Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 episode 21 wasn’t short of any jaw-dropping animation much like the entire season has shown us at this point. Seeing Itadori continue to unleash all of his fury on Mahito throughout this episode was a joy to witness. Although, the ending was kind of a ball-buster for everything that occurred throughout the episode. Still, it was one hell of a ride that came to what felt like an abrupt end.
Was It All For Nothing?
The entire episode was more action than dialogue and for most Jujutsu Kaisen fans, that’s what they want. On top of that, the action was damn good looking too. But did the Mahito-Itadori monologues and arguments turn moot the moment “Geto” showed up at the end? Or was the substance in the episode still something to be acknowledged?
This is one of those instances where the bad guy needed to bite the dust. The writing and setup were all wonderfully executed for the story between Mahito and Itadori to end right then and there in the crater left behind thanks to Sukuna. Ending the episode with Mahito’s death would’ve put a tightly sealed cap on their story that would make the seal on Gojo seem like being trapped in a pickle jar.
Itadori’s expressions at times were more manga-accurate in terms of art style, and also how he looked more like Sukuna than himself, was a solid decision by episode director Tetsuya Akutsu. The cold, menacing look that Itadori gives Mahito throughout the fight is something that brings more hype than an anime shonen-trope scream before completely “powering up.” As I’ve said before, there’s just something about an extroverted character going quiet in a serious situation that I will always love in terms of writing and entertainment– Itadori brought the house down on both.
However, as a counter to the ending of episode 21, I think it’s another aspect that defines the darkness of what Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 wants to show. The high-standing villains in this story have the denser plot armor while the protagonists get the short end of the stick leading to the deaths of our favorite characters. The ones we hate live on. Itadori was on the brink of killing Mahito and ending him once and for all… only to have Geto show up and say, “Hey, buddy! Need some help?” I’m not ignoring the fact that Itadori got a quick heal-up to fight Mahito, but let’s be honest, the cards are undoubtedly stacked against him throughout this entire arc.
The fight itself, like all others from this season, had me on the edge of my seat. Todo “fighting” alongside his favorite idol in Takada-chan with idol music blasting only to have all of that just be for him to slap Mahito’s right hand was hilarious. But even that one slap and his last move toward the end all made a huge difference in supporting Itadori. The support also allowed Itadori to gain more experience and show what he’s truly made of. The calm demeanor of Nanami mixed with the unwillingness to give up like Nobara was on full display through his fight with Mahito, and I loved every second of it.
The Itadori Dilemma
Itadori having no qualms about killing Mahito in this life and the next ones is something you wouldn’t expect to hear from someone who continued to promise himself that he’d protect instead of kill. It’s just not something normal for a main character in the shonen world of anime to have a bloodlust for a specific person like that for such a long time and make a declaration of that hatred as well.
I appreciate it, though. In a shonen realm of talking enemies down to stop fights or sad backstories to feel sympathy for villains, it’s nice having a main character directly speak his resolve, without hesitation, to kill someone we all want to see dead, too. No amount of great directing will ever make me have a drop of sympathy for Mahito.
While he looked and acted like Sukuna at times, we have to remember Sukuna kills for fun, Itadori had to develop a sense for killing Mahito to stop him from killing others. At times even when it looked like Itadori wanted to kill Mahito to simply kill him with no other motive, we still have to remember Itadori is the good guy here, not that stiched-faced abomination.
The animation looked fantastic and Animation Director Roccia Nobili even said, “This was probably the most fun I had working on the show.” Well, the results showed off for themselves. Layers of animation in the fight at the heart of Shibuya towards the beginning of the episode looked even better with the beautiful background art and color script that went along with it.
Even though the fight ended up in darker territory so there wasn’t much lightwork to be had, the A-part of the episode still looked amazing. I’d say my favorite sequence would have to be the one done by key animator 24m² which you can check below. The background fight, while keeping Mahito’s rolling head in the foreground and all in front of the well-lit and well-colored Shibuya background, blended in so well together with respectable composition.
Last week I gave credit to a few of those who worked on the episode with a primary focus on the direction and storyboard work. So this week, I’ll recognize a few of the animators who have already posted some of their work on the episode and what they contributed, including Camilo Salinas who debuted this season as a 2nd key animator.
The first one below is from Kaito Tomioka. He’s one of the main animators for this season who has worked on both openings and episodes 2, 7, 9, 17,18, and now, 21. Tomioka handled the final black flash from Itadori at the end of the episode. The rest are from other key animators who worked on the episode!
Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 Episode 21 Wrap-Up
While this episode didn’t have much plot development, the fight itself was entertaining to watch and I still came away with it ready to run it back a second time. In a series where many of the side characters shine in their own fights, it’s good to see the actual main character of the series be front and center for an entire episode again.
Episode 21 rating: 9/10
Episode 22 of Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 will be released on Thursday, December 21. Make sure to vote for episode 21 in our weekly poll! The series is streaming on Crunchyroll with English subtitles.
Screenshots via Crunchyroll
©Gege Akutami/Shueisha/JUJUTSU KAISEN Project