You, Too, Can Be a Superhero! A Five-Step Guide, as Seen in Mob Psycho 100
“If everyone is not special, maybe you can be what you want to be!”
It’s less popular than its older brother, One Punch Man, and if you peep at some of Anime 2016's year-ending lists, then you might be hard-pressed to see this crack the higher rankings. Compare and contrast this first impression with reviews made for the show, and you might find it harder to find any negative press.
Just like any good comic book or generic Marvel movie, Mob Psycho 100 comes with all the usual little tips and tricks for anyone who's ever thought about becoming a superhero. No superpowers? No problem. As Mob tells us, special abilities aren’t always required to be whatever you want to be. Kids, you're definitely allowed to try these at home.
The whole shtick of the series is waiting to see how long it’ll take before our main character explodes. Every episode, you’ll find a timer that counts towards a hundred before Mob proceeds to go HAM on everyone.
Sometimes, you just need to successfully join the Body Improvement Club.
1. When in doubt, count to 100.
The catch though, is this: as it’ll only take extreme emotions to get Mob to release the beast within, the timer takes a while to build up. As such, Mob appears emotionless, as he tries not to let his feelings get the best of him. He’s dedicated to not blow everything up, so he avoids succumbing to his emotions, taking the higher path by ignoring conflict.
It comes at a cost, however, as he starts off friendless and insignificant in the eyes of the rest of the student body. As everyone knows, judgement from other students is probably the worst kind of judgement anyone can get.
Eventually, his support comes, and it’s only when he grows to accept the powers as a part of himself that he becomes receptive enough towards other people. Patience is a virtue, but you can’t keep waiting forever. Sooner or later, the emotions are going to have to come out.
The trick is to make sure you’re at full capacity first before letting it all out. No use blowing up at every little thing that ticks you off, after all. Besides, the longer you hold off on showing off that extreme emotion, the less likely you are to do something you'll regret.
2. Remember that mentors come in all shapes, sizes, and specializations.As Mob’s still a kid who’s learning to come to grips with his powers, it’s obvious that he’ll have to find a mentor to enroll under to learn the ways of the world. In this case, his mentor is the great Reigen Arataka-sama, Greatest Psychic of the 21st Century.
Reigen runs a small supernatural racket, humbly called the Spirits and Such Consultation Office, where he helps clients get rid of their paranormal woes. Through his good service, Reigen allows them to move on with their lives in peace. Reigen’s wily. Reigen’s creative. Reigen’s unconventional.
But Reigen is also a conman and probably more than a little unqualified to stand as Mob’s teacher in all manners of the supernatural.
That doesn’t mean he can’t help out however he can, though. Because Reigen is a small-time conman with a motor for a mouth, he’s pretty well-versed in human nature. He knows what makes people tick and knows also what to say or do to make them feel better again. At first glance, he seems way out of his depth, especially since his student is the walking supernova called Mob.
However, as he’s so well-practiced in the art of dealing with the human psyche, he’s the perfect guy to teach Mob how to be human. Everything Mob knows about the world, he’s learned from Reigen - and whether the lessons were imparted out of fear that Mob would randomly explode, or out of sincere compassion for a middle schooler, Seasoning City has Reigen to thank for Mob’s strict pact of pacifism.
Of course, the jury’s still out on Reigen’s true intentions, and whether he really is using Mob’s powers to further his self-interests or not. But in the context of this animated series, it’s fairly obvious that he’s at least got his pupil’s best interests at heart.
Well, maybe 80% of him does.
3. Sidekicks are so passé.Like any standard shonen series, Mob Psycho 100 places a lot of stock in – insert gasp here – friendship. As such, this could be the most obvious take-away anyone could take from the show. Those who see their people as mere underlings and grunts are the bad guys. Those who realize the value of investing in actual relationships are redeemed. Admittedly, it’s not the newest of revelations.
But it’s something worth remembering sometimes, especially once we get all caught up in ourselves and get to thinking we’re better than everyone else.
