First Look: Jujutsu Kaisen

Manga Adaptation by Mappa
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Itadori Yuji is just a regular high school guy trying to live his ordinary high school life who also happens to have supernatural physical ability. When his friends get attacked by demons known as Curses, he takes a gamble on harnessing demonic power. I assume he will go on adventures and fight more Curses.

Gee’s verdict: Potential

The biggest problem with Jujutsu Kaisen is that I can tell there might be something interesting here, but the first episode takes way too long before trying to convince me of that. Let’s get the good out of the way first. This show has a pretty stunning art direction in some places. The OP is visually eyecatching in a way that goes beyond what you’d expect of a Weekly Shounen Jump anime adaptation. There’s your usual visual flair but also something a little more sinister about it lurking underneath the surface. I’d go as far as say the OP so far does a far better job of selling me on Jujutsu Kaisen than the first episode did. I’ve read enough shounen manga to know many of them are slow burns and thing won’t get more interesting until they roll out more of the worldbuilding and characters. The question of course is whether Jujutsu Kaisen will be worth that investment or not. I feel some sense of obligation toward it on account of it being the second work this year directed by Mappa wunderkind, SeongHo Park, so that’ll earn at least a few episodes from me.

Otherwise though, everything about Jujutsu Kaisen feels like the half dozen other post-Bleach supernatural urban fantasy battle manga we’ve seen before. I’ve heard from fans of the manga that it takes a little bit for the story to find its stride so here’s hoping the anime can maybe accelerate that process.

Iro’s verdict: This Sure is Weekly Jump

A disaffected-but-ultimately-kind youth with high physical aptitude gets roped into fighting supernatural creatures. Am I talking about Bleach? Yu Yu Hakusho? Shaman King? Dragon Ball? Okay, maybe not that last one, but the point is that this premiere isn’t treading any new ground. Not that it necessarily needs to, but I might have just skipped this outright if not for some of the anime staff. SeongHo (Sunghoo?) Park’s output with the Garo franchise has made him a Glorio dark horse, and the promise of that type of quality attached to a comic more conventional (and tolerable) than God of High School is something I’m willing to give a shot. Friends have spoken highly of the manga, so hopefully this can serve as something reliable to carry us through the season.

Artemis’ verdict: Meh

I found myself underwhelmed and mostly bored by this first episode. While no grave sins were committed in terms of storytelling, the biggest problem here seems to be that the story itself just isn’t all that interesting. It also struck me as incohesive, like the show didn’t know whether it wanted to be a comedy, a supernatural horror, or a fantasy martial arts-inspired action piece. Unable to decide, it apparently decided to go for all three in the space of twenty minutes, shifting gears so frequently that none of those genres had enough breathing room to stick. Personally, I wish the show had leaned more into the comedy angle, because I couldn’t really take it seriously enough as any kind of drama or horror, and Iā€™m not enough of an action fan to appreciate the battle scenes the way they probably deserve, even with the undeniably slick visuals. I also could have done without said high-quality visuals being used to lovingly animate Side-Character-chan’s jiggling breasts in the middle of what would have been an otherwise delightfully creepy monster scene, but I guess it’s impossible to do one of those these days without the fondling. Oh well, by that point of the episode, I was probably out anyway.

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