Currently in its second season, Jujutsu Kaisen is phenomenal. With wonderful character and outstanding animation, it has been an absolute joy to watch. So much so that I’ve rewatched the series and the film, Jujutsu Kaisen 0, multiple times. It was the last viewing that I noticed a theme of the loss of innocence. This theme runs throughout the whole of Jujutsu Kaisen, and it’s fascinating, especially when you watch the series in chronological order.
My journey began as any does: At the beginning. I decided to celebrate the upcoming release of the “Shibuya Incident Arc” by watching Jujutsu Kaisen in the correct order. I started with Season 2’s Kaigyoku/Gyokusetsu aka “Gojo’s Past Arc.” Watching this part of the series was so wonderfully wicked in so many ways. What struck me about this arc was how seemingly innocent Gojo and Geto were.
From the opening alone, Jujutsu Kaisen came across as a slice-of-life anime, with its upbeat tone and infectious manner. The reason for this? Gojo and Geto saw themselves as gods, the role of sorcerer was a plaything to each of them. They were unchallenged and undisciplined. Enter Toji Fushiguro, who brought them both low and ruined what to them was a “summer fling” with their charge, young Riko Amanai. After she’s killed, both Gojo and Geto diverge, and this loss starts a journey of utter devastation. Their relationship deteriorates and both end up on opposite sides of a brutal war.
We then fast forward 11 years and are introduced to Yuta Okkotsu, a young man with a dark and twisted secret. He is haunted by his childhood sweetheart and anyone who shows him any attention usually ends up as a pile of red sludge. As he learns to master this dark gift, he falls under the machinations of Gojo and Geto, as they want to use his incredible power for their own means.
As a fan of the anime, I don’t know where the story will ultimately end up, but I can’t help but notice the darkness behind the seemingly goofy Gojo. Many fans compare him to Kakashi, but I see that as superficial. Kakashi is a noble man, and a tough disciplinarian, but Gojo uses everyone around him to win. There is a particular moment in Jujutsu Kaisen 0 that exemplifies this. Panda, Maki and Toge are sent by Gojo to Yuta and Geto as they clash. At first, you think they’re sent there to help Yuta, but there is a far more sinister mentality behind this. Yuta never needed their help, it’s even pointed out by Geto that he would never kill a fellow sorcerer, and Gojo knew this. In fact, Gojo planned wanted the event to motivate Yuta to kill Geto, unleashing his true destructive power in the process. It’s a cold and heartless move, as it turns Yuta into something dark. The brutality in Jujutsu Kaisen is immense, and he’s a far cry from the wallflower that timidly opened the door into the classroom at the start of the film.
This theme is pushed even further when Season 1 of Jujutsu Kaisen begins. Gojo is barely hiding the fact that he is grooming the next generation of sorcerers to be his weapons in the coming war. He mentions Yuta and another student as important weapons in his arsenal. When he meets Yuji Itadori he sees yet another opportunity. This vessel for the cursed spirit Sukuna is a sweet boy, who dotes on his ailing grandfather, stands up for the little guy and doesn’t want to hurt anyone. Within a few short months, Itadori is faced with absolute horrors, twisted abominations and his own death and resurrection. To top it all off, he has to kill people. By the end, the young man is changed. He puts on a brave face, but every now and then the facade drops.
After watching all these events in order, I found myself with a sense of dread. Even the openings and endings of the series reflect the mood. Each first part opening seems to be full of joy and excitement. They showcase the characters having fun, even though there is a sprinkling of danger. However, heading into this latest season, there is something different. There is an edge. As an anime fan, I can only imagine the number of manga fans screaming at the monitor right now, exclaiming, “You know nothing Graham Day!”
All I know is, the players are ready, the pieces are set and not everyone is getting out of this alive.