「ボス戦 ～最後の光～」 (Bosu-sen ~ saigo no hikari ~)
“Boss Fight ~The Final Light~”
Let me just say up front – the standards are different in the neighborhood where Mob Psycho 100 hangs out. 95% of anime simply need not apply – these are the best of the best, and in a sense they can be much tougher to assess. An incredibly deep and thoughtful manga paired with probably the best director and studio in the TV business – yeah, there’s no point comparing a show like this against the bulk of the schedule. And there are so few residents of this neighborhood that in the end you’re tempted to compare it to itself – especially when it’s a sequel.
If you’ll remember, I ranked the first season of Mob Psycho 100 as my #4 series of 2016 – a year I consider substantially above average, probably the best since 2012. Of course I have no idea yet where Mob Psycho 100 II will rank – about all I can say is it’s not the favorite to be #1 based on the fact that it wouldn’t be if the year ended now (but a lot can change, for better or worse). It wouldn’t surprise me to see “II” end up right around the same spot in the order, and in looking back now (which isn’t as accurate as looking back with the benefit of a little distance), it strikes me as having been about on the same level as the first season.
Here we get back to that “comparing it against itself” thing, but it’s so damn hard to find anything else to compare MP100 against. First of all, how much credit do we give a series for being the most visually impressive action series in years, and maybe ever? A lot, certainly. I think Made in Abyss would be hard to top for sheer visual beauty, but for my money MP100 II edges out what I consider to be the best show since Hunter X Hunter 2011 in terms of action animation, One Punch Man (damn, ONE has been lucky so far – though that may be changing). Certainly in that sense, the sequel was better than the original.
I guess one could infer from that that I consider the other aspects of Season 2 to be slightly behind Season 1, but truthfully I feel like they were about the same. I would argue that the sequel was more heavily weighted towards action-combat material and the first towards character material, but with the caveat that with Mob Psycho 100 the two can’t really be separated. Still, just as a matter of taste I’d like to have had more episodes like the season premiere, ones where the adolescence storyline was more materially in focus and not just metaphorically.
Obviously the “World Domination” arc was everything about this season of MP100 turned up to eleven. It was loud, fast, furious and unbelievably well-produced. So few studios and so few directors and animation teams could pull off crazy stuff like this that they may as well show off, and that Tachikawa-sensei and staff certainly did. The thing is, it’s not just sakuga, which is impressive enough at this level. No, this is art – Tachikawa’s team has lead animators with very pronounced personal styles that are quite different from each other. This seems like a show they’ll be using in animation academies for a generation or more.
Story-wise – and I’m just being honest here – there were no surprises in this finale, for better or worse. The Mob vs. Touchirou battle was only ever going to have one winner, and we knew who that would be whether we’d read the manga or not. We knew it would be shock and awe on a scale rarely seen in TV anime, and even so it still managed to exceed expectations (at least mine) there. And we knew Mob was going to remain true to himself no matter how hairy things got because, well- he’s Mob. And damn, he’s sure grown a hell of a lot this season.
The thing is, Mob is genuinely a scary entity – and considering what a good person he is and the fact that he surely realizes even those he loves retain a bit of fear, that’s incredibly sad. We still have no idea how strong he is, really – supposed big bads like Mogami and Touichirou keep showing up but they don’t really challenge Mob. The only challenge Mob faces is himself – retaining control when the thrill of using his power fills him, and seeing if he can defeat his enemies using compassion as his greatest weapon. He defeated Touichirou in a battle that only lasted as long as it did because Mob was holding back in a big way.
Without question the relationship at the heart of this story is Mob and Reigen, and it may be that Reigen is so important to Mob because he’s the one person who’s truly not afraid of him, even at the subconscious level. Maybe Mogami isn’t either, which is why it could be especially interesting if Mogami returned on a semi-regular basis if not as a friend, then at least a sometimes-ally. He understands Mob better than anyone except Ekubo, certainly. I hate that Mob has to carry the burden of being an object of fear, because he doesn’t deserve that. But it’s hard not to feel proud of the way he’s learning to cope with all the burdens he carries (with the help of those who care about him, most of all Reigen).
It’s a testament to just how strong Mob is that in the end, he managed to not just defeat Touichirou without killing him, but without letting him destroy himself. I presume this really is the end for Claw, at least for now – who would take over, really? As for Serizawa, he ends up coming to work for Reigen, as Mob’s kouhai. Shou seems fine – he’s kept his relationship with his mother, and he’ll land on his feet. There were still a lot of loose ends from this season, though – it’s especially disappointing that Emi never impacted the story even a little after that wonderful season premiere.
That begs the obvious question – where does the anime Mob Psycho 100 go from here? We did get an announcement, but not of a third season – instead the series will get another OVA, and it sounds like an original written by ONE. We waited three years for a second season, but it seems unlikely we’d have to wait that long to get a third if we’re going to get one. But that’s a big if – Mob Psycho is modestly successful commercially, but no blockbuster. And there’s some question as to whether there’s enough material left for a full cour. It wouldn’t be the biggest surprise in the world if we saw the series concluded in the form of a few OVAs or a couple of films, and while that wouldn’t be my first choice I’d still take it sight unseen if it guaranteed the adaption would be completed.