Welcome all, to another week of Jujutsu Kaisen! The series has had a rough few weeks, riding that line between ambition and failure, all the while behind the scenes animators are one step away from revolting. And wouldn’t you know it? Eventually something had to give. Without further ado, lets dive into the episode!
To get started, despite that introduction this episode actually looked better than I expected it to. Hearing about the delay for streaming services, the displeasure behind the scenes, I thought this was going to be an absolute mess. Instead? It was only… sort of a mess. Despite clearly unfinished work, and a plethora of short cuts taken to get it out the door, I don’t think the average viewer would be able to notice what was wrong. That doesn’t excuse it, but it does go to show how even with a troubled production Jujutsu Kaisen is making it out the door. Whether or not that will last, there are still 5 more episodes to go, is another matter. But for now at least, it isn’t imploding as much as I thought it would.
And besides, it’s not like it was all bad. This very episode proves that smart direction can save even the most troubled of productions. I am of course talking about the highlight of the episode, Nanami! Honestly this bit was inspired. Cutting between a Malaysian beach and the subway, putting him in the exact same pose in both shots with only his clothing and battle damage being different. The way the music cuts out at the end as he agonizes over whether or not to put the curse, the “You’re next” torch so often passed down in Shounen anime, on Itadori. It was a genuinely touching and emotional way to open the episode. I knew Jujutsu Kaisen wouldn’t kill Nanami, or Maki for that matter, in such an offhanded manner with Jogo. And I’m glad I was right, because this was far better.
As for who did the killing, Mahito finally returns, and by god is he a little shit. In a good way I mean, there’s no complexity here just Mahito being a terrible person. Just like not every villain should be brain-dead evil, not every single villain needs a “tragic motivation” or whatever either. It’s all about finding the one that fits your story. And in a story about curses, the embodiment of negative human emotions such as fear, it makes sense to have a bit of both. Rambling aside, I did like how much, and how specifically, Mahito was taunting them. Going for their insecurities, partially to cause them pain because he’s sadistic but also because breaking them mentally is a totally valid strategy against someone as volatile as Itadori.
Speaking of Itadori, he is not in a good mental space right now. Wondering if maybe those sorcerers were right, maybe he should be executed, maybe it is the safest choice for everyone involved. And in light of what he’s just seen? The destruction, the thousands of lives lost, Shibuya getting leveled? Well it makes sense. But of course at the time he couldn’t do that. It wouldn’t be a “proper” death. And what about those he’s saved getting here? Or those who believe on him? Basically he’s trying to figure out how to move forward after all of this, and I appreciate that. It’s a strong scene, one that’s going to stick with him for a long time and set Itadori up for all kinds of growth down the line. Hell even in this episode we already see him reigning in his emotions, like Nanami would. Good stuff Jujutsu Kaisen. Good stuff.
So yeah, all in all a stronger than expected episode that, production wise at least, still isn’t indicative of anything good coming down the pipe. There were a few other things, like the Mahito fight or him meeting Nobara, but neither of those had enough to really be worth talking about. One was a decent fight that is a clear step down after the previous few while the other is clearly the subject, partially at least, of the next episode. Narratively I think Jujutsu Kaisen is in a solid place. That’s not really an argument worth getting into if you ask me, it would take a lot to fuck it up from here. In that sense, Shibuya has always been solid. Not ground breaking, but solid. The only thing up in the air is the production. So for Jujutsu Kaisen fans sake, I hope MAPPA pulls through. They won’t, but I hope they do.