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Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 Review – 61/100

Lets not beat around the bush, you know what Jujutsu Kaisen is. Animated by studio MAPPA, directed by Shouta Goshozono and originally created by Gege Akutami, Jujutsu Kaisen is one of Shounen Jump’s flagship series. Being the 3rd oldest currently printing series in the magazine behind only One Piece and My Hero Academia, it’s built up its fair share of fans. Many of whom proclaim that it “Changed Shounen forever”! Is that true? I don’t really know. So why do I bring it up, why is it relevant? Because this season adapts what is widely believed to be Jujutsu Kaisen’s biggest and best arc, its Marineford, its Cell Saga, the thing that will define it for years to come: Shibuya. And we’re going to talk about it! So without further ado, lets dive into this monumental season of Jujutsu Kaisen and see if it lives up to the hype.

Be warned, this review contains minor unmarked spoilers for Jujutsu Kaisen Season 1&2. It also contains major spoilers in some sections however these will be heavily marked to avoid accidents.


With so much importance being put on the story, the best place to start is with Jujutsu Kaisen’s narrative. This season can be easily split two main arcs: Hidden Inventory, taking about 1/4th of the season, and Shibuya, the remaining 3/4ths. Hidden Inventory is sort of a flashback arc, taking place in the past, expanding on Gojo’s relationship with Geto and really just fleshing him out as a character in preparation for what is to come. Shibuya meanwhile returns to the present and is the “big fight” arc where all the heroes and villains get together in one location to beat the crap out of each other. There are a few one-off episode between the two arcs that work to either set things up or simply give us time to relax before the big fight, but for the most part this is the season.

Of the two, and I’ll just come right out and say it, I believe Hidden Inventory to be the better arc. In fact I think Hidden Inventory is the best arc Jujutsu Kaisen has ever had, and that includes manga arcs that have yet to be adapted. It’s tightly written, with every part of the narrative focused towards a single goal. There are no unnecessary characters nor rambling and unnecessary side-plots either. The whole thing is a short, sweet, and to the point story of the last week of a young woman’s life, as well as a young mans disillusionment with the world. It really is fantastic, and if you take nothing else away from this review, take this: Go watch the first six episodes of this season of Jujutsu Kaisen. Even if you aren’t a fan of the rest of the series, you won’t regret it. It’s that good.

Shibuya on the other hand… How do I say this in a way that won’t get me lynched on the internet? Shibuya is kind of a mess. It wants to be this huge, world defining conflict. The sort of thing that the rest of the story revolves around. And in some ways, it does accomplish that, the status quo has definitely changed after this arc. But where Hidden Inventory was tight and focused, Shibuya has too many threads, tries to do too much, casts its net too wide, while not having developed things enough prior. It doesn’t feel earned the same way Hidden Inventory does because half the characters are either new or given unsatisfactory resolutions. Think of it like this: Across the arc the villains defeat more villains than the heroes do. It’s as if the entire arc exists to tear Itadori down, rather than build anything up.

The reason this is a problem is because of just how exhausting this makes the arc. When a single fight goes on for five episodes, new techniques or characters or power ups dropping to keep it going over and over again, what excitement there was starts to wane and you just start wanting it to end. And that’s the best way I can describe Shibuya as an arc: Exhausting. When the first fight started I was hyped and ready to go. When the third began I was enjoying myself but starting to check my watch. By the sixth, I was left begging for someone to just kill someone so we could go home. That’s not how you want your season to end. So bogged down that what hype moments are left feel more like small reprieves from the tedium rather than memorable highpoints.

To sum it up, Jujutsu Kaisen aired one of, if not the strongest arc in the entire series with Hidden Inventory, only to bundle it with an underbaked “battle royale” that relies more on spectacle than solid writing. One is worth watching even if you hate the rest of Jujutsu Kaisen. The other is probably the reason you hate it.


