Shounen Jump’s newest smash hit Jujutsu Kaisen has finally been adapted into anime form, with Studio Mappa and some other phenomenal talents bringing this dark urban fantasy series by emerging mangaka Gege Akutami to life.
God of High School director Sunghoo Park is back with his signature jaw-dropping action scenes, and the hip-hop/jazz-inspired beats come courtesy of composers and musicians who worked on the likes of Beastars, Land of the Lustrous, and Dr. Stone. But does this highly promoted anime live up to its impressive pedigree? Let’s take a closer look at what it’s shown us so far!
Stylish as Hell
Unbeknownst to the citizens of Japan, powerful demons called Curses lurk in the shadows and feed upon their negative emotions. If they gather enough power, they can lash out and kill any humans who stand in their way, so it’s up to a small group of sorcerers with Curse powers of their own to exorcise the demons and keep the populace safe. Seemingly normal teen Yuuji gets mixed up in the sorcerers’ fight when his friends are targeted and he swallows a high-grade cursed object that gives him enough power to save their lives.
It turns out that the object is one of the twenty mummified fingers of Sukuna, the most dangerous Curse of all time, and now the demon is residing in his body and might just kill everyone if Yuuji can’t control him. So Yuuji enrolls in Tokyo Metropolitan Magic Technical College to train as a sorcerer and protect as many people as he can – or, failing that, at least allow them proper deaths.
Even though this sort of premise has been done before by anime like Noragami, Tokyo Ghoul, and Bleach, Jujutsu Kaisen carves out its own identity with its creative use of Curse powers and heart-pounding sakuga fight scenes that feature a bit more blood than you might expect from a Shounen Jump series. We particularly love Nobara’s usage of hammers, nails, and voodoo dolls in her fights, Megumi’s ability to create beast familiars from his own shadows, and Sukuna’s hardcore power play of ripping out Yuuji’s heart while possessing him to prevent the kid from forcefully taking his body back. All of this is underscored by a modern-tinged soundtrack and eye-popping animation – sort of like God of High School, except that this show actually gives us a chance to care about what’s going on. In short, it’s stylish as all hell!
Pure spectacle isn’t the only thing that sets Jujutsu Kaisen apart from the crowd, though. It also has a more complex morality system than most shounen anime, presenting the Curses as alien beings who can’t be reasoned with because they have no sense of good and evil. The sorcerers themselves are also relatively weak in comparison to the Curses, so they’re often unable to save the people they’re desperately trying to protect and frequently die in the field filled with regrets.
Yuuji is the kind of protagonist who would be solving problems with the power of friendship in any other anime, but because that doesn’t work in this universe, he has to settle for saving the few innocents he can and trying to give the others “proper deaths” that prove their life was worth something in the end. He’s in a constant struggle against Sukuna’s chaotic evil influence as he works to collect all twenty cursed fingers, knowing all the while that he’ll eventually have to be killed along with the demon to rid the world of his evil once and for all. That takes a level of maturity that you just don’t see in most characters like Yuuji.
Only about 1/4th of Jujutsu Kaisen is out so far, but even at this early stage, we can tell that it’s got some serious promise. Its star-studded production team has made sure it looks and sounds as good as possible, and its above-average storytelling weaves a tale of dark urban fantasy that we can’t wait to see more of. Check it out this fall, tell us what you think in the comments below, and thanks so much for reading!