MANGA REVIEW | "Jujutsu Kaisen" - Volume Nineteen
All right, Gege Akutami. Your mindset certainly seems to be better, especially when it comes to showcasing great fights. For awhile, I was getting worried that Jujutsu Kaisen was losing its focus, to the point where I started to wonder if I should drop it. Thankfully, as Volume Nineteen shows, this Culling Game arc is a far different — and better — beast than the Shibuya Incident!
Diving deeper into the “Tokyo Colony No. 1” section of the Culling Game, Yuji and Megumi find themselves separated at the battle’s beginning. Both fighters then seek out their first opponents, with the aid of faces new and old to Yuji and Megumi. However, as this series tends to show, the sorts of fights these two will dive into will be anything but simple.
For Yuji’s opponent, Hiromi Higuruma uses both strength and wit to his advantage. As this is the one he and Megumi were looking for, Yuji takes the opportunity to convince Hiromi to add a rule to the Culling Game. But Hiromi isn’t interested in just using his skills to add that rule, nor is he keen on sharing his points with Yuji. That’s when the two face off in a way that Jujutsu Kaisen fans wouldn’t expect: a court of law.
What happens then is a perfect blend of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Street Fighter! The law part puts Yuji on trial, with penalties placed on him if he were to be guilty. Yuji’s not the sharpest tack in the box, but he still gives it his all to try and beat the law system. Alas, two bad verdicts put him at a disadvantage, with his cursed energy blocked and Hiromi using a gavel that’d make Kaori from City Hunter jealous. Fortunately, our hero finds a clever way to earn an advantage.
Meanwhile, Megumi finds himself facing off against a few opponents, ranging from the flamboyant Reggie Star to the gruesome Iori Hazenoki. The latter’s skill to use body parts as explosives feels more at home with Chainsaw Man, but it nevertheless is impressive to watch this battle unfold. When a strange man named Fumihiko Takaba arrives, his presence adds a surprising amount of awkward humor to the mix. With a look that blends The Punisher with Watchmen’s The Comedian, Takaba delivers bad jokes and good moves that earn him some respect points.
But it’s when Reggie and Megumi battle when almost everything is thrown at one another. Punches, kicks, trucks, even comedically-placed potted plants are used in their fight, with both one-upping another in the ridiculous department. It’s the kind of battle Jujutsu Kaisen promised we’d get on the regular in its first volume, rather than the super-serious ones that tend to overcrowd this series. Not only is it enjoyable to read through, but it delivers some solid high-octane adrenaline thanks to Akutami’s visual talents.
Jujutsu Kaisen feels fun again. What had become the manga that felt the most chore-like to read has finally reclaimed its shonen spirit. Volume Nineteen gives me hope that this Culling Game arc will have the creativity and coolness that the Shibuya Incident was dreadfully lacking. If Akutami keeps himself focused, then I have no doubt that Jujutsu Kaisen will stay fun for a long while!
Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media.