With that out of the way you’re probably left wondering about the characters, and how they fare in all of this. Well in Hidden Inventory, quite well! Gojo, Geto and Riko are all fantastic. Watching them interact, whether it be relaxing at the beach as they try to give the girl a few more happy memories or running and fighting against paid assassins, was a joy. Geto especially was a highlight, taking a two-dimensional villain we knew little about in season one and breaking him, as well as his relationship with Gojo, down to their bare bones only to rebuild him into someone simultaneously sympathetic yet irredeemable. It was great! Toss in Toji, who is my personal favorite villain, and you have an incredibly strong cast you can’t help but love. Sadly while Shibuya can boast a similar number of great characters, the rest sort of… dilute them.

What do I mean by “dilute”? Well the easiest way to explain I think would be to talk about the exceptions to this: Toudo, Jogo and Nanami. Out of everyone involved in Shibuya, the entire cast of twenty plus characters, these are the only three worth mentioning. Toudo, because of his sheer charisma and ability to turn any scene he’s in into something fun and bombastic. Jogo, for single-handedly bringing heart and purpose to the villains. And Nanami, for being the only character in the arc to make me laugh, cry and cheer for all across the entire arc. Each them rocked it, from start to finish. Had the entire arc just been them, it would have been great. Outside of these three standouts however, the rest of the cast is either irrelevant, disrespected, poorly written or some combination of the three.

For the irrelevant we have the Kyoto students and most of the additional sorcerers brought on to the mission. Some, really just Mei Mei if I’m being honest, get by with being sexy and a single good fight. For the most part though, whether it be Panda, Kusakabe, Naobito and Maki Zen’in, or the entirety of the Kyoto student lineup, they don’t really contribute anything. They exist to be bodies on the board, to either get defeated to show how strong the villains are, to be comic relief in the background, or to just make the arc seem bigger than it otherwise would be. Do they need to be here? Not really. And while they don’t actively bring anything down, they don’t make anything better with their presence either. They just sort of exist, and we’re expected to care about them.

As for the disrespected, I can’t really talk about this without diving into some major spoilers. So if you don’t already know about Nobara and don’t want to be spoiled regarding her, just know that it feels like Gege hates his female cast and that she got done dirty. Alright, disclaimer done, lets talk about her.

Nobara is… There’s no other way to put it than Nobara got disrespected, hard. After showing up to fight Mahito, toughing it out against one of his clones, she gets one-tapped and removed from the series entirely. As if that wasn’t enough, Jujutsu Kaisen then tries to dedicate an episode-long flashback to her, thinking that would somehow make up for her lack of development and how she was used to as nothing more than a means of pushing Itadori forward. And to make matters worse, Jujutsu Kaisen doesn’t even have the guts to flat out kill her, instead saying she “May live” and then never giving us any further information, just dangling her in front of Nobara fans hoping it will keep them happy. To this day, the manga has yet to comment on her fate. And you know what? At this point I don’t care. I’m just disappointed.

Finally we come to the poorly written, where Mahito and Itadori sit. I want to be very clear, Mahito’s VA does a fantastic job with what he’s been given. Nobunaga Shimazaki nails the character. Sadly Jujutsu Kaisen does not. Instead it spends half the season trying and failing to sell Mahito as this mirror of Itadori, going for this metaphor about how they are two sides of the same coin. But it doesn’t work, because instead of being mirrors its more like they are both angled 45 degrees off of each other. It’s like they are mirrors of what the author wants them to be rather than what he’s written them to be. This leads to most of their big showdown feeling lifeless, both characters arguing for/against something that was never properly established to begin with.

Suffice to say, for all that Hidden Inventory is incredible Shibuya is disappointing. The arc gets by entirely on the backs of the animators, taking lackluster and narratively uninteresting fights and turning them into showcases of animation. Take away the production, the internet hype, and you’re left with a bland and poorly written arc that clearly needed a bit more time in the oven.


