Mob Psycho 100 II
by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Mob Psycho 100 II ?
Everyone's luck runs out eventually. Reigen might have been able to slip through the cracks unnoticed as a two-bit private spiritual consultant, but ironically his determination to be the best fake psychic possible is the very thing that spells his downfall. With the spotlight on him and cameras rolling, he has nowhere to run and no lies to spin that can save his reputation. The full fury of the internet descends upon Reigen in this episode of Mob Psycho 100, as the scammed and swindled band together to take down this scumbag con man. To put it in the parlance of today's youth: Reigen gets canceled.
It's hard to argue that Reigen doesn't deserve all of this, especially after how he treated Mob last week, and the narrative thankfully recognizes that. However, it also goes a long way toward humanizing Reigen and showing us sides of him we haven't been privy to before. I love the opening scene of him fidgeting in the green room. It's a great example of the show's attention to character acting, and it's neat to see that, no matter how much he thrives in the spotlight, even Reigen can get cold feet. Perhaps it's also his instincts warning him about the situation, but ultimately the allure of a TV spot wins out over his reservations. He plays right into Jodo's hand, ironically falling for the classic grift of appealing to a mark's ego. It's a dirty trick in the end, but I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a schadenfreude-esque joy in watching Reigen pull out all the stops with his salty showmanship. The animators clearly have a great time too. The scene dissolves into mild psychedelia as it gradually dawns on Reigen that he's been set up, and the way he becomes increasingly poorly drawn as he gets more flustered is hilarious. He finally becomes desperate enough to succumb to the classic “use an object in your line of sight as a prompt for a lie” gag, which even he knows in the moment is a grave mistake. But he's Arataka Reigen. He can't shut up even if it kills him. And the stern face of Beethoven is as great a punchline as any to a wonderful disaster of a scene.
A public meltdown like that is exactly what modern media thrives on, so Reigen quickly finds himself the center of attention in ways he wasn't hoping for. Mob Psycho 100 stays fairly nuanced about this issue. There's never any doubt that Reigen deserves some blowback, but it's also accurate in the way that any genuine outrage is mostly plastered over by turning Reigen into the butt of jokes, while his characterization online becomes more hyperbolically evil. He doesn't become a social pariah so much as he gets turned into a meme for people to enjoy dunking on and doxxing. It's true to the way that social media is great for disseminating stories widely and quickly, but absolutely god-awful at maintaining meaningful constructive discourse about all this information. Reigen in turn becomes more agitated and exacerbates things for himself, getting immediately sniffed out when posing as an “anonymous” Reigen supporter. The inadequacies that haunted him last episode are tempered into daggers. He has no allies. He has no friends. Even his bar buddies shun him—he might not have done anything to hurt them in particular, but all of his chickens are coming home to roost. His only allies left are his mom and (unbeknownst to him) Mob, who's so divorced from pop culture that he genuinely thinks this is all part of Reigen's plan to get popular, which is kind of adorable. As much as he puts on a show of being angry, however, it's clear how much this genuinely hurts Reigen, to the point that he takes the first out given to him: a press conference. He even prints out the apology his mom writes for him. It's sad.
Reigen being Reigen though, he almost instantly screws up the press conference. I'm not going to say that suddenly being overwhelmed by the sheer bullshit of your situation isn't a relatable mood, but Reigen handles it in pretty much the worst way possible. He digs in and retreats back to his old habit of deflecting blame with smug half-truths. It's no coincidence that he starts by belittling and smearing his victims in the rhetoric of cowards. Nobody buys any of it anyway, and he keeps spiraling out of control until a reporter brings up his high school graduation essay stating “I want to be somebody.” This stops Reigen dead in his tracks. He stops talking and starts thinking. He was never supposed to be here. He was supposed to have stopped doing the psychic thing long ago. The turning point was his chance meeting with Mob, so we're treated to Reigen's perspective of this scene. He cynically turns over in his head all of the ways that Mob could be lying to, but he ultimately fixates on how worried Mob seems to be. Reigen easily could have closed the door on him, but he opted instead to help a scared little kid, even if he didn't completely believe what he was hearing. He might have been humoring Mob, but the words he shares with him are still genuine, speaking to the core theme of Mob Psycho 100. In the end, the only thing that matters is being a good person.
Reigen's kindness almost immediately gives way to scheming up how he can use Mob's powers for his profit, but there's also something deeper at play. Reigen doesn't just see Mob as a cash cow; he admires him. He sees what makes Mob special, and he wants to experience something like that for himself. This is the core of their relationship. They're two very different people, but they're united by a reciprocity of one bettering the other. Reigen has helped Mob grow up, and Mob now has the confidence to start doing normal teenager things without being held down by his powers. By the same token, Mob's goodness has made Reigen a better person, but he forgot that for a while. The full shame of how he treated Mob comes crashing down on him, and it pulls him out of his downward spiral. He says something that he should have said a long time ago: how proud he is of Mob.
Reigen's heartfelt emotional climax is met with a telekinetic spectacle that pulls everyone's recording equipment into the air. It's another dazzling feat of animation, embodying the liberating feeling of the moment. It's also Mob's gift to Reigen, saving his master's career and reputation. It's a little contrived, sure, but the heart-tugging wallop of the final scene is what makes this arc for me. In the glow of twilight, Reigen finds Mob and more or less confesses upfront about being a fraud, and Mob embraces him as a good person he cares about all the same. No matter Reigen's numerous flaws, he's still the guy who sat down with a scared kid and gave him some heartfelt advice when nobody else did. That's the Reigen Mob knows, and that's the Reigen he wants to be more like. Mob Psycho 100 has graced us with scene after scene of fun, flashy, and technically mindblowing feats of animation, but the single cut that's affected me the most is this short scene of Reigen nearly welling up with tears. More than anything else, it shows his relief and repentance is genuine. He's helped Mob grow up, and Mob has done the same in turn.
Once again, Mob Psycho 100 hits it out of the park with both technical mastery and solid emotional grounding. Its heart is as big as ever, and it's so satisfying to see Reigen finally mature, at least a little bit. It feels like a privilege to watch an anime that's both this cool and this compassionate each week.
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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