Mob Psycho 100 is the story of a young boy with incredible mental powers and no real desire to use them. However, even our hero knows that he needs someone to teach him how to best use and control his powers. Enter Arataka Reigen, professional psychic and exorcist–and a total fraud. He is also the best master Mob could ever hope to have.
Reigen doesn’t have a scrap of psychic or spiritual power, but the truth is, 90% of the time, he doesn’t need any. People come to him all the time seeking help with supernatural problems that are anything but supernatural. So he plays into their delusions, makes them feel better through “supernatural” means, and sends them on their way–albeit with a lighter wallet.
The interesting thing about Reigen is that, while a con artist, he does real work to help out his clients. His most common “exorcism” is actually just a full-body massage, after all. Alternatively, people come to him with photos containing ominous faces in them. When they come back an hour later, he has exorcised the “ghost” from the photo (read: used a scanner, Photoshop, and color printer to remove it). So while he doesn’t do anything to the fictional ghosts people are worried about (obviously), he at least provides them with a service worth their money–not to mention the bonus of a happier state of mind.
Then there are those few times when the ghosts are real–and that’s where Mob comes in. Mob works for Reigen part time, helping him on cases with actual supernatural danger. Of course, Mob has no idea that Reigen is a fake psychic. He believes every excuse Reigen gives him–usually something like “it’s part of your training to take care of this” or something similar. Yet, it’s not like Mob doesn’t get anything out of the situation.
Mob lacks a role model in his life and Reigen–or rather, Mob’s naïve view of Reigen–fills the position perfectly. When it comes to his powers, Mob is a natural. He really doesn’t need help in using them. However, he does need help knowing when to use them.
Reigen teaches Mob about the dangers of psychic powers–not that they are bad, but that they are a dangerous tool, like a knife. So while we see more than a few psychics running amok abusing their powers, Mob only uses his against the unliving.
Reigen also gives Mob advice when he needs it and cheers him up when bad things happen–reminding Mob of all the good his powers have done. He even protects the innocent child from those who wish to exploit him and/or his powers.
Of course, he does all of these things for his own selfish reasons. Reigen teaches Mob to never use his powers on a person so he’ll never become a target of them. He gives Mob advice and sympathy so the boy will continue to be at the top of his game on the job. And as a grifter in his own right, he is loath to let anyone else break into his monopoly and take advantage of Mob as well.
Yet–just as with his customers–Reigen provides Mob with a real, useful service, even if it’s not the one Mob thinks he’s getting.
While Reigen may be a con artist only looking out for his own good, he nonetheless keeps those around him as satisfied as he can–working far harder than he likely would if he had chosen a more honest profession. And, all in all, this makes him a scoundrel you can root for, despite his rampant dishonesty.
Mob Psycho 100 can be seen for free and with English subtitles in the US on Crunchyroll.