MANGA REVIEW | "Jujutsu Kaisen" - Volume Eighteen
Where in the hell has this Jujutsu Kaisen been these last few months?! After slugging through the Shibuya Incident, I was starting to suspect that Gege Akutami was running out of ideas. But all he had to do was put Yuji and Megumi into a Fight Club situation, as he does in its eighteenth volume. And just like that, the magic is back!
With the culling game set to take place, the Jujutsu High students need another fighter. That job goes to Kinji, a student whose been suspended for some time. In order to find him, Yuji will have to roll up his sleeves and go bare-knuckle on some opponents. Fortunately, his first fight is with a very familiar-looking panda.
Before Kinji’s trust can be earned, his girl Kirara gets word of their plan. A fight between Yuji and Kinji begins, while Kirara deals with Megumi and Panda. While Kirara uses sorcerous powers, Kinji and Yuji instead trade blows. It’s a battle of both endurance and trust, as the Jujutsu High students need Kinji’s help on their latest mission. Thankfully, Yuji’s got a hard-enough head to be as persuasive as can be.
Kirara’s battle with Megumi and Panda brings things back to what made Jujutsu Kaisen exciting in the first place. The fight has Kirara using a star-based system that allows her to mark cursed energy. It reaches creative heights, ranging from run-of-the-mill cars being thrown around to the sudden appearance of hundreds of bloodthirsty rabbits. But with both Megumi and Panda’s skills, the fight ends in a way that — while predictable — is very satisfying.
This leads to Kinji and Yuji’s fight, with the suspended student landing blow after blow into Yuji’s head. Yuji tries to earn Kinji’s trust so much, that he not only doesn’t fight back, but also doesn’t block his attacks! Thankfully, all it takes is the mention of Gojo’s situation to bring Kinji into the fold. With that, Yuji and the rest can enter the culling game to find the info they need.
Although there’s plenty of excitement on display in this volume of Jujutsu Kaisen, a chapter involving a lawyer (and incoming culling game player) manages to put the brakes on things. It’s a decent chapter, but it feels very much out of place with the rest of the volume. However, what occurs in it is a good eye-opening lesson on why certain law organizations are as corrupt as they are, and why Japan has an incredibly high guilty verdict ratio! (Only 00.1% of trials end with a “not guilty” verdict.)
If Jujutsu Kaisen can keep the excitement levels high in this culling game arc, it can redeem itself for what occurred with the Shibuya Incident. While not a perfect volume, it does have plenty of the elements that made me enjoy this series early on. One hopes that they can keep on coming back to the core of what Jujutsu Kaisen is all about in this latest story, as that was what was missing in the mess of the last arc. Considering how things have gone, I shall set my anticipation to “cautiously optimistic”.
Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media