Mob Psycho 100 Episode 6
by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Mob Psycho 100 ?
Mob Psycho 100's sixth episode opens with a quiet, melancholy scene, as Ritsu wakes from a dream of a childhood memory in the middle of the night. Remembering a time when his brother promised he would get his own powers, Ritsu washes his face in the sink, then vainly tries to shape the water like his brother did. It's a dark and unhappy scene, appropriate for a character who's held down by possibly even more self-loathing than Mob. That tone will hold steady for most of this episode - this is a Ritsu story, and Ritsu is not a happy boy.
Later on, we see Ritsu at a student council meeting, which feels ominous largely thanks to its improbably darkened lighting. When asked by the president Shinji what they can do to make their school stand out, Ritsu suggests dealing with their delinquency problem. Even when he's deliberately called on to stand out, Ritsu can only think in terms of his brother; his brother holds a poisoned place in his heart, offering both an ideal he can never reach and a family member he's dedicated to protecting.
But Ritsu is not the only one with an omnipresent sibling. After that meeting, we follow Shinji home to see that his own older brother casts a massive shadow over his life. Shinji's homecoming is probably the most visually compelling sequence of this episode, as his brother shifts from being a visual mountain to being reflected in all the angles and corners of his home. When Shinji finally shuts his family out, we see that his room is dominated by bags of trash, likely a reflection of both his apathy and his own self-image.
Meanwhile, Ritsu's quest to discover a likable version of himself leads him down a variety of useless and self-destructive roads. An early meeting with another member of the student council offers some of this episode's most charged lines, including the electrified “you won't find a totally normal and simple middle schooler anywhere on this planet.” That line is one that both Kageyama siblings could take to heart; though Ritsu seeks exceptionalism and Mob seeks normalcy, neither of them will find peace until they realize they've constructed impossible challenges for themselves. But for now, Ritsu can only shake at the admonishment to “stop trying to act like your brother,” his frustration emphasized through the frame's focus on a ringing traffic light.
In the end, Ritsu's dissatisfaction with his life leads to him being recruited into wrongdoing by the far more bitter president. Ritsu shouldn't be swayed by Shinji, but their very specific similarities put him at a disadvantage. When Ritsu asks why an "elite" would stoop to framing someone, Shinji replies that "elite" is just an imaginary persona someone labeled him with. That response rings perfectly true to Ritsu's own experiences - everyone praises him for things he can't understand, and in light of that praise, it feels impossible to express who he truly wants to be. So he joins Shinji, framing the "delinquent" Onigawara in a sequence that echoes Flowers of Evil.
Onigawara's downfall played like a repeat of Dimple's cult meeting, with the horror of jeering crowds ultimately breaking him down in front of his class. The malevolence of crowds is a theme ONE consistently returns to, but I was more impressed by the way this sequence offered yet another echo of this episode's “we are never the labels others put on us” theme. Though Onigawara is framed as a delinquent, the final line of this sequence is the narrator sadly reflecting that this episode broke his perfect attendance record. We are all more and less than we seem.
This was a somewhat more visually conservative episode of Mob Psycho 100, but that's to be expected after last week's climactic battle. The show's storytelling is as strong as ever, and I was happy to see that the events of last episode are actually resulting in lasting repercussions. Even bit characters like Mob's bodybuilding companions are growing into endearing mainstays, demonstrating that even if Mob can't see it, he's slowly gaining friends all the time. Mob Psycho 100 continues to be a summer highlight.
Mob Psycho 100 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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