While I’d tentatively call this episode a part of a training arc, most of the actual training seems to be happening off-screen. Everyone’s there, in their tracksuits getting stronger, but we’re yet to see them really learning anything. Well, except for Itadoi watching anime Lord of the Rings that is.
I’m a real sucker for when a show digs deep into its power system and really gets into each individual character’s capabilities and limits. Jujutsu Kaisen isn’t really doing that. It seems to be taking more of a “we’ll do it live” approach. Which is fine for those surprising/hype moments in fights later on. But, to me, a little context goes a long way towards how much excitement I feel over a particular fight.
In terms of what’s going on in episode 8; With the Toyko/Kyoto tournament looming ever closer we spend some time with Fushiguro and Kugasaki. While on break from their training, they’re accosted by some students from the rival sorcerer high school. A meat slab of a man named Toudou Aoi and Maki’s twin sister, Zen’in Mai.
It initially seems like they’ve shown up purely to mess with the first years who are going to be taking part in the tournament in place of the suspended third years, making a point to show how unimpressed they are with your first years. Although they could just be playing mind games and being assholes about it, whose to say.
Although I get the impression probably something half and half. As in, Toudou is just a dumbass who loves to fight, while Mai is the malicious, sadistic girl who actively seems to want to make Fushiguro squirm. Toudou gets right in Fushiguro’s face and demands to know what kinds of girls he likes. Saying that a person’s perversions are the best way to know a person in a short time.
He says he likes tall women with big asses (my man!) before majorly getting in Fushiguro’s business. Meanwhile Mai is in the background asking him what it was like to be classmates with a half-monster. Bearing in mind these guys all think Itadori is dead. It’s all that special kind of messed up that high school anime kids love to torment each other about.
In the end, when Fushiguro gives an honest, but respectful answer to Toudou’s demands, the upperclassman proceeds to start beating him half to death. Tears in his eyes, proclaiming Fushiguro to be boring. Which is apparently the worst thing you can be in this guys eyes. Meanwhile, Mai pulls a fucking gun on Kugisaki. These all seem like unnecessarily extreme escalations of schoolyard teasing. But hey, this is a school where everyone can die at a moment’s notice. They’ve got different standards.
Once again though, Fushiguro finds himself on the wrong side of a bad matchup. Toudou is a close combat specialist and an incredibly powerful one as well. Able to take out a bunch of A-Grade and Special-Grade curses on his own, despite only being a second year.
Our kids end up getting rescued before any lasting damage can be done though by their own upperclassmen. We see that the cursed speech kid can talk in not-ingredients, but whenever he does, it activates his powers, as he’s able to stop Toudou in his tracks. While Maki puts a stop to her sister tormenting of a mostly nonplussed Kugisaki.
And now, this is the segment of the review where I talk about how much I like Zen’in Maki. After having a little heart to heart with her kōhai, Maki reveals that she is, for all intents and purposes, a normal person. Lacking the ability to use Cursed energy or even see curse spirits without the special glasses she wears. But all the same, she desires to be a great sorcerer and thus uses her own natural abilities along with the array of tools imbued with Cursed energy at her disposal. All just to spite her parents.
I get some real Rock Lee vibes from her. Not that she’s a massive goofball or anything, but that she’s this character who has a significant handicap compared to everyone else around her, and still ends up being twice as badass as everyone around her anyway. For a little while at least anyway. It’s a character archetype I love in action shonen like this. And I can’t wait to see her fight in earnest.
Meanwhile, we see Gojou showing up to talk smack to the Kyoto school principle. Some ancient sorcerer who was one of the main architects behind the mission that almost got thee Tokyo students killed. (And succeeded in the case of one of them as far as everybody knows.) Gorou goes full villain in this conversation, openly telling the old man that his time is over and he need’s to stop clutching to his position and let younger, fresher faces take over.
Doing it as disrespectfully as he possibly can. Gojou essentially tells the elder that he’s becoming a victim of power creep, and then laughs at him for it. And that’s the bulk of the episode. We get a time skip to one month later, where Itadoi shows up at the scene of some curse event, which is leading into the following episode. No doubt to show us how much progress Itadori has made in the past month.
We also get an extra little scene at the end showing us that Toudou and Mai are in Tokyo to attend a meet and greet with an idol, something both end up enjoying on different levels. Showing us that they’re not actually bad kids, just messed up in the head in various different ways.
This was a quieter episode in terms of major drama, but it was nice to get introduced to a few more characters and get the stage further set for this upcoming, interschool tournament. Although I notice that we continue to meet and learn about our supporting cast, but Fushiguro and (especially) Kugasaki continue to not really get any major development or attention.