Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2, Episode 13: One of the best anime chapters I’ve ever seen

Have you ever experienced something where you thought, “yeah, this might be a big influence?” I have a lot of feelings for the current airing of the second season of Jujutsu Kaisen, but the episode that I felt the most was last week, ie episode 14, Red Scale. It was so good, in fact, that I watched it right away. I couldn’t help myself, the whole time I was watching the episode I kept saying to myself “what the hell?” (except I didn’t say hell). And I think the reason why it feels like such a special episode comes down to one thing: light.

There is an argument to be made that light is the most important part of filmmaking. It is the thing that gives color, contrast, light or darkness, and it is a part of the narrative process. You can use a whole bunch of colors to tell your story, but this particular episode focuses on two to tell its story: red and blue. I won’t go into too many details of the story to avoid spoilers, but the main thing that happened in this episode was the fight between the protagonist of Jujutsu Kaisen, Yuji Itadori, and Choso, a character with a deep hate Yuji in a personal vendetta.

Like most shonen action, they are both very strong, constantly going back and forth between coming out on top and giving up on their ass. But the episode’s most compelling moments are the slowest. Moments where one half of their face is covered in blue light, one with a dash of red, looking at each other as they try to figure out what the other is doing. That slowness culminates in one particular moment, however, that uses more of the concept of light than light itself in a stunning way.

Throughout the second season, I noticed an interesting choice made for some scenes that wouldn’t happen properly in a manga. That is, they are presented like home movies, in a 4:3 aspect ratio that is more familiar to older audiences than what many young people are used to. This particular view of the home movie, meant to be shot on film, is used in a scene at the climax of the fight that sees Choso experiencing a vision.

It’s a surreal moment, not just because of the strange nature of its contents to see Choso, who we only know as a villain without much of a backstory, being fed spaghetti by Yuji, the man he tried to kill. , but because anime is mostly digital now. Of course the actual events make sense (manga readers will know what happened), but from an animation perspective it feels like a moving image conversation in general. While this episode looks back to provide a strange sense of nostalgia, the way the episode is presented, perhaps at the highest of what is possible in animation, looks to the future.

A whole new meaning of red vs blue.

It might be a touch hyperbolic, but in this second season, and especially in the 14th episode, I think Mappa, the studio behind the series, will be as influential as Kyoto Animation. If you don’t know KyoAni, it’s the studio behind the classic sports anime Libre!, an anime that you can easily feel the influence of most anime from the 2010s. I really believe that Mappa could have such an impact on the next decade of anime, especially when you pair it with its other series, 2022’s Chainsaw Man, itself a tour de force of animation. And yet… there’s Mappa himself.

As much as I love Mappa’s output, it’s also important to acknowledge that like many other animation studios in Japan, this one seems like a horrible place to work. There are even allegations of animators being forced to sign NDAs prevent them from talking about what it’s like to work there, which is as bad a sign as anything. It’s sad because it doesn’t have to be this way.

I made the comparison to KyoAni not only because of the studio’s impact, but also because it apparently treats its staff well; It is known as a studio for the simple fact that it hires more female animators than anywhere else in the industry, even winning a Women in Animation Diversity Award, and even more unusual than the fact that it has paid staff, a difference from other studios that usually complete work on a contract basis. What I’m saying is, yes, I’ll probably think about the Jujutsu Kaisen stage for a long time. But if Mappa wants to become the next big studio, it really needs to make changes.

Those who like their anime to be more interactive may be happy to hear that Jujutsu Kaisen is getting a 3D brawler next year, the perfect gift for the Gojo fanatic in your life.

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