I enjoyed the first cour, but how good will the second hold up? Pretty good from what the fans and viewers have been saying. And since I want to save my introduction blurb until after the cut, let’s not waste anytime and get into the second cour of the hit new anime: Jujutsu Kaisen!
Fans of Disney are quite familiar with the term ‘Disney Renaissance’ but for those who may not know, the term stands for that time in the late 80s and throughout the 90s where the Walt Disney company enjoyed a smashing success with their animated films. While I am not a historian of the company, I do know that until that time, the animated films were not getting the same level of attention it had in previous decades. Then they released The Little Mermaid and help kick off an almost 10 year winning streak of success after success. Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Mulan, Tarzan, Hunchback of Notre Dame, anyone who grew up in this era knows of these films and how great they are, but how does that relate to shonen?
Well, I have long thought that after Bleach and Naruto ended, Shonen (and the Jump magazine) have long struggles to try and escape the shadow. The idea of the ‘Big 3’ has long dominated the genre, and after two of those ended, fans were often scrambling to crown any series that had a smidgen of popularity, the successor to the Big 3. The thing was, is that nothing came out that really was good enough to take the crown. Many then started to belief that be magazine’s best days were behind her, and, if and when One Piece decided to end, what would become of the genre? Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, and thanks to the smash success of Demon Slayer and Jujutsu Kaisen (along with help from My Hero Academia), Shonen has never been in a better place. The reasons are probably varied, but much of what I think is working is shown in Jujutsu Kaisen, especially in its second half.
The first is that Shonen seems to have adopted the philosophy of “All Killer, no Filler.” Gone are the days of a single series running continuously, with episodes dragged out to adapt only one or two chapters and no more filler arcs jammed into the middle of stories. Instead Shonen has adopted a seasonal model, pulling the series off the air for a year to allow the authors to get far enough in a story that it removes the filler problem. The advent of streaming and renewed trust that viewers won’t drop a series if it isn’t around for a year has allowed series that would be bogged down in an old system to flourish. This has allowed Kaisen’s second cour to feel properly paced, (but with still time for the gang to have some fun) with each story not dragging on, and proper time given to develop not only the main three characters, but also the secondary cast, who step into the spotlight really well here. Characters like Mai Zenin, Panda and of course Todo are able to win hearts and minds because the story isn’t rushing through, or leaning on their characters too much.
Secondly, it has allowed the animation to really step up. Like with Demon Slayer before it, Jujutsu Kaisen has been blessed with some of the best fighting animation seen in a long time. While not near the Ufotable type of money, Kaisen has been no slouch, and several of the fight scenes are as eye-popping and nerve-pumping as anything that studio has thrown out. And it also properly shared among the cast, as Itadori, Nobara and Megumi all getting moments and fights that previous series desperately needed. No longer is the good action limited to just the main character, they’ve spread that stuff around, and all of it is just fucking pretty to look at. I mean, damn, I’m not an ‘animation guy’ but there has been a real step up in the effort put into shows like this.
And honestly, that’s all I want to say about Jujutsu Kaisen’s second cour, because it is a show you should watch, not be told about. Like I said last time, this story is great, and will remain great if it is able to stay in its lane and not drag itself off. It is a show that has absolutely benefitted from this new age of Shonen, and even though I think it is premature to give it any awards (looking at you Crunchyroll), it absolutely is a contender to be one of the next big shonen greats. I don’t want to say we are in the a ‘Shonen renaissance’ just yet, but if the upcoming shows like Shaman King are able to have half the quality, effort and good action that Jujutsu Kaisen has had, then we just might be. Give this show a look if your so inclined, you will be hard pressed to find something better.