As with art, an important point for art is to not only depict a scene or story, but to convey themes and lessons that the artist feels like are important and should be taught. A manga series, Mob Psycho 100, is an interesting story about psychic powers and paranormal experiences with spirits, and has major themes about emotions, connections, various types of conflicts, and kindness conveyed through the story. Mob Psycho 100 premises with Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama, a stoic esper with psychic powers under the teachings of his mentor Reigen, who’s actually a con man pretending to be a powerful esper like him. In this world, espers/psychics have supernatural powers that are heavily rooted in their emotions. For Mob, he looks emotionally stoic on the outside, and actually wants to focus on other aspects of his life “being a normal person” instead of actually improving his powers. As the story progresses and conflicts with other spirits and enemy psychics become more drastic, it is revealed that Mob is actually an emotional iceberg who bottles up his emotions, and thus his powers, out of fear of and hurting people with his powers due to severe trauma related to them. However, he makes friends with many people, both normal humans and espers alike, and learns valuable life lessons about improving himself, allowing himself to be more expressive, and cope better with his emotions and psychic powers throughout the story.
In this story, the main character introduced is Mob, who is a young teenager with psychic powers. On the surface, he’s reticent and stoic with his emotions and expressing himself. Along with that, despite the fact he’s one of the most powerful espers with advanced powers, Mob actually wants to live a “normal life” like everyone else without powers, and strives to be normal and fit in. Upon closer inspection, he’s actually an in depth character who is revealed to actually suppress his emotions and powers due to his fear of hurting people with them, especially after a traumatic incident at a young age. Though he means well, his methods of coping with the trauma and his emotions and powers are unhealthy, though he gradually matures and learns to handle them more healthily throughout the story.
As Mob Psycho 100 is a manga series, the story has several arcs and various story points that each have unique conflicts between Mob and spirits, espers, and evil organizations. However, all the arcs, though momentary experiences, actually contribute to one major conflict that spans the entire plot; Mob’s conflict with himself with his powers and emotions. As stated before, Mob is an emotional iceberg due to him bottling up his emotions and expressing himself and using his psychic powers a little as possible. It’s an unhealthy coping mechanism though, and results in emotional meltdowns that occur when his emotions reach their peak to the point he can no longer suppress them, which explode in a great burst of psychic power. Due to the fact Mob has hurt a family member in a traumatic situation at a younger age, he feared continuing to hurt people with his powers and emotions, and thus put emotional shackles on himself to restrain himself. In the series though, Mob joins several school clubs, befriends many people, both with and without powers, and finally matures to accept his emotions and powers as a part of himself that shouldn’t be suppressed, an instead healthily expressed and embraced.
Compared to Catcher In The Rye, Mob and Holden both have self-loathe in a way, but their methods of handling their self-loathing and emotions starkly contrast with their external behavior and interactions with others, especially with projecting onto others. In Mob’s case, he strives to have positive connections with other people and sees the best in everyone he meets, even to villains that end up befriending him. Along with that, Mob projects his feelings of loneliness and struggle with emotions improving to be a better person onto other psychic espers, and relates to them with the criticism he has about himself. Holdon, on the other hand, hypocritically criticizes other people harshly and refuses to acknowledge that he’s projecting his own flaws onto them. To add to his negative contrast, he prefers to isolate himself and avoid others, and always has negative interactions with people he doesn’t even like in the first place, leading to strained relationships and clashes on both sides.
Mob Psycho 100 premises as a paranormal story about ghosts and espers, but is truly about human struggles with emotions, relationships, and self-improvement to be a better person, along with the emphasis of refusing to be violent and instead be kind and help others instead of fighting. The manga is very interesting with expanding on the connections between “psychic powers” and emotions, and subverts the trope of how Mob’s bursts of powerful psychic explosions aren’t an impressive flashy power, but instead a tragic look into his trauma and struggles suppressing his emotions. It also emphasizes how psychic powers aren’t actually the most powerful thing in the world, but subverts it depicting is as any other trait or skill in an average life, and that the strongest thing is actually relationships and connections with people. While there are many stories that are in a pessimistic tone, Mob Psycho 100 stands out with showing painful and realistic emotional struggles, but overall maintaining a healthy positive tone. I personally rate this 10/10, and heavily recommend reading and watching this series to anyone.