「追い込み ～正体～」 (Oikomi ~ shoutai ~)
“Cornered – True Identity -“
It’s the little things that really make the difference with Mob Psycho 100. I mean that both in terms of the production itself and the characterization, which pretty much evenly splits the credit between Tachikawa-sensei and his team and ONE. I would actually say that Tachikawa has been relatively restrained so far this season of Mob – or at the least, that his visual choices have been more subtle than they were in Season 1. But the level of detail here – right down to the eyecatches – is off the charts (why armadillos on the “we’ll be back in a moment” message?). You don’t want to let your attention slip for a second with this show, and I thank my lucky stars for the invention of the pause button.
As to the character side, obviously this arc really boils down to Reigen – even if it’s his relationship to Mob that’s at the center of it. And Mob is at the center of the show that bears his name for me – he’s the heart and soul of it. That doesn’t diminish Reigen’s importance in any way, though, because he’s as essential to the series’ success as Mob-kun is. I once said about Kenshin Himura that he was the perfect protagonist in many ways (and I still believe that). And I think Reigen is the perfect supporting character – a virtual template for what a side character should be. He has everything, and most importantly he’s integral to everything that happens with the lead.
Reigen is a popular man, no question about it. He’s a meme-generating machine, the gag spiritsandsuch.com website that Crunchyroll opened has become a viral sensation, and he’s even become something of a sex symbol. That’s why this arc – which shows Reigen becoming a meme-generating internet sensation for all the wrong reasons – packs a fair bit of irony to it. But then Reigen is all about irony in many respects, which is one of the reasons why he’s such a profoundly interesting man.
No question about it, what Joudou-sensei did to Reigen on that preposterous (i.e. normal for Japan) variety show was pretty cruel. Joudou is a right old bastard who I hope gets his comeuppance before this series is done. But as always with Reigen, there are two sides to this. Let’s be honest – he’s in this situation because he’s a fraud. He started a fraudulent business, lucked into having it be legitimate, then pushed his luck too far when he had to go back to full-time fraud. And he outsmarted himself on that TV show, in part no doubt because he just can’t help himself – Reigen is a natural performer. He’s always trying to game the system, but sometimes the system games him.
Japan’s press is a lot like Britain’s in the manner in which they latch onto a victim like a pack of hungry wolves, and just won’t let go. Whatever Reigen’s transgressions, he certainly didn’t deserve to be publicly and relentlessly humiliated in the manner he was. The hardest part of this episode for me was seeing Reigen without his usual zing (as Ritsu pointed out). This is a man who always has an answer, always has an angle – and he was out of answers. Being confronted with that much reality that quickly was a terrible body blow, and the press conference was the culmination of all that.
Again there’s that Reigen contradiction though, as there always is. He’s a fraud, yes – but in truth he actually helped a lot of people, some of them even without Mob’s assistance (psychology is a powerful thing). And it almost seemed as if he was going to salvage the press conference by talking straight until the matter of his school essay came up and totally threw him off his game. It was fitting that Reigen remembered at that moment the most fateful moment of his adult life – when 11 year-old Mob walked into his office. That was when everything could have gone in a different direction, but it went the way it did because of one simple fact – Reigen elected in that moment to perform a random act of kindness.
For all the contradictions, this is the essence of Reigen – he’s a nice guy to people who deserve to be treated nicely (most of the time). When the chips were down he gave Mob the best possible advice, with no vested interest – he had no idea Mob was a true esper at the time. Now in the time since yes, he has taken advantage of Mob, basked in Mob’s glory and exploited him for his business. And maybe this ugliness (thanks, Joudou) needed to happen for Reigen to realize that he’d been taking Mob for granted, and that he’d been truly cruel to him at their last meeting. If there were any doubt that Reigen is capable of growth – that he’s a person who always manages to find the right path when things are at their worst – no words could better dispel it than “You’ve grown up so much. You know that?”
Of course Mob knew all along – let’s get real, how could he possibly not? But the essence of Mob – and the essence of his friendship with Reigen – is that he doesn’t care. It was Reigen’s own advice, after all, not to think of esper powers any differently from test scores or physical ability or body odor. Mob gets Reigen – knows his true nature – and still considers him someone worth admiring. Not many people would see deep enough to feel that way about a man like Reigen, but not many people are as decent and full of humility as Mob. As to what happened in that press conference, well, until I see evidence to the contrary I’m going to assume it was Mob’s doing – but whatever the case, no one is going to be forgetting Reigen’s name any time soon…