Jujutsu Kaisen began airing during October 2020 and is slated for a 24 episode run. The plot revolves around curses - evil manifestations of negative human emotions. After consuming a finger from the King of Curses Ryoumen Sukuna, Itadori Yuuji finds himself tasked with tracking down the remaining fingers or being faced with execution. With the series still well underway, let’s see just exactly where we are by the end of episode 13!
The opening of Jujutsu Kaisen plays out like most other Shounen anime. In fact, this anime bears such a striking resemblance to Naruto that it’s almost jarring. For those yet to watch, our protagonist, Itadori Yuuji and the demon spirit inside him, Ryoumen Sukuna, form the backbone of the overarching plot, similar to Naruto and the Nine-Tailed Fox’s relationship. In all honesty, the show does very little during the early episodes to differentiate itself from its contemporaries.
In a world where a boy contains the spiritual embodiment of a powerful demon, a target is placed onto his back from those who want to extract it. He has a teacher who is incredibly powerful and covers his eyes. We have a group of three consisting of a hot-headed girl and a stoically motivated boy. The description may as well read: “JUJUTSU KAISEN - Naruto but he’s older, Sakura but she has nails, Sasuke but he isn’t as depressed, and Kakashi but he’s blind in both eyes!”
Needless to say, by the time Yuuji goes berserk at the end of the prison infiltration arc, we were on the edge of our seats waiting for that Rasengan to make its debut in some shape or form! However, nearing the end of the fifth episode, during the fight between Fushiguro and Sukuna, a pellet of intrigue is dropped onto our laps. Sukuna seems to take an interest in a mysterious ability that Fushiguro starts charging before Fushiguro ultimately resorts to the Shounen friendship speech instead to bring Yuuji back to his senses. Hmm, Ok Jujutsu Kaisen, color me curious. And you kill your protagonist at the end of the episode!? Fine, I’ll bite, let’s keep this train moving.
Between Life and Death
You would think that a mild case of death would be enough to end any series of anime. However, while dead, Yuuji strikes a deal with Sukuna to be revived. The only catch is that Sukuna, at any time in the future, is allowed one minute of bodily control (but cannot kill anyone during this time). Also, Yuuji is forced to forget this pact upon being revived. This is where the series really starts to take shape. Where anime like Naruto set up interesting plot developments early on, for most of them, we are forced to wade through a slew of filler episodes to achieve a satisfying conclusion (Itachi and his role in the Akatsuki for example). Jujutsu Kaisen, with such a smaller episode count, needs to get these setups moving as soon as possible.
For as much as Jujutsu Kaisen is a Shounen beat-em-up anime, the way it plays by withholding information from its audience is enticing, to say the least, and incredibly nail-bitingly frustrating at most! It is at this time where Jujutsu Kaisen starts to forge its own identity outside of the sphere of typical Shounen fighting anime.
Expanding on the ideas mentioned previously, we also receive a rather somber episode that details the consequences of bullying. Yes, Naruto was bullied, I suppose, but that was explored for all of five minutes. Jujutsu Kaisen takes the time to escalate Junpei’s situation so, by the time we see him turn to the dark side, it feels warranted (unlike a certain black-haired, emotionally crippled, teenage heartthrob we all know, who received about as much development as an HB pencil). The more you watch Jujutsu Kaisen, the more it becomes evident why it's being heralded as the next Kimetsu no Yaiba. Similar storylines aside, the attention to detail and the care given to each character, make each episode as enthralling as the last.
Character Development Done Right
After his mother is murdered, Junpei becomes consumed with rage. Yuuji quickly bursts in and the two begin their fight. (Are you taking notes Naruto!? Set up and pay off!). And akin to Kimetsu no Yaiba, Jujutsu Kaisen is not afraid to develop characters just to have them killed off. The bar has been set and new arrivals should either match or surpass said bar. This is where Jujutsu Kaisen cements its role as the anime to watch this season. It clearly has a story to tell and is not prolonging things in order to fill a 24 episode block.
Yuuji’s overconfidence in episode one is completely incongruent to the Yuuji we see at the end of episode thirteen. Here, we have a Yuuji who accepts his limitations, accepts that the meaning of a proper death still eludes him, and who strives to better himself to take revenge against those who have wronged him. To be able to develop Yuuji to such a degree, in such a short amount of time, whilst also dropping hints and developing several side characters, is impressive, to say the least. The final line of this episode gives hope for the future, as Yuuji swears that he will ‘never lose again’.
Jujutsu Kaisen, though off to a rocky start, seems poised for breakout success when it returns shortly with episode fourteen. Those still on the fence should hurry up and join the bandwagon as this show is a contender for anime of the season. What was your favorite episode of Jujutsu Kaisen? Who is your favorite character? What do you think is going to happen next? Let us know in the comments below!