It’s not so rare to follow a show and feel like you’ve grown with its characters, or like you’ve levelled up your own powers through a life journey you’ve vicariously taken.
But what makes Mob Psycho 100 special is how intimate that journey is.
It’s a series that doesn’t just show you the perspective of a powerful teenager who wants to be normal and be valued just by being him. It pulls you in, holds your hand, and tells you in the most ridiculous and unique way that you, too, are worth people’s time just by being you.
And that’s why Mob Psycho 100 can claim to be one of the best animes ever made.
An Elaborate Gag is Worth A Few Life Lessons
Something personal I'd like to start with.
For days, I've been trying to figure out why I was having such a hard time writing about Mob Psycho 100 when obviously I loved watching the series. It's been days since I've opened the document to write, and yet I can't put into words how much the show is so influential and important, to me and to everyone else who probably followed it right at the moment that they needed it.
Words usually aren't hard to come by, and yet for this there's both so many and so few to truly articulate the experience.
Nevertheless, here’s my attempt at verbalising those thoughts.
For three series, we’ve watched Kageyama Shigeo walk the familiar hallways of a middle school wrought with self-worth issues, puberty, questions about the future, and fitting in. All of these things packaged in a poignant blend of emotional personal growth and an absurd elaborate gag.
We watched him attempt to lead a life where his abilities won't matter at all. Like finding friends who truly care about him, building the confidence to talk to his crush, having a think about his future and purpose and knowing that it's okay not to have them yet. And as a result, has been able to surround himself with a group of people who are ready to support him.
The final series brings a satisfying conclusion to these threads. It started with the consequences of his actions from previous episodes — the rise of the Psycho Helmet cult and the towering broccoli over Seasoning City. Then ended with what he needed to confront the most for a very long time — addressing his emotions, the true magnitude of his powers which he has suppressed for years, and how interconnected both are.
What I appreciate the most from the series is the emphasis that while there are issues only Mob can fix, there are moments where he was working through some of it through his eclectic support system. And this final season saw this same group of people end their individual arcs by recounting their learning journey with Mob.
Throughout the series, Dimple has been portrayed largely as a self-serving character who saw in Mob his own potential to hold so much power and ascend to godhood. So it’s not a surprise why Dimple’s so confused as to why Mob isn’t using his enormous power to his advantage, especially when it comes to getting the attention of Takane Tsubomi.
But through the Divine Tree arc, Dimple realises that what he was seeking isn’t ultimate power, and that resolving it by brainwashing people to worship him and amassing enough energy to be a god isn’t ultimately satisfying. Because what he was craving for really is simply to be seen and accepted, which Mob did merely seconds after Dimple revealed himself to him the episode after the LOL cult incident. And true enough, when he was envisioning himself to be a god, he was gradually including Mob into his plans. He wanted the esper to achieve those goals with him.
Dimple learns in that moment the value of the friendship and loyalty he has built with Mob.
There’s also Teruki Hanazawa, another esper who Mob first met as someone who bullies and belittles people in an attempt to feel superior. Through that first encounter he learnt that true strength is not using your powers to hurt people. And indeed, he did start working towards being supportive of Mob and going as far as getting involved with saving his brother when Ritsu was caught by the Claw. He didn’t have to, even if he used to be associated with the organisation, but he wanted to help out.
However, what he did was put Mob on a pedestal. For Teru, Mob is a rival, but he’s also the ideal. Now and again you’d hear him say something along the lines of I’ll deal with these minor henchmen so you can save your energy for those more deserving of your attention.
But in this finale, you see him accept that Mob, while powerful, has his issues too. By accepting that he and Mob are pretty “average” or still have things they need to work on, that acknowledgement culminates in him being able to finally wake Mob inside the berserk esper.
Then Ritsu, who has been worried about Mob longer than anyone else, has a more intimate knowledge of what made his brother repress so much of who he is. The first time we see him wanting to have powers, it was through the lens of jealousy. But as we proceed with the story, and see more glimpses of the incident that happened when they were young which left Mob traumatised, we start understanding some of the biggest reasons why Ritsu wanted those powers.
The trauma was too much for Mob that even he stopped opening up and sharing his true feelings with his own brother. But Mob wasn’t the only one affected by the incident, Ritsu was, too. Not being able to process that with his brother openly meant that Ritsu lost not only a level of connection with Mob, but someone he can confide in about what happened. He couldn’t even reassure Mob that it wasn’t his fault. So he wanted to relate with him in a different way: through being an esper himself.
And then the finale revealed that Ritsu also meant for his powers to protect Mob, to release him from that trauma. Or perhaps another way of saying it is Ritsu telling Mob that he can finally unload some of the weight that he was carrying from that shared experience because he can be strong enough for both of them, too.
Even Toichiro Suzuki was given a moment of self-reflection. Prior to meeting Mob, he’s been fixated on achieving power and culling the weak that his single-minded pursuit has caused him to hurt those that truly matter to him. And yet that last encounter when he’s about to sacrifice himself, he’s able to consider the impact of his actions, so he backs off to finally give his family the healing they deserve.
And then last we see Arataka Reigen go through rubble and metal and the full power of Mob just to reach him. This one was significant because in Reigen, Mob saw more than just a role model, but a person to whom he can be open to because he thought they’re the same.
Though it’s true that Reigen took advantage of Mob and manipulated him to carry out his own schemes, it can’t be argued that the man didn’t care for the boy. There were more than enough times when he gave genuinely good advice and showed that Mob is a significant, if not an important, figure in his life.
It was this moment of confession where that toxicity was acknowledged and aired out in the open. For sure Mob knew this already since his Other voiced it out already, but it’s one thing to hear it. And perhaps that confession also revealed their mirrored issues with the repressed Other — a side to them they so despise and yet can’t separate from themselves because that’s what made them who they are now. Maybe in that regard they are the same.
From Ritsu, Reigen, Dimple, and Hanazawa, to the body improvement club and the telepathy club. They've been given the spotlight to emphasise that the ensemble cast do have hurdles of their own. We see how much they've evolved not just because of what Mob has done or shown them, but also through their own journeys while helping him out.
Of course, it wouldn't be Mob Psycho if it weren't for its hilarious gags. From the start, each one feels like a creator pushing the boundaries of their world by putting as many visual gags as they possibly can. But oh man, it just works so well.
And isn't that what Mob Psycho 100 has been able to uniquely do unlike any other show — for every dumb joke you see or hear, there's going to be something that'll rend you apart right after, and you'll want it every time it happens.
Mob Psycho 100, in the beginning, has espoused the idea that the abilities and skills that give you an upperhand don’t make you special. And we see this through Mob’s commitment to be popular without showing off his powers, fighting off villains without going all out with his abilities. But for many instances, Mob still had to use so much of his power to save the world.
That’s why this season offers a nuanced perspective. It asserts that having unique skills or powers is not inherently good or bad, but rather it is important to strike a balance and embrace all aspects of oneself. As a result, the show encourages viewers to reflect on their own experiences, and to find a way to accept everything that makes them them, not just their strengths, even if they have to take the time to build a network of support to achieve it.
With its final series, Mob Psycho 100 carefully lines up each of the characters you’ve spent time with and ties with deft hands each of their arcs. While their journey has concluded, it turns to you and asks if you’re ready for yours to begin.