Jujutsu Kaisen

Two years after the season one finale, and its excellent prequel film, Jujutsu Kaisen is finally back to bring you more exciting battles between curses and sorcerers. This immensely popular shonen, based on the top-selling manga by Gege Akutami, is set in a world where negative emotions can manifest as Curses – a race of demonic entities bent on harming humanity.

Jujutsu Sorcerers are able to manipulate the Cursed Energy in their bodies, using them to perform magical or supernatural feats called Cursed Techniques. The story primarily follows high school student Yuji Itadori, who has been possessed by a powerful Curse named Ryomen Sukuna. In an effort to defeat Sukuna, he is recruited as a pupil in a secret organisation of Sorcerers.

Jujutsu Kaisen
Credit: TOHO Animation

Interestingly, main protagonist Yuji takes a back seat in the show’s return, with season two’s first arc, flashing back to 2006, set even before the events of Jujutsu Kaisen 0. The premiere begins with the younger versions of Utahime Iori and Mei Mei on a mission to exorcise a haunted mansion. When the pair go missing for a couple of days, trapped within a time-space loop, fan-favourite Satoru Gojo and future villain Suguru Geto are sent to rescue them. At this point, the eventual enemies are still best friends and second-year students at Jujutsu High. This insight into the pair’s intertwined backstories forms the crux of the “Hidden Inventory” arc, which explores Gojo and Geto’s fraught relationship.

The two immensely powerful Sorcerers are then assigned to a special operation – they must escort a girl named Riko Amanai, the Star Plasma Vessel, safely to Master Tengen. Why is this important? As Masamichi Yaga explains, Tengen’s Cursed Technique grants him immortality. But if the Cursed Energy within him isn’t merged into a new body (the Star Plasma Vessel) every 500 years, Tengen will evolve into a conscienceless higher being. Tengen losing his humanity will spell disaster for the Jujutsu world, but two factions are keen to see that happen. Firstly, a group of Curse users called Q seek to kill Riko and disrupt the ritual. Secondly, a religious cult that worships Tengen, dubbed the Time-Vessel Association, wants to prevent the transfer in order to preserve Tengen’s purity.

Jujutsu Kaisen
Credit: TOHO Animation

This high-stakes assignment for Gojo and Geto isn’t simply to see how these two gifted teens grow into godlike Sorcerers – it’s a crucial look at both characters’ shared history and duelling ideologies that will greatly inform their impending showdown. A revealing conversation between them already upends our understanding of their dynamic in this first episode. Gojo, the prodigious protector we’ve come to know and love, has a rather callous view of the world. His learning is the same as teaching – arrogant, reckless and unsympathetic. It’s perfectly in line with his older self’s personality, but it’s still startling to hear our hero articulate how much he values strength above all else. In contrast, Geto argues that Sorcerers should protect humans, regardless of how weak they are, and that nobody should become all-powerful.

Clearly the kind and idealistic Geto doesn’t start out as a bad guy. In fact, it’s Gojo who comes off as a rude blowhard here. So it will be fascinating to see how Geto becomes disillusioned and corrupted over time. While some may be impatient for Yuji’s story to continue, this exploration of Gojo and Geto’s past is already proving to be absolutely engrossing as a twin character study. Of course, Jujutsu Kaisen is greatly aided by the phenomenal animation on display here by MAPPA (Attack on Titan, Vinland Saga, Chainsaw Man), a studio that has repeatedly proven its ability to craft dazzling action sequences, gorgeous imagery and grotesque monsters. Overall, this is a spellbinding start to what promises to be a sorcerous sophomore season.

The post ‘Jujutsu Kaisen’ season 2 premiere review: a spellbinding, sorcerous return appeared first on NME.


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