If there is anyone who should get a good dose of hype, then it is the 21st Century’s Greatest (phony, if I may) Psychic – Arataka Reigen from Mob Pyscho 100. I absolutely adore Arataka Reigen for reasons well-placed and totally cool. He is one of the few anime characters that make the cut. While I believe that Mob’s world of spirits and under-aged psychics has many awesome characters (The Body Improvement Club, anybody?). I am absolutely certain that the charm and sleekness with which Reigen steals every frame of his is quite like his professional expertise—a conman with a stroke of ‘ridiculous luck’ (in words of sweet, little Dimple).
If you are still reading, I ask you to stay a little longer. You must know what a marvelous piece of comic relief and mature human (with teeny-weeny low-level psychic powers) intervention he is. He is many things—and those many things give him a place in my top five.
HE IS A PROTAGONIST IN HIS OWN RIGHT
Now, many might want to secure the position of the main protagonist to Mob exclusively—and very rightly so. But, I believe that Mob’s universe is not just about him. He stands as a focal point for the introduction of different characters. Reigen, as a matter of fact, is responsible for life-changing influences in Mob’s life. The foremost example comes from Mob’s first encounter with Reigen. How the latter, rather accidentally, gives a glimmer of hope and a sense of purpose to the former.
Hence, it is not wrong to say that Mob’s journey into a whole new world of spirits, renewed relationships (with his brother, and others), and friends was because of the one decision which Reigen, though with a patch of greed, took—and that was to mentor Mob and employ his powers in his business. So, let us give him some credit, shall we? To me, at least, he is the main character. Or a position our cutesy Mob bestows on him if not the main character.
Arataka Reigen is not your Normal Mentor
Let us talk about why Reigen is unconventional and not your regular protagonist. Usually, typical anime leads bear certain similarities, especially when the character plays the role of a mentor or simply ‘influence’. Those characters will either be textbook examples of goodness or evilness. The point is that the character development is generally linear. A good mentor in any anime is exceedingly good-hearted, straightforward, and without any conventional flaws which a human has. All Might is a great example.
I love All Might with all my heart. Yet there should be no disagreement that he is painted with an ideal characterization of what a mentor ought to be. His flaws are not pronounced if any. I am certainly up for such an idea and thoroughly enjoy it. What interests me the most is a depiction of flawed characters trying to put themselves in situations that may run contrary to what they believe.
Arataka Reigen is a mentor with pronounced flaws:
He is manipulative, selfish, a scared cat, and unconsciously overconfident of his ability to make do, and unbelievably luck (which is also a scary thing, honestly). However, think about it, we are all a bit of all these in real life. Reigen is a conman whose job is to draw wealth from human fears of the unknown.
His ‘Spirits and Such Consultation Office’ is all he has got after he decided to quit being a salaryman. If it takes a little bit of the aforementioned ‘supposed’ flaws to support his business, I don’t think he is doing anything different from what most of us would have ordinarily done (mind you, I am not saying that he is NOT doing anything wrong). But, then, it could be said that he manipulated Mob for a long time, and that does not stand justified. I totally agree and will explain.
A Good Character Development
Let us talk about what it means to have a character development first so that I can explain why Mob’s involvement in Reigen’s life has a real-life perspective. A good character development is when what exists of the character is either transformed through influence or circumstances. For example, Greed from Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. Or they are justified against a solid backdrop such as that of Askeladd from Vinland Saga who is pretty much who he was when we first saw him in the story, but his personality is the result of a bigger picture you will get acquainted with in the future.
His character has a story to tell. Reigen is a blend of both: he starts off as a money-minded, manipulative character but upon his chance encounter with Mob he gradually steps into a more responsible role in which he has never been before while still retaining his general personality.
ARATAKA REIGEN’s Character Development
What is great about Arataka Reigen character development is that he remains as manipulative as he was before, but Mob’s intervention in life makes him realize that there are limits to everything he does: he cannot and should not manipulate everyone. He must mark off boundaries, especially in the context of people who repose too much faith in him.
If you recall the Episode in which he confronts Mob and asks him whether he knows the truth about him, he shakes a little because he was in full realization that he cannot pretend before someone as dear as Mob. Mob’s response that he knew Reigen was a good person gives Reigen a speck of hope. Perhaps, Reigen felt that he was given another opportunity to redeem himself for having misled Mob into a world of delusions about him. This is a classic character development.
What It Signifies
This shows—and very rightly so—that everyone, including the Great Arataka, is vulnerable to influence and character changes. This whole thing adds a human touch which makes his character development relatable and inspiring. It shows that even mentors learn from their disciples. After all, you do not need perfect mentors; you just need someone who is good enough—and this is what Reigen is to Mob, and the process of education in their case is cyclical which is what happens in real life.
ARATAKA REIGEN IS THE COMICAL RELIEF YOU NEED
There is no way you will not find yourself absorbed in Reigen’s antics. His unabashed confidence, recklessness, and kitty of powerful, i-will-take-you-off-guard techniques will surely entertain you. He is a man with a purpose: it is to give you well-timed comedy. There are many instances that prove my point. In the first season, his seemingly nonchalant attitude caused members of the Claw to think he is the boss.
His hilarious but super-effective offensive techniques are quite popular. My favorite one is Self-Defense Punch from Season 2 which comes with a highly laughable narrative. But, if you really want to talk about Reigen’s superiority in comedy, then you must know a bit about techniques that he used in his profession. There is Salt Splash, Sorcery Crush, and what not—but, nothing, yes, nothing beats Graphic Exorcism which I believe is exclusive to Reigen. I mean, he charges money for a simple photoshop sold out as exorcism, for God’s sake!
If this does not tickle you, always remember that Reigen forgot to ask his parents to come to sports day in grade school, leaving him without any food to eat during the event—this according to him was the single most tragedy in his life!
WHEN THINGS GO SOUTH, IT IS OKAY TO RUN AWAY
There are moments in anime which excite us and make us want to run a marathon. Or yell our hearts out. People get triggered by Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist, Assassination Classroom¸ and other famous inspirational anime—I too. But, Reigen is a singular character who, despite the oddities in his character, imparted the most important wisdom. When things go south, it is okay to run away.
Those of you who do not recall when he said that it was in the first season when he had slapped Mob out of his murderous frenzy during the latter’s fight with Claw members. Of course, we know what happened afterward: Mob transferred his powers to Reigen and in essence, ran away. Running away sounds like advice from a coward. But it is very well-grounded in reality. You cannot do everything—and while you can give your best, you cannot guarantee that you will get results. So, when you cannot take it anymore, just leave it. “Pushing yourself to unimaginable limits does no good” this is what comes out from the mouth of the greatest conman of the century. I can’t help but agree.
Arataka Reigen is a masterpiece.