It shouldn’t be too hard to find a good friend, either. As this show proves, a friend can be a jerk or he can be a douchebag, but what’s important is that he stays loyal to you anyway. Take the example of Dimple the ghost, who’s really not at all a good person and flaunts his status as an evil spirit. He’s an opportunistic jerk, but he’s there to help when it counts – even if it looks like he’s only after his own self-interests sometimes.
If you’re looking for a more ideal example, then look no further than the Body Improvement Club. They’re the jackiest jacked-up bros to have ever flexed their pecs this side of the universe, but they don’t fit the stereotypes of your typical muscle-bound jock. They’re totally against fighting and exist only to help Mob improve his physical stamina. More than just glorified henchmen when the time calls for it, they’re a legitimate support system Mob can rely on when he isn’t out exorcising demons.
That, and they don’t make fun of the skinny guys who pass out on their regular morning jog. If that’s not the mark of a true bro, then I don’t know what else is.
4. Think you’re special? Don’t.This moral’s a bit hard to swallow at first, and that’s understandable, especially if you place so much stock in your individual abilities. In the series, you can expect a lot of speeches to be made about not looking down on others, not flaunting your special abilities around, etc. As Eastern cultures tend to be more group-oriented than their Western counterparts, then this makes sense in context.
This leads to one of my favorite realizations from the show: that everything, including esper abilities, is just a special talent some people just happen to have. If you can’t do it, then it’s no big deal. You’re sure to have some other special talent you can claim as your own anyway.
The reason I find this show so refreshing is its treatment of superpowers and abilities. These special powers are compared to nothing more than a special talent, like singing, dancing, or making the best omelet in existence. It’s a talent only you might have in your circle of friends, but it’s not something to be flaunted about either. In the end, it’s certainly no excuse for anyone to try and take over the world, just because they’re a little more different from the others.
What this realization does, is that it allows our super-powered protagonist to become a little more human and a little more relatable. Reigen tells Mob time and again that he shouldn’t use his psychic abilities on other people, much like how you wouldn’t use a knife against anyone. Again, because the psychic abilities are just a special talent, they’re not meant to be abused, nor are they meant to cause anyone harm.
On the surface, it might look like the show is telling you that it’s much better to conform. Which, essentially, is what it is saying, but it doesn’t just stop there. What it’s telling its audience instead, is this: find your own space in society, and then stand out there. Rock the boat, if you must, but be careful not to endanger everyone else riding the ship with you. Everyone’s special, just like everyone else – but this shouldn’t be reason enough to think you’re better than them.
5. There is no spoon.Spoons play a weirdly huge role in this series. Not as large a role as you’d expect, but they’re nearly big enough to become some sort of background influence on some of the characters.
It’s like this – Mob, due to his esper abilities, can bend spoons. His more academically and physically-gifted brother, Ritsu, can’t do it – but he wants to, very badly, and it’s this difference that kickstarts the conflict between the siblings.
Spoons then become this strikingly simple point of comparison between them. This, in effect, lends more nuance to one of the story's main morals: be content with what you have. Even better: realize your potential but be mindful enough to take note of your limits.
These are the lessons of the spoon - or the lack thereof. In the world of Mob, super powers are only special talents, and if the other characters don’t have them, then it’s fine. They’re better at other things the psychics aren’t anyway, and it’s in this that the world regains its balance.
It doesn't get more heroic than this.There you have it, a comprehensive primer on becoming your own kind of superhero without the fancy gadgets or itchy spandex. You might not be able to physically take down the bad guys with just these, but you’ll be a good guy in your own right anyway. In most cases, this is already more than enough.
As detailed above, there’s really no need for that costume or alter-ego. If you’re confident enough in your own abilities, and if you learn to embrace each and every one of them, then you’re all set to make the world a more Mob-friendly place for everyone.
Or maybe you could just join the Body Improvement Club already.
[Sincere thanks to Kuze, Kerberos, Shannon Apple, StrawHats, and Shi for their guidance and assistance in the clean-up of this thing. I owe these guys a life debt now, for real.]
You, Too, Can Be a Superhero! A Five-Step Guide, as Seen in Mob Psycho 100
Always wanted to be a superhero but never knew the right way to do it? Let Mob show you the way. No spandex or itchy costumes required.
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