MAPPA’s Best – Jujutsu Kaisen Anime Review

“Idly indulging in baseless paranormal activities with the Occult Club, high schooler Yuuji Itadori spends his days at either the clubroom or the hospital, where he visits his bedridden grandfather. However, this leisurely lifestyle soon takes a turn for the strange when he unknowingly encounters a cursed item. Triggering a chain of supernatural occurrences, Yuuji finds himself suddenly thrust into the world of Curses—dreadful beings formed from human malice and negativity—after swallowing the said item, revealed to be a finger belonging to the demon Sukuna Ryoumen, the “King of Curses.”

Yuuji experiences first-hand the threat these Curses pose to society as he discovers his own newfound powers. Introduced to the Tokyo Metropolitan Jujutsu Technical High School, he begins to walk down a path from which he cannot return—the path of a Jujutsu sorcerer.” – MAL Synopsis

Episodes 25 – Dub/Sub – Aired Fall 2020 – Finished – MAL Rating: 8.68
– Genres: ActionDemonsSupernaturalSchoolShounen

So like. I’m definitely seeing it a lot more these days but when are we as a collective anime community going to really start giving MAPPA their flowers? They have consistently been one of the best, if not the best, studios in the past few years. From Terror in Resonance to Yuri on Ice. From Banana Fish to Dorororo. From Dorohedoro to God of High-School. From Jujutsu Kaisen to Attack on Titan. And many more that I haven’t even mentioned. They’ve been on an absolute roll and it looks like there’s no end in sight. Consistently good to fucking phenomenal animation quality (ehh there are some dips here and there lol), stunning OSTs, and lifting manga panels off the page bringing them to life. All of their anime exude that high level of quality. ut Jujutsu Kaisen stands above them all. It feels like this is MAPPA’s magnum opus. And what a beautiful magnum opus it is.

There’s one anime/manga that will forever have a soft spot in my heart but Its flaws are so apparent it diminishes all the good things that it does. It has a lot in common with JJK. To the point where I’d be shocked if the author wasn’t a fan of the series. They both deal with the supernatural and have some similar cast members. But their biggest similarity is the radiant style and creativeness that they constantly exude. That anime/manga I’m talking about is Bleach. But where Bleach failed in its story and execution JJK (so far) has not only succeeded but while doing that. It kind of mocks one of the biggest flaws in Bleach. But I’ll get to that later. Let me first talk about this wonderful story.

Jujutsu Kaisen follows Itadori with his new comrades and his journey as a sorcerer and as a vessel of Sukuna. This world of sorcerers is interesting. There’s this hierarchy that seems to be very biased, nepotistic, and even greedy as we see with some of the characters introduced midway through the show. But the worst thing about their system is that they’re stuck in their old ways. Which is an interesting point that is talked about and explored well in the show. Every arc flowed perfectly into each other and there were some unique ways of storytelling where they’d show the aftermath and have a character narrating it before they showed the actual event. It was neat and wasn’t overdone. And the overall arc that this story is building too is being hyped so well and it’s really tempting me to read the manga. Also, the comedy is great. This is another one of those shows that literally had me laughing out loud in my bead stupid late at night. Not only is the character’s dialogue actually funny when it tries, but the visual gags and the after-credit Jujutsu Scrolls are hilarious. The way a character like Nobara can play the straight man in some scenes but then in another scene seems like she’s sharing a singular brain cell with Itadori. It’s just funny. Also, can I just give a big thank you for all of these female characters that look good with great designs? With NO fan service? And their strong and really well-written female characters? Kudos Gege Akutami, kudos.

1 brain cell in this gif

Just like Bleach, the main character has been brought up in not the most typical circumstances. In Ichigo’s case, he didn’t have a mom, but in Itadori’s case, he really doesn’t know anything of both his parents and is raised by his grandpa. And just like Ichigo, they have a connection to this supernatural world that they never knew. enough with the comparisons with these two for now, but Bleach’s influence is clear in this regard. The story is just cool. The idea of curses is neat. Them being the manifestation of negative human emotions. It’s even brought up that maybe curses are real humans. That positive emotions always have some sort of negativity behind them, ultimately making them fake. Meaning that these curses are truly the purest beings in the world. Which is very interesting to think about. Some curses are stronger or more intelligent than others. Some take their form from specific negative emotions or actions around something. Like humans, or the earth. There’s also some stuff about the soul and the heart in here that’s interesting. Like this show seriously surprised me with some intriguing philosophical concepts, which is wild and I totally didn’t expect.

Itadori’s curse power

Okay so let me wrap back around to my Bleach comparison and a point I brought up earlier. Bleach’s biggest downfall was its power system and the way it was used. Now don’t get me wrong. Bleach had many flaws. From story to animation. But it was still cool and enjoyable to me. Not until the last arc of the manga did the problem of its power system turn the story into a complete clown fest. Without spoilers, the last arc contains a lot of fights between a lot of people. In Bleach the main way characters fight is by using their spiritual energy infused within their swords. Now they can take that to the next level and power up, that’s called shikai. Then there’s another power level that’s advanced called bankai. By the time the last arc rolled around if you weren’t using Bankai then you weren’t invited to the party. And the villains had an analogous power that they used. Their bankai took a unique form and had unique powers specific to its user. The biggest advantage to any fight, even in real life but especially in Bleach, is not knowing what your opponent is capable of. There are characters in the show that go through major lengths to hide their bankai unless absolutely necessary. But for some reason, the last arc of bleach had everyone revealing their bankai and how it worked left and right like they just had diarrhea of the mouth. Loose lips sink ships and that’s my piece on that.

