“Shonen” is a typical anime genre that describes the demographics of young boys aged between 12 and 18. It was originally a magazine that has now grown into a different genre, and now mainly houses the genres related to action. It attracts and impresses more than just the 12–18 demographic now. Animes like “Attack on Titan,” “Yu-Gi-Oh,” “Dragonball,” “Shaman King,” etc., all belong to this genre. The Shonen genre is getting a lot more attention with the introduction of other extraordinary additions like “Jujutsu Kaisen.”
“Jujutsu Kaisen” has been among the top favorites of every anime watcher for a long time now. It has all the components of a Shonen anime but also adds a rousing spin to the predictable plotlines. It begins with a foreseeable storyline but eventually delves deep into the human psyche and puts an unexpected edge that defines both the modern era as well as stays true to its shonen routes. It has both over-powerful characters and formidable villains that make it worthwhile to watch. Gege Akutami, the creator of this manga series, has done his best to create an amalgamation of both established shonen tropes and the different elements of horror, the mental horrors of the human psyche as well as the cruelties of modern life in society. He introduces the world to cursed energy that originates from petty human hate, fear, and all the other negative emotions. This creates endless suffering where overcoming these negative feelings, aka the cursed energy monsters, might seem impossible, but as they persist through it, they survive and defeat it eventually. The world he created in “Jujutsu Kaisen” mirrors the burden of life in the present century.
At the beginning of the series, the anime introduces the characters that follow the age-old, well-tread formulas of Shonen manga, where it appeals to the demographic with the main character having a hero complex and the other characters following him impressed by his beliefs in friendship, family, teamwork, and a strong sense of duty. On this journey, he unexpectedly discovers his limitless powers and sets about mastering the power he has been gifted with, fighting different villains and clearing obstacles on the way. In this anime, however, Yuji Itadori, the character with a hero complex, has to face the complexities of the unknown society he finds himself in. The challenges he faces after nonchalantly intaking Sukuna’s finger terrify him. It also leads up to where he finds his spirits crushed and gets killed by the malevolent spirit he houses in his body. Yuji has a refreshing fear for his own life and does not want to sacrifice himself, which is different from the other anime characters. The horrific turn of events makes him lose his life and his arms. He eventually gets revived, after which he has to eat the other fingers of Sukuna, who is an unrivalled evil spirit.
Yuji, of course, doesn’t become cynical even after being horrified by the world he has discovered and helps his friends in every way he can. The comic relief provided by him and his sensei, Gojo Satoru, really sets the tone of the anime. Gojo Satoru, in fact, is the amicable, helpful, laidback, godlike character that teaches Yuji about his powers and the world he is in. Gojo Satoru is actually a powerless but powerful godlike character. He was introduced in the beginning as a badass character who could dominantly assert himself in a fight with the unrivalled Sukuna. He also fights Jogo, and during the time he had sealed Jogo in the infinite void, he uttered the iconic line that describes him and fits his situation quite well, “It’s ironic, isn’t it? When you’re given everything, you can’t do anything.” Gojo Satoru had an alarming God complex that set him apart and resulted in him not being able to form meaningful relationships. But he did care, in his own way, about his students. He could have vanquished his enemies in all the fights he participated in, but he let them go due to his students’ taking priority over winning. In both the manga and the anime, Gojo’s character is narcissistic through and through due to his powers and stunning looks. But behind that narcissism, Gojo really wanted to change the society of sorcerers, and he wanted to do it from the bottom instead of purging the evil from the top. According to him, he could easily kill his superiors, but that would mean other corrupt individuals would take their place. He could have used his powers to save himself all the trouble, but his conscience would not let him.
