In one day, Yuji Itadori loses one of his only ties to the world and gains a new reason to live. It’s a good thing he’s naturally so strong, because he’s about to face the incredible challenge of being thrown into the world of jujutsu sorcerers, curses, and an attempt to destroy humanity entirely. Oh, and he needs to train for the inter-school goodwill tournament.

Jujutsu Kaisen is an exciting debut for creator Gege Akutami, who has only previously published a few short stories. As a full series debut, there are rough edges to the story, particularly when it comes to pacing. We go from Yuji learning about curses and jujutsu sorcerers, abandoning his old life so he can train, to almost dying several times partially because the people responsible for him keep throwing him into danger with little to no warning, within the first volume alone. By the third volume, we’re told of a plot to take down humanity, when we’re still barely learning some of the basic concepts behind jujutsu sorcery and terms around curses. Much of that knowledge is conveyed outside of the story in side notes from the creator, too. It’s an interesting world Akutami is building, but I have concerns about where this can escalate to without becoming another Bleach.

Similarly, the art has some roughness to it. Proportions can get strange in some panels, and several characters have very similar features or hair styles. Akutami jokes in the between chapter bits about how many characters wear eye obscuring objects (sunglasses, cloth wraps) but it is kind of a weird truth of Jujutsu Kaisen that at least three characters wear things over their eyes at least most of the time. The line work is a little sloppy, though that could also be the style Akutami is going for. To me, it feels like lines that could use more refining, especially paired with the chunkier lines he starts using by the third volume. Otherwise, there’s a good sense of motion in the art and, while emotions are often very exaggerated, it doesn’t feel out of place.

Despite the general roughness of Jujutsu Kaisen, it’s obvious Akutami has a lot of passion about the world he’s creating, and this is something of an unusual story. The general mood is that of horror, but it doesn’t go fully into horror all the time. There’s also a quirky sense of humor running throughout, between the school president’s preference for stuffed animal curse creatures to Aoi Todo’s introduction including the kinds of girls he prefers (and taking it very seriously that Yuji reply in kind). There are actually a number of adult characters, somewhat unusual for a school-based shonen, and they’re pretty interesting. The character that would be a Kakashi-type is actually pretty arrogant and self-involved, with big plans for the future. The girl characters, while in the minority, aren’t just eye candy or excuses for fan service or romance options.

Because this series kind of falls between several genres, I could see this appealing to readers who want to dip their toes into horror but don’t want to jump to Junji Ito, or who like My Hero Academia but want something a little less focused on the relative heroism of everyone’s actions. It’s also great for fans of competition manga or fans of Demon Slayer that want something supernatural but set in the modern world. In other words, really pretty perfect for a collection that has sees high circulation for shonen manga.

Jujutsu Kaisen, Vols. 1-3
By Gege Akutami


VIZ, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: T+
Series Reading Order: (Wikipedia or Goodreads)

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NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16), Older Teen (16-18)
Character Traits: Japanese

  • Shannan

    | She/They Teen Services Librarian, San Antonio Public Library

    Features Writer

    Shannan waffled between English professor and librarian as career choices for all of college; eventually librarian won. She is a Teen Services Librarian with the San Antonio Public Library. When not running TTPRG games for their teens or teaching them how to bake, she's doing what she can to promote comics to anyone who will listen. At home they're likely deep in the middle of their latest cosplay project or watching B movies with her husband, while generally pushing the cats out of the way.

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