Maybe you can animate what you want to animate
A reminder: I’d recommend checking out the previous three parts of my Mob Psycho 100: Source-Adaptation Differences write-ups before reading this one. In doing so, you’ll have a better idea of the angle that I am approaching Mob Psycho 100’s anime adaptation from.
Episode 9 – "Claw" ~7th Division~
Episode 10 – The Heinous Aura ~Mastermind~
Episode 11 – Master ~Leader~
Episode 12 – Mob and Reigen ~A Giant Tsuchinoko Appears~
The final arc of Mob Psycho 100’s anime adaptation is perhaps the ultimate culmination of Kameda and Tachikwa’s efforts on the project. Detailing the infiltration of Claw’s headquarters, the finale is littered with psychic spectacles between Mob and his adversaries. As such, episodes 9 through 12 of the anime possessed some the most passionate displays of dynamic animation from Kameda’s animation team.
There’s many specific animation cuts that I could talk about here, but I decided to highlight Hakuyu Go’s cut from episode 11 as it’s the one that I felt best represents Mob Psycho 100 as an anime. If you haven’t already watched the episode, I’d strongly recommend checking it out first as it’s truly something that needs to be seen, not described.
In short, Go’s cut adapts a couple pages from the manga that featured Mob, Ritsu and Teru each taking on one of three of Claw’s highest-ranked members. In the manga, these battles occurred sequentially due to ONE’s paneling structure. However, what made Go’s cut so impressive to me was that he effortlessly wove all three battles together to create a chaotic and disorienting psychedelic showdown. Go relied on the free-flow movement of the combatants to seamlessly cut between the different battles: Ritsu and Muraki’s brief bout is interrupted by the struggle between Teru and Sakurai without a pause in the action.
Go’s cut only lasts a little over thirty seconds, but it’s so densely packed with insane background animation, camerawork and cinematic transitions that it feels like a self-contained epic. Heck, Teru even receives a haircut during all of the madness – and yet the battle doesn’t lose any momentum from this comical reprise like it did in the manga.
One last aspect that I’d like to touch upon with the anime is how well Tachikawa handled Reigen’s character during the finale. From the clever touches of misdirection to build up Reigen as Claw’s boss to how his heroic stand was characterized – Reigen’s conviction shone brighter than ever. Additionally, Tachikawa included a flashback near the end of episode 11 which detailed Mob’s first encounter with Reigen. During this scene, Reigen consoles Mob about his psychic powers and tells him to become a good person – it’s an honest and forthright moment between pupil and mentor which sets the stage perfectly for the climax of the anime.
Closing Thoughts on Mob Psycho 100’s Anime Adaptation
Through reading ONE’s source manga and writing these series of articles, I’ve gained an appreciation for how the anime’s staff have handled the project. The take-home message is that Yuzuru Tachikawa respects ONE’s vision, but not so far as to restrict the production’s creative process; as long as the manga’s core storyline is adapted, Yoshimichi Kameda and his animation team have free reign. This is especially notable during Mob Psycho 100’s action sequences, where Kameda’s oversight of the animation direction caused fight cuts to diverge heavily from ONE’s manga storyboards.
Generally speaking, Tachikawa and Kameda had plenty of “wiggle room” with Mob Psycho 100’s anime adaptation – which at this point can certainly be called creative. Many prolific animators were given an individual voice during the project; lengthy cuts defined by their artistic interjections. While veteran animators such as Yutaka Nakamura continued to hone their craft during Mob Psycho 100’s run, new talents like Miyo Sato brought a unique flair to the table with her paint-on-glass style. Most of the cuts Sato worked on were intended to add a touch of horror to the anime that weren’t present in the manga, which I feel is indicitive of Bones' approach toward the anime.
In many respects, studio Bones’ decision to assemble a diverse team of artists for Mob Psycho 100’s anime adaptation echoes the production ethos behind one of their previous works, Space Dandy. I feel the studio’s recent slant towards producing anime that are heavily driven by the visceral power of animation has to do with Bones’ president, Masahiko Minami. Minami has stated before in an interview that “because it’s an animation, let’s try something you can’t do in a manga than you can do in an anime.”
I personally believe Minami’s statement about how he feels an anime should differ from its source manga is why Mob Psycho 100 turned out the way it did. The studio was not afraid to take chances with an older style of drawing or more experimental animation cuts – even when it came to a well-established commercial work.
Mob Psycho 100 is unequivocally a testament to an artist putting his or her heart and soul into a project. It is exactly the type of anime that plays to the strengths of the animated medium – and I am grateful to see something of its caliber produced in a day and age where many creators do not recognize the importance of animation as narrative or expression.
Were you pleased with how Mob Psycho 100's anime turned out? Do you feel animation is an aspect of anime productions that should be emphasized by more creators and why? Let us know in the comments below!