ONE, author of One Punch Man and Old Man of the Underworld, continues their writing career with another fantastic slice-of-life series: Mob Psycho 100. Much like their previous work, reality is minimized, injected with fantasy, and given a heavy dose of bittersweet acceptance. There is a melancholy feeling associated with ONE’s work that has much to do with their choice of protagonists and the way the story lines treat them; Saitama of One Punch Man is depressed to the point of apathy, yet his story is one of finding interest in the world again and learning to open up to others; likewise, Mob of Mob Psycho 100 is equally depressed and heading into total apathy – though, for this story, there is an extra element of personal growth attached: Mob is a middle schooler.
Kagayama Shigeo, called Mob, is an eighth grader at Salt and Vinegar Middle School – in a town called Seasoning City and rival school Black Vinegar Mid – who was born with powerful ESP abilities. In cannon, this is not unusual; ESP is rather uncommon, but not considered rare or fantastic – though it is considered an inconvenience by the Kagayama family, as Mob has imperfect control and tends to bend spoons unintentionally, a la the ‘spoon bending psychic’ trope.
His power is controlled largely by his emotions, which, unfortunately for Mob, he has little control over and therefore feels little connection with: after several childhood incidents involving his ESP he began to consciously lock his emotions away to avoid any outbursts. This is an unhealthy response to natural emotional reactions, and is portrayed as such in the story; Mob has a meter which ranges from 0% – calm apathy – to 100% – full blown emotional breakdown. Once he builds up to 100%, his power surges, often violently.
Mob Psycho 100 uses Mob’s age to its advantage; while there are adults in his life, most notably his mentor Reigan Arataka and several other psychic adults, it is the children who lead the story. There are far more young characters than there are adults to watch over or guide them; the psychic children are all on their own as they come into their powers and mature as people while the adults interfere in their simpler plot lines with complications brought on by adult greed, corporate power, and underhanded political schemes. MP100 is largely a coming of age story, with Mob’s growth as a character as the main focus. There are fantastic fight scenes, high stakes, and dozens of characters with unique powers and personalities, but in the end, it is a bittersweet tale of growing up, finding yourself in the world, and learning to accept yourself.
MP100 is published on the official UraSunday website, and the original web version of One Punch Man can be found on ONE’s personal website, neither of which are in English, unfortunately. One Punch Man is published in English and available for sale on Amazon and in book stores; it also has an anime adaptation with season 2 confirmed and a completed English dub. Mob Psycho 100 has not yet been released in English, though season 1 of the anime is finished and has an English dub.