This...was the perfect ending for the series. It was grand and spectacular to look at, while also being small and intimate and deeply psychological in scope (how much do I love that the final boss of the series was Mob vs himself?). The important questions are answered and still allowed breathing room for a sense of mystery and thought and feeling that this world and its characters are continuing living long after the story has been finished.
One of the biggest mysteries left in the air is Tsubomi, who's become one of my favorite characters for this reason. There's a lot left unsaid about her, yet enough can be gleaned to get a certain understanding of her character. My biggest takeaway from this arc was that Tsubomi and Reigen are two sides of the same coin. They're mysterious people Mob holds to high esteem who are completely unafraid and accepting of who he is and what he's capable of, even as he opposes an immediate threat to them. Mob is drawn to them for their acceptance and blunt honesty, even as they carry and struggle with keeping up their own appearances--they even share an element of loneliness they don't seem to be aware of. That their relations to Mob make up the climax of the series is no accident, I think.
Another mystery is the nature of ???%, which I also loved was kept open-ended. I said I believed Mob had always known about Reigen's "true" self according to Reigen (not just the "true" self according to Mob), and that was all but solidified by this final arc. I may or may not be stating the obvious, but I don't see ???% as a separate entity from Mob. He's a subconscious means for Mob to handle his base, id-driven impulses that he tries to suppress and ignore. In another words, when ???% says Reigen is a liar who's been using him, those are Mob's words--they're Mob's underlying understanding that he's been actively pushing towards the back of his mind and needs to face up against. And it's important for why Mob needed to hear the truth from Reigen, even when Mob has already long since arrived to that conclusion. It's a truth both of them have been avoiding and it's natural that what follows for both of them is tremendous catharsis and a deepened sense of trust in their relationship.
I loved that in order to reach that state, however, Reigen had to subject himself to what Mob was subjecting himself to. Mob was terrified of confessing to Tsubomi after laying bare his id, his "secret self", and risking being rejected, even if it's something Tsubomi has been aware of from the beginning. It's fitting that before Reigen confesses about his own "secret self" to Mob, he takes off his jacket and shoes, showing the lengths he's willing to go to save him (the imagery of "Reigen running barefoot through hell to save Mob" can't be overstated), but more importantly, the vulnerability and honesty he himself is finally willing to lay bare (literally and figuratively) for Mob, even at the risk of being rejected by him.
Mob facing rejection by Tsubomi was beautifully done in a way that unexpectedly resonated with me. He respects her answer, he knows he'll be fine, but the hurt still exists as he bursts into tears and that's ok. His feelings aren't undermined or dismissed as shallow and something he needs to "grow" past, they're allowed to just be. What made me happiest was the reveal in the epilogue that they regularly keep in touch over the phone. They can still be friends, and in the end, I think Mob really wanted to at least rekindle that old childhood friendship they had.
Other thoughts...on the Alien Invasion arc:
- Takenaka brings up Tsubomi to egg Mob on, and while it gets a reaction out of Mob, he doesn't see Takenaka as a romantic rival at the end of the day. Mob doesn't seem to understand or grasp the idea of having "rivals" in general, which speaks in volumes to his maturity and wisdom.
- I love Reigen's continued denial of his loneliness and longing for companionship--reminiscing about his childhood one moment and then playing it casual by asking if Serizawa wants to go drinking and acting exasperated over "babysitting" Mob and his friends the next. I think he was secretly jumping with joy over the idea of going UFO hunting.
- ?????? THESE ALIENS??????
- Takenaka was different from what I expected him to be based on appearance alone--I was expecting him to be nerdier and more timid, not outwardly snobby and cocky. I see the appeal, but didn't really form a strong connection with him in the end, and wonder if it may have been due to the speed I read the chapter at.
- I felt bad for Inukawa, then got to the omakes and felt terrible for him. It reminded me of Reigen's blink-and-miss-it letter in the OVA. I wouldn't mind if this was cut from the anime altogether; I love dark humor, but these sections got to be distractingly distressing (even if it ends with Inukawa forgetting the whole ordeal).
- Touichiro asking Shou to lend him his shoulder…backing off the fight…ahhh ;_;
- Tsubomi waited for Mob to come to turn him down. And that's why he loves her.
- Mooooob ;_; vice president of the body improvement club!!! I'm so proud of you.
- I love Shou's new haircut and how it resembles his father's.
- I just realized Mob telekinetically tossing the cake in Reigen's face is the one and only time he "breaks" his promise to Reigen to use his powers against someone. Too good.