Mob Psycho 100 Episode 12
by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Mob Psycho 100 ?
Mob Psycho 100 rampaged to a conclusion this week, offering a relatively graceful answer to last week's impossible question. At the end of that episode, Mob was tasked with being two people at once - the person who can uphold his mentor's ideal of a kind and mature adult, and the person who can save his friends from their immediate psychic annihilation. Mob can't be both those people, and if he were to try and save his friends, he'd likely have to abandon the fundamental goodness that makes him such a great lead. And so, turning away from that question altogether, Mob did the only thing he could: let Reigen handle it.
Reigen got to be the star this episode, as all of Mob's boiling energy was channeled into his mentor's not-so-psychic frame. The first minutes of this episode were one more glorious spectacle, as Mob's powers bent the Claw abilities back on themselves, breaking swords and shattering illusions and robbing Ishiguro of his mask and dignity. From the consistent oil painting-style images used to convey Mob's power transfer to the wild, messily sketched frames of Reigen carelessly tossing psychic power around, these minutes were as impactful as anything the show has managed to date.
But beyond its wonderfully consistent animation highlights, Reigen's confrontation with the Scars also finally offered a satisfying answer to the show's overarching thematic questions. Confronted by someone who could so easily counter their abilities, the Scars could no longer hide behind them. Reigen was as blunt in his comments as he was in his attacks; effortlessly tossing his opponents aside, he continued to expand on his belief that powers are ultimately no big deal. “You're so addicted to your powers, you've developed tunnel vision,” he said, noting the silliness of stuff like Muraki's useless shoulder pads. Separated from the threat of their powers, the Scars were proven to be exactly what he'd pinned them as - boys who'd never grown up, who'd seen the difficulty of human society and declared “I haven't been rejected, I'm just too special for this world.”
It was a withering take on Claw's fundamental promise - the idea that Claw's members weren't actually special, just unwilling to embrace the harshness of reality. Confronted with this idea, the now maskless Ishiguro said that Reigen's words were “far too cruel,” and that “no group made according to your stupid yardstick is big enough for me!” But clad in a tawdry cape and screaming at children, Ishiguro could only look exactly like the fool Reigen took him for. In the end, Ishiguro sounded just like the Claw flunkey Gen from episode ten - tossed away as garbage by society, he clung to relevance in a system outside of it, where his own powers were the only thing that mattered. But whether they were a lackey like Gen or a division chief like Ishiguro, society had nothing but scorn for Claw's rejects.
Of course, society isn't a kind and welcoming force by any means. Both Mob Psycho and One-Punch Man often seem more cynical about society and its arbitrary judgments of people than anything else. This makes Reigen's ultimate plea for kindness that much more important. Society's judgment is not kind or fair, but rejecting society altogether simply means failing to grow up. It is only by acknowledging the issues with society but still accepting its overall presence, trying to promote kindness in an individual way, that we can grow into honorable adults.
After that philosophical dressing-down, Shō Suzuki popped in to clean up Claw's mess, and the rest of the episode was dedicated to checking in with all of Mob Psycho's various characters. This extended epilogue wasn't strictly necessary, but I was still happy to see it. Mob Psycho has done a remarkable job of imparting nearly all of its characters with some emotional weight and complexity - from the low-powered psychic crew to the bodybuilding club, I actually felt invested in basically everyone the show touched on, and finishing off with a goofy little vignette drawn to imitate ONE's actual style felt like a weirdly appropriate sendoff for a show that's always been more scrappy and personal than its gorgeous direction and animation would imply.
Overall, I'm a little surprised by how much I liked this show. Mob Psycho 100 matched dynamic direction with strong stylistic creativity and gorgeous animation highlights, but it never felt like “just a spectacle.” You could clearly see many unique artistic voices in the show's fluid visual sensibilities, and all that aesthetic goodness was matched with excellent character work and some conflicted but ultimately satisfying thematic arguments. Some of the humor was pretty broad and some of the points were a little vague, but the show was still rich and poignant from start to finish. I'm going to miss Mob and his friends, and I hope we see them again soon.
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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