Speaking of production, lets talk about it! This at least is something we can be mostly positive about. At its highest of highs, Jujutsu Kaisen was gorgeous. There were numerous of what I would call “event” episodes. Episodes where, from start to finish, the whole thing was one non-stop blast of beautiful animation. If you’ve seen it, think like Mob Psycho S2 E5, that sort of thing. The ones that inevitably dominate twitter the day they air as everyone can’t help but talk about the wild ride they went on. Those are incredible! And it’s not like Jujutsu Kaisen stops there, like everything else sucks. No, in fact for the most part the season was surprisingly solid. Even with numerous reports of overworked animators and poor schedules, Jujutsu Kaisen managed to keep the melt to a minimum and remain solid through, with only a few unfinished sequences worth noting.

This doesn’t mean we should ignore the issues surrounding the schedule and working conditions. MAPPA is a sweat shop and we, as a community, need to recognize that. But we also need to recognize that, terrible schedule or not, those animators delivered. They take pride in their work, gave their everything, to make both Hidden Inventory and Shibuya look fantastic. And while Hidden Inventory is generally more consistent, I still want to recognize their efforts. What I’m saying is, when I praise this seasons animation, when I talk about how *Jujutsu Kaisen looked, for the most part, great, I want you to think not of MAPPA and their hellish conditions but of the individual animators who put their everything into the season. Animators like Souta Yamazaki, Vincent Chansard, Yooto, Hisashi Mori, and many many more.

Preaching about production schedules aside, Jujutsu Kaisen really did look good this season. There were a few scenes during the big event episodes that looked unfinished, and as the season progressed more and more cracks did start to show. Things like weaker backgrounds, short cuts such as still or sliding frames, overuse of chibi animations, low-detail closeups or poor coloring, reused cuts to make sure the episode got out, stuff like that. But considering what we know about the production, I would say it held up surprisingly well. This is most likely due to the individual contributions of hundreds of supporting staff, but still. It didn’t implode. A lot. Jujutsu Kaisen maybe have failed to make a statement narratively with this season, but I suspect clips and episodes of it will be talked about for a while yet.


With that we come to the OST and sound design! Regretfully at the time of writing this, Jujutsu Kaisen’s OST has not yet been fully released. Only the Hidden Inventory tracks have been given to the public. That means I am severely limited in the tracks I can point to and discuss directly. Luckily though, I don’t believe Jujutsu Kaisen’s OST isn’t anything particularly special, so its not like you’re missing out on much. Composed by Yoshimasa Terui, the best I can say for Jujutsu Kaisen’s OST is that it does its job. I can’t think of any moments while watching where the music took me out of a scene. On top of that, I think the way it was used was pretty good. MAPPA knew when to go big and loud, or when silence was more impactful than any track they could have played. That’s a solid accomplishment!

To illustrate what I mean, lets take a look at a few of the tracks we do have available to us, mostly from the Hidden Inventory arc. Some, like “Elegant Time” or “Attack By Storm“, are pretty standard examples of their archetype. You can tell immediately that one is meant for “High Class” locations or people while the other is a rather normal “Battle” track. Both are fine, they do their job. But neither is particularly memorable. There are plenty of other tracks out there that sound just like them. Others, like “Hidden Inventory“, are just discordant and unpleasant to listen to on their own, even if that’s their purpose in a scene. In fact, there are only a few tracks I would say stand out as worth listening to solo, those being “No Hesitation” and “Delirious“. Oh an “You Jerk“, because I absolutely love funk.

Long story short, Jujutsu Kaisen’s OST is neither terrible nor particularly memorable. It neither hurts nor hinders the series, managing to do its job and little more. However where Jujutsu Kaisen does manage to excel is in how it uses this otherwise average OST. It knows when to go loud, blasting guitar and drums to whatever fight is happening on screen. It knows when to quiet down, or even remove it entirely, so as to not ruin a poignant moment. What I’m trying to say is, they played it safe it and used what they had to the best of their ability. And to me? That’s worth more than an above average OST used mediocrely.

