Thoughts up to Chapter 136:
Jujutsu Kaisen is a supernatural horror shounen that originally came out in March 2018 in Weekly Shounen Jump. It had gore and the type of elements you'd find in a dark fantasy shounen. And for a while I felt happy reading it, maybe cause of the hype and the overall action that would keep me going. It might have to do with me becoming more aware(that and the anime adaption), but at some point I became unhappy with the series.
Story- The story begins when Yuji eats a cursed item that leads to him being posessed by Sakuna, a malevolent spirit. From there the overall goal is to collect all of Sakuna's fingers so they can properly dispose of him once and for all. I mean, "collect the items" type of story has always been a thing since Dragon Ball. What defines that type of story is how fun it is.
Along the way, we do see the characters run into other antagonists such as Geto/Kamo and Mahito, along with their own goals. Whether it be creating a world for cursed beings, or one for Jujutsu Sorcerers. But I feel like its hard to sympathize with the villains, though I'll get to that in a second.
Art- The art does come off as rough in the beginning, but since the manga has horror elements, it helps to hammer in those moments of shock and brutality. Its one of those parts of the manga that its strongest at.
Characters- The main cast is made up three characters, being Yuji, Nobara and Megumi.
I think the author intended for Yuji to be a good hearted character(he chooses to become a Jujutsu Sorcerer with the time he has left to do one last good deed before his eventual death), but I think that's part of the problem. In the world of Jujutsu Kaisen, kindness is nice to a point where it can be a hindrance to a character. The dude almost gets himself killed a few times, simply because he's willing to sacrifice himself for people he may/may not know. I know that this is a trait for most shounen protagonists, but I don't want that to be the only defining trait for Yuji.
Megumi reminds me a lot of Sasuke from Naruto, and I don't mean that lightly. He comes from a family line of Jujutsu sorcerers, he has black hair, sort of comes of as an anti-hero with how he views the world, good people deserve saving while evil people do not. He's even introverted with how he acts around his team-mates. You can say that Gege Akutami has been influenced by other shounen series like Yu Yu Hakusho, Naruto and Bleach. But when you are constantly making characters similiar to other ones, it makes it all that harder to like that character.
Nobara I feel is the best out of the three protagonists. I mean yeah, she can be a bit over-confident, but I do appreciate that she is true to herself. I'm convinced that the author created her as an anti-thesis to Sakura from Naruto. One thing's for sure, Nobara certainly won't take shit from other characters compared to Sakura. And as much as I like Nobara, I don't think she's enough to make up for the other protagonists and the ways they fell short.
That and the fact that Gojo is way too similar to Kakashi from Naruto.
One of the first major antagonists of the series is Mahito, a curse-being created from humans. The character is pretty much insane, but he is smart enough to be rational. He's the definition of superficial, so there's not much to expect from him other than the fact that he's out for himself. And I think that's the problem, he's not an actual human you can relate to.
I like insane characters, but I want to understand and relate to them in a way that feels human. Its one of the reasons why I like Valter from Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones. Yes, he's an asshole, but he has a backstory and a motive to create fear and chaos, and he comes off as a fun character, which was the point.
Geto/Kamo I feel is meant to be Jujutsu Kaisen's version of Orochimaru from Naruto. He wants to create his own world of Jujutsu sorcerers and believes humanity cannot survive without Jujutsu arts. He's the type of character where the ends justify the means, and while I do like those kinds of villains, I don't find anything about him that feels relatable, or fun.
Overall- Jujutsu Kaisen I feel is a series that is meant to be enjoyed by anime/manga fans that are really new to the medium. They are the type of audience that won't make as many comparisons to older series, since its quite clear that Jujutsu Kaisen was influenced by older shounen series. I don't think its a problem for an anime/manga to draw influence from other series, older works are meant to inspire new authors.
But I feel like the series borrows too much for its own good, and I've become aware of that. It makes all these references to Digimon and Uzumaki, and its become rather exhausting. I'm being reminded of series I'd rather rewatch/reread than to continue with JJK, simply because of how much it relies on action and supernatural elements. The Shibuya incident arc almost finally wrapped up, and yet the story with Yuji is nowhere near close to being finished.
The only reason JJK happened was cause of Demon Slayer's success, Shounen Jump saw the need to keep churning out more supernatural shounens, and quite honestly I've had enough. But at least I can say that I tried and in the end JJK just wasn't my thing.
