Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 episode 20 might’ve possibly been the cleanest episode of the season in terms of all-around production. When I watch a weekly anime give us an episode that almost makes me think the series just released a 23-minute movie, the production staff is undoubtedly doing some incredible work. With free creative direction and stellar performances by the voice cast, episode 20 is undoubtedly one of my favorite anime episodes of the year.
Todo and Itadori
I’ll just come out and say it — damn it feels good to see these two back in action together! Todo’s fighting ability alone makes any fight he’s involved in exciting and that’s not even mentioning his battle IQ, physical strength, and hilarious personality. I swear that if this episode was shown in movie theaters like it felt like it was, that’s how high-grade it looked, the crowd would have erupted the moment we all heard that first clap as soon as Mahito was about to land that final blow on Itadori.
Itadori lost a father figure in Nanami and a sister figure in Nobara at the hands of Mahito. To have his big brother figure in Todo come in to pick him up and save him is perfect writing by Gege, and here’s why: Todo is the best person to show up in this scenario. It could’ve been anyone Gege wanted it to be but none would’ve had the impact Todo did in both the fight against Mahito or the motivation Itadori needed to get back on his feet. If it were anyone else, they might’ve died along with Itadori.
Mechamaru had Todo and Nitta pair up at the very beginning of the arc and now they came back around full circle for this exact moment to face Mahito and (sort of) heal Itadori’s wounds so he can get back to fighting right away. The way Gege planned this, along with Hiroshi Seko’s work on the series composition and script for the anime, was genius to me. I love writing like this where you think something doesn’t make sense at first then comes back around to have a drastically huge impact.
Filled with consistently fluid animation, wonderful facial expressions, and even some humor — this was a perfect fight for me. It didn’t have the explosiveness of Mahoraga or Jogo against Sukuna, but it was perfect in its own way in significance and character development for Itadori. He was on the brink of giving up. I’d say he actually did give up until Todo saved him. The pure aura that Todo gave off in this entire situation against Mahito was different in comparison to when they fought Hanami in Season 1.
This series is depressing as hell so very few things manage to put a smile on my face — this fight was one of them. Seeing a couple of some of my favorite characters in the series beat the ever-living hell out of the character I hate the most is a level of satisfaction I’m sure many Jujutsu Kaisen fans can resonate with.
I understand the humor that was involved with Todo in one sequence was a selling point from some, and usually it would be for me too, but I love seeing Todo get serious as compared to his extroverted, jolly ole self. There’s something about characters that talk the most getting serious and quiet that always seems to win me over when a big fight is about to happen. That being said, Todo riding the rainbows of space and time before landing his black flash was a glorious spectacle in itself.
Favorite Scene – Miwa
I’m not here to take anything away from the amazing work witnessed in watching Todo and Itadori whoop Mahito’s ass in this Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 episode 20, but the entire train scene with Miwa and Mechamaru was on its own level of production. The preciseness of the artwork and vibrant color script used in this scene was jaw-dropping. Most importantly, it puts a wrap on Miwa and Mechamaru’s relationship.
Miwa’s final goodbye didn’t have a lot of build-up that Itadori had with Nobara or Nanami. However, thanks to the gorgeously produced scene and some incredible voice acting by Chinatsu Akasaki, it took home my favorite moment of the episode. Her acting was on the level of Junya Enoki’s as Itadori at the end of episode 17. Yes, Itadori has endured a lot more to warrant his performance but Akasaki poured her heart into this short yet heartbreaking scene and made Miwa come alive.
Her voice acting for Miwa was on such a level that it felt as if Mechamaru was her true love the entire time and that their story was one we all became engrossed in at some point down the road. We weren’t, but the scene made me feel that way. Simply getting choked up from hearing her cries from behind the train door was heartbreaking. It showed that the Shibuya Incident arc had a drastic effect on those who were never there in the first place. I’d go as far as to say it’s one of Gege Akutami’s best pieces of writing for this arc and possibly the entire series so far.
