Many anime are adapted from manga. The manga tell the story in comic format and later anime use the comic panels like storyboards and animate them. Sometimes the two works are line-for-line, shot-for-shot the same.
However, in the transition from page to film, there are any number of stylistic changes. The images often become clearer, more detailed, and more fluid with the addition of motion. The change from black-and-white to a vibrant color palette likewise casts the visuals in a new light. Mob Psycho 100, however, stands out from the crowd because, while it is an anime, it feels closer to being a moving, colored manga than the vast majority of modern anime.
Everything in Mob Psycho 100 has a rough sketch feel. The lines look like they’re done in pencil, with an almost palpable, uneven texture. In the same vein, the shading on buildings and people often shares the pencil-created dynamic.
The colors are likewise a contrast to the CG colorization you tend to see in modern anime. Instead of uniform or evenly graded colors, backgrounds appear to be painted water colors—a technique that reminds me of the anime of decades past.
But the coolest uses of art come when main character Mob battles against otherworldly threats. The more Mob uses his powers, the more haphazard the art becomes. Character and object dimensions become skewed and lines become unstable as they change in thickness and location moment-by-moment.
The monsters he fights against tend to appear in art styles that contrast with the rest of the anime, the most interesting of which so far appears to be charcoal sketch with different smudge patterns in every frame. This contrast to the normal animation makes the creatures look and feel like they don’t belong in Mob’s world–which, of course, they don’t.
Because of all this, Mob Psycho 100 is one of the most–if not the most–visually stunning anime of this season. But more than just looking good, the art is used as a vital tool in telling the story, conveying everything from psychic powers warping reality to the discordant nature of eldritch monsters. In other words, Mob Psycho 100 is eye candy in the best possible way.
Mob Psycho 100 can be seen for free and with English subtitles in the US on Crunchyroll.