Mob Psycho 100
Episode 10

by Nick Creamer,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Mob Psycho 100 ?

The Claw base was in an uproar this episode, as Mob, Hanazawa, and Dimple's invasion crashed against the organization's local crop of Scar enforcers. Despite being packed with fight scenes, this was another relatively conservative episode of Mob Psycho in visual terms - but as far as worldview goes, this might have been the most crucial one so far. ONE's obsession with power, value, and our positions in the larger social order were all on display this week, as Mob's invasion and Ritsu's escape presented a clear contrast between the haves and the have-nots.

The episode started with an unlikely conversation, as the Claw flunkeys holding Ritsu's acquaintance hostage discussed their hopes for the future. While the younger lackeys expressed a desire to gain power at HQ, their twenty-year superior Gen told them that HQ would simply chew them up and spit them out. “If you don't awaken the first time, there's no hope” he said, tossing back regular swigs from a bottle of sake. Even though the other lackeys initially saw this as disappointing, Gen ultimately framed it in positive terms. Eventually, Claw would take over the world - and when that day came, even their humble pawns would be richly rewarded.

That cynical worldview might well represent the world as ONE sees it. While the members of the bodybuilding club work hard, they are immediately cast aside by someone like Hanazawa, who never had to work for his talent. The world is presented as an unfair meritocracy, where your assigned merit is random. In a world like this, all the powerless can do is accept their powerlessness and then hope to attach themselves to the right group. As Hanazawa admits later on, acting like a powerful brute is sometimes useful, because the powerless understand that it is their destiny to fall in line.

Of course, Hanazawa himself doesn't believe that's how the world works anymore. Before he met Mob, he believed that he truly was special, and the world belonged to him because he was born that way. But meeting and being defeated by Mob forced him to grapple with humility and the idea that arbitrary power like his doesn't make him any more valuable than anyone else. Hearing the Scars state that they're special beings, "and that's reality, not a dream” only reminds him of his own former self. Mob stands as the antidote to that worldview, a humble champion of the ordinary people.

Still, how Mob can represent the value of normalcy while possessing so much unfair power is a bit of an awkward question that the show hasn't yet found a satisfying answer for. It's true that Mob doesn't see himself as special, but in the context of this show, he is still extremely special. Lofty words about the value of normalcy and the evils of arbitrary meritocracy are well and good, but when you exist in a world where might actually can make right, and you happen to personally be the mightiest, couching your victory in populist rhetoric comes across as a little hollow. Frankly, that might be a contradiction that ONE himself can't find an answer for, considering both Mob Psycho 100 and One Punch Man exist in cynical worlds full of arrogant and nigh-undefeatable superpowers. Mob and Saitama both contradict the system of their worlds through personal humility, but their personalities do not change the nature of the worlds they inhabit.

Thematic arguments aside, it was also perfectly entertaining just to see Claw's best throw themselves at Mob's group. I was a little worried that Mob's team would just overrun the opposition, but there was some solid back-and-forth in these fights, and it was actually Claw's side that came out seeming frighteningly powerful instead. Claw's members are uneven, but they're far from powerless. Even Mob's raw psychic talent was ultimately eclipsed, as his far less refined mental stability ended up getting the best of him.

Overall, this was a busy and satisfying installment of Mob Psycho 100. Even though this wasn't one of the show's most visually appealing episodes, there were still some nice cuts in all of the major fights, and digging into the show's philosophy from the perspective of low-level baddies was a smart call. I doubt this series will end up finding satisfying answers for all its underlying questions, but I'm still thoroughly enjoying the ride.

Overall: B+

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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