Jujutsu Kaisen Volume 1 by Gege Akutami
Fending off supernatural threats is a shonen staple, so how does Jujutsu Kaisen stack up? It very much felt like an early effort from a mangaka, which it is, but the first volume has a few flashes of humor and a central premise that is both disgusting and entertaining.
Yuji Itadori is a teenager who enjoys hanging out with the occult club despite his superhuman strength and speed. He’s being targeted for his athletic abilities by the track coach, but manages to maintain his new supernatural hobby by winning a bet about his shot put abilities. Megumi Fushiguro, a student from another school with actual occult abilities, is investigating the presence of a cursed object when he encounters Yuji and his new friends. It turns out that the occult club has gotten their hands on an artifact that is actually quite cursed, and Yuji and Megumi have to team up to save his friends from demonic destruction. Along the way, Yuji casually eats a demonic finger in order to get cursed energy to fend off the evil spirits. This ends up giving Yuji a semi-manageable case of spirit possession, but also makes him useful to demon hunters because he’s basically a walking container for cursed objects, as long as he eats them. There’s a particular demon who is the source of the cursed digits, and Yuji is going to join a team hunting down the relics of the evil Sakuna.
The art throughout this volume is serviceable but a bit rough, there’s little mobility in the characters’ facial expressions and while the action scenes are easy to follow they’d be a lot more entertaining with some shifts in perspective or more dynamic paneling. I’m curious to see if the art improves more as the series continues to develop. The demons do look appropriately freaky and scary.
Yuji’s motivations for fighting demons are introduced with a lack of subtly. Then again, I guess one does not expect delicately and subtle plot points from a Shonen Jump manga. There were a few moments that I thought were hilarious enough to be engaging. When Yuji is figuring out how many digits he is going to have to consume, the total number is high due to a surprising reason which is tossed off in casual conversation. I also enjoyed Yuji’s low-key approach to performing dramatic physical feats. The end of the volume sets up the new occult fighting team and their sparsely populated high school that has a curriculum dedicated to fighting evil, and it’ll be interesting to see how that develops. Ultimately this first volume reminded me that sometimes one has to give a manga two volumes before deciding to follow a series or not, and that is what I’ll be doing with Jujutsu Kaisen.