Welcome all, to an incredibly late episode of Jujutsu Kaisen! Apologies for that, I was traveling this weekend only just got home. Trust me, I’m feeling this delay worse than you, my backlog is getting insane so this is a busy Monday. Anyways, schedule management aside, how about we dive right into the episode?!
Starting off, let’s talk production. This week was easily the jankiest yet. I’ve been talking about it for weeks, the slow decline, the MAPPA curse, the issues Jujutsu Kaisen is having behind the scenes. Well this is all of that starting to show in the final product. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some great cuts here. Jujutsu Kaisen hasn’t burned out completely, the team is still doing the best they can with the resources/time they have. But it’s undeniable that large portions of the episode move and look like they weren’t finished. And if you look on Twitter, sorry “X”, you’ll find loads of animators who worked on the episode talking about how troublesome it was. It’s kind of funny in a way. The episode with the most troubled animation yet has the power based specifically on animation.
Getting into the episode itself, content wise there really isn’t much going on. They meet a new villain, Dagon, fight them for a bit, show off powers, get sucked into a Domain, and then have to fight their way out of it. The meat of the episode really comes in the powers. Stuff like the animation frames one. Yet the issue here is that, as is usual for Jujutsu Kaisen, the power system really doesn’t make a lot of sense, only working because it’s an anime and can try to visually explain them. For instance, the animation power is conceptually cool. But in practice it’s basically just a speed boost. An overly complicated one with some drawbacks if you fuck it up, sure, but a speed boost nonetheless. Still, it made for a visually interesting scene so… I’ll take it?
As for the domain, I’ve never been huge on these. They are visually interesting, for sure. Whether it be Mahito’s hands, Gojo’s void or Dagon’s beach with the angry fishies, they all bring some nice variety to the scenery. But sure-hit techniques that basically guarantee your opponents death… Well Gege is writing themselves into a corner a feel. How do you justifiably explain someone surviving in a sure-hit realm? On top of that, most of them aren’t that interesting, as there’s only so many ways you can make sure-hit techniques meaningfully different. One example of this would be Mei Mei’s, that one at least involved some strategizing, which I appreciated. But Dagon’s? I just can’t buy any of these people surviving against that for that long. It’s a weird complaint I know, but I’m just not a fan of Domain’s beyond their visual element.
Speaking of Mei Mei, her opening segment was probably my favorite part of the episode. Visually interesting, some nice tactics for dealing with the domain beyond “I can just take it”, it even had some resource management with the crows and explained why she was bringing Ui Ui along with her into a dangerous situation despite not really being a combatant. For me, this is how domain fights should be. Not instant-kill techniques but ones with a specific set of rules that, if allowed to complete, result in victory. Because then the fight becomes a game of breaking/fulfilling rules rather than “I have invisible fish that are going to bite you”. I understand that this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t care. Jujutsu Kaisen is fun. I want it to succeed. This is how I think it can do so.
That said, there is one thing that Jujutsu Kaisen did right with Dagon’s domain: Toji. This was a great way to reintroduce him to the conflict. Dudes just so happy to be back with strong people to fight, he dives head first into a Special Grade curses domain without a care in the world. And you know what? We all know he’s about to kick every one in there’s ass. Doesn’t matter that its a domain, he’s just that good. It helps that he’s a far more compelling villain than Dagon, with actual connections to our main cast beyond “Am evil”, sure. But he also doesn’t have any weird rule-based powers. He’s just really strong and skilled, so everyone else has to figure out how to overcome that with their weird rule based powers. And I think that works to, so long as its the villain who is the OP one.
Anyways yeah, that’s basically it. This episode of Jujutsu Kaisen had it’s moments, Toji is great, Mei Mei’s stuff looked great, but it was certainly a step down after the last couple of episodes. Is that a big deal? Not really, assuming Jujutsu Kaisen can fix it’s production schedule and give these talented animators the time to actually finish their scenes to their satisfaction. Having a blip every now and then is fine. It’s only a problem if it continues, getting worse and worse and worse. And while that’s possible, I don’t want that for Jujutsu Kaisen. I want it to succeed, to be great, to get an adaptation that elevates the source material and makes me love it. We got that in Hidden Inventory. We got that last episode. But we didn’t get it in this one. And that’s a shame.