How would you rate episode 39 of
Jujutsu Kaisen (TV 2) ?
Community score: 4.2
I’m of two minds about “Fluctuations, Part 2.”
This is a step up from the previous “Fluctuations” episode, from a production standpoint. The editing and pacing of its excellently animated action sequences is far more consistent, and the overall atmosphere of the episode is very strong. The opening fight between Toji and Dagon is fittingly thrilling, Jogo’s arrival on the scene afterward elicits the appropriate amount of shock and suspense, and the grand return of Sukuna to the story is quite chilling and foreboding. Outside of the occasionally questionable framing choice and an off-model here or there, the only major thing I must complain about when it comes to the visuals is all of that damned dimming. This isn’t quite the immaculate standalone piece that “Red Scale” was, but it’s still a top-tier spectacle.
It’s the story of this Shibuya Arc that I’m still not very impressed with, and “Fluctuations, Part 2” gives a lot of great examples of why that is. Even though there is a lot going on, to the point where I know that the utter chaos of the storyline is very much intentional, I’m still struggling to care about what is happening. Take Toji’s presence in the episode, for instance; it should be a huge deal, considering how much time we spent building him up in the first half of the season. Outside of taking out Dagon, a villain that existed primarily to fill time, Toji’s return to the land of the living is barely remarked upon. The narrator goes out of her way to emphasize that he’s an instinctual killing machine with nothing interesting going on so far as motivation is concerned, and none of the Sorcerers except for Maki’s uncle recognize who Toji is. I don’t think that the show is so careless that it is just going to forget to milk Megumi’s unexpected reunion with his dirtbag dad. However, it is hard for me to believe that we’re still somehow in the Teaser Phase of this storyline after ten whole weeks of never-ending build-up.
I could say the same thing about Sukuna’s return, which, while perfectly chilling to behold at the moment, doesn’t hold much weight for me beyond the basic “Really Strong and Evil Guy is Bad; Should Be Stopped” situation. It’s wild how infrequently has featured Sukuna or the Rotting Magic Finger Story in its main plots, given that his presence in Yuji’s body was supposed to be the inciting incident of the story. I get that he’s been saved as this unfathomably strong and exceptionally evil monster, but that’s basically every villain in this show. They’re all mysterious and frighteningly capable creatures who were only kept at bay by Gojou’s equally eldritch power levels. Am I supposed to find Sukuna that much cooler and scarier because of how thoughtlessly he murders Mimiko and Nanako? Those two had, like, ten lines apiece before they got sliced and diced. Who cares about them?
That brings me to the last moment that I am struggling to figure out my feelings on: Jogo burning Nanami, Maki, and that drunk uncle guy into cinders without so much as glancing twice in their direction. I know that a lot of shows have fallen back on that Walking Dead-styled approach to character deaths, where “anyone can die at literally any moment, regardless of whether or not it makes sense for their character or improves the story” is a feature and not a bug. Hell, I’ve enjoyed a few such stories myself over the years. It’s an approach to writing that I’ve grown less patient with as I’ve gotten older, though, and it’s mostly because it tends to feel so cheap. I’ll be less miffed if some of the gang survive those horrendous burns, but I still refuse to believe that there wasn’t a more interesting and creative way to establish the stakes and remind the audience of Jogo’s power.
This was still an impressive episode of , and you can go ahead and throw an extra star onto that rating down there if you’re vibing with the Shibuya Arc’s storytelling choices, this season. It won’t be surprising if I end up enjoying it a lot more once the whole arc is finished. From week to week, though, this has been a surprisingly all-over-the-place season of JJK, for me. The show provides plenty of gory spectacle for me to chow down on, but it never fills me up, never satisfies me. I’m not hungry for more JJK at the end of each new course, either. I’m just left…hungry. That’s all.
Season 2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.