This beautiful cut from Mob Psycho 100 has a lot going for it: free, loose effects animation; a smooth and excellently-designed camera move; and some hilariously expressive cartoon faces!
However, what I’d like to bring our attention to first isn’t any of those, but rather the excellent color design and compositing that ties the whole shot together. This cut serves the narrative purpose of revealing Mob’s psychic abilities to us, the audience, so it’s fitting that the most bright and colorful thing in the room is the result of Mob’s power. When being exorcised, the spirit flashes a wild variety of neon colors in rapid succession, while sparks and flashing arcs of electricity surround it in a rainbow glow. Interestingly, the color palettes and compositing effects seem to change at a faster rhythm than the drawings, creating what I like to call a ‘sub-drawing movement’ that heightens the intensity of the scene without taking away from the vitality of each keyframe.
Speaking of keyframes, let’s take a moment to appreciate how excellent these drawings are! First let us consider the loosely-scribbled crackles of electricity that spring up in an instant and disappear just as quickly. I am especially endeared to the looseness with which these bolts are drawn: their rounded bends and jagged edges remind me of lines I myself have made when scribbling wildly to revive many a nearly-dead ballpoint pen!
Despite the lack of care these effects may seem to reflect, I feel that these effects function well in a unique way: the wobbly looseness of the effects animation here contrasts nicely with the precisely-drawn lines of the shifting background, and perhaps also help emphasize to the viewer how effortlessly Mob wields his psychic power.
Our appreciation of the looseness of this cut’s effects may be further deepened by the knowledge that this animator (or group of animators) can draw extremely well when they want to. There is an incredible amount of care put into conveying the solidity of the swirling spirit’s form as the camera rotates around it. Look at the way the thick contour lines overlap one another and taper off to depict a form that bubbles, twists, crunches, and overlaps itself! The short, scratchy lines on the inside of the form even begin to convey a texture I imagine being something like stretched taffy. This over-exaggeration of form helps sell the spirit’s otherworldly nature, while also reflecting the animator’s excellent shape design and solid drawing skills being applied in a playful, free way.
The intensive planning put into this shot shows not only in the drawings and compositing, but also in the excellent movement of the camera through the scene. The viewer starts the scene positioned roughly from Mob’s point of view, but when the exorcism starts our point of view shifts and begins mirroring the same spiral motion as the spirit. It’s almost as if the animator/director imagined a literal camera getting swept up and carried away by the same spinning psychic energy! The camera’s path of motion does a good job of highlighting the important secondary aspects of the scene: Mob’s bored expression, Reigen’s confident stance, and finally the scared couple huddling together. Near the end of its arc, the camera is momentarily obscured by two more unknown objects, but these obstructions are so brief that they mainly act as creatively-designed ‘impact frames’ for the final explosion.
All of this together makes for a shot that is exciting, gorgeous, and satisfying to rewatch. Animation at its finest – and, certainly – funnest.