Character Analysis : Mahito, the personification of human resentment.
My interpretation of Mahito; the humanoid Special Grade Curse and his impact and portrayal in Jujutsu Kaisen (Manga Spoilers)
Curses within the world of Jujutsu Kaisen are the embodiments of fear, hatred, jealousy and any other negative emotion that comes with being human. These natural emotions are the establishment of the conflict for the characters in Jujutsu Kaisen, however there are certain curses who excel above the others becoming Special Grade. These Special Grade Curses are just as their labeling implies, but specifically these curses have their own drives, motives and overall goals for the world. Mahito is a Special Grade curse that goes beyond what we have seen from other special grade curses in Jujutsu Kaisen. He is not only young and inexperienced but also very smart and learns during every encounter with Jujutsu Sorcerers. Slowly but surely Mahito is beginning to take a much more pivotal role in the world of Jujutsu Kaisen but specifically this analysis will focus on who Mahito has been portrayed as in the series so far.
Stated by the curse himself, Mahito was born from the hatred humans have for each other. This alone makes Mahito a much more interesting curse than his peers but also gives him more insight on the human condition. This makes him the perfect character to antagonize the main cast; specifically Yuji and allows for highly confrontational dialogue centered around morality. Mahito was introduced at a time when Yuji was taken in by Nanami in order to understand what it meant to be a Jujutsu Sorcerer and I doubt Akutami (Mangaka of Jujutsu Kaisen) did this by coincidence. Yuji meeting Mahito was his starting point of understanding what Curses actually are, and Mahito was simply toying with human lives, conducting his own form of experimentations to try to shatter Yuji’s mental will so that Sukuna would have a chance to take over, something that ultimately backfires on him. Mahito and Yuji’s first conflict stems from the mutual relationship they had both established with Junpei. While Yuji tried to appeal to Junpei’s genuine side and did form a connection of sorts, Mahito had already tainted him beyond return. Junpei was a product of a confused kid who also had aptitude to use Cursed Energy, and Mahito used that to his advantage. He appealed to the weak and angry side of Junpei making him begin to curse the people in the world more than he ever had before. What makes their relationship so jarring, is that Mahito took no effort in hiding his sadistic side from Junpei, but instead used that to appeal to his inner weakness. Junpei not only watches Mahito kill humans in a movie theatre, but also sees the results of his experimentations, but because Mahito was nice to him Junpei didn’t see him as a threat or enemy something he would ultimately regret.
What Mahito points out to Junpei is what makes him so interesting to me. Before killing Junpei in front of Yuji, Mahito expresses how much he hated Junpei for being so gullible. He speaks on how weak minded and stupid Junpei was to believe him and he hated him for acting like he was above people when he couldn’t see the obvious in front of him. This is such an intriguing and telling perspective because Mahito knows how little he tried in acting like the good guy and how easy it was to manipulate him. It is almost as if Mahito was saying he expected more and since he didn’t get that, killing Junpei was the next step. Junpei’s death however is the catalyst to begin the true rivalry between Mahito and Yuji, where Yuji finally sees his enemies for what they are.
The other main point to discuss when looking into the development of Mahito’s character is how he continues to grow. Specifically looking at the clash between him, Nanami and Yuji, Mahito literally feels himself hitting the brink of death and in that instance he awakens his Domain Expansion while thanking Nanami for helping him evolve even more.
This was the first showing of Mahito’s growth through combat. Literally embodying the definition of human potential and its ability to grow. What Mahito does as a Curse born from humans’ hatred for each other is not only symbolic but profound. He shows the readers and the characters how dangerous sentient Curses can be but also reflects the humanity within us all. This however, is the first layer of Mahito’s character.
What truly makes him compelling is his cursed technique: Idle Transfiguration. It is a technique that allows him to touch the soul of another and shape it to his image, which causes the body of that soul to change as well. In Mahito’s mind or “world”, stated by Fake Geto, it is the Soul that shapes the Body. Mahito’s insight onto the human condition and his ability to shape souls, gives him a unique and philosophical outlook on everything about his life. He completely understands that he is a Curse, an entity based on destruction and desire so he lives with that as his driving force making him one of the most dangerous Curses in the series.
Mahito is so in tune with his desires, that his meeting with Yuji Itadori entirely changed his outlook on the plan to help Sukuna. Mahito felt within himself, that Yuji was his “mortal enemy”, the person that he must kill. In the Shibuya Incident arc he decides to disregard the plan to give Sukuna 10 fingers, and says he wants to kill Yuji, even deciding to make a game out of it. He says to Jogo, “I have no plans to fight you, so lets see who gets to Itadori first”, showing that Mahito puts his desires above all, another negative human trait. What is most important to Mahito is what he will learn about himself or discover when he finally kills his mortal enemy, everything is about learning even subconsciously.
An indirect journey of “self-discovery” is Mahito’s story within Jujutsu Kaisen, which inherently causes a journey of self purpose and growth for Yuji. Mahito telling Yuji to “wish him happy birthday” and saying “killing you will show me the true shape of my soul” is beyond just clever wording, but the truth for Mahito. Completing his goal is what he desires and shows him his true worth. Feeling the core of cursed energy through Black Flash, allowed him even deeper insight into himself and what he strives to be. Getting that clear image of his soul is what became most important.
The more that Mahito chases after him the more Yuji has to accept the cruelty of Curses and understand that there isn’t always a moral reasoning, but just a product of the natural order of balance. Where there is construction there must be destruction, and where there is hope there must be despair, so where there are humans there will be curses.
Beyond all else, Mahito’s character is the growth that Yuji needed to handle the path he will go down as Sukuna’s vessel and the character necessary to show the reader the depth of cursed energy and what it creates when a special grade curse is born. Mahito is the building block for not only Yuji’s character but all the Jujutsu Sorcerers. As Jogo stated; “Death is a mirror for humans. Mahito is that mirror”, he is what we all ignore when we look in the mirror. He embodies what society tells us not to be: overzealous, prideful, egotistical, and self-serving. What Mahito does is force Jujutsu Sorcerers to see the progression of Curses in the world, and remind them that these entities are beings with personality , purpose, and awareness.
Mahito has became one of my personal favorite antagonist in a very long time, but does so in a way that makes me appreciate the world he is set in more. He brings a forceful and menacing energy to the series that creates room for philosophical and sociological debate and discussion. What is the true meaning of being human? What is the true meaning of being a curse? Mahito not only makes you ponder these questions but also gives you his own personal answers through action. I look forward to what Gege Akutami has planned for his character after the events of Ch 132, and how he will continue to impact the series from here on.