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What’s the Story?
Yuji Itadori used to be a normal high schooler. Then, one day, his friends came under attack by curses and everything changed. In order to save them Itadori swallowed a cursed finger and shared his body with a curse called Sukuna. This may have been a very bad decision. There are jujutsu sorcerers in this world, who protect it from curses and most of them believe Itadori should have been killed right then and there, but one offered him a choice instead. Now Itadori has a chance to do some good and train to become a jujutsu sorcerer himself. Of course those other sorcerers still want him dead and they’re not the only problem. There are curses out there that want to sway Sukuna to their cause, that being to completely dominated the human race. Can Itadori survive long enough to finish his training and is it possible for a curse to do some good?
I like shonen action series. I know that will come as a great shock to absolutely no one, but then again, maybe it will. I don’t really talk about them that much on this blog do I? I’ve never talked about my thoughts on Bleach, Naruto got mentioned all of once back in the early days and, while I covered some of the One Piece movies, I’ve made it pretty clear I take issue with a large chunk of the anime adaptation. My Hero Academia is probably the series with the most representation on here and even then I skipped covering the first three season because I didn’t have that much to add to the discourse. I used to have this rule on the blog that I’d cover the first season of a show and then only talk about the sequels if I thought I had something new to add, which I often didn’t (I have since rethought that idea as you may have noticed by the increased number of sequel reviews I’ve been writing lately). This is a first season so it automatically gets a pass to the review stage, but do I have anything new to add to the discussion? Let’s find out!
Jujutsu Kaisen is good. Round of applause. Thank you, thank you, I know you all come here for such startling insights. Being serious though, I do think this is a really good show. It doesn’t do anything really mould-breaking or inventive, but what it does do it does with an air of confidence and skill that you can’t help but admire it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now, it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s how you do it. You could have the most staggeringly original idea in the history of the universe, but if you don’t know how to tell that story no one is going to give it a second glance. However, if you take a tried and tested formula and you apply it correctly people are going to get on board. Throw in a really likeable cast, some good humour and top notch action and you’re really on to a winner. I have no doubt that this show will blow me away at some point, shonen series often get better and better over time, but for now this is just a really good show that does what it does and does it really well.
Let’s break things down a little further though, because Jujutsu Kaisen has some elements that really sell it. For one, there’s the animation. Mappa is very much a studio on the rise at the minute, with a number of high profile shows under their belt, in fact it’s a testament that this show has come out as continually gorgeous as it has while they’ve been working on those other shows. The fight sequences are jaw-droppingly good, fluid, kinetic and packing one heck of a punch, honestly they’re worth the price of admission alone. It’s just the kind of spectacle a series like this needs to capture an audience. This is also aided by the pacing, which really makes it feel like things are continually moving forward, without ever feeling like you’re missing out on anything. It’s pretty much the perfect speed for a series like this.
Of course this series isn’t just all spectacle, we’ve also got our loveable cast of characters. I’ll give Jujutsu Kaisen this, it’s already added in a large number of characters into it’s story and I love most of them, well expect for the ones that I’m clearly supposed to hate. Focussing in on just our main trio and, while they all fit comfortably into their archetypes, there’s enough charisma and depth to make each one feel like a fully fleshed-out person. I do have a major soft spot for Itadori, he may be the naive, good-down-to-his-toes, physical powerhouse protagonist, but I like that this series isn’t afraid to show him struggling. I mean emotionally, physically he can beat up most opponents good and proper, but sometimes the morally grey job of a sorcerer weighs on him and I like that that kind of struggle is acknowledged. Then there’s Nobara Kugisaki, my vote for best shonen female character of the century and I will fight anyone who tries to argue otherwise, and Megumi Fushiguro, the effortlessly cool rival character who I can’t help but cheer for. Overall a really solid set of leads.
In the end, Jujutsu Kaisen is a really solid show. It knows what it’s doing and it does it well. The spectacle of the animation and action is enough to catch your attention, but you’ll stay for the characters and the world its building up around them. I have no doubt that in some future season this series is going to blow my socks off, but for now it’s laid out a really rock-steady foundation and I can’t wait to see what gets built upon it. Plus Kugisaki is as awesome as she is scary and one of the best female shonen characters in a long while, and we need more of them. Also that first ED is amazing still.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.