Never before has so much raw artistry been applied to a battle between an Academy Awards statue and hundreds of clones of Moe Howard. This, however, is what Mob Psycho 100 is all about. Farce walks hand in hand with finesse. And the conclusion to Dimple’s arc is stuffed with enough humor and heart to sustain an entire run of most other anime. It’s a subversive and spectacular midseason finish to an anime that, like its main character, only continues to mature and dazzle.
To begin, I have to commend the series for expertly baiting me into writing my “I don’t care about Dimple” paragraph last week, which I now see was part of its master plan to emotionally kick my ass and make me eat my own words. Okay, they did it. They got me to care about Dimple. The writing mostly earns it, but taken on its own, it does lean a bit too hard too quickly on mawkish cliches. I have to be in the right frame of mind for “all I ever wanted…was a friend” to crack my hardened, irony-poisoned brain. Thankfully, that’s where the adaptation comes in, with expressive and charismatic animation and framing for both Mob and Dimple. People will almost certainly focus on the latter half of this episode when talking about its craft, but the soft power of its first act—a conflict waged and won with words and feelings—makes for a subtler, yet no less remarkable display of animated prowess.
I also won’t say I was entirely off the mark with my appraisal of Mob and Dimple last week. Dimple is still a character who matters most in his relation to Mob, and that’s even more true now that we know where this arc was going. Obviously, the main development is Dimple’s belated realization that Mob is so much more than a host of eldritch telekinetic powers; he’s a good person, a good friend, and a good influence. What I like even more, though, is Mob’s realization that Dimple was a good influence on him. While everyone else coddled Mob, Dimple was the only one brave and/or mean enough to tell him how dogshit awful his monkey shirt really was. Mob realizes that honesty—even brutal honesty—is an important trait to have in a friend. We need people who can build us up when we’re in a slump, and people who can take us down a peg when we’re acting a little too big for our britches. Or when we spontaneously sprout a set of testicles on our lower mandible. It happens to the best of us.
It’s that embrace of honesty, realized and expressed between and within the both of them, that makes the resolution to their conflict so satisfying. It’s so much better than the tragic fireworks show I was imagining last week. In its stead, we get to see an adorable little nerd and a floating booger look inside each other’s hearts and find a friend who’s been there all along. Ideally, Dimple would have figured that out before trying to evolve into a godhead, but it’s sweet that even at his most megalomaniacal, he still wanted to invite Mob to join him. I’m stunned that Mob was able to see this and reciprocate these feelings. In fact, I’m always stunned by the amount of compassion expressed by Mob Psycho 100. Like Mob himself, maybe there’s some naivete mixed in there, but the sympathetic spectacle inspires me to do better nonetheless. I need the reminder that a kinder, gentler world is always possible.
Now, on the subject of the tragic fireworks show I had been expecting, let’s touch on the second half of the episode. Not only is it full of fireworks, they prove even more tragic than my already-glib expectations! Dimple, on his own, has to reckon with the consequences of his actions, and at the risk of sounding heartless, I’m glad the narrative doesn’t let him off easy here. Mob may forgive, but I don’t—and more to the point, brainwashing an entire city and toying with aspirations of world domination should have consequences. While this may just be my Catholic upbringing talking, I do think there’s value in penance and atonement, and I think it’s meaningful for Dimple to put his life on the line to protect something that isn’t himself. This also infuses the action with a different tone than the anime’s usual mind-bending psychedelics from Mob’s adversaries. Dimple’s last stand, while no less spectacular than the series’ other setpieces, feels more like a traditional superhero fight, with one man bearing the full brunt of impossible odds. I’d call it dignified if not for all the shots of Dimple’s unsettlingly juicy ass. Big shout out to Yutaka Nakamura and all the other animators for giving this ghost the gold-plated dumpy he deserves.
So that’s another arc of Mob in the can, and another near-perfect episode that tugs my heartstrings and kicks my funny bone at the same time. As verklempt as I got at the end, I must confess I harbor plenty of doubts about the terminality of Dimple’s existence. Knowing this series and some of the stuff it has pulled, I’m inclined to think we’ll see him again. Maybe he’s just chilling on an oversized vegetable in near-Earth orbit. Stranger things have happened. But regardless of whether the next part involves Mob going to space (I can dream), I’m excited to see what it’ll be about. There’s not a lot of show left! We have to savor it, like the last stalk of steamed broccoli on your plate.
Mob Psycho 100 III is currently streaming on
Steve is a regular freelance contributor to ANN and also the guy who called Arataka Reigen an internet sex symbol that one time. Feel free to roast him on Twitter about this. Otherwise, catch him chatting about trash and treasure alike on This Week in Anime.