Yuji befriends Megumi Fushiguro and Nobara Kugisaki. At first, the audience base of “Jujutsu Kaisen” compares Megumi with Sasuke, a character from Naruto’s universe, and Nobara with Sakura, another character from Naruto’s, due to their shared similarities. But the similarities end with their shared personality traits and their looks. Megumi’s character has no confidence in himself or his powers. He is riddled with insecurities and chooses to sacrifice himself for the team whenever he feels cornered. Unlike Yuji, who would only sacrifice himself after he had lost everything, Megumi tends to give up quite early on. Due to his childhood trauma and abandonment issues, Megumi has trouble forming relationships, but once they are formed, he tends to give his all and may resort to sacrificing himself as well. But instead of blaming others for his terrible childhood like Sasuke, Megumi is selfless, and he continues to push himself to save those who need saving in his eyes, even though he could lose his life. Due to having little to no confidence, he desires to be useful to everyone. His character has layers that Gege has accomplished so well. Nobara, on the other hand, is a strong, expressive female character that stands on equal footing with her friends. Where Sakura was reduced to being a love interest even though she had the strength to be equal, Nobara stands her ground and deals damage that is equivalent to Yuji and Megumi, if not more. Nobara, like her male counterparts, would also sacrifice herself, but unlike them, she would only sacrifice herself if it was for vengeance or payback. Like Gojo, Nobara also has a self-centred and straightforward personality. She is confident in herself and does not like it when others oppose her worldview. Nobara balances both her feminine side and her strong female sorcerer side pretty well. She seems to lack a sense of empathy when it comes to others and tends to clamp down on her feelings to shield herself. In a world where she could lose her friends and family at any time to the malevolent cursed spirits, Nobara chooses to maintain a safe distance from her feelings as an act of self-preservation. She wears her heart and feelings on her sleeves and is extremely direct and straightforward with what she thinks and feels. It makes her character both unique and ideal in the Shonen world.
As Yuji and his friends come across the villains, Sukuna and Mahito stand out as some of the most formidable villains they have ever seen. Mahito is formed from the oldest human fears and is termed a highly advanced cursed energy spirit. Mahito has an immense power where he can touch the soul of a human and transfigure them into a creature beyond their imagination. He does this of his own free will. Mahito cannot understand positive human emotions and has a penchant for being manipulative and extremely cruel. He thinks of human life as a toy and as an antagonist that invokes fear without doing much. He is one of the well-thought-out antagonists that aggravates and exasperates the audience of this show. He is described as pure evil, originating from all the negative emotions.
On the other hand, Ryomen Sukuna helps the sorcerers or curses purely when it benefits him. Unlike the demon inside Naruto, whom Naruto had befriended, Sukuna does not care about Yuji and is not someone to befriend. Sukuna is self-centred and quite individualistic. He is the king of curses and is a rival to Gojo, who could very well be the king of sorcerers. He was once a human, which very well signifies a past where he might have faced something that led to him discarding his humanity and focusing on enjoying his desires. Sukuna’s character is extremely well-written and extremely attractive with his complexities. He constantly analyses his opponent’s moves during the battles and has a deep understanding of jujutsu, curses, and cursed energy as a whole, which he uses to his advantage. Sukuna doesn’t get involved in any of the battles unless it’s beneficial to him or absolutely necessary for him to take over. He does have an effect on Megumi and constantly pushes him to better himself by provoking him. Sukana is intrigued by Megumi’s abilities and wants to test them out for himself. He does have a complex nature that cannot be set aside as black and white, but rather, morally grey would be much more ideal.
The anime has captured a position among favorites since its release. People who had read the manga and newbies alike have loved it since the day it was aired. There were many different scenes that defined the tone of the anime altogether. Some of the most eye catching clips among the many detailed episodes that set the genre apart and made it clear that Gege Akutami was not afraid to put his characters through some much needed grind in order to achieve a beguiling anime that had an edge which would win over the audience were Sukuna’s Initial Awakening, Gojo and Sukuna’s Fight, Conversation Between Aoi and Yuji, Yuji Using Black Flash and Yuji Fighting Mahito.
