I’ve stated before that I am a lapsed Shonen fan. I have no dislike of the genre, more in that I’ve ‘had my fill’ from the Big Three and I have no real interest in going back down that rabbit. Despite that though, I’ve found myself slowly being pulled back into the genre with show like Demon Slayer and the one we are talking about today. I suppose you just can’t get away from it once your in! Either way, let’s take a dive into the first cour of Jujutsu Kaisen after the cut!
Something that I don’t think many people talk about is how influential the series Bleach was. While it’s fall from grace is one of the great tragedies of the last decade, you can’t deny that it had a massive range of influence, of which are only seeing now. From the high-octane fights, the stylish way of dressing and the great music. Bleach’s hand has been felt in several series, and Jujutsu Kaisen is no exception, its finger prints are all over it. Throughout the twelve episodes I couldn’t just feel the influence of Bleach in this show but I was almost drowned by it.
The name of the game for this shonen is exorcisms and sorcerers, and we follow Yuji Itadori as he gets roped up into a world of spirits and mayhem after swallowing the finger of the many armed demon Sukuna, arguably the most powerful spirt known to exist. Now playing host , Yuji is sentenced to death by the sorcerers, but only after he has consumed all of the other fingers of Sukuna, in hopes that by killing Yuji, they can rid the world of Sukuna for good. Enrolling in a high school specialized in Jujutsu tech and magic, friends are made, villains are fought, explosions are had, people are badasses, and tragic backstories are explained, and thankfully all of it is good.
I don’t want to go too much into the story itself, because I do think you would be better off just watching the show instead of reading about it. What I will say that out of the story arcs we’ve seen so far, the one concerning Yoshino, a trouble high school kid bullied and mocked for his sense of justice is the one that really stands out. Both for it’s depiction of bullying, and also for the way it doesn’t pull its punches. The sense of sadness, followed by glimmers of hope, and then tragedy are something Shonen has done well in the past, but it done absolutely wonderful here. The ability to pull off a ‘message’ and not come off as pandering or holier than thou is always welcome, and Kaisen touches on the subject of bullying by not doing both. It’s a damn solid arc.
Throughout my time with Jujutsu Kaisen, I kept saying to myself that this show will be great, and remain great if it is able to ‘stay in its lane’ which means it will follow the Black Cat and Demon Slayer route of telling it’s story, and then bowing out. With no ending in sight I have no idea if that will be the case, but thankfully Kaisen so far has been holding true to the course. As someone whose teen years were in the fansub era, and the height of the big three, I’m used to shonen anime dragging things out, with fights lasting multiple episodes, incredible amount of padding, and sudden changes to filler arcs. Thankfully the times seem to have changed and shonen series seem to have learned that it isn’t want fans want. ‘All killer, no filler’ is the name of the game for Shonen these days, and the change over to seasonal cours, instead of a single long running show has been a benefit not only to Kaisen but for many shows. This show reminds me of Bleach at its best, and if Jujutsu Kaisen is able to maintain this level of quality, this will be an anime to absolutely keep an eye on. A paradise you’ll absolutely want to get lost in.
Just watch your fingers.