Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 episode 16 may have quite possibly been the most well-directed episode of the entire series so far. Not just the series, but out of every anime that’s aired this year. We’ve had a couple already this season that can be argued with that case (Attack on Titan, Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End) and there are certainly others from this year that could be in the conversation as well. But let’s bench those comparisons for now and just appreciate what we were given on Thursday—Jujutsu Kaisen‘s own 23-minute piece of animated cinema.
I don’t think I’ve been this amazed, personally, with an episode of anime since episode 22 of 86 Eighty-Six aired. This kind of direction and storyboard, specifically, was something that left me sitting here at my computer screen attempting to find a way to describe everything properly without getting too overexcited and losing myself in that excitement trying to scramble for the right words.
I don’t want to sit here and simply say that Jujutsu Kaisen can’t get any better than that but I also said something similar with episode 3 of this season and here we are. That being said, Itsuki Tsuchigami made one hell of an impact with this episode and storyboard. He’s no rookie when it comes to episode direction, but this episode shows what a lot of creative animators can do when given the freedom to do so.
So where do we begin? While the fight between Megumi and Toji was short-lived and rightfully overshadowed by Sukuna and Gojo, there’s no need to fly past the spectacle we received between their fight as well. Using real-world shots to conduct the storyboard for the episode and giving a fortunate amount of time to help animate the episodes, Tsuchigami proves that going above and beyond for an adaptation with proper timing has drastically positive results.
I’m ready to get my 86 on with this review because there’s so much I want to dive into. First and foremost, Megumi’s fight with Toji was a spectacle itself. The fight choreography and animation were so brilliant it almost made me forget that this is actually adapting a manga in the first place. It had its own charm and feel to it.
If you simply just look at the color between their fight and the one with Sukuna and Jogo, you can just see how different they are in terms of, well, everything. Color gives way to a story without words. Just from the colors alone, we could deviate from the seriousness of each fight. When you have someone like Toji who is all about his physical combat, having a flashy fight would be rather odd unless the setting calls for it, like it was in Dagon’s domain last episode. So to have this constant state of grey and blue throughout the fight, besides the few shots outside, had me focused more on the moments they collided a lot more than the surroundings they were both crumbling.
The constant close-ups and perfect expressions on Megumi’s face every time he escaped death by a single hair were unbelievable and I think that was huge for this episode. We saw in Season 1 that Megumi is the most expressionless person in the world unless a fight gets really serious. In this one, it wasn’t even a matter of enjoying an intense battle, it was a matter of just trying to stay alive every second the fight continued on.
For it to end with Toji back to his senses just for a split moment before killing “himself”, that way to end a fight between father and son when neither, more so Megumi, has no idea what the hell is going on is just scriptwriting at its finest. Again, it felt like a scene out of a movie rather than just something episodic. It was the most Toji-like way of saying goodbye to his son even after the flashbacks, smile and all.
On the flip side of things, Sukuna and Jogo’s fight is what elevated this episode to the cinematic piece as I would like to call it. The contrast between their fight and the one between Megumi and Toji was substantial. From meaning to sound design to coloring to animation to artwork, everything was just so astronomically different in so many ways other than the fact they were both sensational to watch.
I think I replayed the moment the letterboxing (aspect ratio) came into play the moment Sukuna drew back the arrow. The wind blowing, the fire burning, the moment the piece of glass turned into its own little fireball. The panning aerial shot above Jogo and Sukuna standing on a giant asteroid in the middle of Shibuya the moment before Jogo dies. Transitioning into these beautifully detailed backgrounds to this blank white space in a very calm way was just in perfect contrast to all of the destruction both of them caused beforehand.
For Sukuna and Jogo to have such a destructive fight end in a peaceful way was truly something to behold. The letterboxing. Magnificent composition. The extreme depth of field with the dark background of the buildings gives a better focus on the objects in front. It was all just one giant sequence that left my jaw on the floor.
That’s not even mentioning the moments during the fight as well. A couple of shots of Sukuna’s face looking like an evil skeleton really amplified the sense that he really is evil incarnate. He destroys and kills for fun, and also because he’s bored. There had to have been a way to make him look even more menacing and this episode managed to even do something as little as that. You had others like the one below when Sukuna was floating in a cross-shape as if he were a god himself. Seem familiar? You might recall Gojo doing the same thing moments before he ended his fight with Toji earlier this season. So it’s safe to say Director Tsuchigami knew exactly what he was doing with this episode.
The Other “Fight”
We got a Panda sighting in this episode and while the humor was there, the moments were short-lived. More importantly, I love how their “moment” in this episode was nothing more than just a side quest for Sukuna. Imagine having a massive fight like he’s having with Jogo just to see a giant asteroid fall on Shibuya and telling them “Hey now, don’t move until I say so” just for the giggles.
To have your own “fight” during the Shibuya incident, which even received a little backstory as well, just to end up being a little side game for Sukuna was downright hysterical to me. It had absolutely no significance at all other than the moment Sukuna showed up to have a little fun on the side while fighting. I can’t recall any recent anime villains to do such a thing. Not to mention the facial expressions of everyone when Sukuna shows up couldn’t help but make me laugh.
Last week, I laughed at the thought of Jogo being able to crush a lot of first-grade sorcerers but look like nothing more than child’s play to guys like Sukuna and Gojo. This episode was so well-directed that I wouldn’t be surprised if there were fans out there who felt a little bad for Jogo in his “heaven” moment with, Hanami, Dagon, and Sukuna.
Now there may be a debate that Jogo was imagining Sukuna saying those things to him or not is definitely up for interpretation. Having a “touching” moment with nothing but characters who have killed countless lives for god knows how long is hard to bring about. In other words, when Jogo cries you can’t even really begin to feel serious about it because of what he’s done.
However, I think crying after having the validation from Sukuna about his strength is something a lot of us could shockingly relate to. I’m sure there’s someone in all of our lives whom we would love to be acknowledged in some way for one reason or another. I think that’s why the human discussion in this scene came about between Jogo and Sukuna. It was also the very first moment where we see Jogo showing a true human emotion for the first time that isn’t anger—happiness.
That being said, I think there’s one villain who every single Jujutsu Kaisen fan on the planet collectively hates at this point—Haruta Shigemo.
Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 Episode 16 Wrap-Up
I feel a little bit for whoever it is that has to direct the next episode of Jujutsu Kaisen after this one. If there was ever an episode that was difficult to follow up on, it’s this one. Even if you looked for a flaw in this episode, you wouldn’t find it. Everything down to the use of rule-of-thirds and shadow placement was just all an artistic masterpiece. This is Jujutsu Kaisen at its best and I can only hope that we see more of Tsuchigami’s work, and the staff that was under him, going forward.
Episode 16 rating: 10/10
Episode 17 of Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 will be released on Thursday, November 16. Make sure to vote for the episode in our weekly poll! The series is streaming on Crunchyroll with English subtitles.
Screenshots via Crunchyroll
©Gege Akutami/Shueisha/JUJUTSU KAISEN Project