「通信中① ～冬休み～」 (Tsuushinchuu Ichi ~Fuyuyasumi~)
” ~Winter Break~”
I was wondering how Mob Psycho 100 was going to follow up last week’s emotional tour de force. The truth is, of course, you can’t – those kind of highs just wouldn’t work on a weekly basis, and that one took a few episodes to build anyway. In a way I think it was a more effective action blockbuster than the ones we got in the first two seasons, because it was more personal. The character at the heart of it, antagonist and ally for Mob, was someone we’ve come to care deeply about. And the arc ended with consequences which cut deeper than any that have come before.
As such, going in a completely different direction both tonally and narratively makes a lot of sense. Mob is still mourning Ekubo in his quiet and dignified way a month after the fact, but he’s a minor player for much of the episode. The plot driver is Tome’s decision to quit the Telepathy Club, itself driven by the harsh reality of impending graduation (and entrance exams), lack of progress, and indifference from the boys in the band. But she doesn’t go without a shower of tears of regret, which is enough to guilt said boys into taking the mission of contacting aliens just a bit seriously.
Once the baka trio decide to make Tome’s dream come true, they naturally turn to Mob in a matter of the paranormal. But this is a reminder than Mob isn’t a telepathist – his powers may be unmatched but they don’t run in that direction. Still, Shigeo is Shigeo – he wants to help. His first thought is the Shiratori Brothers (in their first appearance of the season), but they’re not exactly ideal as they can only communicate with each other. They can, however, blast out general psychic noise over a half a kilometer or so, which they reckon might be able to catch the attention of a true telepath. And with Mob as a signal booster, they can triple that range.
Enter Takenaka-kun (Kawanishi Kengo). Though, to be honest, I was expecting someone (or something) a lot scarier – seems to me that blasting out a telepathic homing beacon is just asking for trouble. Takenaka is an ex-club member and paints his arrival as coincidental (running away from a harsh tennis club practice), but it’s pretty obvious why he’s here. He doesn’t give a fig about Tome’s dream, he just wants to shut off the damn noise. But his refusal to help doesn’t hold up in the face of Shigeo’s mild-mannered counter, and eventually Takenaka agrees to help the boys out.
As most big character moments in Mob Psycho are, this was pretty understated, a don’t-blink-or-you’ll miss it kind of thing. But this conversation is more compelling evidence of Mob’s growth – and with that growth, a growing sense of being at peace with who he is. Yes, he tells Takenaka, he’s tired of his powers sometimes too – but they’re part of who he is whether he likes it or not. And if he can use them to help some friends out and have an adventure once in a while, that’s a good thing.
This all ends up with a planned New Year’s Eve trip to Mud Boat Mountain to try and signal aliens – one which Tome initially refuses to join, but relents on the day. Mob recruits Reigen as a designated driver, which Reigen complains bitterly about to Serizawa to cover the fact that he’s delighted to hang with Mob and his friends instead of being alone on New Year’s. It all has the air of a fun, childish diversion – but I can’t shake the vibe that it’s a stalking horse for a possible weightier and darker plot twist. And I wonder – is it a coincidence that both Takenaka and Reigen overslept and were late for the meeting? Possibly – but this is a series where coincidences usually aren’t coincidences at all…