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Crunchyroll Expo 2019: Interview with Mob Psycho 100 staff and cast

Left to Right: Character Designer Yoshimichi Kameda, Director Yuzuru Tachikawa, Voice Actor Setsuo Ito

The NTF crew descended onto Crunchyroll Expo last week and we were able to talk to the staff and cast of popular anime series, Mob Psycho 100. Joining us for this interview were director Yuzuru Tachikawa, character designer/animation director Yoshimchi Kameda, and the voice of Mob, Setsuo Ito. Mob Psycho 100 was one of my favorite anime in the last two years and getting a chance to pick the brains of the crew was awesome. We sat with other members of the press to take turns asking the trio various questions about their feelings on the show and if they believe in the Supernatural. Read on to find out!

Honey’s Anime: Do you ever identify with your character? For example, Mob is a very compassionate and kind person, but you don’t see it from his expression.

Tachikawa: For me personally, I usually express what I’m feeling right away. I don’t really keep that stress building up like Mob does. So it’s kind of the opposite for me.

Reading Corner for All: Do you have any behind-the-scenes- moments you’d like to share?

Tachikawa: There was a last minute rush on the second season 13th episode where we had to do some extra recording to fill out the dialogue. We had to come up with a new script and schedule a recording session.

Otaku Hourly: Kameda-san, with so much experience in different animation styles, what is one key aspect you’ve learned that enhanced working on Mob Psycho 100?

Kameda: I got used to One-sensei’s style of art and because I got used to that I was able to carry over that experience into working on Mob Psycho. Especially the design of the characters faces are very similar to the designs for One Punch Man so I got used to creating that style. The difference with One Punch Man, the animation styles from scene to scene was so different that I was used to having a more consistent style on Mob Psycho 100.

CBS Interactive: Tachikawa, what was the inspiration for fleshing out Tsubomi’s character in the anime by featuring her in more scenes?

Tachikawa: I didn’t intend to have her character fleshed as I did. She did end up as a good way to flesh out Mob’s character a little bit more. To show that visual change on the screen, you come to understand Mob a lot more  to that interaction.

Nerd on TV: Do you consult ONE-sense during the creation of the show and what’s it like working with him?

Tachikawa: During initial production, for the first season, we had a meeting ahead of time to discuss with ONE-sensei how the outline should look like and what we wanted to do going forward to construct good game plan. When it came to the second season, we didn’t need to consult him on a day-to-day basis. In the case during the production there was a big difference, that would be a case where we’d ask him for ideas. One-sensei is very nice and understands the production of anime so he understands there will be some differences, but he’s actually very supportive. Overall, I’d have to say a very nice person to work with.

USA Today: Mob acts differently from your typical protagonist. Usually the goal for the protagonist is to get stronger but he’s trying to suppress all this power. And he also doesn’t fit the image of a “cool” protagonist. What do you find intriguing about Mob as a character? 

Kameda: I see a lot of similar characteristics in my personality. He doesn’t express himself out loud. He keeps a lot of that emotion pent up. I think a big part of that is because he doesn’t have a lot of confidence and he is just trying to figure out what his place is.

Tachikawa: Mob has a very strong power within him. The power isn’t something he doesn’t really need or something he considers necessary to be part of his life. He is like a lot odd boys in middle school. He wants to be popular with the girls and I felt the same way. So, for me, he is a character that wants to balance a normal life with being popular. It’s easy for me to relate to that.

Ito:  Mob’s growth over the series isn’t sudden. His growth takes place with some visual changes over time is even more like real life. He joins the bodybuilding club and you can see the results from the effort he put in transpire into resultable action. I think it’s a good metaphor for how he changes over time on the inside.

Asia Pacific Arts: For Ito-san, What was it like playing Mob in both the stage play and the anime in two different capacities?

Ito: The emotions I expressed were really similar. The difference was the people I was working with were different. The atmosphere of being on stage was quite different. For anime I’m recording in a booth and I don’t see the audience viewing the production, but for the stage you’re in front of an audience. If I were to put myself into Mob’s shoes that would be a unique circumstance.

Anime News Network: As an animator, what is the most unique or rewarding part of working on Mob Psycho 100? Do you have any favorite cuts or sequences that you supervised?

