For those still unversed, the anime adaptation of Gege Akutami’s manga Jujutsu Kaisen, serialized in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump since March 2018, and animated by MAPPA, is, at first glance, a very run-of-the-mill shonen anime. But since it began airing last October, the classic shonen anime experience has moved from just eh to just right thanks to the special care the creators have taken to create such gosh darn loveable characters. And with the final episode of season 1 upon us, now is the perfect time to hop on this charming train!
Starring three young doofs - Yuji Itadori, Megumi Fushiguro, and Nobara Kogisaki - the plot is fairly straightforward: kid finds demonic finger, kid eats said finger, kid becomes vessel for demonic entity more powerful than any other known to man. Now Yuji - the pink haired finger muncher - attends a Tokyo school for sorcerers alongside his new best friends - the moody Megumi, from a powerful family; and the brash Nobara, a nobody who's ready to prove she's the real deal. Together they’re exorcising curses, training to become powerful sorcerers, and hunting down more cursed body parts for Yuji to consume.
Admittedly a little difficult to follow when you use the show’s own terminology, it is essentially another classic demon vs super powered police force anime. Nothing special there.
Where the show IS special is in the rich tapestry of personalities we get from the main characters, villains, and the supporting cast.
While he is still prone to the power boosting fits of rage typical for a protagonist, Yuji is an entirely charming young man. He’s boisterous yes, but not annoyingly so like many people complain about, say, Black Clover’s star Asta. He wants us to “believe it” when we say he’s going to live a life that surrounds him with friends at his deathbed, but he doesn’t badger us with his belief that everyone deserves a “proper” death. Already, he’s demonstrated he’s likeable and worthy of the expectations being laid at his feet as the series’ protagonist, even without a drastic time skip to boost his stats or change his demeanor.
One of my favorite characters in the whole show, Nobara Kugisaki, has the personality of a classic shonen lead. She fights with an explosively powerful hammer. She's obsessed with being taken seriously not only for her looks but also for her prowess as a sorcerer. And she's pissed people were mean to her hometown bestie. Despite such a promising set up , by the first major training arc we already start to see major gaps in the power levels between her and her male counterparts. Her continued speeches that she will gain strength and defeat more powerful opponents sorcerers gives me hope she'll be powered up in meaningful ways as the plot continues. Manga readers PLEASE tell me I'm right.
The show also uses her character to put the stale "fan service" trope on its head and instead uses a gag in which none of her classmates find her attractive, despite her being drawn to be conventionally attractive, and insisting people notice her. The jokes are executed pretty well and never feel like they disrupt the plot or reduce her character to an object. Fire Force creators take note ;)
Now the show's second male lead, Megumi, comes off, at first, the most stereotypical. Dark haired, pale, brooding, from a powerful family, and very obviously troubled by his past. It’s easy to dismiss him as just the latest Sasuke to Hie since Shoto Vegetaed. The anime gives you just enough hints that he’s worth giving a chance to keep you interested. And then they give you his backstory. And while i’d love to dive into just how incredibly sad and totally justified he is in being so damn mopey, I’ll save that for another day.
What I can say here is given how he has f****d up, and his circumstances to dare, Megumi is remarkably well adjusted. He's his hand, realized he needed to take responsibility for himself and gone on to make the best of things. Honestly, once you know his past, you realize, he's not too bad, and he definitely shares the sardonic writing that makes the rest of the cast so cool.
And that's a common theme for the characters on Jujutsu Kaisen - a bunch of lovable kind of funny, kind of quirky characters with bad breaks that you just love to root for.
Convinced you might want to check this one out for yourself? Depending on location, Jujutsu Kaisen episode 24 will be available on CrunchyRoll on Friday, March 26th or Saturday, March 27th for paid subscribers and on Friday, April 2nd for free users.
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