It’s hard to sell the emotions of a character we really don’t have much to draw from in the first place so I can’t imagine the task of doing so for Akasaki recording her lines. What makes this scene really interesting to me is that there have always been breadcrumbs of Miwa and Mechamaru’s special relationship dating back to the first season. The fact that Mechamaru helped so much in preparing the sorcerers as best as possible and leaving his best friends out of it wasn’t an act of disrespect for their strength, it was a selfish, yet understandable, decision to keep those precious to him alive.
Mechamaru didn’t send Todo simply because he thought he was the only one capable. He figured it was the best way to protect those closest to him as best as possible with the smallest chance of anything bad happening to them. Just take the setting for example. Mechamaru had them sent on a mission as far away as possible to not take any chances. That wasn’t a sign of disrespect at all that was love.
I could see how some would say this special moment with Miwa and Mechamaru could be considered a little random. But it was set up at the beginning of this arc when Miwa was talking to Mechamaru’s robot body. “One day I will come see you”, that’s what Miwa said to an absent Mechamaru’s ears back in episode 7. More importantly, the episode director almost took a shot-for-shot replica from episode 7… the last time Miwa talked to Mechamaru. (See below).
All of that was just amplified by the BEAUTIFUL cinematics in this scene. The slow camera zoom-in on the seat next to her that ended up showing Mechamaru’s true self in a flash was impeccable directing that had me in awe. In such a confined space as being on a train, episode director and storyboard artist Yuuji Tokuno managed to get the perfect angles and frame in every single shot.
Miwa looking at the window as if she could see Mechamaru himself to have him fade away and have a detailed close-up of her crying, was genius. The sudden stoppage in any sound or music when he appeared and the back-and-forth between inside shots of the train and outside the window, everything was executed perfectly and Director Tokuno praising the scene and original layout himself was the cherry on top for me.
I want to first and foremost thank Tokuno for directing and storyboarding such a great episode and to animator Souta Shigetsu, who he credits for some supervision on the episode. Secondly, I’d like to spotlight Dorian Coulon, Imrane Ramdani, Yuki Kikuchi (@KichikuTeacher), and Karl A-B (industry debut), for their work on the opening scene. Itadori’s facial expressions blew me away and I couldn’t believe how great it looked. They captured his emotions perfectly and deserve every last bit of credit.
The work Riku (animator) and Shun (animation director/animator) put into Miwa’s scene needs to be talked about and then some. Shun got started in the industry just last year on Chainsaw Man and now a year later is part of one of the best scenes in the entirety of Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2. I’ve now watched this scene three times since the episode aired on Thursday and I still can’t get enough of it. The framing, angles, storyboard, animation, and, of course, the facial expressions are truly magnificent to me in this scene. I can’t get enough of it.
The background lighting of the city and the lighting in the train were stunning. The vignette (black faded shadowing) around Miwa’s seat set the mood and the side angle of seeing the shadow of her mouth through her hair as she talked to Mechamaru was a neat creative touch from Riku that I also really enjoyed. I feel the scene benefitted from seeing Miwa mouth the words she had to say and the creative freedom for this made the scene so much better.
And lastly, but certainly not least, we can’t ignore Sota Yamazaki’s wonderful chief animation direction in this episode. His work on Todo’s black flash and the colorful manga panels during the fight against Mahito were brilliant in their own ways and added that anime-original creative touch so many fans loved, especially the matchup cards that resonate with the manga character designs themselves.
Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 Episode 20 Wrap-up
Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 episode 20 is the next in line for unbelievable episodes from this season that left my jaw on the floor. This season has brought the manga to life in ways I didn’t think were possible and I couldn’t be more thankful to series director Shouta Goshozono and all the staff that has brought this dark and intense story to life. It sucks to think there are only a few more episodes left.
Episode 20 rating: 10/10
Episode 21 of Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 will be released on Thursday, November 23. Make sure to vote for episode 20 in our weekly poll! The series is streaming on Crunchyroll with English subtitles.
Screenshots via Crunchyroll
©Gege Akutami/Shueisha/JUJUTSU KAISEN Project