by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 14 of
Jujutsu Kaisen ?
It may have taken Yuuji about seven episodes and one or two soul-crushingly tragic curse vendettas to reunite with his Jujutsu Tech crew, but just as the title of “Kyoto Sister School Exchange Event - Group Battle: 0 –“ would lead you to believe, we're finally getting going with the story arc that the show has been teasing for months. The big zero in the title is there to let you know that you shouldn't bust out the popcorn just yet, though, since before we get started with the Exchange Event proper, we've got to introduce (and reintroduce) all of the main players from both the Tokyo and Kyoto schools. If this sounds like a bunch of dry exposition, don't worry; it's actually supremely hilarious exposition, which is always the preferable of those two options.
Something that we definitely don't want to take for granted as Jujutsu Kaisen enters into its second cour is how goddamned funny it is almost all of the time. A lot of anime try to mix their super-serious fight man stories with silly comedy relief, but it can be very hit-or-miss depending on how much those shows end up devolving into characters yelling at each other a bunch while explaining the joke to the audience. To be fair, this is what Jujutsu Kaisen does a lot of the time too, but the execution is just so confident and fun, even a grump like me can't help but bust a gut when JJK really gets going. For instance, the show gets ahead of some reservations a lot of us have had about how clunky it might be to transition Yuuji back into the student body after pretending to be dead for two months. Instead of just playing this cliché straight, JJK leans into the fact that Yuuji, the manga-loving dweeb that he is, totally thinks that his life is going to play the cliché straight. He gets all hyped up about his Tearful Reunion Moment, and Gojou absolutely builds up the poor kid's dreams by stuffing him into a box and presenting him like the cabaret girl who jumps out of a cake. Whether Gojou actually thinks Yuuji is going to get his sappy reunion is unclear, though he does seem to hope that the prank will be enough to give the old Jujutsu Tech principal a heart attack, and you just cannot deny his absolute commitment to fucking with his superiors at every possible turn.
Of course, the reunion doesn't go as planned. The Kyoto Kids are too busy fussing with Gojou's weird souvenirs, the upperclassmen literally don't know who he is, and the look on Megumi and Nobara's faces is more akin to awkward embarrassment, mixed with a fair amount of understandable anger, and the tiniest splash of genuine pathos for good measure. This is one of many scenes where Junya Enoki proves that he is one of the best at playing a loud and obnoxiously earnest doofus that is too stupid not to love. The same could be said for Yūichi Nakamura's work as Gojou, except the jury is still out on whether the good sensei truly is as stupid as he lets on, or if he's just such a goddamned genius that us plebes can only perceive his actions as the work of a reckless lunatic…
The Kyoto crew seem like a fine bunch of antagonists: Mai Zenin and Aoi Toudou we already met, back when they kicked Nobara and Megumi's asses, respectively. Momo is a witchy looking girl with hair that looks like a bunch of dried spaghetti got bundled up and stuck to her skull, which is certainly A Choice™. Noritoshi Kamo seems like a bit of a prick, and then there's Kasumi Miwa, the Gojou fangirl we met who earns some brownie points for being one of the only members of the Kyoto bunch that is against the principal's orders to hunt and re-murder Yuuji. Oh, there's also Ultimate Mechamaru – he's literally a motherfucking robot, which automatically makes him the best one. I'll take no further questions at this time.
As Yuuji gets to know the upperclassmen and bears the brunt of some of Nobara's trademark cruel bullying — which, let's be honest, is pretty funny — the main question at hand is, “What exactly is the School Exchange Event” all about? Well, the first leg of it is called the “Wacky Cursed Spirit Exorcism Race”. No, I did not add the “Wacky” to the title as a joke, and yes, you can bet my expectations are through the roof with a name like that. It basically amounts to the kids running around the city in teams, killing curses all the way (and our kids will presumably be keeping Yuuji from getting re-murdered, once all that noise starts to go down).
Though we've gotten to see a bit of Maki, Toge, and Panda in action, I'm very excited to see how the full seven-person squad will perform. Their entire dynamic is believable, likeable, and fun, though I imagine the more serious sides of each character will be on display as the chaos ramps up. This is bound to be one of those arcs where everything that can go wrong, will go wrong, and I'll have plenty of popcorn and soda at the ready so I can enjoy every single second of it.
Odds and Ends
• The new OP, once again directed by Shingo Yamashita, is just stupefyingly pretty to look at, and I think I might actually like the new song — “Vivid Vice” by Who-ya — even more than the first cour's. The new ED song is nowhere near as catchy as “Lost in Paradise ft. AKLO”, but the same could be said for most songs. Besides, Cö shu Nie's “Give It Back” is far from a bad track. It's a lot more downbeat, but it fits considering the more wistful and melancholy tone of this ED. I'm also always game for bits of animation that play up an animated cast like they're real friends, just hanging out and goofing off.
• This week's Jujutsu Stroll pays off Aoi's earlier insistence on dipping out of the Kyoto School meeting to watch the live broadcast of good ol' Takada-chan. This week, she's visiting a classy looking sushi joint, which in Takada's case means “getting drunk on room temperature sake and clowning on the chef and the interviewer.” Now that's an idol after my own heart, I'll tell you what.
• There's an intro scene featuring Mahito, Jougo, and Suguru Geto, who all meet up at the healing hot springs where Jougo has been recovering to talk baddie business. It's nothing particularly informative, as it simply clarifies how all of these curses' main goal is to reawaken Sukuna by getting back all of his fingers and, I dunno, force-feeding them to Yuuji? We do learn that Jujutsu Tech currently possesses six of them already, though that's all apparently in keeping with Suguru's plan. Basically, it's a couple of more notes to add to the “Stuff that Will Probably Be Important Sooner or Later” list.
Jujutsu Kaisen is currently streaming on Crunchyroll. James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.
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