Crunchyroll, which has long underpaid its employees, has currently declared its intent to recast the English dub of Mob Psycho 100 rather than even consider meeting with SAG-AFTRA representatives to discuss unionizing their dubs—this would help actors gain access to things like health insurance, and help make up for lack of residuals. People continue to pressure Crunchyroll to change their stance on social media; we encourage readers who are able to take part.
What’s it about? This group of schoolgirl friends each has a secret: Rikka is an alien rebel who crash-landed on Earth, Chiyo is a former ninja who quit to enjoy school life, Tsubasa is a boy whose twin sister forced him to switch places with her, and Sekine is a low-level psychic trying to keep them from accidentally killing each other.
If you are anything like me, you hit a certain part of that summary and clenched up hard enough to form butt diamonds. Is this really a show in 2022 where a cornerstone of the main cast is “boy infiltrates an all-girls’ school”? Well, yes and no. Tsubasa—or rather, Tsuyoshi—is actually being strong-armed by his sister into switching places, because she’s interested in pursuing someone at Tsuyoshi’s all-boys high school (yes, Hana Kimi is happening just off-screen). That Tsuyoshi comfortably IDs as a boy takes the sting out of jokes like Sekine’s powers only working on her same gender, and there’s also a restroom scene that has nothing to do with predation! In fact, it’s actually kind of funny! Huzzah!
On the other hand, Tsuyoshi’s introduction does include him reflecting that he’d initially hoped to get into some “sexy accidents” at his new school (before realizing that his classmates are just normal sweaty disasters like him, and he’s actually into older women). It is, I think, meant to kill the expected joke of the “undercover crossdresser” at the starting line, but in the current environment where violence against trans people is at an all-time high across the world, I’m not sure there IS a way to render “boy infiltrating a ‘women’s space’ in drag” a harmless trope right now. Not when that’s the primary argument used by “gender critical” TERFs against transfemmes.
This is probably the closest we’re liable to get, but it still leaves a low level of tension to the viewing experience that’s not meant to be there. Sure, this is doing well now, but I know better than to trust anime automatically about trans characters. The Stars Aligns and ZOMBIE LAND SAGAs of the world are still the exception, although it’s been getting slightly better over time. Part of me almost prefers the distantly related “schoolgirls being weird assholes” show Asobi Asobase, where the joke of one character was DEFINITELY trans panic, but she was only in three short sketches you could skip in their entirety rather than feeling continual dread that the so-far tame handling of a main character will unexpectedly turn on me.
Elephant in the room aside, this is a pretty funny premiere. It has some good flexibility on its “don’t let the others figure me out” premise, whether it’s a character desperately trying to act normal, completely unaware they’ve slipped up with Sekine trying to run interference, or two conflicting but equally wrong perspectives on a collision course. It leans a lot harder on characters sitting and talking than big physical comedy, but it varies up its art style and the vocal performances enough to feel lively throughout. I particularly enjoyed its restrained dips into gross-out comedy with Rikka’s alien biology—frankly, we deserve more shows that let teenage girls admit and laugh at the fact that they too are sweaty, anxious messes during that part of their life.
This got enough solid chuckles from me that I’ll give it the three-episode try, but I suspect it isn’t going to hold up as well as the other comedies this season about teenage girls being goofy—and unfortunately, the crown for “weird shit that simply does not stop” is already taken.