Crunchyroll News sits down with the voice of Mob to talk about Mob Psycho 100 III!
Over the past two seasons and many OVAs of the Mob Psycho 100 TV anime, Shigeo Kageyama — better known as Mob — has grown from a quiet boy to someone who has taken charge and saved the world, even multiple times!
This October, Mob, Reigen and the rest of the crew returned for the series’ third season. Ahead of the broadcast, Crunchyroll News had the chance to sit down with Setsuo Ito, the voice behind Mob and discuss his personal growth through the six years of voicing the character and how both he and Mob have changed over the years.
We spoke with Ito at an office in Tokyo in late August alongside Warner Bros. producer Nari Takamura also joining.
Thank you for giving us the chance to talk with you, Ito-san.
Ito: Thank you!
We’re now at the third season of the Mob Psycho 100, how does it feel to be here?
Ito: Well, you know, I’m really looking to seeing how it looks and am really excited to see the reaction that everyone will have to the third season.
I don’t really know how to put this, but I’m really impressed by the work I have done this season and have a really good feeling about it, so I hope everyone will be able to experience it soon.
What was your reaction to hearing the series was getting a third season?
Ito: At first, there was just a simple feeling of happiness. I already knew how the story in the original manga had developed, which made me feel a bit like I was under a bit of pressure to play these scenes myself. That being said, I think I was most excited and happy to be a part of the production again.
So you’ve been voicing Mob for over six years now, has anything changed in the way you approach his character?
Ito: Well, not so much in playing Mob-kun, but rather in my own personal growth through stage productions and other works. I have felt a strong change in my own artistic expression. So rather than in playing Mob-kun, I myself have undergone some changes over the past six years. There were some minor changes that made me think, "In order to be more like Mob-kun, maybe I should express myself in this way now."
Ito: I don't think there were any significant differences in my thinking or feelings. Especially from the second to the third term, I don't think I changed that much.
How do you feel Mob has grown in the previous seasons and specials?
Ito: Little by little, there were many moments that made me think that Mob was gaining confidence in themselves. There were some scenes in the second season that showed this, but in the third season, there will be more and more scenes that really showcase him expressing his own determination.
In the first season, he tended to let others influence him, but as we got into the second season, I could see the growth when Mob-kun started to do more things on his own. I feel like the biggest factor in his growth came about by surrounding himself with more people and making more friends.
How do you feel the relationships between Mob and other characters have grown over the years?
Ito: Well, hmm, when it comes to their friendships, I feel that they are now very much on an even footing. Mob-kun is not an aggressive individual, he often gets told what to do by others, but now I think there are many scenes where he is able to talk with others as an equal. Also, I strongly feel that he has become very trustworthy to those around him. There are quite a few scenes in the third season where you can see this happen more often.
What is something you've learned from your colleagues during your time on Mob Psycho 100?
Ito: Hmm, [laughs], well basically everything. For me personally, Mob Psycho was the first TV anime and 30-minute TV series in which I was deeply involved as a regular and the first time I played a leading role.
During the first season, I didn't know my right from my left, but because of Mob Psycho, I am now able to work on other projects thanks to the many things I learned from this work. It is no exaggeration to say that I learned all my foundations from here and I learned so many things from so many people. Even if I did not learn directly from them, I absorbed a lot from watching them perform. I think that I learned a lot from my seniors, including how to perform and how to act on the spot, as well as their attitudes as actors involved in the creation of something.
Has there been anything that has changed in the recording process from the first season to this one?
Ito: Eh? Well, I think the thing that has changed the most is my confidence [laughs]. The third season is the third time I’ve played this role, but compared to the first season, it was totally different. During the first season, I was so nervous that I couldn't sleep the night before. So in that sense, the biggest change was my own feelings, my confidence and my anxiety going into the studio. I feel that I am less anxious and more confident now than I was during the first season.
Did COVID-19 have any effect on the recording process?
Ito: Up until now, it was common for almost the entire cast to get together to record, but now we often record separately with a small group of people. But for Mob Psycho, I was able to work directly with the actual voice actors of the characters I was interacting with.
Still, I think the fact that I was not able to see firsthand any of the other scenes being recording like I was able to in the first season and learn from others had a big impact on me. Because of this, there were parts of the story that I didn't understand myself until I saw the finished product and that be able to finally see how the other members of the cast performed their lines. That was the part that changed the most due to COVID-19.
Has Mob affected you at all in your life? Are there moments in your daily life you go “Oh, that was a very Mob thing to say or do?”
Ito: [Laughs heavily]
Well yes, through the recording of Mob Psycho, I have gained confidence and changed as an actor, but in terms of my daily life, I don't think I have really changed that much. The areas in which I felt I was similar to Mob-kun were mostly from a psychological point of view, so there was nothing that was directly related to my daily life. However, there are people in a variety of places who are familiar with the work Mob Psycho. For example, when I meet a friend of a friend for the first time, I mentioned the name Mob Psycho and an increasing number of people told me they had seen it, which is one of the things that makes me happy. However, I am not sure if there are things I say or do that are so typical of Mob that I myself would consider them to be "Mob-like" behaviors.
