Tome Kurata is fascinated by the supernatural – but her classmates at Pepper High don’t share her obsession, ignoring her in their daily chats whenever she raises the subject. So, when she spots the sign outside Arataka Reigen’s office: Spirits & Such, she doesn’t hesitate and goes straight in. Soon she’s attached herself as a part-time office assistant to the reluctant Reigen (and his new employee, one-time shut-in Serizawa, doing his best to be a helpful member of the team) and can’t wait to embark on a ghostbusting mission. There’s one problem, however; unlike Shigeo ‘Mob’ Kageyama, Tome hasn’t an ounce of esper abilities (just like her new employer too, but she’s blissfully unaware of that fact at this stage). After a couple of unsettling cases, a newcomer appears: Dozen Roshuto, the self-styled ‘greatest psychic in this solar system’ and mentor to Origo, Tome’s new boyfriend (or friend who happens to be a boy, to be more accurate) at school. Roshuto is utterly dismissive of Reigen, mocking him – but when they all go to observe an exorcism at an area of forbidden ground, Tome and Origo get into difficulties. Will Reigen, Serizawa and Dimple be able to save the two young people, or have they been lured to their deaths? And who is behind the sinister goings-on?
In spite of claiming in his afterword, “When I got down to drawing it, it was difficult…but I tried to come face to face with Reigen,” ONE seems to be enjoying himself with this spin-off from the main series. He frames Tome’s story with the image of a high-school girl running past, slice of toast in mouth, late for school in typical manga/anime cliché style. In spite of this gently jokey start, as Tome’s involvement with Reigen and Serizawa continues, we get genuine character development as we watch Tome come to understand more about herself and Serizawa make his first tentative steps into the working world, both guided by the charismatic Reigen. And, of course, resident spirit Dimple is there to provide a cynical, yet reassuringly realistic take on the affair in hand, if Reigen gets too carried away. And, as always, Reigen himself makes a complex, fascinating focus for this standalone volume, seen through Tome’s eyes: starry-eyed at first, then, in spite of her employer’s best attempts to shield her, waking – rather too late – to the perils of meddling in the unknown as she gets drawn into real danger.
I was a little concerned about Tome being the viewpoint character at first, wondering if this was a wise move to introduce another new school-aged character to the mix – especially a girl with no psychic skills – but as her story progresses, I came to like and empathise with her: her frustration with her schoolfriends is very relatable! I also like the fact that ONE steers away from making the other girls antagonistic and bullying toward Tome; it’s just that they’re not very interested in what she has to contribute, so no melodrama here about girls falling out – and some lovely little revelations later on which I won’t spoil here. But this manga is about Reigen, the indefatigable, unquenchable Arataka Reigen who, for all his bluff and distinctly shady practices, is at heart a good and dependable guy.
ONE’s art is as unique as ever. At first glance it can seem over-simplistic, rough, even ugly – but on closer inspection, it works remarkably well, moving the story along efficiently and delivering exactly what the reader needs to know (and a lot more besides). And the dry sense of humour is still there, with the occasional schoolboy jokes
Kevin Sivasubramanian’s translation also works wonderfully well, capturing exactly the right tone of voice for the varied cast of characters, from schoolgirls to malevolent spirits. ONE is always setting Reigen up for a fall by putting him in situations where he’s utterly out of his depths as a non-psychic psychic investigator, yet showing us that he has hidden strengths of character that only emerge in the most extreme situations. We really shouldn’t admire Reigen – after all, he even eventually admits that he’s a fraud to Tome – but, like Tome, we come to feel genuine respect (and affection) for him.
And where is Mob in all this? A reasonable question, given the title…but again, no spoilers here.
This is a must-read for Mob Psycho 100 fans – and newcomers to the series could happily read it as a standalone too, without
Read a free preview at the publisher’s website here: Mob Psycho 100: Reigen TPB :: Profile :: Dark Horse Comics