「妖怪ハンター・天草晴明登場！ ～百鬼の脅威！！～」 (Youkai Hantaa Amakusa Haruaki Toujou! ~Hyakki no Kyoui!!~~)
“Yokai Hunter Amakusa Haruaki Appears! ~The Threat of a Hundred Demons!!~”
We”re onto our third season of Mob Psycho 100 now, and I’ve learned to treasure these slice of psychic life episodes. They always get overshadowed by the big action blockbusters, and the multi-episode arcs are what grab the headlines. Those are great, make no mistake. Especially in the hands of Bones in full-on beast mode, determined to make this a signature series for the studio. But I’ve always felt like this sort if material is what ONE writes best. And it’s not as if there weren’t chances for the animators to show off, too…
The story here was a two-pronged attack, starting with Mob’s culture festival coming up at school. He gets drafted along with three other boys (including Inuyama) to design the costumers for the class’ haunted house. The others, being middle schoolers, are keen to buy some white sheets and call it a day, but as ever Mob is constitutionally unable to half-ass anything. This is an interesting tug-of-war between the two halves of his personality – his shy, conflict-avoiding side doing battle with his relentless drive to take things seriously. Meanwhile Ritsu’s class has decided to do a cross-dressing maid cafe – a prospect he finds so horrifying that he tries to use his place on the student council to get it banned.
Meanwhile, a strange visitor arrives at Spirits & Such. Amakusa Harukai introduces himself as a youkai hunter, speaks in a kind of noh theater singsong, and proceeds to thoroughly annoy Reigen in world record time. Hiayama Nobuyuki is having way too much fun with this role – his performance more or less steals the episode. It’s not until Harukai slaps a million Yen wad of ¥10000 bills on the table – announcing that his rich parents subsidize his lifestyle – that Reigen decides he’s interested. Amakusa declares (in a magnificent scene where his tale is depicted on a scroll and he slips into normal speech halfway through) that a night parade of 100 demons is gathering in order to resurrect the Great Demon King, and that he needs Reigen’s help to defeat them.
By all appearances Amakusa is simply a nutter, but with a million Yen at stake Reigen is more than prepared to break the cycle of sadness. So he and Serizawa troop off with the youkai hunter, along with late-arriving Mob. And improbably, Amakusa turns out to have something to him – he can sense youkai energy at the very least. He leads the lads into a familiar abandoned building, and lo and behold there are youkai present. Including no less than the Maou and his four demon generals.
The thing is, even with Nurarihyon (or whoever this is) and his generals present, Mob and Serizawa barely have to break a sweat. In fact Mob is so distracted by his concerns over the culture festival (asking Reigen for advice was his original reason for coming to the office) that he’s quite absent-minded in his despatching of these supposedly powerful demons. Between he and Serizawa Spirits & Such is ridiculously overpowered at the moment, though that’s useful here as whatever spiritual sensitivity he might possess, Amakusa appears to have no combat skills whatsoever.
Also notable here is Reigen’s reaction – one might even say dismayed – to Mob figuring out his problem without his help. Our boy really is growing up, which Reigen will be happy about once the initial disappointment wears off. It’s not as if Mob’s designs for the haunted house exactly shake the bunkakai to its rafters, but for Mob just being able to convince the others to go along represents a sizable step in his social development. As for Ritsu, his social development is the last thing he’s worried about, though he does prove to be quite the hit with the local moms.
All this is building to something of course – it’s always been Bones’ approach to ease into a season of Mob Psycho 100, and this one is no different. The giant broccoli is clearly going to be at the heart of the first major arc of the season – maybe as soon as next week – which means Ekubo is too, as he’s taken an unhealthy interest in the plus-sized vegetable. More Dimple is always a good thing, but so are the sorts of whimsical and character-driven eps we’ve started the season with – I hope we don’t totally leave them in the rear-view mirror for the rest of the series.