by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Jujutsu Kaisen ?
It might seem odd to complain that an episode like “Idle Transfiguration” makes it feel like Jujutsu Kaisen is spinning its wheels a bit when there's plenty of goofy humor and spectacle on display, since that's the main attraction of series in the first place. It would be like complaining that a John Wick movie is giving us even more scenes of Keanu Reeves kicking ass and being nice to dogs. You get what you pay for, right? Still, while there's cool material on display here, it all comes with the baggage of Jujutsu Kaisen trying to stretch maybe five minutes of story into a full half-hour.
Here's the shakedown: First, we get a very redundant flashback to another session of Junpei Yashiro vs. the Comically Over-the-Top Sociopath Bullies, in case you didn't pick up on his very sublte character development from the last episode. Then, we pick up with present-day Junpei, who's currently kicking it with Mahito in the Cursed Spirit's murder-dungeon. This is where he explains how his particular power allows him to make physical contact with a being's soul simply by touching them, which is how he twists and perverts the bodies of his victims, of which we discover there are many – the guy has a whole collection of shrunken heads that he carries around in-case he needs a monster on demand. It's a solid bit of info-dumping, but then the rest of the episode is split between two different tracks: One sees Yuuji and Ijichi trying to enact a remarkably reckless plan in order to determine whether Junpei is a sorcerer of some kind, and the other sees Mahito getting into a fight with the Salaryman Sorcerer himself, Nanami. There's nothing wrong with these stories in-and-of-themselves, though I do take issue with the fact that they fill up over half of the episode's runtime without going much of anywhere at all.
The fight between Mahito and Nanami obviously has the advantage of being a badass action scene; another remarkably well-directed sequence of animation made all the more impressive when you realize that Jujutsu Kaisen has gone ten straight weeks in a row without missing a beat in its production values. Mahito's lackadaisical approach to his monstrous experiments is the fun kind of cliché characterization, and he registers as a legitimate threat simply because of how the slightest physical contact with him would be enough to get one's insides and outsides mashed up like Play-Doh. It's good stuff.
The Yuuji side-plot is less interesting, mostly because it barely gets started before the end-credits arrive. Ijichi's plan is to let a small Curse loose near Junpei when he is alone, and they will determine whether he was behind the movie theater murders based on his reaction to it. Things go south when they realize that Junpei isn't alone when they let the little bugger out, as he is confronting the irritatingly useless teacher that stood by when Junpei was getting bullied. Not that scene from this week's episode – that was more or less pointless; I mean the first time, from Episode 9, with the kids who got turned into Moon Sand Monsters by Mahito.
Long story short, Yuuji needs to get Junpei all by his lonesome, so he snags the teachers pants and does a dead-sprint around the block with them for good measure. Then, Yuuji and Junpei just kind of walk off to talk some more. That's about it.
If you're all about the silly jokes and kickass animation, then “Idle Transfiguration” probably has just enough of a plot and lore drip feed to keep you invested. I wouldn't call this a bad episode by any stretch, but I for one am becoming increasingly impatient for Yuuji to reunite with his friends and get this School Exchange Tournament thing started already. We haven't even gotten a scene of Yuuji and Panda being Perfect Idiot Bros together yet, and that's a crime that demands retribution.
Odds and Ends
• Speaking of Panda, this week's Juju Stroll sketch is the only glimpse we get of the other Jujutsu Tech students, and it's as gloriously stupid as always. Nobara can't find her school uniform, and its because Panda stole her top, and she thinks that Toge stole her skirt…except it was really Goujou! Don't ask me why, y'all; I'm just the reporter.
• Nanami is swiftly climbing up the ranks to compete for Gojou's title of Best Senpai Ever with his constant complaining of being forced into unpaid overtime. As a teacher in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, I can't express how much I relate.
• Speaking of being a teacher, Junpei's anti-educator screed was a biting moment, decrying us as people who graduate from school only to immediately return, forcing us into lives as overgrown children that never experience the “real world.” I will have to respectfully disagree! …As I sit here at my desk, surrounded by video games and action figures, writing thousands of words about cartoons based on comics aimed primarily at teens, wondering when I will be able to free up some time to binge some Assassin's Creed on my PlayStation 5 or play some Apex Legends with my bros from high school.
Jujutsu Kaisen is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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