WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE ANIME MOB PSYCHO 100

From the Japanese webcomic artist “One” who brought you ONE PUNCH MAN comes MOB PSYCHO 100! This story follows Shigeo Kageyama, nicknamed “Mob” (which means “lacking presence”). Although he looks like the average middle schooler, Mob has incredible psychic powers. For most of his childhood, he lacked a proper mentor to explain his extraordinary abilities. Even his parents can’t properly guide him. For better or for worse, that’s where Reigen Arataka steps in.

At first glance, Reigen seems like no more than a self-interested con man. A self-proclaimed (a.k.a fake) psychic master, Reigen has his own “spirit counseling” business. When his clients mistakenly believe they are being haunted, Reigen uses his skills, from salt throwing to massage therapy, as placebo solutions. However, when there’s a real ghost, he calls in Mob and has him exorcise the spirit. Clearly, Reigen is a fraud and not above “using” Mob, since the kid is none the wiser.

mob psycho 100

Reigen’s Advice

So, why the heck does Mob need Reigen in his life in MOB PSYCHO 100? Unfortunately, natural-born psychics like Mob are pretty rare. Even worse, most psychics Mob encounters abuse their power and aren’t necessarily good role models. Although he’s a liar, Reigen consistently shows his genuine desire to guide Mob’s unique experience as an esper.

Mob, afraid of his own power, finds Reigen’s fake psychic counseling business and asks him for help. Initially, Reigen thinks Mob is delusional but decides to give him advice anyway. “Even if you possess psychic power, the fact that you’re human doesn’t change,” he says. “It’s like being a fast runner… Psychic power is just one character trait. Accept your characteristics… The truth about charm is your humanity. Be a good person, and that’s all.”

Despite the fact that Reigen bullshits this entire speech, this is the advice that guides Mob’s moral compass throughout the series. He never becomes arrogant, and never thinks himself above anyone, very contrary to the other espers he meets. This goes to show that you don’t need to be the perfect mentor to guide someone.

mob psycho 100

Eventually, Reigen realizes that Mob is the real deal and pretends to be his psychic superior, but that doesn’t change Reigen’s guidance. He doesn’t suddenly encourage Mob to use his powers at will. Reigen gives Mob another rule: Psychic powers can be a useful but dangerous tool. Like knives, you should never point them at other people. It’s true that Reigen greatly benefits from his relationship with Mob, business-wise, but Mob benefits just as much. Reigen provides structure and guidance that no one else would.

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I Need an Adult

During one of the more intense arcs of MOB PSYCHO, Mob is up against adult espers. He discovers that there is an organization of adult espers called Claw who seek to take over the world (how original). They kidnap children who show psychic abilities and raise them as soldiers. In this case, Mob’s brother Ritsu and a handful of other psychic kids get taken by Claw. Mob decides to go after them, backed up by his esper friend Teru and a formerly powerful ghost, Dimple.

Unlike anime and manga in general, MOB PSYCHO highlights the wrongness of adults fighting children. Koyama, a Claw esper, brutalizes Mob when trying to kidnap Ritsu. While Mob can easily take out any enemy, he can only unlock his full, unbridled psychic potential when he goes “100%” in some emotional state. This puts an incredible mental strain on him that doesn’t go away when the battle is over. Reigen is the only one that’s really aware of that psychological pressure. In a final face-off between the remaining “elite” members of Claw, both Teru and Ritsu push Mob to go 100% and take them out. Reigen, on the other hand, tells him to run. He chastises the adult espers for bringing out their full power against a handful of middle school children and keeps telling Mob not to fight. Faced with life or death, Mob is about to go 100% “killing intent” when Reigen grabs him and stops him.

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In other anime like NARUTO, or even American shows like AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER, we often see twelve-year-olds against adults in battles to the death. These children, gifted with overwhelming power, not only have to deal with the idea that someone is trying to kill them, but also have to come to terms with killing someone else. STEVEN UNIVERSE, HUNTER X HUNTER, ATTACK ON TITAN (Eren Jaeger is fifteen for crying out loud): media is ripe with children fighting things far bigger than they are. Of course, these shows are clearly fantasy; that’s why they sell! Young kids adore the idea of acting older and being able to defeat someone more powerful. But that doesn’t excuse this appalling behavior.

However, the beauty of MOB PSYCHO is its realism. When someone like Mob, a lonely middle school boy, faces this overwhelming amount of pressure, an adult needs to step in. It’s not right for adults to fight children, plain and simple. Reigen is the only one in this situation who recognizes that, even though he full well knows how weak he is. Fortunately, instead of going 100% killing intent, Mob goes 100% gratitude and transfers his full psychic potential onto Reigen temporarily.

Be or Find a Reigen

Plot details of MOB PSYCHO 100 aside, this is the greatest thing that Reigen has to offer Mob: a way out. Even among his psychic peers, Mob is at the top of the ladder, but he isn’t mentally or emotionally equipped to handle that position. Reigen is the type of person who knows his responsibility as an adult, despite some of his moral shortcomings. He recognizes that the Claw members are adults who never grew up out of their superpower fantasies, and understands how that happened. Even though Reigen has no experience with psychic powers, he is a perceptive and clever person, which makes him best equipped to take care of Mob’s growth.

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While there is something empowering about children being just as or more skilled than adults in MOB PSYCHO 100, at the end of the day, kids need guidance. That doesn’t even have to be from someone who has it all figured out. Reigen genuinely cares about Mob, and (usually) lets that be the deciding factor in how he guides him. He’s not some ancient guru, trained to guide the next generation of those with a specific mystic skill. He’s just a caring adult. He doesn’t presume to have all the answers, but rather steers Mob towards the generally right path. In life, we will rarely find the perfect mentor, but it is important to find and be someone who cares enough to take up that position when no one else will.

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