Spoilers will bow out of this one.
There’s something about the style that sometimes puts me off watching certain works of anime. I wasn’t particularly loving the style for this series until I started watching. The closest I’ve got to justifying why I’m watching another shounen anime is the characters. They are engaging, they’ve got personalities and agendas, they’ve each got backgrounds and biases we’ll get to know and explore. The world is one of sorcery mixed with fighting styles and some cool supernatural mythology to boot.
Jujutsu Kaisen (2020-) is a series produced by MAPPA and directed by Sunghoo Park, based on the manga of the same name by Gege Akutami. Yuji Itadori is a high schooler of a bright personality and athletic build. He’s brash, he’s cocky but he’s always well intentioned. Rather than the usual introvert pining for someone or idealistic team player that has to give out an inspiration speech every episode, he’s a lot more carefree and easygoing. Of course, this is not the premise. This just describes the main character which was the initial selling point to get me to start watching.
The premise is that Yuji Itadori meets a student of Jujutsu sorcery, Megumi Fushiguro, when a cursed talisman attracks supernatural entities called Curses to his school. Trying to protect his friends, Itadori swallows the talisman which is the finger of a powerful curse called Ryomen Sukuna. After that, he becomes the host of Sukuna. Fushiguro introduces him to his teacher, Satoru Gojo, who decides to take him to the Tokyo Prefectural Jujutsu High School. Those are Itadori’s first steps into the world of Jujutsu sorcerers. The show balances a playful mood of quirky personas and the grim fate of Curses. Itadori’s destiny seems to be to die after swallowing all the fingers of Sukuna to finally get rid of the powerful spirit.
Now it’s hard to explain why I like these characters so much. Truth is all of them are particularly familiar, but at the same time none of them are typical. Each character has both a silly side and a deeper side. They can be overly enthusiastic or extremely serious. I think what I like most is that there’s no background characters. They’ve all been built to react different to every situation. There are extremely silly moments in which characters are just playing around and very serious moments when people perish. How this actually works side by side, I can’t explain and will either work for you or won’t.
Highly recommended for anime fans looking for fun, solidly-built characters and a rather well put together universe. Although like all anime it will either become your cup of tea or something you should skip, it does feel less comical and more grounded even though it’s all about supernatural forces colliding with our own. The perspective of Itadori as an outsider might seem like the entry point, but it’s refreshing to have a protagonist that has some real personality and not a blank slate audience surrogate. The expanding cast keeps bringing interesting characters, although some are more nuanced than others. Very much worth your time.
That will do for now.