I took the opportunity to go back watch re-watch the last few episodes of Jujutsu Kaisen‘s first season with a buddy of mine just a few days ago, and seeing where the show was just a couple of years ago has driven home just how much of a glow-up that this second season represents. Don’t get me wrong, that first season is far from an ugly duckling, but I had forgotten just how sharp of a divide there is between the quality of those older action scenes and the direction the rest of the episodes get. In Season 2, though, every sequence has been a sumptuous feast of the senses, which has enhanced the storytelling considerably. It’s a good thing, too, because spending so much time with both seasons of JJK again has also reminded me of how much the show gets in its own way with its scripts half the time.
The often clumsy and needlessly over-written exposition of Jujutsu Kaisen has been an issue since the very beginning, so it isn’t like I went into this new season expecting the show to completely change its ways and drop all of its bad habits. At this point, it’s a matter of how much the scripts trip over themselves rather than whether or not they will at all. “Hidden Inventory 4” is a good episode of Jujutsu Kaisen, to be clear—the precise direction, consistently impressive character animation, and excellent action choreography make sure of that. It’s just a shame that I found myself constantly being taken out of all that incredible direction and animation because characters like Toji and Gojo couldn’t just shut the heck up for a few seconds to let me appreciate what was going on without explaining all of the nonsense ins-and-outs of their powers and plans and whatnot.
“Nonsense” might be putting too harsh of an edge on the criticism, but I have a hard time finding a better term to describe my feelings about JJK’s power systems and magical mechanics; or rather, how the show goes about explaining all of those things. The whole “invisible man” routine that Toji gets into when he’s revealing how he managed to get one over on Gojo and Getou? Sure, I guess that warrants some more explanation, though I swear there must have been a way to do it that took 25% as many words and freed up some precious silence for his and Getou’s cool battle. I’m doubly sore with how Gojo’s return from the dead is handled. This is a moment that should feel utterly terrifying, bordering on downright mythic, and it kind of accomplishes that, thanks to the awesome visuals. All of the endless narration that gives us an agonizing play-by-play of the difference between the “Red” and “Purple” techniques, though? Please, God, just let Gojo be overpowered and be done with it. I honestly don’t care about “negative energy” multiplying with whatever it does to accomplish Gojo’s insane feats. The cool, abstract imagery accompanying Gojo’s revival was proof enough for me.
The problem comes in when viewers like me end up nearly missing out on actually important dialogue and narration because we’ve been inundated with so much gobbledygook. Toji’s defeat is a moment that should have come across as shocking and tragic, given how his presence has affected not only this flashback arc but the lives of others like Megumi in the future. I had to rewind the episode and revisit his final moments, though, because I barely realized he was saying something that legitimately mattered until I saw that Gojo had exploded half the guy’s torso.
All of this grumbling should not detract from the fact that this second season continues to be very fun and cool television. After all, it isn’t like this show is incapable of writing good scenes! Toji’s death is great, as I mentioned, and the final exchange between Gojo and Getou is downright haunting, helping us build towards the inevitable fracturing between them that is to come. I would just love it so much if we could see the version of Jujutsu Kaisen that transcends the worst clichés of its genre trappings and becomes the modern anime classic that it could and should be. Maybe next time, I guess.
Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 is currently streaming on