「告白 ～これから～」 (Kokuhaku ~Kore kara~)
“Confession ~The Future~”
Of course there’s always a measure of sadness whenever I type that post title. Especially when it’s a long-running series I love, as is the case with Mob Psycho 100. Make no mistake, I’m gutted to see it go. But that’s mitigated by the fact that this was an adaptation with no compromises. It was put in the hands of a great studio and a great director, and allowed to tell its story on its own terms. Sadness is universal when great anime end, but regret is conditional. And because MP100 had to leave nothing in the bag, I can say goodbye to it with no regrets. This is the adaptation every great manga deserves, and all too few get.
As to the ending itself, I would describe it as “unsurprising in a good way”. ONE has been pretty thematically consistent with this series right from the very beginning, so there was every reason to expect him to hove close to that layline in the final leg of the race. There were a few things which had to take place for that consistency to hold, starting with the fact that the meeting between Tsubomi and Shigeo couldn’t be the literal dramatic climax. She’s a minor character – important to be sure, but as a symbol and an influence, not as a presence. If the confession had been the climax (even if it was the episode title) I would have felt cheated.
No, this always had to come down to M0b and Reigen. Not just because they’re the two most important characters and along wiith Ekubo the best (though they are), but because the whole symbology of the series revolves around them. They’re mirror-images of each other in many respects – each of them living a lie and suppressing an important part of what they really are. But the point is, that lie isn’t who they are – it’s just a thread in a larger fabric. Mob has in effect already performed a great service for Reigen in helping reconcile this conflict in himself – it’s only right that now, in his moment of direst need, Reigen should do the same for him.
Tsubomi is a stalwart girl, to be sure. She waits for Shigeo even in the most ridiculous of circumstances, even though she almost surely knows what he wanted to tell him and what her answer would be. We never got to know Tsubomi well – an intentional choice by ONE in order to make her a mysterious and semi-mythical figure to us, just as Mob sees her. But I’d like to know her better – she seems like an incredibly forthright and direct person. And make no mistake, what she did for Shigeo was vital in getting him through the darkest patch (until now) in his life.
As for Reigen, he’s reconciled to the contradiction he is in a way Mob still is not. There’s just no possibility that he’ll abandon Mob here – it’s not even a consideration, for him or for us. Even as Serizawa begs to retreat and falls by the wayside, Reigen plows straight ahead. Out of a sense of gratitude to Shigeo to be sure, and simply out of love too. But also because it’s who he is – the real Reigen is the one who’s fiercely loyal and at his best under the worst of circumstances. Even as ??? dismisses Reigen as a liar, someone who used his powers for his own ends (all true, as it happens), Mob is still drawn to him in his hour of need.
“Mob” is losing this internal battle to “Shigeo”, and it seems as if Reigen’s reach is just a hair’s breadth too short. But then ONE pulls his one major surprise of the finale – he brings Ekubo back into the picture. I can see this being a controversial move, and as I said at the time he disappeared, ” I don’t know if this is truly the end for Ekubo, and I’m torn about that – I desperately want to see him return, but how could a character possibly ask for a better exit than that?” Dimple went out with poetry and poignancy. But he came back in rather poetic fashion, too. I’ve been thinking for weeks how badly Mob needed Dimple in his life at this time, so it’s not surprising Mob was thinking that too. Given Ekubo’s existential nature, it’s rather moving to think of that as a beacon calling him back.
Ekubo’s return allows Reigen to stand at Shigeo’s side at last, but Reigen wants that final moment to be private. Of course what he tells Mob is no secret to him – of course Mob knows very well that in professional terms, Reigen is a fraud. But what Reigen doesn’t understand is that Mob made a choice to stand with him in spite of his false front – it wasn’t Reigen’s persona that Mob loved, but Reigen himself. Everything Reigen gave to Mob was real, and this is the Reigen Mob saw when he looked at him – the one Reigen couldn’t find when he looked in the mirror. In a sense, Mob was for Reigen what Tsubomi was for Mob – someone who accepted them as they truly where, not as they appeared to be.
Accepting ourselves as we truly are rather than constantly judging ourselves is never harder than in adolescence. But for most people it’s a battle that never ends, and it’s one some people never win. Shigeo and Reigen are the proof of both those statements. I think in the end it was Reigen’s courage in admitting everything – even that he despised the part of himself that he shows the world at large – that finally broke down Mob’s resistance. Mob accepted Reigen when Reigen couldn’t accept himself. Mob’s family and growing circle of friends accepted him even when he couldn’t accept himself. If Reigen could finally face the mirror, maybe that gave Shigeo the strength to do it too.
If I would quibble with any part of this conclusion, it’s that the sheer scale of destruction – and Shigeo’s emotional and practical responsibility for it – was glossed over a bit too easily. There was never going to be time to deal with that properly in this episode of course, and it’s not like we were getting another – but still, it’s a minor annoyance. It delivered on pretty much all other fronts, though. Mob seems to have moved on from Spirits & Such, but that was probably inevitable – he hasn’t moved on from being Reigen’s friend. His decision to climb the pole to try and save the cat was interesting – Mob made peace with Shigeo, but his choice was not to rely on him – and things worked out fine in the end.
I can’t ask much more than that from an ending, really. You never want to say goodbye to a character you’ve come to love over many years, but that’s thematically consistent too – life goes on, and you have to embrace the uncertainty of it. We’ve watched Mob grow up before our eyes for three seasons, growing ever-stronger, but never able to make that great leap of self-acceptance. Whatever he has to face now, he’s better equipped to do so – thanks to Reigen’s example. It’s been one of the best character arcs in anime – and only one of several in this series.
As an anime Mob Psycho 100 is an unvarnished success story, and that’s the feeling I’ll take away from it. Sad that the journey is at at an end, but grateful that it was such a rewarding and satisfying one. As we head into a year that sees several of my cherished manga headed for the screen, I can only hope that any of them are treated as well as this one was. Maybe that’s greedy of me – even getting one adaptation like Mob Psycho 100 should be enough to satisfy you – but it sets a marker for future adaptations to aspire to.