By ONE. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in the magazine Ura Sunday. Released in North America by Dark Horse Comics. Translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian.
Most folks likely first heard of the manga artist ONE via the series One-Punch Man, which was originally a webcomic (as is Mob Psycho 100) that was picked up by Shueisha. Shueisha, however, realized that it could sell better with an artist with, shall we say, a bit more technique than ONE, and so Yuusuke Murata does the art, though you can see traces of ONE’s style in Saitama and Tatsumaki. Needless to say, One-Punch Man was a success. But there are other series that ONE has written as webcomics, including this one, about a young man who has an average presence but also super psychic powers. This also became big enough in Japan to have an anime, and now we’re getting the manga over here. And in this case, there’s no other artist – ONE’s art is here in all its glory. Sometimes it helps the story/humor immensely, but I will admit at times I felt like I really wanted Murata to be drawing this.
Our hero… arrives on the scene after a bit of a fakeout, as we’re first introduced to Reigen, a supposed spirit medium and exorcist who actually functions more as comedy relief than anything else. This lowly assistant, Shigeo (the ‘Mob’ of the title, referring to his looks being the sort you’d see in a ‘crowd mob’ drawing) is the one with the actual powers. When he’s not helping Reigen with his exorcist work, he’s a “normal” high school student with a crush on a girl (who barely appears) and one of the few people not in a club. This jumpstarts the plot, as the Telepathy Club is desperate for members to avoid getting shut down, and sets their sights on Shigeo. He’s not interested, but ends up dragged in anyway. Even worse, he also ends up being targeted by a group of religious cultists.
For the most part, this is meant to be a funny manga with the plot as an excuse for bizarre reactions and gags, and it succeeds quite well. It definitely picks up in the 2nd half, though, when Shigeo faces the religious cult that forces laughter on people. This leads to the other half of the title, which is the ‘Psycho 100″ part. Shigeo is a very laid-back, mellow sort of guy, but that’s because he’s repressing his emotions. When he hits ‘100%”, he explodes with rage, easily the highlight of the book, and one where the sketchiness of ONE’s art pays off. Unfortunately, sometimes ONE’s art simply looks poor. I realize that’s its charm point, but the flat faces on many of the characters tend to lead me to flat emotions when I think about them, regardless of what they say. I wonder if this is a series that works better in animated form.
Despite those misgivings, this is a very good start to a series, and it’s refreshing to actually have one of the ‘psychic’ manga that used to be omnipresent in Japan but rarely came over here licensed. I look forward to more of Shigeo’s flat, dead face and hope he can keep his rage in check… well, OK, no I don’t. I want more rage.