This week’s episode of Jujutsu Kaisen was one of those episodes you just know will be trending on social media for weeks. Season 2 has been an absolute treat thus far, combining some of the best showings of anime fundamentals like strong art, fluid animation, beautiful lighting, and spectacular voice acting. The prior week’s episode in particular gave Nanami the chance to remind everyone he’s the sexiest man in the series and one of the strongest too. In adapting this arc of the manga, Jujutsu Kaisen has had to be incredibly careful to balance the communication of crucial expository detail with the presence of action on-screen and the amount of information someone can realistically be prepared to receive in a few minutes. Perhaps fittingly, Gojo’s exercise of carefully moving quickly to defeat enemies while only holding his domain open long enough to cause the most minimal damage to innocents’ brains is a perfect microcosm of the incredible work this season has put in.
This episode starts right where the prior one ended. Mechamaru apprised Yuji and Mei Mei of where they’d best head on the battlefield and Yuji dashed off toward Gojo’s (sealed) locations. Simultaneously, the various cursed spirits in Pseudo-Geto’s group dispersed from Gojo, with Mahito, Jogo, and Choso beginning a little contest to see who could find Yuji. Choso, who wants to murder Yuji for killing his brothers back in season 1, was the lucky one, running into Yuji at an entrance to the station. And it was on sight.
Spoilers ahead for Jujutsu Kaisen episode 37 Red Scale
A Beautifully Animated Technique
Before talking about Yuji’s fight with Choso, I want to take a moment to examine what happened just before he got there. Yuji’s arrival to the outside of the station had him face down a hoard of curses and transfigured humans as they slaughtered innocents. The anime did a much better job of showing the extent of the carnage and how in Yuji’s face it was, seemingly in reference to Gojo finding himself in the same situation. Yuji obviously cannot do what Gojo can, but I thought it was good to highlight his mindset here. Unlike when he first encountered transfigured humans and couldn’t bring even himself to kill them, he’s now making broader calculations about what wins the overall fight and is confident that he’d be able to save enough people himself for the choice to even be a possible one. That was cool to see.
The beginning of the fight made use of clever angles and music quite well, with the transitions from close-ups of each combatant’s face to an over-the-shoulder view adding to how dynamic the scene felt. On top of that, I absolutely love how piercing blood is being animated. Despite how fluid (in a literal sense) the attacks are, Jujutsu Kaisen is managing to capture the luster and glisten of every droplet as it coagulates and the incredible supersonic speed with which it can be fired. This was also an instance in Jujutsu Kaisen where narration was necessary to explain a technique, a but wonderfully handled one. Even Mechamaru’s portion of this was smooth, with the anime making the creative choice to add aspects of his explanation onto the surrounding environment rather than cut away inorganically to some sort of diagram.
The only other time we’ve seen the blood manipulation technique is from Noritoshi Kamo during the Kyoto Sister-School Goodwill Event. To me, his fighting style is a lot less entertaining than Choso’ for two reasons. For one, Noritoshi feels much more strictly a ranged fighter, especially given his weapon of choice is a bow and arrow. Choso creates range when it’s beneficial (especially against a brawler like Yuji) but clearly can throw hands when he needs to. Secondly, and more importantly (something I think the episode sort of glanced over) is that Choso does not have the same risk of bleeding out that a normal human would. This is why he’s able to so smoothly and freely spray blood all over the place, reclaim it, and set up for an additional attack. Choso was only recently incarnated as a cursed womb and fights on an instinctive level. It’s a much more pure-combatant approach to the technique and leads him to use some incredibly adaptive moves rather than prim and proper passed-down ones.
Top Tier Direction in Jujutsu Kaisen
Looking now specifically toward the portion of the fight in the bathroom, I think multiple aspects of the episode’s direction and composition are worth praising. First, the music was excellently used not just to complement the action but to truly enhance it. Swelling music would drop in volume at the moment Yuji received a devastating impact or when either person was hit such that they lost focus. Multiple synth-focused sections showed clear Flying Lotus influence and it added strong energy to the scene. Every blow felt satisfying and, like the last episode, Jujutsu Kaisen is placing extra emphasis on something a lot of anime tend not to: the sound of a fighter’s feet. Every slide, jump from Yuji, slight splash, or maneuvering on the wet ground lent spatial detail to the parts of their bodies we could see. Sound, movement, and sparks of cursed energy as fists connected came together better than ever.
Parts of this fight felt like a 2D video game and parts felt like a fantastic arena game. Every part was incredibly satisfying and I rewound more times than I could count. I’m already seeing plenty of people online compare Jujutsu Kaisen to other anime (especially the big three) for its choreography in this episode, and plenty of naysayers in response. Personally, I don’t think it’s charitable to root appraisals of quality in comparisons or via some arbitrary analysis of how the fight fits into the overall story. This fight accomplished an incredible amount for the plot, showing Yuji for the first time in a long time reach his physical limits, understand his role as a cog in a broader machine, and trigger some interesting false memories in a curse. Irrespective of that strong work, I can tell an unimaginable amount of time and energy went into this episode and that’s worth praising in and of itself. Sometimes, a fight looking incredible is more than enough, and Jujutsu Kaisen delivers plot impact on top of that. This was one of my favorite sections of the manga; it’s incredibly rewarding to see it animated. Make sure to give this series the praise it deserves in our weekly rankings.
Images via Crunchyroll
© Akutami Gege/Shueisha/Jujutsu Kaisen Production Committee