Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 episode 18 won’t be as memorable as the previous episode, but it does show a different side to the series we (sort of) experienced earlier in the season. Nanami’s death was as well produced as it could’ve been. Despite some finding some hiccups in animation and composition, there’s no denying that Nanami’s final stand was still wonderfully done.
Nanami’s Last Fight
I’ll be brutally honest right out the gate with this—I loved everything about the first half of the episode involving Nanami. The development and love for his character has been there since the first season despite not having as big a presence as, say, Gojo. He was a fan favorite from the last season and became one for many while watching this season.
I think there’s something special to be had at a hero’s last-ditch effort to go down swinging over a piano that just leaves me in a trance and with tears in my eyes. Death is looked so highly upon as something dark and terrifying, especially in a series such as Jujutsu Kaisen. But in this episode, it’s almost as if Goshozono wanted to show a side of Nanami that we can all appreciate and cherish, to treat death with a little more dignity than how the series usually treats it. What might be my favorite part of it all, is that while we see Nanami smiling on the beach, he’s doing anything but during his fight in real-time…until he realizes Yuji is there.
It was almost as if the two sides of Nanami’s conscience finally caved into a single thought at the very end of it all and it was with a smile on his face. Before Nanami goes out in a mist of his own blood, he turns around to Yuji with a smile—a grand moment of accepting death and one last lesson. Nanami was a protector to the very end. He protected Yuji and Megumi. He saved Nobara. He stood alongside Maki. In the end, he was all by himself with nobody to help him. Yet, he still managed to put on one of the softest smiles the series has seen. To be able to find bliss in death is the strongest trait Nanami had all along.
Will Nanami’s death be one that we look back on in a few years and still feel that impact? Perhaps, perhaps not. However, what Director Goshozono managed to do with Nanami’s send-off is a testament to just how powerful an anime can wholeheartedly be. We saw what he managed to create in episode 3 with Riko’s death and it was on wonderful display yet again with Nanami in episode 18. Nanami’s end almost felt like a theatrical performance that made the rising action to his death feel poignant yet peaceful.
He was a mentor for Yuji in ways even Gojo couldn’t be. While both of them had the strong resolve to protect future generations, Gojo definitely tapped into Yuji’s potential as a sorcerer while Nanami always made sure to remind him to keep his humanity. Gojo may have been a cool uncle to Yuji, but I’ll always see Nanami as the father figure to him and the next generation of sorcerers. So in that moment of silence watching Nanami die at the hands of Mahito, the feeling of Yuji losing a father figure was nothing other than heavy.
Nanami’s death in the manga came at just a handful of panels. In fact, Mahito was in front of Nanami when he killed him, unlike in the anime. I actually liked Goshozono’s decision for this as it shows Mahito’s cowardice and not being able to face the man who almost succeeded in killing him. It was a nice, yet simple, switch to the moment that showed more of Mahito’s true nature (if people haven’t grasped that already).
The action scenes were more thorough. The rush of worry from Yuji in the anime leading up to watching Nanami die was completely absent in the manga, which cuts from Yujii’s face in the last episode to seeing Mahito killing Nanami. all of the running in between and worried shots of Yuji were nowhere to be found in the manga. But I think what takes the cake for everything in this episode, despite all the action between Yuji and Mahito, were the transitions during Nanami’s final stand.
Nanami’s death in the manga was rather short-lived. I wouldn’t say it was insulting, but there was something that wasn’t there that should’ve been and the anime filled those gaps tremendously. Most of the action we see is anime-original as are all the moments of Nanami at the beach. I explained last week in my article on episode 17 as to why I thought it was the best action episode of the year and some elements carry on into this episode. I never saw Nanami’s fight as a last-ditch effort to stay alive watching the anime. Instead, it felt more like a moment where he wanted to take down as many enemies as possible so nobody else would get hurt.
The use of transitions can be tricky and that’s why many anime don’t use them on a consistent basis like series such as 86 Eighty-Six and Loving Yamada-kun at Lv.999. Even in Jujutsu Kaisen, it’s a rarity. But in episode 18, we see as to why specifically great transitions can be such a phenomenal element to include in times of great emotion. Take the moment down below, for example, everything is in contrast with one another.
All of the physical details and differences don’t need to be talked about because they’re so apparent. But it was at this moment when it seemed like Nanami knew that it was his time. It was the closest of transitions as well. While many of the transitions shown in the sequence above were medium shots, this was the one close-up. And it could be left up to many interpretations.
When he opened his eyes, it didn’t even show a warrior’s spirit anymore. Those eyes showed a brief moment of fear, acceptance, concern, and maybe even a moment of thought where he actually thought he was dead for a second, but came back. This is what gave Nanami’s run such a bittersweet ending in the best way possible. And this is what an anime is supposed to do with its source material—show that a 1:1 ratio of its source isn’t always the right decision. Anime should be a medium where creativity doesn’t have any restraints.
As for the rest of the episode with Yuji and Mahito, I could see why some may question some shots. But all in all, their fight deserves a lot of praise as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if Junya Enoki is up for awards come the end of the year. His performance as Yuji has been second to none this season despite not having the most screen—and that’s exactly why he should be up for such awards. That being said, was it the best fight? No. Was it the worst? Far from it. With animators like Benjamin Faure, Blue, and Proro (see below) back this week as key animators, we were bound to have some wild moments.
There was a brief moment in their fight where it looked like blood and guts were stuck to my screen as Yuji and Mahito were walking, which was a bit odd considering neither of them moved that fast or possessed the innate ability to stop time. But other than that, it was a really all-around solid fight for the most part but it’d be unfair to compare it to the fights from the past two episodes.
I’d say a second favorite of mine from this episode behind the entire Nanami scene was the use of framing. More often than not, most of the shots in episode 18 had a unique framing to them, even during Nanami’s fight. In its simplest form, framing is a way to draw the viewer’s attention to a certain spot on the screen and the storyboard work from Goshozono and Yoosuke Takada was pretty damn good. One final tidbit I absolutely loved about Goshozono’s work with Nanami in this episode is the ode to the signs just as we saw with Riko from episode 3 in the aquarium (see below). It hits even harder when you learn that “karari” (からり) can stand for different things, including “bright and clear sky.”
Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 Episode 18 Wrap-Up
Nanami’s death is what made this episode and rightfully so. Again, in two months will we look back on his death and think to ourselves, “Damn…”? I guess time will tell. That being said, Goshozono did a wonderful job of making it as memorable as possible. It’s no wonder why he got the tap to be this season’s director. Episode 18 of Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 will always be remembered as a sad time in the story.
Episode 18 rating: 9/10
Episode 19 of Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 will be released on Thursday, November 30. Make sure to vote for episode 18 in our weekly poll! The series is streaming on Crunchyroll with English subtitles.
Screenshots via Crunchyroll
©Gege Akutami/Shueisha/JUJUTSU KAISEN Project