, shall we. Mob Psycho 100 is very similar to One Punch Man. Not only are both works penned by the exact same person, they also both deal with unimaginably powerful people living a simple, underappreciated life. The difference lies in the subtleties, but it’s worth addressing the similarities too.
Just like Saitama, Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama is potentially the most powerful person alive. He is an unrivaled psychic, capable of bending the very world to his will and effortlessly exorcise even the most powerful spirits. In spite of this vast power, Mob lives a strangely ordinary life. He’s an awkward high schooler, more concerned with finding ways to talk with his crush than he is with defeating evil.
Mob and Saitama are characterized in similar ways, but provide wholly different perspectives. Saitama is a disillusioned adult who barely ekes out a lonely life on the fringes of poverty as his powers and achievements go unacknowledged, whereas Mob is a teen with a loving family who deliberately chooses to not let his psychic abilities define him. It’s interesting to see the same writer revisit such a similar topic, but “ONE” manages to give each franchise its own, distinct feel.
#2 Unique artstyle & character design
Its visual style is one of the defining features of Mob Psycho 100. It may be a shounen, action-comedy hybrid , but it looks nothing like any other series that would fit that description.
This unique look does take some getting used to. Some people I talked with said they dropped the show because its visuals felt more like a saturday morning cartoon than an anime. If that’s your first impression, then I urge you to give it a try anyway; Studio Bones takes the simplistic, goofy look and manages to achieve fantastic results with it.
#3 Intense action scenes
Another major point in the anime’s favor are the frequent action scenes. It may not look like a typical shounen series, but Mob Psycho 100 can certainly compete in that field when it comes to battles.
Fights are intense and frenetic; impressive even by the already high standards for modern-day Bones anime. The psychic powers look amazing in action: people getting telekenetically flung through walls, people who channel their powers into physical attacks, explosions and flashes of light. You’d think a psychic battle would just be two people standing still and thinking really hard, but turns out it’s just as wildly destructive as regular fighting.
The plot also escalates nicely, forcing Mob and his friends to deal with increasingly powerful spirits and villains that all have cool designs and unique powers. I was especially fond of this one guy, Terada, who looks like Don Wei from Oban Star Racers and uses these extendable, psychic tentacles. Very Elfen Lied-like.
#4 Focus on character development
While great fight scenes are always nice to have, what really sucked me into Mob Psycho 100 is its cast of characters and the development they go through. Mob himself is naturally a great example of this, but over time a strong cast of support characters forms around him that all have interesting stories going on as well.
Mob is a lovable guy whose story grabbed me almost right away. A lot of his problems stem from typical teenage anxieties that are exasperated by his psychic powers. He’s awkward, shy, and his peers don’t really know what to make of him because he’s so inexpressive. He doesn’t really have any friends and the one girl he likes doesn’t seem to care for him at all. Battles with maniacal villains are cool, but I was just as excited to watch Mob make steps towards sorting out his life and maybe make some friends.
An example of a secondary character with a great storyline is found in Mob’s brother, Ritsu Kageyama. He is just a normal guy without any kind of powers, even though he clearly wished it to be otherwise. He is a likable kid and the struggles he goes through over the course of season 1 led to some genuinely touching moments, especially when they affected the relationship between him and Mob.
A fun detail that Mob Psycho 100 uses is that it keeps track of Mob’s mental situation, in the most literal way possible. Constantly throughout the anime a percentage pops up letting us know how stressed out Mob is. This is used for some gags, but also serves to foreshadow that something big will happen as the numbers rise.
What happens when Mob hits 100? Well that would be a major spoiler…