Let’s get this out of the way first and foremost. I started reading the manga for Jujutsu Kaisen after having watched the first 14 episodes of the anime. I’m greatly enjoying that.
Getting into the first couple of chapters of the manga itself, it reads like the anime. Interestingly, in comparison to say, Black Clover, Jujutsu takes a little bit more time in it’s scene pacing within the anime compared to the manga. The manga fight scenes are surprisingly short, concise, to the point, and don’t provide you with the depth of strength the anime pushes. I have to wonder if this is because of the difficulty in representing the monstrous entities in any dynamic fashion consistently from frame to frame.
Though, thinking about fight scenes in manga a little more. I must argue against the frame to frame that initially came to mind. Manwa tend to have long drawn out battle scenes. Solo Leveling, which I read and reviewed last week had 140 chapters I got through. There were many panels with fight scenes. What I think it is, might be that manga is developed to be a published physical text for consumption where as manwa is designed for mobile reading. With mobile reading, there doesn’t have to be a limit on panel length. With manga, there is structure to how the page is read, how many pages are allowed within a printed book, and where the reader’s eye falls first on a page as you flip from page to page. Massive, dynamic scenes are often on the back of the page you are reading so that the page you open to and see first ruins the bits of dialogue on the back because you saw the dynamic before you read the important bits. Manga is a balancing act in structure. To keep the pace moving and be able to meet the publishing specs, fight scenes are most likely clipped to be smaller then in manwa. At least, that’s my assumption currently.
It is nice to approach a manga that considers the darker side, the darker aspect, of characters and stories that deal with death. Often, most anime and manga, say Fullmetal Alchemist, Naruto, and those where characters die, there are moments within the anime that address these circumstances. The characters cry, there’s a funeral, there’s a little bit of misery after, but addressing the situation prior to these circumstances happening isn’t often pushed heavily.
Usually it’s a “you know people die in this line of work, right?”
“Yeah, I know.”
“And you’re okay with that?”
“I’m strong, I can handle it.”
And that’s that.
No, this one does it a bit different. This one makes it so that the character has no one to blame for their actions and failings. That a grandfather’s last wish isn’t their excuse or their crutch.
This particular series, both within the anime and the manga highlight a changing opinion in the shonen world. One that is allowing strong female characters with depth. One that is allowing male characters to be more than just a tank. It’s providing a platform for a changing mindset. It’s pointing out in a subtle way or sometimes in a blatant way, the tropes that have composed this genre for decades now. It’s trying to deconstruct the scaffolding holding up old ideas that need to be reassessed and dismantled.
Really, with Jujutsu, I’m hoping to see the progression of not just the art style utilized rippling through the rest of the illustration community, I’m hoping the deeper psychology and social organization of ideas it’s punching holes in makes it’s way into other manga genres. I’m hoping it creates an opening for the audience to demand better representation and also for the illustrators and authors to point to the publishers and production companies that change is acceptable if not necessary for the progression of the industry at large.
The art is good. The story is regular. Its the little lines, the little actions, the little pokes and prods and jabs and punches at the accepted gender stereotyping and expectations within the genre that is absolutely beautiful to watch.
If I could say something to the illustrators, the design team, the author, the production company, and the publishers and distributors of this, it would be:
Thank you. Thank you for cracking the mold.
I am a writer and artist working through the Kavordian Library series. I write sci-fi, fantasy, lgbt romance.