Nobara & Maki

I state all that to now say. JJK avoids this problem and seemingly openly mocks it to boot. The power system is similar to Bleach’s and also shares similarities with HxH’s nen system. Some users use curse tools/weapons imbued with curse energy. The majority of others use various curse techniques. Some of these curse techniques can be taught to anyone. But for the most part, they are etched into a person’s soul when they are born. This leads to a lot of super unique techniques being showcased. Now, the brilliance in this power system is pacts. Somewhat like nen restrictions in HxH that enhance your power the more strict the restriction is. Handicaps increase the power of a curse user technique. And you know what one of the biggest handicaps you can give yourself? Revealing how your power works to a foe. It’s brilliant. The pacts are also used in some other interesting ways but that’s what I loved about them. Also, there are heavenly pacts that are placed on people at birth in exchange for something. Like one character can’t see or sense curse or use curse powers. But in exchange, she’s superhumanly strong. It’s a really cool power system. And words can’t even describe how cool the idea of domain expansion is.

Itadori & Sukuna

Itadori, more or less, has all of the traits that could be associated with shounen protagonist. His mentality is very much in line with those characters. With that being said this story gets really dark. There comes a point where he has to come to terms with how the world is and that he can’t save everyone and he might have to go against his morale if he wants a chance to save anyone at all. It was nice to see him come to terms with that. Sukuna on the other hand is just a presence whenever he’s on-screen. The whole dynamic between them at a glance seemed to be going to in the Naruto Karuma route. But no, Sukuna straight up doesn’t care about anything besides his own goals. The only time he’s even remotely helpful is because either: A, he’s getting something out of it, or B – he’s pissed off. He’s just a fun character and I’m interested in seeing how his motives develop along with his relationship with Itadori.

Fushigaro & Nobara

Fushiguro and Nobara are the perfect pairings for Itadori. Fushiguro is the cool type but his feeling for his friends and family are pretty much worn on his sleeve despite his demeanor. His interactions with the rest of the sorcerers are great. Coupled with having an interesting backstory and he has a lot going for him character-wise. Sukuna took an interest in him early on in the series and I’m very intrigued as to where that’s going to go.

Nobara is just great. A strong character with a great personality. As I said earlier the ability for her to be the straight man in one comedic interaction and then have one brain cell in the other is pretty well done. Her curse techniques are cool as hell too, I don’t remember the last time I saw an anime character whose primary weapon was a hammer and nails.

Gojo without his blindfold

Gojo is OP asf. It’s simple as that. Not only is his character design (this goes for everyone in this show, but especially him) dope as hell, but MAPPA shows this man so much love on the animation side. The dude looks top-notch in every scene. The eye shots when he takes his blindfold off? Straight beautiful man. But he’s definitely the main comic relief in this show. He’s constantly clowning and doing stupid stuff and it’s constantly hilarious. All while him having a very serious goal of wanting to reform the sorcerer world. And his way of recognizing that he has to go about that somewhat diplomatically and not by using brute force, reveals a truly mature and adult side of his character. Which is always there under all the joking, but he does have a fair share of flat-out serious moments in between it all. He and the rest of the group mentioned above make up the heart of this show. All great characters that I can’t wait to see more of in a season 2!

The other characters here are great too. Notably Nanami. His whole character arc was very enjoyable. His back story brought up some interesting life questions that a lot of adults can relate to. The rest of the sorcerers from Tokyo and the sister school in Kyoto are cool. They have cool designs and curse powers. One of the last arcs was a school competition and the majority of the expanded cast really shined during it. This show has a very good expanded cast.

Gojo vs. Sukuna

In terms of MAPPAs animation. In comparison to their other work. There’s no contest with Jujutsu Kaisen. 25 consistently beautiful episodes. The fights are phenomenal. Not only with crisp animation but also great choreography. Backed by a great OST. Let’s talk about the OST for a second. Specifically the opening and endings. They’re stunning. The visuals are god-tier and the music is fantastic. The first ending has literally been on repeat for me since I started watching. That minimalistic animation with the sloppy coloring of the characters dancing is great. Then you have the second opening. Jesus is those visuals beautiful. The first opening is no slouch but the second one is just. Is just stunning.

I watched the show subbed, so that’s what I’m speaking on when it comes to voice actors. They all killed it. Two standouts really wowed me with their performances. Those being Sukuna’s and Nobara’s. They just bring life to those characters. Sukuna in particular just perfectly captures the power and dominance of his character. Like I said though, that’s not to call any of the other VA’s slouches cause they all kill it. There’s not a weak link when it comes to voice actor performances here.

Seriously one of the best endings ever.

Jujutsu Kaisen might just be the next best thing since sliced bread. For me, this show lived up to its hype and then some. Animation, characters, story, world, and everything else about this show are great. MAPPA has given this show an unprecedented amount of love and I’m all here for it. If this show stays the course it could legitimately rival any of the best shine and even be deemed better than all of them. Jujutsu Kaisen is that good and I can’t wait to watch (or even read if I get impatient) what’s coming next in this story.

Jujutsu Kaisen – 10/10

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