TL;DR – fans of shounen series such as Naruto or Bleach will enjoy this too-cool-for-school anime. High school student Yuji Itadori discovers the world of Curses (creatures that come forth from people’s negative energy) and changes his life forever when he swallows the finger of a powerful Curse known as Ryomen Sukuna in order to save his friends from being killed.
Review (warning: spoilers)
In the world of Naruto, characters manipulate ‘chakra’ (a substance of lifeforms on other planets) with their own spiritual energy to perform powerful techniques or jutsu. In the world of Bleach, characters use ‘reiryoku’ (raw spiritual power a soul possesses) and manipulate it through ‘reiatsu’ to manifest physical pressure.
Generally there is a sense that both ‘chakra’ and ‘reiryoku’ are positive forms of energy. ‘Positive’ in the sense that when channeled properly, can assist/protect the individual utilising the energy.
In the world of Jujutsu Kaisen this is not necessarily the case. The anime spins the idea by focusing on energy generated from negative emotions. And it is a double-edged sword because for normal people who cannot control the flow of negative emotions, this leads to it manifesting in the form of Curses (i.e. spiritual monsters seeking to destroy humanity).
Certain individuals known as sorcerers can harness Cursed energy and perform techniques. This includes the ability to create a pocket dimension over a certain area that allows the sorcerer to amplify their attacks within that dimension.
This is the backdrop in which we follow Yuji Itadori, an athletic high schooler who is a bit of a loner and visits his grandfather on his deathbed. His grandfather’s final message involves the idea of helping others and being surrounded by loved ones when your life is near its end.
This has a profound effect on Yuji and when he encounters Megumi Fushiguro (a sorcerer) and is told that his friends are in danger because they have discovered a Cursed talisman that attracts Curses that start attacking the school, he is spurred into action to help.
The cursed talisman turns out to be the finger of Ryomen Sukuna, a Curse so powerful that it overwhelms Megumi and even other Curses fear him. With the lives of Megumi and his friends on the line, Yuji does the only thing he can think to help and swallows the finger becoming the host body of Ryomen.
Ryomen briefly takes over Yuji’s body and dispenses with the other Curses, but to his surprise, Yuji is able to regain control suppresses Ryomen.
Technically, it is every sorcerer’s mandate to exorcise Curses, which would mean Yuji would die in the process if Ryomen were exorcised. But Satoru Gojo, Megumi’s teacher, comes up with a plan to stay Yuji’s death by using him as the vessel to consume all of Ryomen’s fingers (once found) and then exorcise him in his entirety. Mind you this would still me Yuji dies… it would just be later.
There is enough background to entice anime fans to find out more as to the lore and world that has now unfolded in Jujutsu Kaisen. The characters are typical shounen characters and though their powers are interesting, I could not help laughing (unintentionally) at how similar they are to other anime/manga characters in this genre.
For example, Satoru is almost the spitting image of Kakashi in Naruto. Both are teachers, both have spiky white hair, both exhibit insane powers with their eyes and have them covered (Satoru wears a blindfold, don’t know how he sees anything, and Kakashi has one eye covered), both are extremely intelligent and only unleash their full power in dire need.
What also drew me to this anime was the idea of cursed energy and how it can be channeled and if left unchecked can unleash Curses that seek to devour humans. This led me to believe that sorcerers who are taught to use cursed energy can run the risk of some sort of corruption (e.g. they might get consumed and become Curses themselves). Having not read the manga, I do not know if this is the case or if there are any other consequences or repercussions to using cursed energy excessively. However, in season one, there does not appear to be any backlash to any of the sorcerers using cursed energy. This was a bit of a let down.
The only real struggle is between Yuji and Ryomen internally as they battle for control, and when Ryomen comes into play it is always exicting to watch.
The action sequences are also adrenaline pumping and you get to see enough of what is happening behind the scenes with intelligent Curses that makes you want to keep watching. In season one, the target is not so much Yuji and unleashing Ryomen as it is taking Satoru out of play. The intelligent and high-powered Curses clearly have had previous experiences with Satoru and know what he is capable of. He is like the queen on a chess board, take the most powerful piece off the board and you’re chances of capturing the king (i.e. Yuji/Ryomen) multiply exponentially. I eagerly await for season two.
8 out of 10