At one point in “The Shibuya Incident”, Mei Mei remarks to Yuji: “I thought you would struggle more.” It’s a fair point, to be honest. I obviously understand that Jujutsu Kaisen is making an intentional point by pairing our main hero with a low-tier goon spirit that is doomed from the moment he and Yuji cross paths—we do want to make sure the audience remembers why the core trio are up for their big promotions, after all—but the resulting matchup makes for a somewhat low-key beginning to this most hyped of storylines.
On the other hand, I’m not so much of a snob that I’m going to sit here and tell you that it isn’t supremely hilarious to watch Yuji karate chop a ridiculous locust monster so hard that it’s giant bug dick straight-up explodes. It is, if nothing else, a memorable conclusion to an otherwise so-so fight. Ko-guy the Locust Guy is a fun enough enemy for a Monster-of-the-Week type, I suppose, but his throwdown with Yuji eventually devolves into little more than an incoherent montage of smeary punches and blurry dodges; there’s very little oomph to any of it. I’ll give the episode credit for the dick explosion, though.
As for the rest of the episode, we mostly have to work through the reams of exposition that Jujutsu Kaisen is always inclined to throw at us when a big, extended battle is about to go down. Some of it is fine; I appreciated Mei Mei’s rundown of the subway system scenario, as it provides some much needed spatial context to all of the magic nonsense that is going on. Other times, though, it just feels like the show doesn’t quite know what to do with even a single second of silence or transitional time. Stuff like the nature documentary inserts that explain locust behavior and physiology feel like they’re meant to be jokes, but they’re nowhere near funny enough to justify how much they kill the pacing of a fight that is still very much in progress.
The same goes for when Gojo’s arrival on the scene gets him tangled up with Jogo and Hanami. I can at least appreciate the way the show tries to contrast the fraught fight with the peaceful flashback to Geto’s pre-battle briefing, and the soap-bubble visuals are nice, but I still cannot overstate how much my eyes start to glaze over whenever anyone starts lecturing about the mechanics of magic, and Domains, and individual sorcerers’ powers, and all that. I know, this is hardly a new issue to anyone that has ever so much as sneaked a peek at a chapter of a Shonen Jump manga, and I recognize that I have been properly spoiled by Chainsaw Man‘s commitment to eschewing all of the power-scale nonsense and dedicating all of its time and energy on the raw, visceral bloodshed. I have no reason to suspect that JJK will ever improve, in this regard. A fellow can dream, though, can’t he?
Still, this is hardly a terrible half-hour of television, and I’m willing to stick out some less-than-stellar setup episodes if the payoff for this Shibuya Arc is as killer as all of the manga fans have been saying it will be. I’ll try to grade on a curve when it comes to all of the exposition, too, though I have to draw a line in the sand, eventually. I’m aware that the incredibly complicated and constantly evolving magical rules and power scales of stories like these are a big part of the appeal for many fans, and I can get on board myself, when it’s all done well. All I want is for JJK to do better.
Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 is currently streaming on