Jujutsu Kaisen: Society, Despair, and Adulthood

Jujutsu Kaisen is famous for its visuals, but behind its rich atmosphere is a rather relatable perspective on life and perseverance.


  • Jujutsu Kaisen’s “adult” feel stems from its depiction of life and adulthood, which may resonate more with older viewers.
  • The series draws inspiration from Bleach and Hunter x Hunter, and effectively incorporates occult elements into modern society.
  • The accumulation of despair is a central theme, exemplified by the characters’ perspectives on work and the challenges of adulthood.



Warning: This may contain minor spoilers for Jujutsu Kaisen, now streaming on Crunchyroll.

Something about Jujutsu Kaisen feels distinctly “adult” and admittedly, saying that runs the risk of some pretension; it’s not like shōnen anime don’t dabble in dark subjects or mature themes. Rather, the word “adult” refers to how the world, the writing, and the atmosphere imbue this series with a particular view of life and adulthood that perhaps can hit harder with older viewers.

Written by Gege Akutami, Jujutsu Kaisen is hugely inspired by Tite Kubo’s Bleach and the works of Yoshihiro Togashi (Hunter x Hunter) and wears these inspirations on its sleeve. What made this story stand out was its inspired use of the occult deeply woven into the fabric of modern civilization, something directors Sunghoo Park and Shota Goshozono have put into animation with great care.



It’s no secret that Jujutsu Kaisen‘s lifeblood is in its horror elements, and while the show might not be known for being scary per se, it wouldn’t be the same without its monsters. With that said, the monsters would not be the same without the environment in which they were born. The vehicle by which this series’ atmosphere grips the audience is a particular flavor of horror that Japanese pop culture excels at; urban legends rooted in true stories of humanity’s ugliest inclinations.

A grim news broadcast, whispers in classrooms, rumors on message boards, and the mechanism that is society chugging along as if everything is normal despite the inciting violence. These elements are the makings of countless visual novels, light novels, and anime from the late 90s and early 00s. The appeal of such macabre stories is universal in the internet age. They could hardly exist without the net.

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In Season 2’s premiere, set in 2006, Mei Mei points out how the growth of the internet has helped spread rumors about ghosts and urban legends like wildfire. It means more victims, and stronger curses, which in turn require stronger sorcerers to combat them. This really puts the present-day storyline into perspective, suggesting that the nature of the threat has changed with the times.

In Jujutsu Kaisen, cursed spirits are born of negative human emotions, and the worst ones are born of horrific incidents and deaths that few could even imagine experiencing themselves. But they don’t necessarily have to come from gruesome deaths either. Curses only require negative emotion and there’s plenty of that all around in life. These horror stories make myths out of the all-too-common horrors of life.


One cursed spirit pulls its victim in for a “kiss” like some manifestation of unwarranted and disconcerting intimacy. Another, known in Japanese folklore as the Kuchisake-Onna, appears as a girl with scissors, asking its victim if they think she’s pretty, not that any answer will prevent them from cutting them apart. The legend refers to a spirit that seeks vengeance after mutilation in life, implying physical and sexual assault.

Furthermore, low-level curses don’t hurl insults or scream, but utter random, seemingly meaningless words like a creature reciting words from a grocery list. The story doesn’t dwell on the story of every spirit on screen, nor does it need to. These underlying qualities are easily recognizable and add texture to the mythos of the series, one where the accumulation of despair, big or small, can add up until it cannot be ignored any longer.

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Speaking of “accumulation,” that sounds an awful lot like the words of Kento Nanami, a fan-favorite character, and one whose attitude about life is no doubt one of the reasons why. The look of him alone commands respect, but what makes him instantly endearing is his honest disdain for work. He left being a sorcerer to be a salaryman, then came back when he realized that no matter the work, “Work is sh**,” so he may as well do what he’s better at.

Nanami is such a mood because his attitude toward work is relatable to many viewers, and this helps reinforce the position of the jujutsu sorcerer as, above all, just a more deadly job. Jujutsu Kaisen has plenty of cool moments and creatively constructed action, but the text rarely romanticizes the life of a sorcerer. It’s hard work and Nanami is abundantly aware of the cost.

For this reason, he’s protective of the protagonist, Yuji Itadori, not because he underestimates him, but because he sees it as his responsibility as an adult to look out for the youth. Furthermore, his perspective on what makes someone an adult goes hand-in-hand with the foundations of this story’s threat: “the accumulation of those little despairs.”

This philosophy paints him as a realist, but it also speaks to the fact that the only real difference between the Nanami audiences meet in Season 1 and his younger self in Season 2 is time. There’s no clear delineation between being a child and an adult. It’s about growth over time and by the time someone is living alone, paying their own bills, being an adult can feel like faking it – imitating some idea of adulthood. But looking at it Nanami’s way, it suddenly makes sense.

Suguru Geto Shower Scene

To take it a step further, this philosophy ties into the central conflicts of the narrative. Though Nanami was not a major part of the Hidden Inventory arc, he and Geto both vividly experienced the loss that comes with being a sorcerer, but the way they dealt with it was wildly different. Nanami abandoned sorcery after graduation but came back, while Geto abandoned everything and lost himself forever.

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Jujutsu Kaisen & Adulthood


If adulthood is about the accumulation of little despairs, and curses are those despairs made manifest, then Jujutsu Kaisen is a series about fighting the urge to let those despairs destroy us. Suguru Geto was caught between a cause that he wanted to believe in and a hatred he harbored for the society that his cause would protect. He chose hatred because he couldn’t see an end to the despair.

On the flip side, Kento Nanami became a jujutsu sorcerer again precisely because running from those mounting worries and disappointments is akin to giving up on life. This connective tissue between the central conflict and the underlying philosophies lends the narrative – and especially the anime – an appreciably melancholic sense of nostalgia.

There’s a reason why the opening and ending credits often have an abundance of candid moments of the cast just existing – not fighting as sorcerers, but having fun and enjoying life. Season 1’s second ending theme, “Give it back” by Cö shu Nie, is practically an anthem to the fleeting vibrance of youth, and the visuals only make the sequence more emotional.


In addition to its inspirations from all-time shōnen greats, Jujutsu Kaisen takes cues from horror films and urban myths to create a modern fantasy whose atmosphere is reflective of the times. Thanks to this, its story finds small but meaningful ways to present an attitude about life that viewers in the occasional throes of adulthood might connect with more than others.

Jujutsu Kaisen is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

Fuente: successacademy.edu.vn
Categorías: Anime

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