Mob Psycho 100 II
by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Mob Psycho 100 II ?
There's shaping up to be a lot more Mob suffering in this season than I signed up for, and I don't like it. Don't get me wrong, this was another great episode, but I just want my precious helmet-haired son to be safe, even if it looks like that's not going to happen any time soon. Previous episodes made a point of mixing Mob up in increasingly complicated supernatural predicaments, blurring the line between problems caused by spiritual powers and problems caused by ordinary people. Mob's determination to do good has pulled him through, but his world is expanding in its complexity. This episode is a natural follow-up that pits Mob against a dark reflection of himself who has more than enough strength to match him and an uncomfortably keen interest in Mob's own psychology.
This battle for our boy's soul begins unsurprisingly with Reigen jumping at the chance to make a lot of money. This particular honeypot is filled by a wealthy CEO desperately trying to exorcise the evil spirit he believes is possessing his daughter. It's a straightforward enough setup, and the prospect of a big paycheck attracts a lower-case-m mob of psychics, including the boys' new friend Shinra and the rest of his spiritual labor union. It's a colorful bunch with one or two familiar faces, but they're mostly there to act as fodder while Mob and Reigen assess the situation. Reigen especially is in rare form this episode, first by using his absurd rock-paper-scissors powers that could rival any anime protagonist's. He's also the only person who picks up on the lies that “Minori” is spinning, immediately pointing out the inconsistencies in her story and manner of speaking. Reigen is a con man, but he's a con man you would want on your side to protect you from the much more dangerous con men out there. And this new enemy is a doozy.
Mogami Keiji isn't given much backstory, but there's enough of an outline present to draw plenty of comparisons to our quiet little hero. Like Mob, he was a gifted psychic who used his powers to help people, borne from a desire to protect his family. Unlike Mob, Mogami became a media darling, but given Mob's age and the amount of attention he's already gotten while ostensibly hiding his powers, it's likely Mob will only become more famous as time progresses. However, what really separates these two boys is that Mogami used his powers in secret to kill people for money, and he eventually became so severed from his moral compass that he willingly turned himself into an evil spirit. Between the exorcisms and the assassinations, he saw only the worst of humanity, and that took its toll on him. Mob isn't anywhere close to that point, but we've started seeing hints of a similar struggle within him, especially during the previous episode. What would Mob have chosen to do if Reigen had not stepped in to save the ghost family? Indeed, Mob's great advantage over Mogami could be that he has positive role models like Reigen and friends who support him and keep him honest, no matter how much he tries to bottle everything inside. And of course, that means he has to face Mogami alone, because nothing can be easy.
This episode feels like a prelude to a much more interesting and psychologically intense installment next week, but it still provides plenty of opportunities for Mob Psycho 100 II to flex. The show's command of style remains strong and playful. I like how the psychic union leader is introduced via big block kanji that take up the whole screen, while struggling former Claw member Matsuo gets framed next to a dinky piece of paper held up with scotch tape. The fight scenes are fantastic, which is to be expected at this point, but seeing both Reigen's spiritual martial arts and Dimple-possessed Mob's moves in a single episode is a rare treat. Mogami's the star of the show though, making a huge statement with some beautifully-animated shattered glass for his introduction. His presence throughout the episode is similarly looming, full of close-ups of his twisted face painted in sinister color palettes. There are still some moments of levity—Reigen's shit-eating grin after winning at rock-paper-scissors comes to mind, as well as a fun manga-style montage of the background psychics trying in vain to exorcise Mogami. But for the most part, this is once again Mob Psycho 100 at its darkest. I cringed at Mogami purposefully breaking Minori's fingers in order to get out of Mob's telekinetic hold, and him stabbing her arm through her father's torso was a level of gore I wasn't expecting! It feels like a level of severity typically reserved for season finales, and seeing Mob struggle like this just tears at my heart.
Unable to defeat Mogami in the physical realm, Mob astral-projects himself into Minori's body to confront Mogami directly, only to get his ass handed to him in the spiritual realm as well. What makes Mogami so frightening isn't his power, however—it's his interest in Mob. He recognizes that Mob is similarly gifted, so he seems bent on molding our boy in his own image, dropping him into a cognitive world where he no longer has his ESP. I assume we'll eventually find out whether Mogami just wants someone else to understand what he went through or if he's just an evil asshole, but regardless, Mob is going to have to get out of there. Thankfully, Mob has never defined himself by his superior strength, and that might be his saving grace. His journey isn't about gaining power or making a statement, it's about just being good, and while I doubt Mogami is going to make this easy for him, I trust that Mob will pull through. At least, I hope.
Okay, I'll admit that I'm very worried about Mob. I want to give him a hug and take him away from the mean ghost man. I can already tell next episode is going to hurt, and while this episode didn't quite pack an emotional punch on its own, it's still stuffed with enough striking and creepy imagery to keep me on my toes while I wait impatiently for my son to come home.
Mob Psycho 100 II is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Steve is a friend who's good at watching anime and can be found making bad posts about anime on Twitter.
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