With the first two episodes already premiered internationally, how is the rest of the recording going for the series? How much is left?
Ito: Well, we’ve got…
Takamura: It’s okay, Minami-san (BONES studio President) already mentioned this at Crunchyroll Expo.
Ito: Oh? I see [laughs]. Well, we have already finished recording all the lines. It’s all done!
Oh! So without spoiling too much, is there a moment from season 3 you’re looking forward to fans seeing?
Ito: Hmm, let me think. The trailer has already been released and there's this part at the end where Dimple says a few lines that are part of a bigger scene that I think is super important. This scene has a pretty big event happen for Mob-kun and something very significant comes to ahead in Mob-kun and Dimple's relationship. I believe that this is one of the scenes where all of us the voice actors and animation studio BONES put in all our strength, so I hope you will enjoy watching this scene.
Ah! So what about from past seasons? What has been your favorite moment?
Ito: Favorite scene? Hmm, [laughs]. There are so many, but in the first season, the scene near the last episode when his mentor said to Mob-kun, who was conflicted about whether or not to use his psychic powers on other people, "It's okay to run away." This is my favorite scene and left quite an impression on me. I also really like the first episode of the first season. The episode in which Keiji Fujiwara, the late president of my talent office, appeared as a guest was a very special episode for me, partly because the recording session itself left a strong impression. It was also the first time I saw Sakurai-san (who voices Reigen) perform live, so in that sense, the recording was a memorable experience for me.
The second season has a lot of great scenes with master [laughs] but I really like the exchange in the first episode with a girl in the same class who writes novels. I also like the scene where Master Reigen holds a press conference and afterward he and Mob-kun talk where Mob-kun says that Master Reigen is a good guy.
I think that’s it [laughs], I've listed about four scenes so I think that is enough.
You’re a star of stage and screen, which do you prefer?
Ito: [Laughs] It is difficult to say which is better. I love both and would like to do both. Especially if it is a performance related to Mob Psycho, then I would want to do it. But the field I originally set my sights on was the anime industry, so in that sense, if I had to choose one over the other, I guess I would have to say that I prefer working in anime.
What are the differences between playing Mob on the stage versus voicing him in anime?
Ito: Well, I think one of the biggest differences compared to anime and with the pandemic is that on stage, there are people in the audience in front of you, so you are performing directly to them. Since the audience is right in right there, I feel there are differences in the way I present the performance and the manner in which the audience perceives and hears it. In contrast to anime, where the actor's voice and the animator's movements are combined to create a complete performance, on stage, I am in charge of everything, which is the most challenging part, but I also feel that this is what makes the stage so special. In particular, Mob-kun was a character who was not very humorous, so in that sense, the most difficult part was not to break down into laughter on stage (laughs).
Huh. So how has playing Mob on stage changed how you voice Mob in the anime? Or vice versa.
Ito: Well the first time I played Mob-kun after doing the theater performance was during the second season of the anime and I was told at the time that I was "too energetic.” On stage, my voice would get louder to reach everyone in the audience and the volume would physically increase, but by pulling it off and then recording the anime, I became an emotional, energetic Mob-kun. Maintaining a flat tone was a problem at the beginning of the second season, so I feel like that is what changed the most. However, since I had already experienced this issue during the second season, I don't feel that I had too much trouble in the third season, though from an outsider's perspective, I realized that there were some small variations.
You’ve done illustrations in the past, including on an episode of Mob Psycho 100, have you been doing any lately? If so, of what?
Ito: Hmm, in relation to Mob Psycho, I drew an illustration to celebrate Mob-kun's birthday, and I uploaded it on my personal Twitter account on his birthday. I have been thinking that I would also like to draw something for the third season of Mob Psycho.
I have also been drawing pictures privately and showing them in my fan clubs for a while now.
So about season three?
Takamura: That’s a little bit of a secret. [Laughs]
Ito: A secret. Hehe. [Laughs]
[Laughs] Okay, last question. International audiences are waiting with bated breath for Mob Psycho 100 season 3, do you have a messages for them?
Ito: Oh, well, first of all, I would like to thank all of you who have taken an interest in Mob Psycho. I have heard that there are many of you who are supporting us even in distant regions. I myself have been to events overseas before, so I have first-hand experience of how much enthusiasm everyone has for the show and how much energy it gives me. I am confident that the third season of Mob Psycho is absolutely an enjoyable experience, so I hope that you will enjoy the third season as much as I do and that you all will help us to make Mob Psycho more popular in places outside of Japan. I look forward to seeing you again in the third season.
Thank you so much for your time!
Ito: Thank you!
Daryl Harding is a Senior Japan Correspondent for Crunchyroll News. He also runs a YouTube channel about Japan stuff called TheDoctorDazza, tweets at @DoctorDazza, and posts photos of his travels on Instagram. He barely gets to 1% when he's angry.