Story & Art by Gege Akutami
Translated by Stefan Koza
Touch-up Art & Lettering by Snir Aharon
Design by Shawn Carrico
Edited by John Bae
With the countless amount of titles that debut in Weekly Shonen Jump every year, it’s hard to predict what series will become the next big hit. That said, one series has slowly shown the potential to be the magazine’s next rising star: Jujutsu Kaisen. Since its debut in 2018, Jujutsu Kaisen has been a massive success in Japan thanks to its compelling story, lovable cast, and unique artwork. With Viz Media now releasing this action-packed manga in volume format, let’s take a look at what makes Jujutsu Kaisen so special during the course of its first volume.
Jujutsu Kaisen centers around Yuji Itadori, a high school student with immense strength. When Itadoro’s school is attacked by a cursed spirit, he is forced to eat a finger of the demon Sukuna and become his vessel. Now linked to the villainous creature, Itadori sets out to become a jujutsu sorcerer, collect all the fingers of Sukuna, and take the demon with him to his grave.
Having the series’ protagonist and antagonist share the same body is a bold move for any manga, but Jujutsu Kaisen manages to do wonders with the premise. Itadori needs to consume all the fingers of Sukuna in order to fully exorcise him from the world, but conversely, every finger that Itadori collects makes Sukuna even stronger. This creates a mutually beneficial goal for both parties, while also establishing a continuous power struggle between them.
At first glance, Itadori may seem like a pretty average shonen protagonist, but what truly separates him is his self-sacrificial nature. During the course of the volume, Itadori is made fully aware that he is fated to die no matter what choice he makes, but this doesn’t seem to faze him. He has accepted that his journey as a jujutsu sorcerer will end in his death, but he wants to ensure that his death has meaning. Itadori doesn’t seek to become a leader or even someone who is well respected. Rather, he just wants to live a fulfilling life that he can be proud of.
Of course, Itadori isn’t alone on his journey. The main supporting cast members introduced early on in this volume are Megumi Fushigoro and Satoru Gojo. Fushigoro has many opposing traits to Itadori, being more serious and reserved in his mannerisms. That said, this behavior doesn’t mean that he lacks compassion. In fact, he deeply cares about the people around him and he wishes to use his jujutsu sorcery to protect humanity. Meanwhile, Gojo serves as a mentor for the jujutsu sorcerers, and from his design alone, it’s immediately clear that he exudes personality. Gojo is a joy whenever he’s present, and his laid-back nature in the face of danger serves to peak the reader’s interest in his true strength. The last notable supporting cast member to be introduced is Nobara Kugisaki, who is a refreshing change from the usual pitfalls of female characters in shonen battle manga. Kugisaki is established to be an equally valid member of Itadori’s group and we get to see her hold her own against threatening cursed spirits. Beyond her abilities, Kugisaki’s quirky nature makes her incredibly endearing and gives her a great dynamic with the rest of the team. Jujutsu Kaisen quickly establishes a strong and well-rounded cast, one that will only continue to build as the story progresses.
While Jujutsu Kaisen’s artwork isn’t as polished as it will be in future chapters, Akutami starts the series with a solid visual foundation. The manga has a distinct horror-like aesthetic, framing the panels in a way that emphasizes the chilling nature of the cursed spirits. The designs of the spirits also wholeheartedly embody this horror, being equally grotesque as they are terrifying. The series effectively conveys the danger that the characters experience within the story and it further immerses the reader in the process. Jujutsu Kaisen is truly a manga that only Akutami could draw, and they take full advantage of their talents.
Jujutsu Kaisen is a fantastic series that takes bold steps to stand out from its contemporaries and succeeds to do so in droves. The manga impressively combines engaging action with chilling horror, all while providing ample narrative substance to support those qualities. If you have yet to check out the series, now is the perfect time to jump in.