“It’s not about whether I can, I have to do it!” – Megumi Fushiguro...and also me steeling myself to post a critical review on this beloved anime.
Jujutsu Kaisen is the latest shounen to gain a surge of popularity and get invited to join the mainstream table of the true anime titans, probably taking a seat right next to Demon Slayer. And I can say with certainty that this is primarily because of Studio Mappa's admirable dedication to making this show, particularly the fight scenes, look breathtakingly good. But here's the age old question: Does fantastic animation trump average writing?
Yeah, no. Heh, sorry to be
blunt. I guess I'm taking a lesson out of protagonist Itadori's book. But who's to say that Jujutsu doesn't have a bit of both? While I find there to be several glaring issues with the anime, it also has many great aspects. So therefore, I'm gonna do things a little differently. This review will go over 5 areas that I believe the anime handled poorly, represented as 5 of Sukuna's, the king of curses himself, cursed fingers. And then 5 departments that were a triumphant success in my eyes, represented as 5 of Sukuna's fingers that were eaten by Itadori...which probably gave him some digestion issues, poor guy. I mean, eating a centuries old finger? Bleh. Probably no nutrients left in those old things.
Ah, so you're wondering why I'm going with 10 fingers when Sukuna has 20 overall? Heh. The sheer power of representing ALL of his fingers would embed this review with massive cursed energy that even I couldn't control- Ok, fine, it's actually because I couldn't think of 10 more things and it would make this review drag on anyway. There. Happy? Alright, let's get into it!
Sukuna's cursed finger 1: Comedy
I figured I'd get this out of the way since its the most subjective flaw on the list. Comedy comes in all shapes and forms, so everyone has their own preference...the comedy in Jujutsu Kaisen wasn't my preference. Ok, so I'm not that hard to please in this department. I'm mean, I laugh at boob jokes and panty shots, that should tell you what kind of person I am. Yet shounen always seem to fail for me when it comes to the humor. I mean for one, it's generally out of place. This anime tries to be serious and has a lot of dark moments, but then immediately follows with characters making stupid faces at each other and saying dumb things. The timing is just consistently terrible. And what the heck were those after credits scenes? I dunno, I just found them to be very...odd.
The comedy can basically be boiled down to a character acting either overly idiotic or incredibly loud/annoying during random moments. And they try to do this for EVERY character, even for the villains who, you know, have slaughtered hundreds, potentially thousands. It just doesn't work, and I don't find the show or characters funny at all, with the exception of the Kyoto School students (thank goodness for them) and some of Gojou's little quips.
Sukuna's consumed finger 1: Action
This one is quite obvious to anyone with eyes, but I definitely have to bring up the epic fight sequences as the first positive. They're the highlight of the show, and the focal point of numerous episodes. Because curses come in all shapes and sizes, plus each Jujutsu sorcerer has their own diverse abilities, each and every fight was unique in how the characters did battle. I thought things really picked up in intrigue and intensity when Itadori and the ideal businessman Nanami took on the villainous and childish antagonist Mahito. It was a well animated fight with a lot of interesting tactics. And then the show just had to go and outdo itself with the Sister School arc. There were a lot of great combat sequences on display, culminating in the Itadori and Toudou vs. Hanami fight, which was my personal favorite. Just some great action all around.
Sukuna's cursed finger 2: Main characters
Oh boy, this is probably what held Jujutsu Kaisen back the most. The trio of Itadori, Megumi, and Nobara are just...bad. I'm not a fan of any of them. Itadori is your typical dense protagonist guy who's constantly used for comedy, but you already know how I feel about that. His beliefs are interesting, but I'll get into those later. Several characters appropriately call him Sukuna's vessel, because that dude is a much more fun and interesting character than Itadori. And when it's necessary for Itadori to develop in order to progress the narrative, the show just conveniently gives him a ridiculously brief revelation or a sentence long pep talk from someone else and boom, he gets stronger and stuff. Absolutely atrocious. And his two best buddies don't even act like characters. They're terribly inconsistent. They supposedly have a bond with Itadori yet show no emotion when he comes back from a certain DEADly event. When situations get serious and death is involved, Nobara just acts entirely obnoxious and Megumi reacts to practically nothing. It's like they were trying to make him one of those cool, stoic characters but made him so cold that he's turned into ice with how frosty and nonexistent his personality is. They're painstakingly poorly written.
Gojou is also considered to be a main character, but I don't really see him as one. If he counts, then he's definitely my favorite of the four. Despite not being a fan of how absolutely overpowered he is, I enjoy his laid back yet caring nature and think that he's a solid addition to the show.
Sukuna's consumed finger 2: Supporting cast
On the flip side, I really appreciate how the side characters were written. Sukuna himself has a great setup with how he's actually a part of Itadori. The obnoxious and condescending tone that he takes with the kid is pretty fun, and for me this guy is the most intriguing of the characters. And I mentioned it before, but wow, the Kyoto School students are a lot more entertaining than the ones from Tokyo. With the exception of Panda of course. Panda should have been the main character because he's a panda, yet not a panda. I like his backstory and intelligence. That is all for Panda. But I really liked Miwa and thought she was fun (should've replaced Nobara as main girl honestly...) and the over the top nature of Mechamaru and his backstory is just such a joke, I love it. Every morning he breaks his legs, and every afternoon, he breaks his arms. The other two girls in the group are interesting as well.
