The anime television series, Jujutsu Kaisen, made its debut in October 2020. Based on the manga series of the same name created by Gege Akutami, Jujutsu Kaisen is a journey into the weird and supernatural as young teen Yuji Itadori is embroiled in a conflict between Jujutsu Sorcerers and Curses, monstrous spiritual beings who seek to bring harm to humanity.
Since its debut, the anime TV series has become a breakout success. The first season is currently in the books, with anime studio MAPPA currently hard at work on Season 2, and a prequel movie is due out in theaters later this month. Now, we’re going to take a look at the first season of the anime TV series for Jujutsu Kaisen in today’s review.
Jujutsu Kaisen Anime Review Table of Contents:
- The Villains Are More Than What They Appear
- The Verdict
Jujutsu Kaisen Anime Review – The Story
In Jujutsu Kaisen, young teen high schooler Yuji Itadori is unwittingly dragged into the centuries-old conflict between humans and curses. All humans unwittingly give out Cursed Energy, which is fueled by negative emotions. Somehow, these negative emotions give birth to sentient, self-aware beings called Cursed Spirits.
Since Cursed Spirits are fueled by negative emotions, they often prey on humanity. Jujutsu Sorcerers are humans organized and trained to defend and ward off Cursed Spirits and exorcise them.
Itadori foolishly eats a cursed object that once belonged to the worst of the worst of Cursed Spirits, Sukuna. As a result, Itadori becomes the host to Sukuna’s consciousness, who is fighting for dominance over Itadori’s body. Due to Itadori’s strong resilience to Sukuna’s spirit and aptitude for wielding Cursed Energy, he’s scouted and recruited by Satoru Gojo; a top-level, special grade Jujutsu Sorcerer as well as a teacher at Jujutsu High. Itadori now has to work with Gojo and the other Jujutsu High students to recover Sukuna’s other missing cursed objects (that are in the form of 20, severed rotting fingers) and defend humans from powerful, sinister Cursed Spirits.
There are certainly familiar elements to Jujutsu Kaisen. The premise of teens fighting spiritual monsters feels a bit like Bleach, or even YuYu Hakusho if you want to go back even further. There has likely been plenty of other manga and anime over the years featuring teens or battles against demonic, spiritual entities.
What Jujutsu Kaisen does well is repackaging the familiar elements in a new and exciting way. The contemporary setting also feels more realistic and organic. Despite the goofy humorous elements, there’s something about Jujutsu Kaisen that plays as it could happen in the real world.
One reason the setting, premise, and characters for Jujutsu Kaisen have this very organic style is the strong sense of worldbuilding. Creator Gege Akutami gives a lot of thought to how Cursed Spirits work, how humans can wield Cursed Energy and/or Cursed Objects, and the hierarchy of Jujutsu Sorcerers.
The world of Jujutsu Kaisen looks and feels real. Gege Akutami has built such an authentic world with its history from the ground up, and due to its contemporary, real-life modern setting, it looks like one you could enter and touch.
Jujutsu Kaisen Characters
The bread and butter of Jujutsu Kaisen are truly its characters. Throughout its first season, the anime nicely builds a core cast of characters. The main trio so to speak is Yuji Itadori, Megumi Fushigori, and Nobara Kugisaki. They are the Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura of this series. Tack on Satoru Gojo, who is basically like their Kakashi. For a more current comparison, think Tanjiro, Inosuke, Zenitsu, and Nezuko from Demon Slayer.
Many anime and manga can have great elements of worldbuilding, but they will live and die by their characters, and Jujutsu Kaisen has built a fine core cast, along with a great ensemble of memorable supporting characters.
What’s great about these characters is that they are multi-faceted. They are more than what they appear. Each character may have a humorous side, but they have contemplative sides as well.
As the show progresses, it’s also a joy to see the characters play off of one another. Despite Nobara being this rural side country bumpkin, she’s a beast in battle. However, when she’s paired with Yuji and they play off of straight-man Megumi, it’s like the ultimate comedic trio.