Okay so... I do not fall under the standard demographic for shounen but regardless I've been reading shonen manga for a while now. I'm only up to chapter 80 or so and even though more than that has been published, I'm more than halfway through what's come out but I could no longer resist writing a review. I've enjoyed other shounen more tbh but this is the first time I've ever itched to write a review.
So... the art is fantastic though I really don't like body morph as a general rule which is the only reason I gave the art a 9. The expressions, body language and character traits come across quite thoroughly through the art. Character progression is slow and steady yet you constantly feel like there's another layer and something you are missing. Even a minor crush from middle school days that pretty much has nothing to do the plot connects with the reader because it's just so human. Storywise it follows a fairly standard shounen format. I'm not mad. What works works so long as you don't do it terribly. I do feel the rivalry is slightly forced between yuuji and megumi but perhaps it's just a translation issue. Idk.
Now onto the main reason I felt I absolutely needed to write this review. The themes. Them themes bro. Like I cannot express. It delves into those dreges of consciousness that none of us want to admit that we have contemplated(Megumi and Mai and Getou and even early Gojo). It also completely blows past such basic concepts as good and evil. It is established pretty much from the get go, through megumi, that this isn't the sort of story where the good guys are the type that want to save everyone and the bad guy are ones who kill. Yuugi is the standard shonen protagonist in that aspect but not to the point where it holds him back, he is capable of making the decision that goes against the broad notion of morals and acceptability when compared to what he actually wants to achieve. This isn't so much a story about morals but about the nature of humanity and how quickly it can change based on what you strive for and the things you have experienced. There is so much deeper you can go into the themes. I've fallen into an endless thought spiral and that doesn't generally happen with shonen. Like at all. The most I usually think is like 10 or 20 minutes. This manga has had me contemplating for at least two hours and I see no clear end.
I wanted to write this review in the middle of binging the series to make sure I gave it the proper amount of thought it is due while also telling others that there is so much more to this manga than the surface premise would lead you to believe. Please give it a shot.
Jujutsu Kaisen. At first read it seems pretty standard and nothing less of a stereotypical shonen with the usual plot devices and character tropes that come along with it. Now having stereotypes isn’t bad at all, it's how you execute and utilize these stereotypes/tropes to fit in with your story without it lacking luster. Gege Akutami takes advantage of these tropes and creates unique as well as interesting characters out of all them while simultaneously giving the audience the impending death of the main character. This is all a breath of fresh air to combat the clicheness that was evident in the first chapter. Akutami was able to single handedly pull off these stereotypes without losing individuality and depth to each character. As you continue to read the facade of Jujutsu Kaisen being stereotypical peels off revealing an eccentric, humorous, thrilling, and enthralling manga. Jujutsu Kaisen deserves all the hype it is given. While it isn't finished just yet, I do want to say the best aspects about the manga so far to get you interested. One thing I love about this manga is the art style, it seriously reminds me of Chainsaw man but with more detail. It's sketchy yet refined and when you get to the fight scenes that's when the art really shines. There are all sorts of unique powers and various uses of the power system that make the fights interesting. There is always a new power to be revealed or a new skill to be shown off when characters are going at it. Each fight had me glued to the page to see what happens next. The tension was always on the table beckoning me to turn that page. The fights were just that thrilling. Speaking about fights and cursed energy, this leads me to the clever worldbuilding and fantastic blend of realism and the supernatural. Jujutsu Kaisen takes place in the real world but reinforces the idea of the curses, negative and positive energy, sorcery, and the supernatural. While this aspect in itself isn't uncommon, Jujutsu Kaisen takes this supernatural and ghost trope up an action packed notch. This starts with the use of ingenious power systems. Most people have their own cursed energy to which they use, some have more than others and each person has a distinct skill that allows them to utilize the cursed energy. But some don't have any cursed energy so they use cursed tools or rely on their strength to exorcise a curse. Their ability to use cursed energy, see curses, and excorsise them all impacts the cast. I mean hell, just from this it had me hooked on how each person would use their power or how they had to train to use it or how they could match up against cursed spirits depending on their rank and skill. I was excited for a beat down of a curse or extremely nervous for a curse user that isn't experienced to fight something big. This all made it the more fun to read, plus it's super clever. I never would have thought about certain places carrying more cursed energy if it's a school or hospital since people give out more negative energy in those