「第一回霊とか相談所慰安旅行~ココロ満たす癒やしの旅」 (Dai Ikkai Rei toka Soudansho Ian Ryokou – Kokoro Mitasu Iyashi no Tabi)
“The Spirits and Such Consultation Office’s First Company Outing – A Healing Trip That Warms the Heart”
More Mob Psycho 100 is always a good thing. An OVA you don’t have to wait months to see translated makes it an even better thing. And while that whole sentimental factor about an OVA potentially being the last anime we see from a series isn’t totally absent here, I have a suspicion we’ll see this adaptation finished eventually. BONES and Tachikawa Yuzuru seem to unreservedly love the series, and while the first two seasons weren’t monster hits by any means they didn’t totally tank. I’m hopeful more than certain, but fairly confident just the same.
As always with specials, there are a couple of different directions a series can go. Sometimes (maybe mostly) they’re quite different from the parent series, and usually more lightweight. Sometimes they play like normal episodes which happen to exist outside the broadcast schedule (hopefully not like ones not good enough to make the cut). Dai Ikkai Rei toka Soudansho Ian Ryokou – Kokoro Mitasu Iyashi no Tabi (now there’s a title long enough to grace a LN cover) definitely follows the second model. As far as I know it’s is based on a concept by ONE, and you can tell – everything feels pretty much on-point.
Now, I’m about 95% certain that the title itself is a joke, because this OVA is Mob Psycho 100’s take on an isekai storyline, and those are the most notorious for titles longer than the author’s vocabulary list. It finds the team from Spirits and Such invited to the isolated Ibogami Onsen when the proprietress pleads for help because of bad online reviews. The complaint? They arrive exhausted because they were trapped in a parallel world during the trip. And I could just about believe most people’s response to that would be to complain online. Reigen’s first question is “how many people can I bring with me?” so it’s no surprise Mob is along for the ride – and he gets Ritsu and Teruki in on the fun too.
Most importantly, Serizawa-san is also invited. Yes, he’s a full-on member of Spirits and Such now (well, an apprentice) which makes him both a new subject for Reigen to take advantage of and another powerful weapon in his arsenal. He’s awkward and deeply anxious, unsurprisingly (he keeps crib notes from a business textbook tucked up his sleeve) and as usual with Reigen, how he’s treated could be seen in different ways. Ultimately I think Reigen is a good boss for someone like Serizawa – for all the casual bullying he’ll get, Reigen will also make sure Serizawa learns what he needs to know about functioning in human society (sort of, eventually).
The charms here come from a couple of different sources, and this episode definitely appeals more to those of us that like the gentler side of MP100. First off it’s nice to see Mob and Ritsu getting along in a non-stressful situation, especially when they act like the kids they are at the wonders of a ryokan room or the view from the veranda. An especially funny moment comes when Teruki puts Mob on tilt by asking him if he has a girl he likes. Even mixing with a group of middle-school boys, Serizawa still feels very much like the kouhai here.
Part of the fun comes at Reigen’s expense as well, as initially he and Serizawa are the ones trapped in the alternate universe because they’re asleep when the train enters the Ibogami Tunnel. But Serizawa (partly due to his enormous spiritual powers no doubt) is able to wake up and move back and forth. The problem is he never tells Reigen this, as his sleeve has told him to strictly follow the boss’ orders and not offer new information. Serizawa looks increasingly well-fed and well-rested each time he returns (Reigen takes a while to notice he’s now in a yukata) as Reigen grows increasingly haggard and panicked as the days (to his perception) pass by.
In Mob Psycho terms this is not a hugely threatening situation – basically, the matrons of the inn have been bolstering the God Ibogami’s spiritual powers and helping him keep a gap between universes closed, but as the current one has a wart in her nose her powers were weakened. For a quartet of espers like the ones here this is no problem and while Reigen does suffer as a result of Serizawa’s timidity, he doesn’t hold a grudge – he even has business cards made up for the new guy (and Mob too, who naturally looks thrilled despite their Daiso appearance). All in all it’s a fun excursion – very much a case of truth in advertising where that lengthy title is concerned. And now, the wait begins – hopefully it won’t be a terribly long one.