The world of Jujutsu Kaisen is a complicated one; there are moments of friendship and camaraderie that make JJK lovers look up specific clippings on YouTube where the protagonists are having a blast. There are also moments when sorcerers unleash their ultimate abilities and awe the audience with their might. Further still, there are those times when diabolical monsters kill innocents by the thousands, and the fans can curse and scream at their screens. Itadori Yuji, the MC of this great anime, was once a happy-go-lucky kid, blissfully unaware of the world of sorcery. This week, he watched his mentor die. Today, we analyze how this young boy’s heart hardened, and he descended into hatred because of the world that he found himself in.
When we first met Itadori Yuji in the first season of Jujutsu Kaisen, he had every characteristic matching that of a Shonen anime character, and yet he retained a childlike innocence that set him apart from the other protagonists we so often see in similar anime. While Naruto wanted to be the Hokage and Luffy sought the title of the Pirate King, Itadori was happy just being a goofy high school student. His only fascination was with the occult club, where a couple of friends and he studied all things deemed supernatural. All in all, Itadori would be no different than a regular teen (save his superhuman strength that he himself seemed to be unaware of) until his grandfather was on his deathbed. The final words that Itadori’s grandpa left him with were to help people and ensure that their deaths were worth something. Call it a consequence or divine intervention, this young teen found himself in his high school late at night with some freakish monster trying to attack a classmate. We all know what followed and how a regular student became the vessel for the cruelest and most demonic curse to exist in the world as Itadori Yuji shared his body with the “King of Curses,” Ryomen Sukuna.
Even so, Jujutsu Kaisen managed to keep the show lighthearted for most of the first season, with scenes from an interschool basketball match that could be mistaken for a scene from a slice-of-life show. Itadori made friends with the oddball named Todo Aoi from another school, went shopping with two of his closest friends at Jujutsu High, and was probably the only one who was as childlike and carefree as their teacher, the strongest sorcerer of their time, Gojo Satoru. For a while, the audience as well as the students of Jujutsu High could forget that they were living in a world where curses roamed and human life was so insignificant that it could be snuffed out at any time. All was well when Itadori found himself a brother like he never had in a soft-spoken boy named Junpei. Moreover, the JJK audience was roped in with the belief that Junpei might be the newest student in Jujutsu High in a few episodes, until a monster named Mahito toyed with Junpei and destroyed him, right before Itadori’s eyes. That was the beginning of the end; that was where Itadori’s pure heart started to crack.
The latest season of Jujutsu Kaisen took that anxious heart and shattered it into a million pieces, as Itadori would be the helpless witness to the carnage and mayhem that curses would wreak in the city. Worst of all, half of those countless deaths were done in Itadori’s body. When the sorcerers entered Shibuya Station on the night of Halloween, none of the students or teachers had the slightest inkling of how far the curses had planned to harm a city full of innocent people. Itadori watched as a sea of terrified people, begging for mercy, were just turned into fodder because curses like Jogo, Dagon, and Mahito saw humans as food or playthings. Determined to bring about change, Itadori locked fists with Choso and suffered some rather severe injuries. However, at each step, the words of his grandfather rang true in his head: he had to help people and save as many as he could. Itadori, a mere teen who wasn’t even old enough to drink alcohol, was ready to lay down his life if that meant the other sorcerers and his friends could free their teacher, Gojo Satoru, from a trap he’d been imprisoned in. The world of Jujutsu had changed Itadori, and he’d realized just how merciless and apathetic one had to be if a sorcerer wanted to survive here. However, Itadori could never bring himself to shrug off the deaths of a few hundred with the satisfaction that he’d saved the city. Instead, he wailed and thundered in rage, ready to punish the curses for their savagery on the helpless people.
That was until Itadori got knocked out and lost a lot of blood after battling Choso, and when he did wake up, he had no control over his own body. Itadori had been fed 11 fingers of Ryomen Sukuna, making the King of Curses gain temporary control of the teen’s body, and if Sukuna was out and about, carnage would follow. Sukuna’s earliest victims were two impertinent girls who made the mistake of making a rather significant request from this embodiment of evil, and they lost their heads in the process. Sukuna then proceeded to rip entire buildings out of their foundations and hurl them as projectiles at Jogo, and later, a Shikigami that Megumi Fushiguro had summoned. In the process of toying with his opponents, Sukuna casually let hundreds die, whose deaths could’ve been avoided if he hadn’t exuded evil. For the curtain call on his act of pure terror, Sukuna summoned a meteor and left a massive smoking hole where Shibuya once stood, and to add icing on this cake of genocide, he handed control of Itadori’s body back to him right before the impact zone of the meteor. Itadori came back to his senses and was immediately struck by the devastation that his body had been used for and the deaths that his own hands had caused. Crying and scratching the earth and making his nails bloody and raw wouldn’t bring back the lives of all the people the monster in his body had killed, and yet Itadori couldn’t just come to terms with the fact that so many people had just died while he stood there, unable to die.
This was no longer the Itadori Yuji who joked about Fushiguro talking to a woman in the street or thought of Mt. Fuji when he saw Jogo’s head back in Season 1. That innocence, purity, and bliss were long gone and had been replaced by pure hatred for the curses that killed without thought and the extreme determination to make good for the remaining time he had so that he wasn’t deemed simply a murderer. However, unfortunately for this already emotionally exhausted MC, more hurt is yet to come. Itadori arrived at Dogenzaka station to find his mentor, Nanami Kento, the man who’d been like a father to this young boy, and Nanami wished him well. With half his body charred to the bone already, Nanami smiled at Itadori and passed on the torch of exorcizing demons and saving the innocents as Mahito proceeded to destroy him once more before Itadori’s eyes. Any other person would either lose their minds in rage or immediately get killed by this psychotic, sadistic vermin called Mahito, but Itadori quickly wisened up to the curse’s diabolical designs. The next episode is to reveal how Itadori avenges the death of his mentor, but we can be certain that the sweet young boy who gushed at the sight of flowers in Season 1 is long gone and has been replaced by a vengeful sorcerer who can’t wait to torture the curses in the worst possible ways before exorcizing them.