OP Sequence

OP: 「KAIKAIKITAN」by Eve

「両面 宿儺」 (Ryomen Sukuna)
“Ryomen Sukuna”

Premise

Despite sporting a lanky frame, Itadori Yuji (Enoki Junya) is exceptionally fast and strong, and joins his school’s Occult Club to avoid being dragged into the Track and Field Club by an overbearing teacher. There, he spends blissful days with his senpais messing around and having fun researching Occult matters. But he has an ulterior reason for joining the club. It is one of the very few clubs that finishes activities early – allowing him to leave at 5pm so he can visit his dying grandfather in hospital. In what becomes his final visit, his grandfather leaves behind two wishes before he dies – ‘Help others if you can’ and ‘When you die, die surrounded by people. Don’t die alone like me’.

He immediately gets a chance to follow up on the first wish, when it turns out that occult matters are not merely make believe – with fearsome supernatural evils lurking amongst everyday society. Unfortunately, his seniors get their hands on a cursed finger and unravel its ancient seal – causing horrific monster and curses to manifest. But with the help of Fujishiro Megumi (Uchida Yuuma) – an exorcist from the Tokyo Metropolitan Magic Technical College – Yuji is able to save his seniors from certain death. But Megumi is unable to defeat these monsters using magic and ends up being left on the verge of death alongside Yuji. Remembering his grandfather’s wish for him to help others, Yuji eats the finger, avoids dying and gains unimaginable powers. But at what cost?

Initial Impressions

First off, I can’t really comment on the music as a whole yet, but the opening theme was excellent and was probably my favourite OP theme so far in the Fall season. Secondly, the artstyle and animation are extremely on point. MAPPA have done an amazing job bringing this series to life, and I’ve preferred this kinetic audiovisual experience over reading the manga – which doesn’t happen often. As for the story, it’s nothing new to those familiar with shounen. A hidden cabal of curse destroyers (Soul Society in Bleach), an academy for these curse destroyers to develop their skills (Hero Academia, Ninja Academy) and the protagonist fighting off possession by evil (Naruto by the Kyuubi, Ichigo by his Hollow, Ken Kaneki by his half ghoul nature).

However, the tonal presentation is a lot darker – reminding me of Tokyo Ghoul, which isn’t commonplace for a shounen title. I was left in suspense at the possibility that Yuji’s seniors would really suffer gruesome deaths, and didn’t consider the possibility that the series would try to pull its punch. The end result, while not so tragic, remains interesting. It looks like Yuji still has some degree of autonomy over his body. That said, living with a formidable incarnation of evil threatening to take over at any waking moment doesn’t sound comfortable or safe.

As for the characters, we’ve had limited exposure so far. But I really liked the inclusion of Yuji’s grandfather even though he’s not going to appear again. He’s immediately established as this huge positive influence on Yuji’s life, who Yuji really cared about. Their interactions clearly demonstrate Yuji’s hero origin story and the motivation that drives him forwards – a strange yet kind and caring boy who wishes to protect the people he cares about. And it goes without saying that someone as forthright as Yuji will live his best life trying to honor his grandfather’s request – which he even describes as a curse, one which perhaps even roots his identity and helps him avoid being utterly consumed by Sukuna. So we can expect the series to revolve around Yuji’s attempt to respect his grandfather’s dying wish (and other elderly advices in potential flashbacks) while fighting off succumbing to the evil influence that dwells within his body.

Concluding Thoughts

That felt like a strange mish mash of different shounen inspirations. Yet Jujutsu Kaisen stayed true to itself through wonderfully unique presentation – with the first episode being a stellar production from MAPPA that captures the original spirit of the source material and arguably improves on it. I would be extremely excited to continue following a person’s struggles to overcome an internal evil, while existentially questioning the meaning of their existence. But I don’t think it will become angsty, because Yuji has a uniquely bright personality that should continue to shine through and provide some modicum of happiness or hope – even if the series continues presenting dark and difficult situations for our protagonist to overcome. Some fair warning in advance. Despite enjoying this premiere, in all likeliness I won’t be continuing coverage of this series. But I hope this post provides a perspective that can give readers an idea of what to expect, and guidance on whether they want to keep up with Jujutsu Kaisen or not.

Preview

7 Comments

  1. Best scene was the death of the grandfather. It felt so natural and sombre. Nothing over the top or cliche final words. Just a peaceful death.

    I lost my grandfather years ago so I can sympathise with the protagonist.

    Tayo Jones
    1. I can say so far it’s predictably generic for a shounen male protagonist’s beginnings of becoming a well-meaning hero.

      No worries for I wasn’t bored or annoyed, just remaining neutral in expectations since this is a shounen manga. Of course the difference is that Sukuna is sort of like Spiderman’s archenemy Venom so am a little surprised Yuji is able to resist him, being conscious one minute later.

      Heard there will be inevitable deaths later episodes but for now, I’m wondering if Yuji’s parents will be predictable either like Kurosaki’s parents being the good guys or the Eric’s brothers being the most evil being they’ve to kill.

      I know that the manga is ongoing and the author hasn’t reveal either of Yuji’s parents in the series but am hoping if they do appear, I wish they are morally gray characters (maybe they murder their beloved Sensei because of unexpected circumstances or absorbed something evil in them and have to leave their kid to the grandpa) because it’ll be breaking the typical shounen tropes…unless this was done before, but I would like to see his parents not being fully good but not too evil.

      Random thoughts:

      (1) I can accept the visual humors in this episode as long as there’s no sexual harassment or purposely peeking girl’s bathroom just to lighten up the series’ mood. BUT. NO. I’ll be and will always hate this stupid comedic timing because I don’t like the (obviously naked) fanservice that ends up being the only capable humor. I’m sure there are other appropriate comedic timings to make a shounen series be appreciated for their balance in tone shift, right, Touma Kamijo?

      (2) When I saw Yuuma-chin’s character name, his first name surprises me whereas the female protagonist of this series should’ve had the name but who cares? I would appreciate if it becomes the center of comedic timing since Yuji only knows him as Fushiguro.

      RK
  2. I think the show is going to focus more on horror than fanservice. Also just because it is a shonen does not make it bad. It sounds like you are ready to drop it. If that is the case why are you even watching?

    Tayo Jones
    1. Hi there. I must explain myself on what I’ve mentioned.

      I didn’t even say I’m dropping it. Honestly, it’s a good execution for a premiere episode though the visuals are the main weapons in making this series as it should be.

      In fact, minimal is the key. Yuji is nothing special. He’s an ordinary kid who lives for the current moment, not worrying about the future. Even his grandfather’s last words is simple. Nothing boastful, just a little solemness heard in his final sentence.

      Just because I say “I’ll remain neutral in expectations” doesn’t mean I’ll give up watching this series nor that I dislike every shounen genre.

      I assure you that there are some exceptions of the shounen action genre, especially the main character is morally gray. But for now, I’m focusing on how the flow of dialogue fits its storytelling abilities.

      What bothered it was the exposition said by Fushiguro takes too long when he should cut to the chase of asking Yuji where exactly his seniors are; he’s talking about a very powerful Cursed Item and I was left wondering whether he really should explain the whole Curses’ origins to Yuji like that. I mean could’ve said to him while they were running on the way to the school. 🤔

      Of course there will never be a continuation if he didn’t do that so I’m just going with the flow regardless of questions on why a higher-up sent a 1st year sorcerer to get the said most powerful item.

      Extra note: It’s good to know the series is really focusing more on its horror aspects. Am curious how regeneration powers fit into this series.

      RK

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