buildings. Like come on, that was really creative. While power systems and training isn't new to the Shonen genre, Jujutsu Kaisen is different in the sense that it blends something from an Insidious movie or the Conjuring to create it's power systems and evil villains. With that, I was automatically captivated. The oh so addicting blend of shonen and horror. Many other well known manga and anime use this popoular but unorthodox blend like Chainsaw Man, The Promised Neverland, and Hell's paradise. Each of them have something in common, and that is it's enchating orginality. While this applies to a lot of aspects to Jujutsu Kaisen I can't say it applies a lot to the characters. But, despite their obvious stereotypes they have a undeniable appeal that makes them unique and interesting. This is a part of their built up depth and charming personalities. Initially when I started Jujutsu Kaisen I thought the characters were going to be fairly shallow because the manga itself seemed like a light read. But I was pleasantly suprised as well as wrong. Upon reading more I saw the characters develop and their backgrounds being exposed to the audience. Many of the characters have gone through lots of traumatic events in the past due to their shaman background. I absolutely loved this aspect to them because it takes away that one dimensal steretotypical feel to them. Their backgrounds and pasts were obviously met with detail and specifcially curated with their development and depth in mind. Espcially when it comes to Itadori, Megumi, Gojo, Yuuta, Maki, and Geto, I would say these are the characters that show the most development out of everyone in the series. The others like Nobara, Todo, Toge, Nanami, and Mahito are static, but they are well rounded in the sense that they don't lack too much depth or fall flat in terms of dimension. This makes most of the main cast well written and always interesting because of their three dimensionality. When dealing with a variety of characters it's always wise to give them a set of conflicting morals or certain perspectives on life or deep themes that are engaging. And this is exactly what Akutami does. Throughout the manga you see it deals with all kinds of themes about questions of sense of self, morality, righteousness, guilt, egocentrism, selflessness, and sacrifices. These in particular were my favorites because they brought these thought provoking questions that intertwined with the coexistence of shamans, non shamans, and curses. These were all upon the basis of morality, instinct, familial ties, and duties which applied to most of the cast. It was so interesting to see how each character dealt with these topics or presented these themes. Especially when one of these themes absolutely changes a character or breaks them down. As you can tell from my listing of the themes you can preditct Jujutsu Kaisen isn't going to be super lighthearted forever. It takes a dark spin once you get further into the manga. The first couple volumes are very different compared to the later volumes in terms of themes and character development. It slowly evolves the more shonen-y happy first couple of volumes into more mature dark later volumes. So get ready for the tissues and tears. Overall Jujutsu Kaisen will definetely go on to be one of the most interesting and enjoyable new gen shonen. I predict the anime adaptation once its finished will be a big hit too. I can't wait for the final volumes created and then adapted. !Coming back now (2021) to edit my review to be a little bit more objective in reviewing, the manga has been adapted and the anime is so great. If you're here from the anime then read the current chapters of the manga, and if you're here just to read the manga. GO READ IT!
This is one of the few mangas I've ever binged from start to current chapter (~127 as of this writing).
There's something oddly addictive about this series. It could be the pacing of the story, or it could be the whimsical nature of the characters. Each character has unique qualities about them that make them deeply interesting. I find myself curious to learn more about even the side characters.
Nothing feels wasted in this manga. The conversations with curses always reveal some kind of deeper philosophical conflict and each fight scene is paced and fits perfectly with the story. There's just enough action and character development without either dragging on for forever.
The art is a bit different. It's not super crazy unique, but it's different enough from the typical moe/pretty style that it really lends itself well to the overall mood of the story. The only reason the art rating wasn't higher was that occasionally the perspectives and proportions were just slightly off. But it's not egregious or bad by any means.
I learned about Jujutsu Kaisen because of the anime (which by the way does the manga pretty good justice - it's a very good adaptation). I just had to jump into the manga and keep seeing what happened next. I don't regret it, and I don't think you will either.
I'm having difficulty finding any fault with the series. Great story, best I've read in quite some time. Amazing characters, even the villians are well written. Artwork isn't on Miura Kentaro's level but is still pretty great in its own right. I guess the only thing that's bothering me at the moment is [SPOILER]that Nanami and especially Nobara are my top favorite characters in the series and Nanami died, and Nobara is in a state of death and by the looks of things may not return.[/SPOILER] It is really disheartening. Otherwise, Jujutsu Kaisen is a great read and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.