Sukuna’s initial awakening really set forth the emotions Sukuna finally felt after a thousand year respite. The burst of emotions and his momentary celebration of his newfound life after Yuji consumed his first finger were portrayed with extreme precision. He tore off his shirt, and his voice deepened changing the very behavior of the teen, reveling in his craziness and lust for worldly pleasures, sets the tone of the antagonist and really sets him apart from Yuji. The differentiation between the two is perfectly pulled off in the anime.
When Gojo first met Yuji after he had consumed the finger of Sukuna, he suggested Yuji to give Sukuna a free reign over his body for ten seconds tops. Gojo then went on to gauge the intensity and the very power that Sukuna has in these 10 seconds. Even though Sukuna is revered as the king of the curses, Gojo never loses the upper hand thus establishing that he is in fact equally strong if not more and could be identified as the king of the sorcerers. This really gave a depth and perspective towards how powerful Gojo Satoru really is.
A really random conversation in Episode 15 that paved the way for an intense brotherhood later on was observed between Yuji and Aoi Todo. The humor in this conversation was great for the development and growth of their characters. They found brotherhood after they agreed over the type of girls they like. The comic relief provided by Yuji in the series is quite spectacularly shown through these random clips that would have any person hooked. Yuji’s adoration for Jenifer Lawrence is portrayed in a comical manner that even has Aoi and others agreeing.
In the universe of “Jujutsu Kaisen,” there are many types of advanced jujutsu techniques, curses, cursed beings and also some of the more simpler ones. To say that Black Flash is one of the most difficult jujutsu techniques is an understatement. Yuji does master it first after becoming a sorcerer. Black flash is the distortion of space caused by a massive build up of curse energy. It takes a great deal of concentration to use it. The detailing of how focused Yuji is when he finally uses it against his enemy in Episode 19 really distinguishes how far he has come from the clueless teen who jumped into saving people without the knowledge of his own capabilities. He is shown with his spit dripping from his mouth because he had forgotten to swallow it while he concentrates on trying to use Black Flash. These small details shine a light on this fighting segment bringing out the absolute genius of Gege Akutami again.
Episode 12, Yuji finds himself bearing the heavy consequences of Mahito’s actions. Mahito being pure evil kills Junpei, who Yuji had befriended and formed a deep connection with at his regular high school. Mojito sadistically tortures Junpei before killing him. Yuji on trying to avenge his friend was eventually stopped by his almost dead friend after Junpei’s body was transformed beyond recognition. Even through unimaginable pain, Junpei’s last fragments of sanity could perceive that Yuji was way out of his depth while fighting with Mahito, which could also result in his death. He stopped Yuji from getting hurt anymore and implored him to let it go. Yuji lost his friend and was devastated and absolutely enraged, yet he could not go against Mahito for he was not ready. This clip along with other similar clips earned the anime a seat in the tragic category. The anime does not boast of happy endings which is put forward by the sombre tone of these clips.
The anime “Jujutsu Kaisen” follows and establishes the timelines as set in the manga. The descriptions of the characters and their backgrounds in the anime follow the manga religiously, whereas the other anime tend to ignore certain parts of the manga to better suit the length of the episode and the plot. The art style of the anime is quite imaginative and deserves the high praise it has been getting. The animation of the battle scenes in this anime is quite impressive, with little to no dialogue unless it denotes some provocation. They are well balanced, and some fights end up as draws or with unexpected results. The anime does have a lot of fight scenes, but the motivation behind them balances it out with the rest of the genres, mainly comedy, horror, thriller, etc. Gege being a genius artist, brings huge innovation to anime. He uses a lot of different tropes from other shonen anime, refines them, and presents them in a well-written, well-designed character that leaves us perplexed. The amount of imagination and creativity that Akutami put into the short compositions is astounding. The manga itself is brilliant and not short of being a celebrated art style. The sheer talent of this creator has drawn in a lot of fans for the series.