Character study: Kageyama Ritsu
I´ve heard many of my friends say that they find it difficult to understand Ritsu’s actions in Mob Psycho 100 anime. I agree that he is a controversial character with complex feelings but as I think I can relate to him a lot, I figured I’d do a character study on him. Enjoy and feel free to come to talk to me about our boys!
“To me, my brother is the standard of the world.”
This is the basis of Ritsu´s worldview. He looks up to Mob in everything and tries his best to copy him. He’s quiet and modest like Mob and doesn’t want to stand out in any way. But one thing he lacks that Mob has: psychic powers.
Now, just to make it clear: Ritsu is not obsessed, edgy, emo or mean. He is caring, but he is also lonely and deeply hurt. This is my main view on him.
Ritsu has high standards for a normal person with no chances to attain physic powers. He’s also very hard on himself. He’s not proud of himself even when he’s so hard-working and great at school, just because he lacks one thing he thinks is fundamental. I think that actually, Ritsu has very low self-esteem. It shows when he can’t forgive himself for that one imperfection and he isn’t content with just being himself. So when everyone around him showers him with praise of how perfect and good he is, it just fuels his self-hatred because “no, you’ve got it all wrong; I’m far from being even decent.”
Then the student council’s vice president Tokugawa tells him in traffic lights “don’t try to act like your brother.” I could interpret the expression on Ritsu’s face only as one of dread. He probably felt like he had got caught: his demand of perfection for himself also includes that no one could know about his struggles.
The other thing besides his high demands towards himself that defines Ritsu is his loneliness. It’s shown that despite his popularity at school, he has no close friends. His relationship with Mob is also shaped by Ritsu’s fears and self-esteem issues and is far from being truthful. Sadly, Mob, who is unable to read people properly, have no idea what’s going on with his brother until episode 8.
Ritsu still loves his brother. Ritsu doesn’t care about himself but he does care about Mob and he uses a lot of his energy making sure Mob is happy. It’s easier to focus your love on somebody else when you don’t love yourself. Ritsu doesn’t give it at all to himself so his all is directed to Mob which makes it sometimes a little extreme. For example, Ritsu starts The Big Cleanup on accident when he wanted to make the school a better place for Mob.
Ritsu claims that he doesn’t love his brother in order to cover up his lack of self-esteem. He tells himself that he’s making sure that Mob is happy because "he fears what would happen if he would upset Mob in any way.” He goes so far as to tell Mob that “the buddy-buddy brothers act ends now.” But Mob is right when he answers “I can tell. That’s a lie”, because it truly is a lie, which is revealed at a moment later when Ritsu rushes to stop Koyama from hurting Mob. He´s in tears and that´s not a face of someone who doesn´t care at all.
Ritsu is not a bad person. Ritsu step up for the other Awakening Lab kids in order to save them and got himself beaten. Maybe it was his “duty” because he is the only one in that group with psychic powers suited for fighting, but I think otherwise. I’m actually very concerned of how little he values himself.
The controversy with Mob and the fight with Koyama after that changed Ritsu a lot. He snapped out of his own, corrupt mindset and become a person he truly is. In episode 9 he is way more friendly with the Awakening Lab kids, complimenting them and cooperating with them.
So what explains Ritsu´s actions towards Onigawara and his earlier violence? I could say that before attaining his powers, his struggling has come near a breaking point. During that time Ritsu’s pain exceeds his kindness. He feels alone and he’s hurt and to be honest I’m not surprised when he takes it out on others when giving the chance. He doesn’t try to stop Kamuro from blackmailing people because Ritsu is so tired of his own suffering but what he actually ends up doing by that is to hurt himself more. It’s like he punishes himself of not being perfect in his own standards by baring “the truth” to others, too. Which means rebelling against the “perfect boy” he’s been labelled with. He’s tired of hiding his true feelings so he takes it out finally. And what comes out is violence because that is what he feels inside: pain. It feels good in a way, to be finally free, so he continues. No one cares about him so he’s not going to care about his victims, either. “I’ve lost my limits. I have obtained a loss”, means just that.
But the good person Ritsu is always there, too. Ritsu feels good using violence but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t feel guilty, too. Ritsu’s powers awaken when he had passed the breaking point in his mental stress (just like Claw tried to forcefully awaken psychic powers in people using extreme mental and physical stress, i.e. pain). After that, his corruption and guilt only fuels them. One would have thought Ritsu’s issues would have been solved when he´d attain psychic powers, but that’s not true. In this point he is in so deep he’s unable to feel good even when his lifelong dream has come true. In his mind he is still far from being decent because of what he had done. Actually he doesn’t want to be this kind of person who hurts others. So he doesn’t continue when Kamuro breaks down.
By the way, I´m not a fan of “Ritsu hates Reigen” belief. He’s cold towards the man, yes, but that´s because he suspects that Reigen is only using Mob. He’s cold towards Mezato, too, when she wants to write an article about Mob. There is nothing hostile behind it, only suspiciousness.
Ritsu is a loving little brother and I think he would make a very loyal and good friend. A friend is what he needs the most, after all. (That’s why I’m very excited about Shou!) Plus I´m loving the fact that his hobby is writing diary byeee
Lastly, we need to remember that Ritsu is only 13. He’s just a kid and he’s bound to make mistakes while figuring out how the world works. He’s at the age where he’s starting to form a personality so of course it’s still fluid and incomplete. His journey to become himself is only at the beginning.