「中身 ～悪霊～」 (Nakami ~ Akuryou ~)
“Inside ~Evil Spirit~”
Wowzers, there was sure a lot to unpack in that one. It goes without saying that Mob Psycho 100 is a series with tremendous tonal versatility, and we’ve seen a good chunk of that range in the first four eps of this season. As with so many great series in this oeuvre, like Hunter X Hunter for example, each facet of the jewel is critical for making it a priceless gem. But there is a certain endorphin rush that happens with the shit really hits the fan and the limiters come off, and this episode was the first time this season we’ve seen that for an entire episode.
With Mob Psycho, part of the rush comes in knowing that Tachikawa Yuzuru and the team Bones has assembled are going to be unleashed. And it’s truly one of the most exceptional staffs in TV anime history, animators and artists and designers who clearly love this series and want it to be the centerpiece of their artistic C.V.. ONE’s writing has tremendous depth – his metaphor-driven take on adolescence here will surely go down as one of the finest in anime history – and when you pair that with the basically unparalleled production quality, the result is, well- Mob Psycho 100.
I have so many notes, I hardly know where to begin. I suppose we can start with characters – there’s Jodou (Tanzawa Teruyuki), the head of Shinra’s psychic’s association who’s probably a real psychic, but a bit of a paper tiger. Matsuo from CLAW turns up, trying to make an honest living as a psychic now but terrified of Mob (and Reigen). There’s the one who brings all these psychics and more together, the okanemochi Asagiri Masahi (Hoshino Mitsuaki), desperate to find help for his 14 year-old daughter Minori (M.A.O.) who he believes (quite rightly) is possessed by an evil spirit.
Most important of all, by far, is Mogami Keiji (unmistakably Ishida Akira). Mob has never heard of him, Reigen knows him by reputation, but Ekubo knows him intimately – he was a famous psychic of the late 20th-Century who exorcised Dimple and almost absorbed him fully. He’s a sick and twisted soul, who engineered his own transformation into a vengeful spirit. He now finds himself in the body of Minori, staring through a two-way mirror into a room full of psychics brought in to evict him.
Wow, where to even start. First of all, once again Reigen shows his true colors because when things get serious, he gets serious. There’s obviously money to be made here and he’s incredibly good at Janken, but once he’s in that room with the girl, he immediately sees through Mogami’s BS even as the psychics in the other room are taken in by it. Reigen has obvious character traits that make him a badass – balls of steel and an unshakable moral compass for starters – but there are times when his lack of spiritual power is a major benefit. He’s not taken in by any of the tricks which bamboozle the psychics – he can spew bullshit with the best of them and he knows it when he sees it. His superpower is his common sense.
Sadly, common sense and steel balls are not going to slow down Mogami in the slightest. He’s a freakishly powerful bastard – if not this season’s big bad, then at least this arc’s – and he has no compunction about taking out humans. When Shinra takes his turn to try and stop him Mob steps in to save him – but then is forced to stand down when Mogami starts destroying his host body. Reigen gets in a good kick and his moves remain as solid as ever, but he’s no match for Mogami either (I loved the detail of him protecting his head when she flung him to the floor). There’s only one person in the house who could possible give Mogami any concern, and it’s only a matter of time before he has to step in and do what he can. That’s the burden Mob carries.
Eventually Mob realizes that he’s just not powerful enough to take out Mogami, and that his attacks are only making things worse. He hatches a terrible plan that may be the only one open to him – use an OBE to try and possess Minori himself and kick Mogami out from the inside. This involves letting Ekubo take possession of his own body so it isn’t totally defenseless while Mob is absent, which suitably horrifies Reigen – but Mob doesn’t hesitate. He probably does trust Dimple too much, but the irony is that it’s that very trust which is slowly changing Dimple into someone that can at least to some degree be trusted.
We’re getting pretty hard into the whole FLCL puberty symbolism thing here, but that’s pretty much the central theme of Mob Psycho 100 to begin with. Even inside Minori Mob is no match for Mogami, at least not now. That psychic powers come from emotions is no surprise, nor that negative emotions are far more powerful – but in telling Mob this, Mogami is trying to make Mob question his very nature. What happens next is a shocking development. Rather than destroy Mob’s soul, Mogami mentally sends him back into his own body (or so Mob believes) – but without his powers (or memories of what’s happened). It seems to be an experiment on Mogami’s part, a cruel indulgence of curiosity – but it’s certainly going to be interesting to see where it takes the story. For Mob, who has certainly dreamed of what a life without the burden of his powers would be like, I fear it’s going to prove something of a nightmare.