After 24 episodes interrupted only by a short hiatus at the end of last year, the broadcast of the animated adaptation of Jujutsu Kaisen, based on one of the latest hits from the Weekly Shonen Jump manga stable. A product that has had a stellar reception from the public, able to enter the trend on all the main social networks immediately after each episode and to give an incredible boost to the sales of the original work.
According to the latest data, in fact, in the month of March 2020 the Jujutsu Kaisen manga reached 40 million copies in circulation, with the goal of 50 absolutely feasible by the summer. In demonstration of how a good fit can make a difference, just like happened with Demon Slayer.
But how does the transposition of the manga of Gege Akutami by the busy but reliable studio MAPPA? Let’s find out together in the final review of the first season of Jujutsu Kaisen, which you can find streaming on the platform Crunchyroll subtitled in Italian.
Team Tokyo vs Team Kyoto
At the end of the first part of the season we were left with an event with a great emotional impact (which obviously we will not reveal to you) and with one Yuji Itadori, the protagonist, more determined and combative than ever and ready to return to the team after a forced removal. In the second half, however, instead of continuing on the same path as the previous episodes, the series begins with a narrative arc centered on a gimmick that fans of battle shonen will surely find familiar: the tournament. Or, to be more precise, a clash between rival schools. On the occasion of an exchange meeting, the team of young Tokyo sorcerers including Yuji, Megumi and Nobara, led by the apparently irresponsible Satoru Gojo, will have to face the students of the Kyoto institute, including (among others) Mai, the charming and dangerous twin sister of Maki Zenin. But soon the tranquility of this event will be disturbed by some unwanted guests.
Narratively speaking, the second half of the animated adaptation of Jujutsu Kaisen it is without a doubt lower than the first. Much of the premises opened with the latter and the characterization of the fascinating background of the work find in fact little space in the episodes ranging from 14 to 24, with the main plot – if we can call that concerning the machinations of the villain Mahito and his collaborators – who advances in small steps without stirring up the viewer’s interest too much.
Problem that is reflected in one concluding part which, net of its visual spectacularity (as we will have the opportunity to talk to you shortly) has absolutely no flavor of a season finale, and which refers everything to a sequel not yet announced, but very likely.
However, this is not too serious a deficiency that affects the overall quality of the product. The strengths of Jujutsu Kaisen they are quite different and the story, while full of excellent ideas, is still in its introductory phases. The anime adapts the content of the first 63 chapters of the manga, and we are sure that what we have seen in these 24 episodes is only a (tasty) taste of everything to come.
A different but not too much shonen
The aspects in which the series turns out to be really brilliant, already highlighted in our Jujutsu Kaisen midseason, are basically two: the characters and the fights. In other words, the solid foundations of any Jump school battle shonen, and beyond. If Akutami’s work has managed to attract the attention of the audience of fans since the first episodes, it is undoubtedly thanks to his amazing cast. A set of figures which, taken separately, does not present who knows what depth (at least so far), but which turns out to be well characterized and capable of impressing itself in the mind of the viewer from the very first moments. During the second course we deepen the knowledge of the other members of team of young Tokyo wizards, where the legendary Panda-senpai and the very tough Maki Zenin stand out (protagonist of one of the sequences with the highest adrenaline rate of the season), and we are introduced to the one from Kyoto, just as full of weird and eccentric characters as if to represent a sort of dual.
Impossible not to decree the imposing as the absolute winner, in this variegated ensemble Aoi Todo, a thug with an irascible character but with a noble and tender soul who will establish with the protagonist an unexpected bond of friendship with truly hilarious implications.
An undoubted advantage of Jujutsu Kaisen, in this context, is to present to the viewer numerous strong, tenacious and independent female characters. Unlike what many have said on the net, this is certainly not the first battle shonen to do this, however it is undeniable that the girls born from Akutami’s pen have definitely a gear higher than the average of the titles in this category, and we can only hope that more and more mangaka will follow his example.
In particular, worthy of praise is once again the characterization of Nobara Kugisaki, a character who completely overturns the stereotype of the group’s female shoulder (someone said Sakura of Naruto?) thanks to his character outspoken, self-centered and irascible, and that for this reason proves to be one of the most successful of the series, if not the most successful of all.
Paradoxically, but not too much since the same thing has already happened in similar works like Tower of God, is exactly il protagonista Yuji Itadori to be the least incisive, due to the absence of new character developments and adherence to the canons of the genre that prevent him from achieving the same charisma as his companions.
Furthermore, the fact that in this second tranche of episodes the interesting figure of Ryomen Sukuna has been a bit put aside. Here, too, we are not faced with anything irreparable, but it is reasonable to expect something more in the subsequent animated iterations of the franchise.
Yet another MAPPA center
It is impossible to talk about the second trump card of Jujutsu Kaisen, the fighting, without referring to the technical sector. And here, once again, MAP denies all the skeptics proving to be able to guarantee a high visual quality even with an above average workload (we remind you that the studio also took care of the Final Season de The attack of the Giants).
If in the first part Jujutsu Kaisen it was characterized by a constant graphic sector, but without really high peaks, the rest is characterized by some ups and downs. The latter, fortunately, are few and limited, while the former manage to reach remarkable peaks, which confirm this series as one of the best animated products of the last period.
Animations supervised by Tadashi Hiramatsu (FLCL, Yuri!!! On Ice, Maquia), an industry veteran character designer, and directed by Seong-Hu Park (The God of High School) perfectly transpose the movement and adrenaline of the battles of the manga, reinforced by excellent quality drawings and a color palette that accentuates the tono dark and darker (than average) of the work. In particular, as already pointed out in our previous articles about it, the visual rendering of curses and the various techniques used by the characters is nothing short of superlative.
The fights of Jujutsu Kaisen, in addition to the more technical merits, they also benefit from a perfect balance between immediacy and strategy, with the explanations on the nature and on the various strengths and weaknesses of each skill, typical of many similar series, reduced to the minimum necessary to favor the rhythm of the narrative.
A choice that will inevitably leave unhappy battle shonen fans who prefer great attention to this type of detail, but which in the long term proves to be a winner, thanks also to the absence of deus ex machina or unsolicited forcing (except perhaps the intervention of a particularly OP character in a certain sequence) and which proves that Gege Akutami knows how to do his homework well.
Finally, in terms of sound Jujutsu Kaisen is characterized by a powerful musical accompaniment and in line with the atmosphere of the title, with rock and similar melodies capable of exalting the viewer at the right moments. A separate discussion should be reserved for the couple opening-ending.
It was really difficult to think of being able to repeat the success of that of the first part, one of the best ever in recent years, yet even in this round the MAPPA staff manages to a little miracle replicating the same magic. In particular, the opening theme VIVID VICE by Who-ya Extended is yet another spectacular visual masterpiece of the animator Shingo Yamashita, while the closing one (Give it Back, by Co shu Nie) manages to warm even the coldest of hearts.