Mob Psycho 100: Why Is The Art So Bad?

    I am a very visual person. And this translates to how I prefer my media as well. I love ‘pretty’ graphics, with sweeping visuals and detailed character designs. It’s why I’ve boarded the ‘Manhwa’ hype train, full steam ahead, thanks to its intricate stylistic choices. But alternatively, it’s why I could not get into certain anime and manga such as One Piece because the art style is just not something I can get used to. And this is where the conundrum comes in for me regarding Mob Psycho 100, with its almost bland art.

    The art for Mob Psycho 100 is so bad to a lot of fans because of the stylistic choices its creator, ONE, employs. He wanted to remain true to the manga’s humble origins as a web-comic with its crude art style, with more focus on the story. When Studio Bones decided to take it on as an anime adaptation, they purposefully tried to stay as close to ONE’s simple drawing style when animating. This made it stand out amongst other ‘better’ looking anime coming out.

    And there is some truth to the art style being more ‘refreshing’ in hindsight. The unremarkable art and design meant that the spotlight was being given to the story being told. And being able to stray from the standard means more versatility when animating exaggerated expressions, which remain more stunted with ‘prettier’ anime.  

    But does this hold true for all the more ‘different’ anime out there? Mob Psycho 100 was not the first to utilize the ‘ugly’ art style and pull from more Western animation influences. It wasn’t even the first by the same creator. But does it always work in favor of the story being told? And does it help diversify anime in general? Let’s discuss!

    Anime And Its Signature Look

    Shigeyama KAgeyo Mob Wallpaper

    Of course, it wouldn’t be remiss to say anime has a very trademarked look. From the big eyes, relatively humanoid proportions, and even the way it is framed, it is all very different from other styles of animations. No other type of animation can boast a singularity like that.

    And there are reasons for this. The style was normalized in the 1960s by a series of animation directors when the boom of the medium really took hold in Japan. Osamu Tezuka, the creator of works such as Astroboy and Kimbra The White Lion, took the helm of the movement. He is still called the ‘God of Manga’ by many, thanks to his influence over the medium.

    And it has definitely become a distinctive style, with its inspired works popping up in even Western animations. Hell, there was a period in the 2000s where you could see how much anime-influenced shows on platforms like Cartoon Network. You had Megas XLR, and how it paid homage to mech anime like Mobile Suit Gundam and Macross Frontier. Then you have DC Comic’s Teen Titans, the characters and animation style taking clear inspiration from a mix of Shonen and Shojo elements. And of course, then came Avatar: The Last Airbender, with its scenic art style calling back to the works of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.

    Anime had a very distinct look, but that didn’t mean animation studios in Japan were a monolith, producing the same type of work or art style. Many big-name studios really came into their own, challenging themselves to stand out from the crowd with diversified art styles and frequent experimentation.

    Variations In Anime Across History

    Mob Psycho Fanart

    And that diversification helped revitalize the industry! I’m not saying a lot of them worked, but they did inspire and pave the way for works such as One Punch Man.

    I remember when Panty And Stocking With Garter belt launched on the scene and caused a panic in the anime world, with its jarringly ‘cartoon’ visuals and, ah, vulgar scenes. Either you were in the crowd who loved it, or you thought it was the worst insult towards anime ever. And the fun part? Studio Gainax, the studio responsible, was the same bunch that made a little cult classic by the name of Neon Genesis Evangelion.

    Redline, Mononoke, Space Dandy, and so many more followed, with studios frequently playing around with new forms of animations. Even Studio Ghibli joined in on the fun, with The Tale Of Princess Kaguya, which looked straight up like a moving painting.

    How Mob Psycho 100’s ‘Bad’ Animation Challenges The Viewer

    Mob Psycho Riooo

    ONE is really intriguing in how he focuses on creating a direct connection with his reader and his art. He focuses way more on the story, giving the animation a back seat.

    But this blank canvas is what allows the expressions of each character to come forward in a clearer way. It makes the viewer zero in on the character in the scene, instead of being overwhelmed by intricate and jilted expressions.

    It’s both engaging and immersive, differentiating itself from the prettier art style a viewer might be more prone to seeing. It’s the contrast that makes Mob Psycho 100 such an enjoyable watch!

    Anza Qureshi
    Anza Qureshi
    Anza Qureshi is a writer, licensed dentist and certified Uchiha fangirl. When she isn't doing root canals or listing down anime waifus, you can find her screeching about her favorite JRPGs across social media.

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