Character Analysis : Nobara Kugisaki
My personal interpretation and analysis of Jujutsu Kaisen’s Nobara Kugisaki.
The only female in the first year class of Jujutsu School in Tokyo, Nobara Kugisaki is not your average female protagonist. In all honesty, Nobara’s character seems to go out of its way to combat the stereotypical female lead in shonen manga, especially when looking at her in comparison to her male counterparts Yuji Itadori and Megumi Fushiguro. Her character is developed very keenly and portrays the philosophy that women don’t have to choose between being pretty or being strong and you can do both without being in a skin tight suit or a bikini. Beyond just her ability to portray both these things, she does so uniquely and unprovoked while becoming even more steadfast when her ideals are challenged.
The biggest impact of Nobara’s character is her charisma. She is passionate, while extremely expressive which creates room for all her other positives to shine without overshadowing her negatives that are necessary for her growth as a character. For example, when first introduced she is pressuring a model agent to give her a chance telling him that she is more than fit to be a model their company. It's quite an embarrassing moment when she gets turned down and her attitude turns up to the max and her true aggressive side starts to take lead. It is a beautiful duality to her character where she tries to exude grace and flawlessness but in reality she is a rough uncut gem that is hard to appraise. This is easily connected to her upbringing in the country where she would fight curses before coming to Tokyo.
Envisioning a life in the big city, becoming a model, enjoying fashion stores, and seeing the best tourist sites is what Nobara seems to be all about when you first are introduced to her, but you’d be easily fooled until you see her in action. In Chapter 5, she gives up her advantage on a curse because it has a little boy hostage and she says to herself how foolish it was of her to drop her weapons because he would get away and/or kill the boy anyway. Even though she thought this to herself, her instincts and heart told her to let it escape in hopes the boy would survive. She knows what is important to her, and it is not just about living a life of luxury, but to protect the lives of people like that little boy. When this curse tries to escape after being assaulted by Yuji, Nobara finishes it off with her ability and Gojo mentions that she is “plenty crazy”, implying she had what it took to be a Jujutsu Sorcerer.
After saving the little boy, Nobara makes a comments about coming to the Jujutsu School because it was the only way she could move to Tokyo. Yuji asks her “You’d risk your life for that?” and she answers with a resounding “Sure. It’s to stay true to myself”. Nobara is honest to her feelings and even makes a comment implying she wouldn’t be happy if the situation turned out any other way and thanks Yuji for his help in earnest.
Although it seems Nobara has an obsession with the finer things in life, it is shown even that stems from a relations with an old friend from her hometown who moved to the city. Her old friend Saori had been ostracized just because she was from Tokyo and was accused of acting stuck up, however she was nothing but kind to Nobara. Secretly, Nobara has hopes of seeing her friend again so they can go to the bakery Saori had always mentioned.
In the Goodwill Event arc Nobara is fighting against the Kyoto student Momo and is antagonized by Momo’s description of what it means to be a woman and a Jujutsu Sorcerer. Coupled with praise about Mai Zenin, Momo preaches about how women Jujutsu Sorcerers must be pretty, elegant and have skill. Momo trying to assert her beliefs that directly conflict with that of Nobara’s not only triggered her charisma expression but also gives her a moment to speak on her own beliefs. Nobara says how she feels with power and distinction while continuing to move forward toward the goal she set on. In the face of adversity her character shines. She makes is clear that her life is not a job, and that she gets to decide what is fair and what is not. She doesn’t dwell on the things she cannot control, and instead focuses on what she can control and progress forward.
Finally, Nobara’s compassion is unique because she seems very aware of her own emotions. She holds herself to a certain standard and wears her emotions on her sleeves even unconsciously. She felt guilt and regret the Cursed Womb arc, wanting to become stronger after seemingly losing Yuji. In Origin of Obedience, Yuji asks her how she felt about killing the two cursed womb brothers because they were still part human and she responds very seriously but extremely sincere. She makes it clear to Yuji that she believes that what they had to do was necessary and that anyone who isn’t in her shoes can’t tell her what is right or wrong. It is such a profound way to show a character’s mentality after committing murder for the first time albeit in self-defense. It begs the question of how far Nobara would go to defend a decision she made in the heat of a moment, and just where her guilt threshold stands.
Nothing about Nobara is surface level or can be understood at first glance. Her values, morals, mentality and philosophy has yet to be fully explored by Akutami in the time of this analysis, but I believe the most recent manga moments have begun to expand on her character and how she will progress the story of Jujutsu Kaisen. As the female lead, it is exciting to see her not fall into the trope of being the love interest of the main male protagonist and even see her gravitating to the other female cast members like Maki Zenin. Nobara Kusakagi is one of the most interesting female characters in recent Shonen Jump and following her progression should be exciting. One can only wonder where Akutami is going to take her character.