I know that I’ve been a bit hard on Jujutsu Kaisen‘s Shibuya Incident arc these past few weeks. I’ve wanted to love it just as much as any other fan, but the storyline—at least in this serialized form of week-to-week installments—has had some major shortcomings that keep me from falling head-over-heels with the story like I’d hoped to when we first got back from the Flashback Arc. That said, I’ll be the first to admit that the arc has had some standout moments that are if you’ll pardon the use of some professional anime critic parlance, “so goddamned metal as shit that it makes me want to get up and punch dance my feelings out while the new Spiritbox EP blasts at max volume in the background.” This week’s episode, “Thunderclap”, offers multiple such standout moments, which goes a long way towards elevating the experience above the story’s larger issues.
On a purely technical level, the presentation of the action that Toji, Megumi, Sukuna, and Jogo all share is essentially perfect. I don’t mean “perfect” as in “flawless”, necessarily; I only mean to say that I cannot imagine how these elements of the episode could be better executed, as limited as my knowledge of animation and filmmaking is compared to the actual creators of the episode. Speaking of which, an area that I know I could be better in with these reviews is providing shout-outs to the specific artists working behind the scenes of these productions, so I’d like to give direct kudos to Itsuki Tsuchigami. The man is a veteran animator who has contributed to many animated spectacles(I hardly need to mention the legendary 5th Episode of Mob Psycho 100 II). Tsuchigami’s distinctive, fluid style gives the battles a sense of uncanny heft and speed, which only serves to highlight the incredible choreography and shot composition on display. A sequence that features Toji brutally massacring an army of Megumi’s adorable rabbit Shikigami might end up being a bit chaotic and hard to follow, but no. We get to witness every last one of those critters die a terrible and gruesome death at the hands of Megumi’s dead(haha)beat father, and it’s one of the most exhilarating sequences that JJK has ever produced.
The fight between Sukuna and Jogo is just as fun, and doubly as destructive, given the power scale. While I still don’t know if I find either of these villains particularly interesting as characters, I’m happy to watch them duke it out. This might sound like a backhanded compliment, but I’ve honestly enjoyed this arc of Jujutsu Kaisen the most when I’ve been able to treat it like one of those old Dead Fantasy fan-movies that Monty Oum made back in the day, where the preposterous amount of style is the substance, and silly trifles such as “character development” and “telling a story” aren’t even variables that we have to fret over.
Unfortunately, in this animated television series, story and characters are still matters of importance, no matter where they fall in JJK‘s overall hierarchy of priorities. The good news is that neither of those elements distracts from the mayhem this week, even if they don’t manage to stand out, either. I’m going to be a little disappointed if that brief almost-but-not-really reunion between Megumi and Toji is seriously all we’re going to get after multiple weeks of buildup, for one, and I still cannot be bothered to care about any of the evil Cursed Spirits whenever they kick the bucket. Sorry Jogo, but I knew your ass was grass from the moment you entered the scene in Season One, and it’s just been a matter of waiting out the clock to see you make your exit. At least Panda and Kusakabe were funny in their scenes. More of them, please, and thank you.
Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 is currently streaming on