At one point in “Shibuya Incident,” Mei Mei tells Yuji: “I thought you would have to struggle more.” Honestly, that’s a fair point. I clearly understand that Jujutsu Kaisen is intentionally making a point by pairing our main hero with a low-level demon spirit that is doomed from the moment he and Yuji meet—we want ensure that the audience remembers why the core trio is in place. after all, it’s because of their major promotions — but the resulting combination makes for a somewhat light-hearted start to this most hyped of storylines.
On the other hand, I’m not such a snob as to sit here and tell you that watching Yuji karate chop off the head of a ridiculous grasshopper monster with such difficulty isn’t super fun that it is The giant bug immediately exploded. If nothing else, it’s a memorable conclusion to an otherwise ordinary war. I suppose Ko-guy, Locust Guy is an interesting enough enemy for a Monster of the Week type, but his takedown of Yuji ultimately just devolves into an incoherent montage of dirty punches and blurry dodges; there is little power to any of it. I will give the episode credit for the cock explosion, though.
For the rest of the episode, we mostly have to deal with the exposition that Jujutsu Kaisen always tends to throw at us when a big, drawn-out battle is coming to a close. Some are fine; I appreciated Mei Mei’s summary of the subway system scenario, as it provides some much-needed spatial context for all the magical nonsense going on. Other times, though, it feels like the show doesn’t know what to do with even a second of silence or transition time. Things like nature documentaries explaining grasshopper behavior and physiology might seem intended as a joke, but they’re not funny enough to justify killing the pace of a fight. How much is still going on?
The same thing happened when Gojo arrived on the scene which got him into trouble with Jogo and Hanami. I can at least appreciate how the show tries to contrast the tense fight with the peaceful flashback to Geto’s pre-fight briefing and the very nice soap bubble visuals, but I still can’t say too how my eyes start to glaze over whenever someone starts lecturing about the mechanics of magic and the Domains and the powers of individual sorcerers and all that. I know, this is hardly a new problem for anyone who’s ever sneaked a chapter of a Shonen Jump manga, and I found myself suitably spoiled by Chainsaw Man’s commitment to avoiding far from any scale of power. pointless and devotes all of his time and energy to raw visceral bloodletting. I have no reason to doubt that JJK will improve in this regard. However, one can dream, right?
Still, this isn’t a terrible half hour of television, and I’d be willing to watch some less-than-stellar set-pieces if the payoff for this Shibuya Arc is as compelling as all the others. Manga fans said it would happen. I’ll also try to grade on a curve when it comes to all of the presentation, although ultimately I have to draw a line in the sand. I know that the incredibly complex and ever-evolving magic rules and power ladder of stories like this are a big part of the appeal to many fans, and I can tell myself I join when everything is done well. All I want is for JJK to do better.
Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 is now streaming on Crunchyroll.
James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other popular cultures, which you can also find on Twitterhis blog and podcast.