The characters are so well written that when the show constantly switches from comedy to life-and-death stakes or even pure horror, it’s very believable. When a genre mashup story such as this will switch styles, sometimes there can be a bit of tonal whiplash, but thanks to the excellent, fully realized characters in this show it works.
The Villains Are More Than What They Appear
The Cursed Spirits are another interesting aspect of Jujutsu Kaisen. As the show’s villains and primary antagonists, they are equally interesting as the heroes. While most of the villains in the series aren’t human, they are given human emotions and foibles. They are just as multi-faceted as many of the heroes are.
What’s interesting about the Cursed Spirits, is that they have this odd sense of humanity since they were borne out of negative human emotions. And what is more human than your emotions?
Also, while the Cursed Spirits do prey on humans, they do show the capacity for empathy toward each other and ideals. Hanami cares about his comrades and will go out of his way to help them. To Hanami, humans are the true Cursed Spirits and the Cursed Spirits are the true humans, and Hanami sees the humans as a plague on the environment.
Even Yuji Itadori, while he wants to help and protects others, feels the pain and regret emanating from Cursed Spirits. He feels anguish for them as well.
There are many interesting shades to the villains and antagonists in Jujutsu Kaisen.
Reviewing the Animation Quality of Jujutsu Kaisen
MAPPA Studio hit it out of the park with the first season of Jujutsu Kaisen. The animation quality looks fantastic. Sometimes with an episodic anime television series, you can see where the corners or cut, or some shows had less to work with than others. The staff for this series truly brought their A-game.
Besides the animation team nailing the show’s humorous side, it also really nails the action. When the action ramps up, it gets visceral and tension-fraught. There’s this great sense of kinetic movement in the action as well that few art forms can capture as well as anime does.
The animation captures the overall look and style of Akutami’s manga series very well, but it also has a very interesting color palette and tone. The animation team makes the world look believable but also very moody and odd and weird for the supernatural elements; if that makes any sense.
The other great thing bout the animation for this series is that it looks very consistent in terms of quality throughout the first season.
Jujutsu Kaisen Soundtrack
The original soundtrack for Jujutsu Kaisen is composed by Hiroaki Tsutsumi. It’s a good soundtrack that sounds very modern, and a bit unconventional and offbeat at times. I’ll stop short of saying it’s an avant-garde soundtrack, but it seems to mix a lot of techno beats, funk, hip-hop, rock, and orchestral instruments. An interesting mix of styles. It’s not my favorite anime soundtrack, but it’s solid and gets the job done.
Jujutsu Kaisen Review – The Verdict: 9.0/10
Thus far, Jujutsu Kaisen is up to a strong start after an exceptional first season. The anime has quickly drawn a lot of attention and popularity with its first movie due out for release this year and a new season scheduled for next year.
Despite some familiar, derivative elements, Jujutsu Kaisen sets itself apart with a great cast of characters, compelling action, and some very interesting villains.
The good news is that fans will not have to wait long for more Jujutsu Kaisen. The new prequel anime film, Jujutsu Kaisen 0, arrives in theaters on March 18, in both English subtitled and dubbed versions.
Season 2 of the anime series is currently in the works by MAPPA Studio, and it’s due to arrive in 2023.
Where to Watch Jujutsu Kaisen
If you’re looking to get started on Jujutsu Kaisen, the first season of the anime is available for free with English subtitles and English dubbing on Crunchyroll. Also, you won’t need a premium subscription to check out the first season for free on the service.
Season 1 is also currently available streaming subbed and dubbed on HBO Max and Funimation, which will require premium subscriptions to watch the show.
Also, VIZ.com has the latest and earliest chapters of the original manga series by creator Gege Akutami available to read right now.
If you want to read more on Jujutsu Kaisen from Japan Bound, check out Jujutsu Kaisen Anime – Everything You Need to Know!
What did you think of Jujutsu Kaisen? Are you excited about the new prequel movie, Jujutsu Kaisen 0? Are there other supernatural or exorcism-themed anime or manga you enjoy? Let us know what you think in the comments below!