It feels like an age since I last talked about this show. That mid-season break seemed to last an eternity, being edged out slightly by how long it’s felt like we’ve been building up to this interschool sorcerer tournament between Tokyo and Kyoto. It’s also finally the moment Itadori gets to reunite with his classmates, something I’ve been looking forward to seeing.
There aren’t going to be any images accompanying this post as I’m working with a makeshift internet solution for the time being. Sorry.
We open on the volcano curse spirit Jogo, chilling out in a hot spring before being rudely interrupted by Mahito, both characters seeming fully recovered from their encounters with battles with the Sorcerers in prior episodes. If memory serves, their prior intentions were to remove Goto from the equation of their plans and to coax Sukuna over to their side.
Both of which seem to have spectacularly failed on their first respective attempts. After having spoken to Sukuna and seen how fickle he actually is, the spirits come to the conclusion that appealing to him by making an offering of his remaining fingers is their best shot, and simply he doesn’t kill them all the moment he gets what he wants.
It seems that the schools have six more fingers in their possession already, although they refuse to feed them to Itadori because they don’t trust he could continue holding the curse back if he became any more powerful, undermining their entire plan to destroy them all at once. We all know they just want to kill Itadori outright anyway, which is why the kid had had to spend the past story arc pretending to be dead.
With all this sinister scheming going on, we could use a brief distraction. Namely, a cutaway to Gojo and Itadori getting all excited about how they’re to reveal the fact that he’s not dead to his classmates, and how they’re going react to it all. These two and their levels of being a dope are perfectly aligned, much to Kento’s dismay and my delight.
Itadori seems to think there is going to be this super emotional reunion between him and his classmates, but I know that’s not going to be how this goes down.
On the day of the event, we’re introduced to the rest of the second and third years from the Kyoto school. And I immediately get some major My Hero Academia Class 1-B vibes from these guys. I mean, they even have an unexplained robot to act as a parallel to Tokyo’s unexplained Panda. I swear, if Heihachi Mishima doesn’t show up at some point during this arc I’m going to be pissed.
The reunion scene that shortly follows is… perfect. Gojo just showing up to troll everyone, followed by Itadori’s incredibly tactless reveal that he’s still alive is subtly way more realistic than I was ever actually expecting it to be. Most of the people present have no clue who Itadori is, thus don’t really care that he just jumped out of a box, while Fushiguro and Kugisaki and stunned to silence.
I get the distinct impression that Gojo planned this entire public reveal just to rub the fact that Itadori was still alive in the face of the Kyoto school principle, who does look absolutely livid to see the host of Sukuna is still alive. Gojo really can be a nasty piece of work if you get on the wrong side of him.
Meanwhile, Fushiguro and Kugisaki, rather than scream at Itadori as I was expecting them to, are just quietly upset with Itadori for treating his death as a joke while also obviously happy to see that he’s still alive. It’s more of a real moment than I was expecting and I found it kind of sweet. Still though, I find myself wishing we’d had more time to see these three kids interacting with one another in a less life or death situation.
We’ve mostly bounced from one dramatic battle to another in this series so far and while I appreciate it getting to the point quickly and not dragging its feet, like a lot of the shonen of my youth would so, I feel like the dynamic between these three main characters remains a little undercooked. Itadori and Kento have a much more matured dynamic then he and his classmates do at this point.
It’s at this point we get the explanation of this incredibly irresponsible event, one in which lowish grade curses are intentionally released out into the world for the two classes to compete over exorcising. With any and all messing with one another in the process being encouraged. Which means to me that they’re going to spend the entirety of this first event fighting one another and ignoring all of the intentionally released evil spirits wandering around Tokyo.
Which is all but confirmed by the fact that the Kyoto principle, who I feel like I might just start referring to as Heihachi at this point, orders his students to ignore the game and just all work together to murder Itadori. In part, because he probably believes it’s the right thing to do, but mostly because Gojo made him look like an old fool in front of everyone.
Orders that the kids from Kyoto seem split on. Some of them seem to be pretty normal kids who don’t want any part in this seemingly unwarranted order to kill another human being, while others seem very much to be swimming in the kool-Aid and accept the order without much question.
Toudou, the big meat headed guy we met a few episodes ago, is the biggest vocal opponent to the idea. Although not for the reasons you’d expect, while he seems angry and lashes out at the order initially, his reasoning isn’t due to the morality to politically driven reasoning behind it. Rather he’s just upset that this is encroaching on his time to both view his favourite idol’s live appearance, and the subsequently watch the recording on loop afterwards.
This guy fills the archetype of a morally upstanding rival character on the wrong side of a conflict in shonen to a tee. And yet, while he does all those same things that archetype would do, his reasoning for doing so is totally ridiculous and utterly disconnected to the story. It’s actually pretty amazing. It makes me wonder how long the story will keep this schtick up and if they’ll eventually have him acknowledge the real story happening around him at any point.
Once again I find myself likening something to Fire Force. In how that anime, Arthur is totally disconnected from reality and yet managed to function in the world and do his job while simultaneously existing in a fantasy world.
On the other side of the fence, the Tokyo strategy meeting is much less Machiavellian, with Itadori’s fellow first years pouting at him for not letting them know he was still alive, and then treating it like a joke when he eventually did show up again. Although it is nice to see Fushiguro stick up for Itadori and his combat prowess in the coming battle.
The Tokyo team seem blissfully unaware of the deadly implications of the coming battle, and it makes me wonder how many spirits will get exorcized during this events at all, or if it’s purely going to be a student vs student battle arc with some shenanigans along the way.
As an aside, this second half of the series got new opening and ending songs, and they pale in comparison to the initial ones we got for the first half. The visuals for the opening are still impressive, but the song doesn’t do it for me nearly as hard. And it’s difficult to compare anything to that previous ending song, which was top tier in both song and visuals.