Reigen is definitely a conman but that's not ALL he is
What makes a good person? What makes a bad person? There is no real clear way to answer this because what is "good" is so subjective. There are good actions just as there are bad, certainly, but do actions make the person? Does a single good count for the bad? Mob Psycho 100 addresses morality — especially budding morality when growing up — but there's no better person to show this than our lovable conman Reigen. Reigen is hilarious whenever he's on-screen, with his exaggerated animations and how he flies by the seat of his pants constantly. But, is Reigen a sleazy conman at his core or not?
By society’s standards, Reigen is on the shaky side. At the end of the day, the consulting service he runs is a scam. Since he has no psychic abilities himself, he has to rely on either practical advice, shiatsu, or manipulation. Of course, not all of the issues that are brought to his office are supernatural ones, but he is still lying to the public. He is the charismatic conman who can sell water while in the middle of the ocean — and he has been selling quite well to the superstitious people that wander into his office. He has clearly gotten good at his job, as some of the most hilarious moments of the series are him trying to manipulate his way out of impossible situations, and nearly succeeding every time.
However, Reigen has another responsibility: Mob. To the outside eye, it seems that Reigen is taking advantage of Mob, and to an extent, he is. Whatever can’t be solved by smoke and mirrors requires the touch of an actual psychic (or Dimple). Mob is under his care as a disciple/call-in employee, but that isn’t all Mob is. Mob is still very young and is quite shy and withdrawn. He wants not only to improve himself as a person and become more sociable but also to keep his psychic powers under control. Mob, having been traumatized by accidentally hurting Ritsu as a kid, is very unsure of himself. While Reigen definitely lies about his own psychic abilities, he doesn't shirk in giving Mob legitimate life advice. Mob is lost and has yet to find himself fully, and Reigen is willing to steer him on the right path.
People tend to show different parts of their true selves under pressure. For the majority of the series, what Reigen cares about seems to be money and appearance, at least appearance enough to maintain his business without complications. He wants to advance himself, somehow. However, the smear campaign does bring his fraud to light and he’s blasted by the press constantly, shriveling his business. At the press conference, he could have come up with some explanation to sate the public, or even admit to his fraud, all to start over and move on. That would be a fair thing to do in business. Instead, Reigen decides to use that moment of publicity, when his career is at stake, to give Mob some assurance. A scene that the country is tuned into to feature him is forgotten, and instead given to one person.
In the end, the series doesn’t give a very clear answer. Reigen is still swindling. He manages to swindle an entire group of psychics into working for him during the Claw attack, and it’s very unlikely that he’d think of stopping his business anytime soon. Yet, to Mob, a decision has already been made: Reigen is good in his eyes. No matter what Reigen’s place in society is, he has already proven that he cares for Mob and is willing to guide him. Mob values that above the rest and reassures both Reigen and the audience that they have put their faith in the right person.
Do you love writing? Do you love anime? If you have an idea for a features story, pitch it to Crunchyroll Features!