I love when an anime or manga has its own little lingo thing going on. Like little terminologies or phrases that are wholly unique to the story alone. It adds so much more to a long-winded manga, for example, because it helps enhance the world-building aspect. Leading to the said story being a more immersive read for the fans. And while I don’t doubt ONE’s capabilities as a mangaka, I didn’t expect that same thing to come from one of their works, specifically Mob Psycho 100.
Mob Psycho 100 has been rightfully hyped but the whole ‘Mob’ part of it isn’t because it has a pseudo mobster plot line or anything. No, see the ‘Mob’ here is a tongue-in-cheek reference to how the protagonist, Shigeo Kageyama, blends into the background because of how plain he appears. Pronounced ‘Mobu’, it’s the Japanese equivalent of the term John Doe or the surname Smith, meaning that a person is so commonplace, they don’t stand out.
Except we all know that isn’t the case. Mob Psycho 100 is the tale of a very exceptional teenager who wishes he was anything but. Even the title, when broken down, holds references to how Kageyama would give anything to be an average guy. ‘Mob’ is the name given to Shigeo for his wallflower tendencies and ‘Psycho’ signals his psychic capabilities. And then it has double meanings and whatnot, so it’s all very interesting to read through.
The character itself is very on par with ONE’s usual fare, which super OP (Overpowered) protagonists that, honestly? They could care less. But unlike in the case of his previous works, Mob can’t even ignore this aspect of his. And it’s his struggle with being one of the most powerful people in the manga is exactly what we are going to dissect in today’s segment of Character Analysis – the segment where we take a closer look at the internet’s favorite of the week and break their character down to see what makes them tic. Today, it’s the teenage psychic medium who’d give anything to be normal!
Shigeo Kageyama: An Esper By Any Other Name?
When you compare Shigeo to Saitama from One Punch Man, another ONE hit wonder (Yes, that was a bad pun and I don’t apologize.), a lot of similarities come up. But what I’m interested in, are the stark differences between the two. And boy, are there some big ones here.
Shigeo, or Mob as he is known, isn’t a fully matured salary man who went on a trip to train his body meticulously, like Saitama. Mob is just a kid, he’s barely 14 and he’s already the most powerful Esper on the planet. Like, imagine the kind of pressure that puts on someone as introverted as Mob is. His personality is very humble and docile, he does not like confrontations. So, when he gets into them, he goes off the wall insane with his powers.
And that kinds of emotional outbursts are so commonplace in a teenager, but deadly when it comes to a superpowered teenager. This is why Mob tries his hardest to just blend in. He wants nothing more than the average life that his classmates have. Hell, the only thing that Mob would truly kill for is to just normally confess to his crush.
What Does Mob Mean In Japanese?
So, as discussed before, Mob Psycho 100 is filled with wordplay and double meanings when it comes to some of its terminologies. You have the title itself, as explained before, but even that has more layers than you’d expect.
Yes, ‘Psycho’ here could just be a reference to his abilities as an Esper, which is a person who has paranormal abilities of the psychic variant such as telepathy, telekinesis, and astral projection. But the way it is pronounced sounds very similar to the Japanese word ‘Saiko’, which means ‘the very best. And that itself could be signaling how Mob is the most powerful of his kind.
Meanwhile, ‘Mobu’ itself is just a teasing way of showcasing how Mob looks more like a generic background character in anime rather than the powerhouse he is in his own story. And that is the entire premise of the story, with Mob trying to escape from being the main character and just wanting the average joe lifestyle.