If you already know nothing else about Mob Psycho 100 you’ve doubtless no less than heard of Reigen Arataka (Takahiro Sakurai). The character is a beloved goal of fan appreciation and jokes with a deluge of fan artwork flooding the #RedrawReigen tag on Twitter after each new season. His latest bout with Twitter infamy is after a complete host of polls naming him #1 Anime Dad and Hottest Anime Woman (amongst different titles he’s equally unqualified for) went viral in September. He’s memed on by the Mob Psycho 100 fandom to an nearly outrageous extent, however this deluge of fan content material is way more than a joke. Reigen Arataka, whereas usually the butt of jokes each throughout the present and with out, is an extremely advanced character who does the necessary work of embodying the present’s central themes of self-determination and self-actualization.
Reigen Arataka is a con man with no buddies. This just isn’t an overstatement. Reigen runs an exorcism enterprise referred to as Spirits and Such, the place he pretends to be a psychic, providing purchasers offers to assist eliminate ghosts, spirits, or different evils plaguing them. Lucky for him although, he occurred to fulfill a younger Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama (Setsuo Ito) who truly does have non secular powers. So he employs Mob as his single part-time worker paying him 300 yen an hour to do the precise exorcism work. His primary instruments for exorcisms embrace desk salt (ineffective) and distracting hand actions (much more so). It’d be straightforward from these items alone to put in writing off Reigen as an exploitative and horrible particular person, but it surely’s simply not that easy. Reigen’s difficult and whereas he has no drawback mendacity or grifting, he doesn’t depart individuals empty-handed. The spirit cleaning massages he provides could not truly exorcise ghosts, however he nonetheless helps to take a (metaphorical) weight off his purchasers shoulders. He underpays Mob but additionally tries to assist Mob be taught to navigate the world, helps him to grasp his powers as a software somewhat than a hindrance, and provides typically good life recommendation. Even if he doesn’t all the time observe it himself.
A Con Man, however Also a Mentor
“Con man with a heart of gold” is not at all a brand new trope however the best way Reigen does it feels contemporary. In shounen anime settings, so usually the adults will encourage youngsters to face harmful conditions themselves. To struggle adults or militaries or governments as a result of it serves a larger objective with little thoughts paid to the truth that these challenges are being left to literal youngsters. But Reigen, because the resident regular man amid a sea of super-powered individuals, has the readability to talk plainly that it’s not Mob’s, or some other child’s, job to resolve these issues.
When they infiltrate CLAW on the finish of Season 1, Mob is ready to unleash his full 100% energy on the opposite espers for what they’ve executed however Reigen reminds him that it’s OK to run away when issues get this tough. This actually helps Mob redirect his powers from a violent explosion to a software he fingers off to Reigen. Reigen, even earlier than getting imbued with Mob’s powers, was going toe to toe with highly effective psychics and telling them off for preventing youngsters. It’s not solely refreshing to see an grownup present this sort of duty and care in an motion anime, but additionally deeply emblematic of the themes of the present. The alternative is all the time ours whether or not that be to struggle or flee, to foolishly struggle youngsters due to your beliefs or again down like the larger particular person, and Reigen is there to remind us of this again and again.
A Downward Spiral
This form of inside juxtaposition between con man and type mentor involves a head within the so-called “Separation Arc” — aptly referred to as that as a result of it’s the one portion of the story during which Mob and Reigen should not speaking. This happens about halfway into Season 2. After Reigen made some impolite feedback about Mob’s buddies and social skills, Mob determined to take a break from Spirits and Such to take pleasure in his personal life. In his absence, Reigen is attempting to show himself and takes a place on a chat present for psychics. His look nevertheless, seems to be a trick designed to reveal him as a fraud whereas proving a rival psychic superior. This public show of humiliation results in Reigen getting canceled (sure, actually) on Twitter. In this arc, Reigen is totally remoted and compelled to his lowest level. He’s harassed by reporters attempting to get the news on him, lambasted on-line, and we get to see how empty his life is with out Mob and the aim he brings him. He spends his birthday alone with a single electronic mail from his mom as firm.
