Shounen anime is like comfort food. When it comes to anime, you never know what to expect. But when you watch a shounen battle anime, you know what to expect. The ingredients may vary, and they may not always work, but the recipe is the same at its core.
Jujutsu Kaisen is the ultimate comfort food. It picks all the best ingredients of shounen and blends them together perfectly. Nothing about it is especially complex. But the execution is absolutely flawless, gorgeous, and delicious!
Okay, I’m done with the food metaphor now.
Our story stars Itadori Yuuji, your typical superhuman shounen good boy. After discovering a cursed finger belonging to an ancient cursed being and the death of his grandfather, he meets Fushiguro Megumi and gets attacked by a monster! In order to protect his friends, he swallows the finger and merges with the being within: Sukuna, the King of Curses. Now, he must go to Jujutsu High to learn sorcery and help save people from curses!
The premise is simple and the story just the same. Heroes are heroes and villains are villains. Nothing new, nothing complex.
But god damn is it fun!
The characters are so well-executed that it’s easy to forgive how straight-forward and cliché they are. They more than make up for it in their hilarious group dynamic. Yuuji and Nobara share a single brain cell between them, much to the chagrin of poor Fushiguro. Gojo manages to piss off every single person around him (except Yuuji, who is basically his son) because he’s too strong for anyone to put him in his place. You could put any combination of characters into a room and just let them play off of each other and that would be enough to carry a story. The slice-of-life comedy stuff in this show is *chef’s kiss* perfection!
Also, I love the fact that there is absolutely no female fanservice in the entire season. The girls are allowed to be badass and remain fully clothed the entire time! How many shounen series can you name that has done that?
Meanwhile, Gojo Satoru becomes more fuckable by the episode.
Not to say that the shounen battle story stuff is bad. The antagonists are incredibly creepy and threatening (especially Mahito) and they push our hero’s buttons absolutely perfectly (Sukuna is an absolute joy to watch every single time he shows up). Each arc is pretty unique and exciting, featuring some fun action scenes (oh fucking boy, we’ll get to those beauties in a bit) and some great character moments. Fuck, dude, one of these arcs is an absolute fucking heart breaker that I’ll definitely need to talk to a therapist about.
It’s not flawless, though. The power system in this show, Cursed Energy/Techniques, really doesn’t do much new or interesting. Sure, Domain Expansion is absolutely awesome and some of the powers are definitely cool! Gojo’s Infinity is badass and Nobara’s voodoo style techniques are great. But Cursed Energy itself isn’t nearly as interesting as something like Nen from Hunter X Hunter or Devil Fruits from One Piece.
This problem especially hurts poor Yuuji. Everyone else has these fun and badass powers that help them stand out. Meanwhile, Yuuji is out there like “I PUNCH STUFF REAL GOOD!!” They even made a joke about how he wanted to do other shounen techniques.
Okay, let’s talk about the real draw here: the animation.
For those of you who bullied MAPPA because they didn’t like CGI titans in Attack on Titan’s final season: shut up. This studio is absolutely incredibly talented. Considering the short time they had to work on that, it turned out absolutely beautifully! If they had the proper time to make it, it would’ve been one of the most beautiful seasons of any anime ever made!
Just look at literally any scene in Jujutsu Kaisen! Every single fight scene in this show is an almost non-stop display of sakuga! Remember episode 19 of Demon Slayer? Take that, but it’s in practically every single episode! The fights are so god damn gorgeous!
Even the attention to detail is insane! The smallest, most forgettable little bits of a shot that people don’t care about get love and attention! For example: when Yuuji and Todo are fighting Hanami, the two lose their footing and fall through the air. While they’re plummeting, Todo’s hair flutters in the wind. In a normal show, that would get two, maybe three frames of animation that are repeated for the shot. Here? There are no repeated frames in that shot. That’s six straight seconds of completely animated hair.
And the music! My god, this is a veritable buffet of amazing! From rap to techno to classic orchestral pieces, the sheer variety of tracks in this show are amazing! Every single one of them is an absolute jam that sets the scene perfectly! Top that off with two of the strongest OPs and EDs of the year and you’ve got an OST that’s hard to beat!
Though if you think the second ED is better than the first, you’re wrong.
Jujutsu Kaisen is definitely a new contender for the crown of the shounen genre. It doesn’t do much new and not everything is super interesting. But it is so well executed and so much fun to watch that it’s easy to forgive. If you haven’t checked out Jujutsu Kaisen, then you’re missing out. This show could be the next big thing.
Man, we’ve got a lot of big shounen these days, huh?