Too Big, Too Early

With that we come to the personal section of this review. It’s where I take the time to talk about something random, something specific to my experience with a series. This is no-holds-barred spoiler territory so if you haven’t finished the season and don’t want to be spoiled, skip it. Don’t worry to much, it’s mostly going to be me ranting about where this season of Jujutsu Kaisen fell short. So without further ado, lets go!

So what do I mean by too big, too early? Well I mentioned it earlier in the intro where I talked about Marineford and the Cell Saga. And what those arcs have in common with Shibuya is that they were these big, world changing, dynamic shifting, culminations to parts of a story that had been built up for years. Marineford was the capstone to the first half of One Piece. The Cell Saga was much the same for Dragon Ball. The Sasuke Recovery Mission arc from Naruto was the same. This is what Shibuya wanted to be for Jujutsu Kaisen. The only issue is that those arcs occurred much later in their respective series. Marineford started in chapter 550, earlier if you include Sabaody. Cell Saga was chapter 337, the Sasuke Recovery Mission 172. As for Shibuya? It started in chapter 79.

Now I get it, these are just numbers, they mean absolutely nothing. What I’m getting at is that Jujutsu Kaisen jumped into this arc involving basically every character we had come to know and love, as well as many new ones, and expected us to care about what happened to them. To be invested in them, their fights and the arc in general. But because of how little time the series spent establishing them, in allowing us to get to know them prior, we couldn’t. Take Nobara for example. She’s the premier female lead, her death should have meant something. Instead, all you see is everyone raging about how meaningless it was, about how little development she got, about how she might as well have not been there at all. Instead Jujutsu Kaisen gets rid of her, drops a bottle of copium that she might still live, then never mention her again, even in the manga.

It’s not like Jujutsu Kaisen can’t do it right. Nanami and Jogo are two fantastic examples. Both of their ends were earned. We got to spend time with Nanami as he trained and taught Yuji, he got multiple scenes across this entire arc of just him talking to himself and explaining how he feels to the audience. So when he died, when he passed that torch, *it worked. And it was good. It’s the same for Jogo, who has been built up through his interactions with the villains across both seasons. These are characters, ends, that Jujutsu Kaisen set up and earned. You know what wasn’t earned? Nobara. Fushiguro with Toji, who never truly interacted. Choso and that whole “Little Brother” thing. Hanami. Dagon. Naobito Zenin. Maki. Mechamaru. Miwa. The list goes on. Jujutsu Kaisen wants these characters to mean something, but refuses to spend the time needed to do so.

That’s what I mean by “Too big, too early”. My experience watching this arc of Jujutsu Kaisen was one of frustration. Hidden Inventory was phenomenal. And early Shibuya was fun, because Gojo is fun. But after Gojo got sealed, as the fights wound down to become nothing more than spectacle, I started to get tired. There’s only so many episodes of flashing lights and characters screaming 8th grade philosophy at each other, yelling about how they are mirrors despite being nothing of the sort, before you start to want it to end. So by the time Geto arrived, by the time Mahito was absorbed and the fight was over, I wasn’t in awe or in fear of what was happening to this world or these characters. I was relieved. Because it meant the story was finally going to move on to something hopefully more interesting.


So yeah, all in all this season of Jujutsu Kaisen started phenomenally well, destroying any expectations I had and getting me hyped for everything to come, only to eventually end with a whimper and an echo of lost potential. Had the series waited a season before doing Shibuya, had Jujutsu Kaisen taken the time to properly flesh out characters like Miwa, Mechamaru, Fushiguro and Nobara, this could have been something special. Instead what you’re left with is an arc propped up by spectacle and flashing lights. Spectacle which is itself the product of poor production schedules and overworking animators to the point of exhaustion, such that it could have collapsed at any time, the only reason it didn’t being the hard work of the individual staff members making the best of a bad situation. I can only hope season three does better, in basically every way.

The post Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 Review – 61/100 appeared first on Star Crossed Anime.

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