This episode is a treat, right from the start you can tell there is a different weight of animation behind this one, as we dive right into a fight between the Sorcerers and Mahito. The curse creature’s ability to alter his shape makes for a battle full of surprises, as he continuously laughs and cackles his way through the entire fight.
Experimenting with his own powers and trying out new moves as he does so. There is a childlike mindset to this character, as though he found himself in a brand new body and it fall over himself to see all the different things he can do with it. He’s enjoying himself so much that he’s coming very close to dangerously underestimating his opponent.
He throws some morphed humans at Itadori to take him out of the fight, assuming that the kid is incapable of taking a human life. Even if said life is begging for death. And based on Itadori’s own words from a few episodes prior, that would usually be the case. Although in the short time since then, Itadori has had to make some amendment to his personal morals when it comes to this, let’s be real, pretty horrible situation he finds himself in.
Thus the distraction proves to be little more than that. Meaning the two sorcerers start to gain some momentum on Mahito, learning his tricks and providing a rather cathartic beatdown of the curse creature. Which turns out to be exactly not what they needed. Mahito finding himself in a uncharacteristically hopeless situation is enough top push him over the edge and finally figure out how to activate domain expansion.
Which, as Gojo explained a few episodes back, is very bad news for our good guys. Although he do get an amazingly impressive sequence of hands unfolding and blooming like flower petals around the characters. I can’t believe we’re only five minutes into this episode.
As Goji mentioned before, once inside a domain, the user’s signature technique is unavoidable. And given that Mahito’s power is to touch and transform those he touches, it seems like Kento is all but done now. Especially given Itadroi is locked outside the domain and Kento himself was never able to muster the strength to create a domain himself. What follows is usually the sure sign of a character about to die: their backstory getting revealed in the middle of a fight.
It shows Kento’s life as a salary man after he ran away from being a sorcerer the first time. And it’s agonisingly depressing how much of a connection to him I feel, spending so much of his life working an unfulfilling job just for money. Being unable to do what makes you feel a sense of purpose. Which is why he returned to the life of helping other people, he was just going make sure to complain about it a whole bunch. The second reason I feel a strong connection to the guy.
Once again though, this series manages to surprise me. While it seemed like Kento was all but dead, Itadori breaks through the domain and invades it. Something that doesn’t often happen. Not because it’s difficult to do, but because you’d have to be a nutcase to put yourself into a situation where you’re guaranteeing an attack from an enemy powerful enough to create a domain.
It’s a pretty great hero moment from Itadori, one that ends up succeeding for him in an ass-backwards fashion. Being inside the domain now, he opens himself up to Mahito’s Idle Transfiguration attack, which Sukuna takes exception to. Puncturing a near fatal hole in the other curse monsters and breaking the domain. While Sukuna is no good guy, he is certainly not on the side of the other curses either.
He really is just out for himself and is seemingly more interested in playing to his own whims than anything else. Letting anyone else get hurt in the process, except for Fushiro, who we’re reminded he has some weird interest in. It’s a very quick series of unexpected events that eventually lead to Mahito escaping in a weakened state. Unfortunately, being punctured full of holes in the previous episode has finally caught up with Itadori and he crumples over, preventing Kento from pursuing the cursed creature.
In the aftermath, Itadori wrestles with the ideology he states he was going to live by in the first episode; that people should be allowed a proper death. He’s now coming to the conclusion that it’s impossible to provide that to everyone he meets, and needs to reconcile with how he’s going to go forward. Whether he’s going to be able to be content with just saving those he can or if it’s going top break his will.
Which it won’t because he’s an anime protagonist. It’ll just strengthen his resolve if anything. The episode, and this arc ends with a conclusion that shows the head bully that Junpei almost killed earlier getting outed by a classmate as the cause of the horrible bullying Junpei underwent, as well as the fat teacher coming to the realisation of him being obvious to what was going on right in front of him.
The bully doesn’t seem especially interested in taking any kind of responsibility for what he did. And it’s a real case of too little too late given Junpei’s sad fate. The final result being that this arc ends on a pretty down beat. So many innocent people died for Mahito’s games, and he ended up getting away in the end. Junpei and his mother were used and discarded in the process, and the hearts of the people that he didn’t want to believe in only acted when it was too late to do anything about it.
Maybe it’s a sign of why the curses are only going to get stronger and humanity doesn’t really need saving from them, but from themselves.
On the bright side though, Kento survived. Someone I was almost certain was going to bite it when this arc got going. Which is great because I really like his character. It’s almost like he’s my spirit animal. Additionally, I really enjoyed the maturation Itadori went through in this arc. while his desire to save everyone is admirable, this anime especially wants us to know that there is evil in the world and saving everyone is impossible. Something Itadori seemed to come to some personal realisation about during the conclusion of the episode.
Just to pivot for a moment: after thinking about Dragon ball a lot these past couple of weeks, it’s nice to see a main character who is learning and growing within the space of the first baker’s dozen episodes. I get the feeling we might be moving into a lighter arc now, maybe the school tournament arc, but Jujutsu Kaisen is impressing me more and more as the weeks go by, especially this one that contained some of the best animation since the opening episode.
The final moments of this one however, show the rest of his classmates reconfirming that they still think Itadori is dead. I wonder if they’ll be happy to see him again when he shows up not dead… Nah, they’ll be pissed.