Kameda: I got to do the key animation for the promotional video for the first season. I did it by myself which let me determine the movement styles of the characters. The best part was that when we showed it to people they told me that this is the visual style they expected from Mob Psycho 100. As a result that really gave me confidence in carrying that over to the TV series. So I would say working on the promotional video was my favorite. As animation director, I got to oversee key parts of the animation and as a result everything was a setup for season two where I got huge input on directing the scenes to define the look was very rewarding for me.

Anime Ushi: Did any of you believe in psychic powers or the supernatural before working on the show?

Kameda: I love UFOs.. I want to go to Mexico to see UFOs. And also visit Area 51.

Ito: I haven’t personally witnessed psychic powers or supernatural in real life, so I can’t say that I believe in them, but I’ve consumed a lot of media related to the supernatural.

Tachikawa: So for me I’m a family man and married and have a child. I have belief in a higher power to make sure things go a certain way but I haven’t really witnessed that in real life but I’d like to think of it they go in the right direction in my surroundings.

Kameda: I like zombies. (Laughs)

Nuke the Fridge: Mob Psycho Season Two a staggering amount of action scenes for a TV show, Given that TV show schedules are so right, what challenges did you face to achieve such a high quality bar?

Kameda:  Basically, we’ve achieved a really good division of labor when it comes to the direction of different parts of the anime. It’s definitely true that the quality of animation goes on the animation director, who takes on the responsibility of making sure each scene, especially action scenes, turn out as good as they did. We never left each other blind, we were always there to have input. So me personally I would have an open line of communication with the animation director.

Tachikawa:  For me personally, I would have to say that Mob Psycho 100 is the kind of work that has huge breadth in both its design and its content. So I actually encourage a really free creative style.  My job is mostly to check the visuals and make sure everything is aligned with the overall image we have going for the show, but my directorial style is to leave it up to the staff. In the end, I would say it is an accumulation of everyone’s creative input.

Yattatachi: Ito was cast to play Mob despite having very few voice acting roles to his credit at the time. What was that experience like, suddenly becoming the main character of such a big story?

Ito: First season, first episode, going into that recording I was really nervous and all these emotions running through my head. I didn’t sleep at all the night before. Right before the first recording, the main cast was announced and the rest of the cast members are what I consider senpai in the industry and I really look up to them. So the feeling I didn’t want to be inconvenient or burden weighed on me. By the time around episode 8 of the first season, I was able to fully sleep the night before the recording.

Anime Trending: Was there anything you wanted to do in season one that you couldn’t, but were able to squeeze into season two?

Tachikawa: The first season was spent building up Mob’s personality, when he really didn’t want to use his psychic powers actively on his own. He used them to protect others or defend himself. So in the second season, we really had the opportunity to showcase huge battle scenes. This was really something we were looking forward to building up to.

Kameda: For me actually, there was a ton of new characters in season two and one character that stood out that I really enjoyed creating personally was Shinra Banshomaru. He’s like a large in stature and has an imposing presence on the screen. One thing that was similar, in the Doraemon movie, I created a character named Gian. I got a lot of influence from creating that character in creating Shinra Banshomaru and that was a lot of fun.

Ani-Gamers: Tachikawa-san, your opening animations in Mob and Death Parade have a distinctive style and fun driving it. I’m curious if there are any inspirations that helped you develop that style?

Tachikawa: For me, more than the actual visuals of the opening, what takes the most time is coming up with the concept of how I wanted the opening to play out. So the first season opening, I pictured opening up a toy box and entering this crazy psychedelic world. From that I took inspiration from different illustrations. For the season season, I already had a prepared concept for the opening to look and I used everything that was built up to that point, including the promotional videos and concept art.

Nuke the Fridge: Reigen is played by Takahiro Sakurai, who is a veteran voice actor. Does Ito-san see similar student to mentor relationship between him and Sakurai-san?

Ito: (In English) “YES!” (Japanese) Sakurai-san is someone I’ve looked up to since I was 7 or 8 years old. He’s this huge figure for me in the industry and when I joined I was a really a newbie voice actor and he gave me lots of advice. I learned so much from him. Maybe in Mob Psycho 100, he’s not really a master to Mob, but for me he is definitely shisho to me.

Thank you to Bianca at Crunchyroll for arranging the interview and @HadenaZubon for interpreting for the guests of honor.