And then there's Toudou. He's probably my favorite character outside of Sukuna and his comedic value was actually...funny! I liked his dynamic with Itadori and his over the top nature was surprisingly a big success and didn't rub me the wrong way like I thought it would. Nice support cast Juju!
Sukuna's cursed finger 3: Motivations
A boy fights...for "the right death." Straight from the synopsis.
Am I the only one who thinks that sentence sounds stupid and wishes Itadori's ideals were, at the very least, worded differently? Yes? No? Ok...
While his motivation certainty is unique, I'm just not a fan of how Itadori's whole shtick is portrayed. I mean, I get it, he doesn't want people to die to curses and instead to pass away content and satisfied with life, and that's pretty cool. But the way he expresses his wish feels strange sometimes with how overly macabre it can be and doesn't sit right with me. This is probably just me, but his goals made his character feel a a little off, I dunno. Also, the villain curses have pretty bad motivations. I mean, they're all like "we're the true people because we have true emotions unlike humans!"...yet these curses are constantly shown to have wavering and changing feelings. Doesn't work. It all comes down to the themes demonstrated by the show in the end, and I feel like they could have been expressed better.
Sukuna's consumed finger 3: Dark content
I love how this anime isn't afraid to get violent and grotesque. Yes, some of the curses look creepy, but I'm mostly referring to what they do over how they look. The show doesn't hide the fact that death is synonymous with curses in this universe, and there are plenty of on screen killings. Even main characters aren't safe from this anime's clutches! Things got the darkest during the arc with Junpei and Mahito. Let's just say I was not expecting what happened to Junpei to go down, or I was at least anticipating some sort of reversal of his fate. But wow, there really is a ton of horrifying (maybe a bit too strong of a word, but I digress) content in the anime, and I believe it definitely works in the show's favor.
Sukuna's cursed finger 4: Power scaling
This is more of a smaller issue that I had with the anime, but I absolutely despised the power system on display and how it was handled. Shounen shows just love to have this kind of mechanic, and it's usually used primarily to show the protagonist getting stronger and moving through the ranks. Some, like HunterXHunter, utilize this effectively. But it's just so bizarre here. The ranking of both curses and Jujutsu sorcerers is poorly conceived and made absolutely irrelevant when you have guys like Gojou who can practically destroy the world if he feels like it. There's just not that much explanation behind how it all works. And it's especially negligible when Itadori can basically power up and advance to the next level just by getting a sentence long pep talk, like he does with Toudou. Kinda silly honestly.
Sukuna's consumed finger 4: Audiovisuals
I've already mentioned this briefly in other sections, but the show looks hella good. Great artistic quality with a lot of diverse and inventive designs. Equally important is the animation. Character movement is fluid and doesn't look that awkward at all. Also, the soundtrack is solid. Several pieces help to enhance scenes by pumping you up during fights or making you unnerved during more horror based moments. The theme songs are pretty hype as well. All in all, Jujutsu Kaisen boasts some great technical aspects.
Sukuna's cursed finger 5: Plot progression
My final issue listed in this review focuses on the narrative. I'm sorry, but the plot can basically be boiled down to "Righteous protagonist has unlimited potential and he gets stronger with his friends as they beat up bad guys." It's terribly generic and if you really focus on it, the story doesn't offer anything particularly great. There are several parts of it that are just plain sloppy, like shoving in literally everyone's backstory during the Sister School event instead of properly spacing out such scenes. While it ultimately isn't bad, the plot really didn't take any risks or try something new, with the exception of having Sukuna, who I assume will be the final boss, live inside of Itadori. That's pretty cool, but next to nothing was done with it in the second half of the show. In the end, the writing and unfortunately standard progression ended up being the most mediocre part of the anime.
Sukuna's consumed finger 5: Entertainment
What can I say, it was a fun experience. Despite lacking in several key departments, the show itself can be pretty entertaining. Whether it be the action, character interactions, comedic scenes, or more, Jujutsu Kaisen brings a lot to the table that a wide variety of people can enjoy, so I respect the show for that. If nothing else, it can be an enjoyable viewing experience if you don't go into it with high expectations. In the end, it just wasn't for me.
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Synonyms: Sorcery Fight, JJK
English: Jujutsu Kaisen
German: Jujutsu Kaisen
Spanish: Jujutsu Kaisen
French: Jujutsu Kaisen
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Oct 3, 2020 to Mar 27, 2021
Premiered: Fall 2020
Broadcast: Saturdays at 01:25 (JST)
Licensors: None found, add some
Duration: 23 min. per ep.
Rating: R - 17+ (violence & profanity)
Score: 8.661 (scored by 13434041,343,404 users)
1 indicates a weighted score.
2 based on the top anime page. Please note that 'Not yet aired' and 'R18+' titles are excluded.
May be unavailable in your region.