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TV Anime, “Jujutsu Kaisen”, Blows Up in Japan

TV Anime, “Jujutsu Kaisen”, Blows Up in Japan

The anime Jujutsu Kaisen (呪術廻戦), which airs only on the web-based television platform called dTV in Japan, has achieved the #1 ranking in terms of monthly viewership for the past four consecutive months from December 2020 through March 2021.  This is a significant achievement because, by capturing so many viewers, Jujutsu Kaisen edged out global sensation, Kimetsu-no-Yaiba (鬼滅の刃) which is known as Demon Slayer outside of Japan.

What kind of anime/manga is Jujutsu Kaisen?

Categorized as adventure fiction, dark fantasy, and occult fiction, Jujutsu Kaisen made its debut as a Japanese manga which has been published by Weekly Shonen Jump since March 2018.  As of March 2021, the series covers 15 tankobun (短構文) volumes.

Yuji Itadori battling curses in Jujutsu Kaisen, Image Sourced from dAnime Store

The series is a sequel to a four-chapter monthly series called Tokyo Metropolitan Curse Technical School.  Shueisha, the Japanese publisher of Jujutsu Kaisen, released this series via Jump GIGA between April and July 2017.  It was later re-released as Jujutsu Kaisen 0 in December 2018.

As of April 2021, the Jujutsu Kaisen manga had over 45 million copies in circulation.

Jujutsu Kaisen has since been adapted into an anime television series.  24 episodes have aired in Japan from October 2020 to March 2021.

What is the story?

Jujutsu Kaisen is about an athletic high school student from Sendai named Yuji Itadori (虎杖 悠仁).  To pursue his archrivals, Yuji becomes a member of a secret organization of jujutsu sorcerers called the Occult Research Club.  Incidentally, Jujutsu (呪術) means “sorcery” in Japanese.  The term kaisen (廻戦) means “recurring warfare.”

The characters Satoru Gojo, Yuji Itadori, Megumi Fushiguro, and Nobara Kugisaki, Image Sourced from Takumi-Art-Tumblr

Yuji must navigate among a race of spirits called “curses” who are intent on destroying human beings by tapping into their cursed energy which emanates from negative thinking.  Yuji becomes the host of a powerful sorcerer named Ryomen Sukuna (両面宿儺) by swallowing one of his fingers.  Yuji is now on a quest to swallow the rest of Sukuna’s fingers to kill him off completely.

Who is the author?

Jujitsu Kaisen is written and illustrated by camera-shy Gege Akutami (芥見下々).  This name is, in fact, a pen name.  The author’s real name and gender are unknown, but there is rampant speculation about these topics.

We do know that Akutami was, supposedly, born in 1992 in Iwate- in Japan’s Tohoku Region- and moved to Sendai at around age 10.  Akutami’s first published work was Kamishiro Sosa (神代捜査), a one-shot chapter that Jump Next! released in 2014.  The author went on to win the 11th Gold Future Cup contest for aspiring manga illustrators.

Japanese comedian Kendo Kobayashi is a big fan of Jujutsu Kaisen, Image Sourced from JapaneseClass

More recently, Jujutsu Kaisen became the 2020 grand prize winner on the popular manga variety show, Mando Kobayashi, which is hosted by Japanese comedian Kendo Kobayashi.  Kobayashi interviewed Akutami on his show but the author appeared in a disguise.

Jujutsu Kaisen also received a nomination for this year’s annual Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize (手塚治虫文化賞).

Where can you find it?

You can follow Jujutsu Kaisen in English.  Since December 2019, the series has been licensed to Viz Media for distribution in English throughout North America.

Yuji’s girlfriend, Yuko Ozawa, Image Sourced from Shumikatsu

Shueisha also publishes the series in English via Manga Plus which is available globally except in Japan, China, and South Korea- all of which have separate sites.

Fan Reaction

Despite, or due to, the mysterious nature of Akutami’s background, you would think that fans would be suspicious.  In any case, Akutami has managed to gain legions of fans both in Japan and around the world.

Masatoshi Kurita stresses the importance of being authentic and natural by tweeting, “What the author of Jujutsu Kaisen, Gege Akutami, keeps in mind when drawing manga is that it is critical not to strive (needlessly) to attempt to capture the sense of one’s own generation.  This approach ‘stretches your spine.’”

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Jujutsu Kaisen also inspires cosplay.  Kuro recently tweeted, “I took a piggyback ride!  I love Jujutsu Kaisen / Conan / Fifth Personality!  I would be happy if I had a connection with someone who likes the same work.”

Akutami has recently announced that the ending of the series has been planned but there are still many critical details left to be determined.  Thus, it seems as though Jujutsu Kaisen is likely to continue for at least another two to three more years. 

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