How would you rate episode 41 of
Jujutsu Kaisen (TV 2) ?
Community score: 4.3
Another week, another excellently composed piece of destructive spectacle from —though if the ever-churning gossip mill on social media is to be believed, MAPPA might not be able to keep up with the demands of this production for much longer. I don’t have any material insight on what is truly going on behind the scenes over there, but more news of exploited and overworked animation teams being forced to labor under absurd schedules would be far from the most shocking news article of 2023. As time goes on, enjoying episodes like “Thunderclap, Part 2” gets harder since all of the gorgeous art and animation on display must always come at a cost, and we have to be mindful if and when that cost becomes unjustifiable.
I’m sure the folks who poured their all into making this episode such a feast for the eyes would appreciate some recognition of the fruits of their labors, so let me at least say that this is another exemplary showing for the artists at MAPPA. The entire episode is devoted to a single fight (a running theme for this season), and the clash between Sukuna and Makora, Megumi’s most powerful shikigami to date, is certainly one to behold. On top of the fluid choreography and gargantuan scale of the fight, this battle features some of the most frighteningly surreal and apocalyptic imagery of the season, thus far. Sukuna’s “Malevolent Kitchen” Domain Expansion may have a silly name, but the mass destruction that it wreaks is no laughing matter, wiping out humans and spirits alike with its terrifying slicing and dicing.
It’s a shame that the episode manages to communicate the grandeur of Sukuna’s power but still hasn’t cracked the code of getting us emotionally invested in what is going on. The brief glimpse of the civilians consumed by the Malevolent Kitchen reminds us that regular people are dying left and right on this longest Halloween of all time, but it’s something you understand on an intellectual level, not an emotional one. Maybe some more ground-level stories involving efforts to rescue the civilians would have helped, or perhaps we could have spent more time with some of the weaker side characters whose deaths could have been saved for this moment to sell the impact. That Shigemo guy doesn’t count, either. He was a nothing character whose death actually would have mattered more if we’d just left it at him getting obliterated by Nanami a few weeks back. Here, it feels like the only reason he was given those vague “miracle-saving” powers was to become an expendable body for a fight that otherwise only involves an unconscious Megumi, a shikigami that we’ve never heard of before, and a villain whose sole defining character trait is that he’s “Evil but a Lot More Than the Other Evil Guys.”
We close the episode on an incredibly moving and powerful moment where a reawakened Yuji has to reckon with the unspeakable crimes that he has been made complicit in…or rather, what could have been a powerful moment if the episode didn’t make the utterly insane choice to soundtrack the devastating scene with the goddamned theme song. Hey, , for future reference: If you’re ever going to try and sell the all-consuming terror and pain that comes from your hero discovering that his body was hijacked to enact what is essentially a Spooky 9/11 on scores of innocents people, you know what sound does not work at all? The King Gnu‘s, “I love you baby/You are my special” to a funky dance beat. Good grief.
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.