In the battle between quiet and loud in Japanese animation, loud almost always wins. It’s the bombast and spectacle that keeps generations of people coming back time and again to anime television series or movies. The loud is often more memorable, especially when it comes to raw animation sequences that stick with fans for years.
Yet, as a self-appointed champion of the quiet, I think it’s more impressive when anime can be still. It’s these small moments that tie together larger scenes of frenetic fights or over-the-top battles in the mind of a possessed girl. The second season of Mob Psycho 100 drew me back in with its quiet, more emotionally contemplative sequences. In its sixth episode, these muted but still powerful scenes frame the conflict between Reigen Arataka and Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama that has been brewing all season.
Less than a year after ONE’s popular manga One Punch Man was adapted into an animated television series, his other webcomic, Mob Psycho 100 debuted to similar thunderous online applause, especially in sakuga circles. The through line between the two was not only the same original creator and artist in ONE, but spectacular animation from rising and veteran animation talents.
One Punch Man left me cold, despite spectacular animation sequences. I’ve been known to watch entire anime series because of visuals — cinematography and lighting more than the, for lack of a better word, raw mechanical talent of animation — but I abandoned One Punch Man a third of the way through its run while it was airing and have yet to finish it. On the periphery of my own perception of the series was rising discussion pitting visuals against emotional narrative — One Punch Man was rife with captivating animation but this didn’t overcome the fairly dull story of Saitama was a common sentiment.
The discussion was revisited a year later, this time with Mob Psycho 100 at the forefront.
Like One Punch Man, Mob Psycho 100 was chock full of animation talent with sequences that captivated me. But personally, Mob Psycho 100‘s first episode also didn’t resonate with me, despite recognizing the sheer effort, audacity, and talent on display — Miyo Sato’s painting on glass in particular. So I dropped it.