At the very backside of his downward spiral, he holds a press convention in an try to clear all of it up. It appears he’s prepared to return clear till Mob involves his rescue placing on a show of psychic powers that causes an enormous commotion and clears Reigen’s identify. It’s a touching reunion the place Reigen’s realized how a lot he values Mob as an individual and Mob has come to take Reigen off the pedestal he as soon as put him on. Reigen, nonetheless reeling, asks Mob what he thinks of him in spite of everything this. He says, “I know what I’ve always known. That my master is a good guy.” Mob extends to Reigen what Reigen all the time prolonged to him, empathy and kindness. At this level, Reigen is as misplaced and adrift as Mob was when he first walked into Reigen’s workplace. Mob provides the identical consolation and understanding his youthful self was proven again to Reigen. And herein lies the magic that makes Reigen work. Because for all his faults, his missteps, and his blatant lies he’s, at his core, an excellent man who (regardless of his personal shortcomings) imparts compassionate beliefs onto these round him.
Reigen Sticks to His Guns
That’s the factor about Reigen, he sticks to his weapons regardless of the state of affairs. If meaning speaking circles round individuals to cease them from realizing he doesn’t have psychic powers so be it. But it additionally signifies that he’s prepared to enter conditions which can be far out of his depth if it means doing what he feels is true. The finish of Season 2 sees the chief of CLAW, Toichiro Suzui (Kazuhiko Inoue), laying siege on Seasoning City, and Mob and his buddies try to cease it. Even when the opposite psychics begin to fall again to security, Reigen retains going as a result of Mob is on the coronary heart of this struggle, and he needs to maintain him secure. Suzui is without doubt one of the strongest espers on the earth and when Reigen arrives on the struggle he’s wielding a gun that basically gained’t do him any good. (This comes solely a handful of minutes after he decked one other extraordinarily highly effective psychic who’d simply been throwing buildings at youngsters.)
Reigen is, clearly, fairly ineffective within the struggle. The present doesn’t faux his gumption one way or the other makes him an equal opponent on this struggle. He’d have been blasted out of the constructing if Suzui’s ex-henchman, Serizawa (Takanori Hoshino), hadn’t come to his rescue. Every different particular person there’s a psychic and way more highly effective than him, however that’s not the purpose. The level is that Reigen gained’t simply let issues be, he tries to assist and defend individuals till the final second. It’s Mob who truly saves the day, however he does it utilizing compassion and phrases he realized from Reigen: “I’m the protagonist of my own life,” a message that imparts a way of possession and duty over one’s personal future.
Reigen is a con man, and he’s egocentric however on the finish of the day he’s form above all else. Even if he’s not truly exorcising the spirits for his purchasers he usually helps them in different methods like fixing their unhealthy backs or serving to an outdated man clear his canine. Most importantly, Reigen all the time values self-determination, and he acts on that worth always. Season 3 begins with some ordinary Bad Boss Reigen shenanigans with Mob worrying about his future and Reigen stating his future is about, Mob will proceed to work at Spirits and Such. It’s a typical Reigen response however when later within the episode Mob expresses that he needs to see extra past this job, Reigen instantly accepts his resolution. He tells Mob, as he all the time does, that he will be whoever he needs, do no matter he needs, even when it isn’t work.
Reigen Arataka is difficult and never within the brooding, hiding-a-dark-past method quite a lot of mentor characters are. Reigen is a con man, however he’s additionally some of the accountable adults within the story. He’s only a regular particular person with layers and faults who occurred to (by his personal foolishness) find yourself entrenched in a battle a lot bigger than himself. But he chooses to remain concerned as a result of above all else he’s a caring man who doesn’t wish to see injustice executed, particularly if whoever’s being villain of the week makes the error of focusing on Mob. He’s excellent for his imperfections. He’s a little bit of a loser. And we love him for it.