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The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

‘Jujutsu Kaisen’ Review: Cursed to the Core

Photo courtesy of IMDb
Photo courtesy of IMDb

When it comes to anime, I don’t usually tend to gravitate towards action-adventure shonen, an anime genre meant mostly for teenage boys. Yes, my favorite series, Hunter x Hunter, is a shonen, and I do mildly enjoy some series like My Hero Academia, but I usually don’t feel the insatiable adrenaline when it comes to series in that genre – something is always missing for me.  

Then, there’s Jujutsu Kaisen

This series has invaded the pop culture landscape, and with each new season or project, and it has gained ferocious traction in all its cursed chaos. It’s shonen’s quintessential zeitgeist, with everyone from celebrities like Bruno Mars and Megan Thee Stallion to even government officials talking about it.

For those who don’t know, Jujutsu Kaisen revolves around a world of sorcerers recruited to exorcise curses. These curses derive from culminating negative energy in populated places. Our main character, Yuuji Itadori, becomes a cursed being when he swallows the finger of the king of curses named Sukuna. Seemingly standard, but still a jarring yet fascinating plot as far as urban fantasies go! With the help of his teacher, the ineffable Satoru Gojo, Yuuji enrolls in Jujutsu High and learns to navigate the sorcery world and the curse inside of him. 

As far as shonens go, the stakes in this series get increasingly more complex and grittier. Each arc introduces new perils for Yuuji and his friends, Megumi Fushiguro and Nobara Kugisaki, to overcome tragedy and resilience coexisting in the mix. 

Season one serves as a decent exposition for viewers, introducing Yuuji and friends as a new generation of sorcerers. Through standard missions, Yuuji becomes a strong force fighting against a cursed torrent. He grows accustomed to Sukuna by harnessing tactics like Black Flash. It’s pretty simple – minus the convoluted power system, but more on that later – and the action sequences are insanely captivating. 

But, to me, season two is where the series – for lack of a better, less anime-addict word – peaks. The hidden inventory arc and the stupefying Shibuya arc contribute masterfully to the series’ drama and high stakes. With the former, we learn of Gojo’s past as a student alongside his best friend, Suguru Geto, and their inevitable fall-out that later affects the story. With the latter, we witness the alliance of cursed users and spirits culminate into a terrifying incident meant to shatter the sorcery world. 

This season trades last season’s sometimes-comedic, mostly expository feel for intensely dark overtones, character developments, and climatic changes. 

Switching to more specifics, can I just say that this series has incredibly dynamic characters with amazing designs? From Yuuji’s pink hair to Gojo’s eye mask shielding his terrifyingly blue eyes to Mahito’s patched-up face, their designs are visually appealing and match the characters’ personalities. 

Yuuji is a delight as a protagonist; he’s not that bright but not terribly naive either. Megumi is your typical emo-haired deuteragonist, but he shows an endearing side of him when push comes to shove. Nobara is spunky and comes off as an abrasive “girlboss,” but mainly wants to prove herself, especially after leaving her small town.

And, of course, it would be a sin not to talk about the not-so-secret star of the show, Gojo. It’s honestly hard to hate a guy dubbed “The Strongest” when he’s just so charismatic and endlessly witty. If you know nothing about this series, you at least know Gojo. Although he comes off as careless and arrogant, he is a decent mentor who deeply cares about his students in his own mystifying way. He is also a great juxtaposing force to more level-headed and mature characters like his colleague, Kento Nanami. 

The villains don’t disappoint either! Sukuna is a calamitous yet sometimes entertaining demon, having been around for a thousand years and still wreaking havoc in the modern age. The cursed spirit Mahito is silly and sadistic, a master manipulator when it comes to human emotions yet at times, he can come off as philosophical and astute. 

As some friends of mine know, my favorite character is Geto, Gojo’s best friend/sorcerer turned cynical cult leader trying to purge the world of non-sorcerers. Once a morally sound and rational person, acting as a guide for Gojo, his trauma causes him to go rogue and abandon his principles. While his ideals are undoubtedly messed up, he is also a victim of a society where sorcerers are expected to always put their lives on the line for the “greater good.” 

Now, this series’ power system revolves around the confusing world of curses. As mentioned before, curses come from negative energy, and sorcerers have the power to see curses and exorcise them. With me so far? Wait until you learn about cursed techniques. Cursed techniques are abilities fueled by (negative) cursed energy that range from cursed speech to domain expansions. 

There’s quite a bit of math and science behind it, which is explained more in the manga, so as a non-STEM person, my head always spins a little trying to understand it all (and my head hurts just researching the power system for this review). 

Switching gears yet again, I want to briefly mention how visually incredible the animation is. Props to the poor animators at MAPPA studios working on low wages yet pouring so much soul into detailed visuals and epic dark-neon color palettes. Scenes like Gojo using Reversal Red do something insane to my dopamine receptors! 

While I have been gushing so much about this series, I do have my problems with it. Firstly, this is a series that could benefit from more slice-of-life “filler” moments. I mean, there are some moments like that, but they are few and far between the edgier plot points that feel suffocating sometimes to get through. Also, some characters are unfairly side-lined and not as fleshed out as they could be, ESPECIALLY the women. It’s sad how Nobara, literally one of the main characters, isn’t as developed as Yuuji or Megumi, and this series fixates way more on the men that the women hardly get time to shine – misogyny at its finest, I suppose. 

Still, I did not expect to be as into this series as I am, but what can I say? I’m a sucker for world-building with a wide-ranging color palette, likable characters, and a wayward plot that can leave me speechless, both in a good and bad way! Although not the most digestible series, especially with its overload of body horror, it’s very much a thrilling show to binge. I’d also highly recommend the movie Jujutsu Kaisen 0, which serves as a prelude to the series and offers some needed context for certain plot elements. 

Check it out (or don’t if you’d rather not be subjected to its cursed fandom)!

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    AlexJan 30, 2024 at 10:00 pm

    I had a great time reading it and am amazed at how well you described this series. I want to thank you for introducing this series to me because now I am head over heels for my precious boi Toge Inumaki! Great article as always! (ง ˙w˙)ว