The Meaning of Jujutsu Sorcery & Jujutsu Sorcerers (and why are they special?)
My personal interpretation of Jujutsu Sorcery and its overall importance to Jujutsu Kaisen and why it stands out. *SPOILER WARNING*
Gege Akutami’s manga Jujutsu Kaisen is a story following the life of Yuji Itadori after he makes the rash decision of eating one of the cursed “Sukuna fingers” and becoming a Jujutsu Sorcerer. While the story of Jujutsu Kaisen is an interesting one this piece is focusing on the center point to the story of Jujutsu Kaisen, Jujutsu Sorcery. Jujutsu Sorcery is the power system behind the supernatural aspects of Jujutsu Kaisen and it is somewhat of a complex one. I don’t have any intentions on explaining the inner workings of Juryoku (cursed energy) use in battle, but to expound upon the understanding of Jujutsu Sorcery by explaining how its existence alone has immense effect on the world and characters.
The word “Jujutsu” means Sorcery in Japanese making it very clear that Jujutsu Sorcery is simply sorcery, but in the Jujutsu Kaisen it more specifically relates to the practice of “Jujutsu”. These practitioners are called “Jujutsu Sorcerers” and they are people who use Juryoku to kill Curses. These Curses or “cursed spirits” are entities created from the negative energy in the world. To put it in simple terms; Jujutsu Sorcerers fight the evil born from the world and risk their lives doing so. Regular humans cannot even see these curses, so Jujutsu Sorcerers are left to fight them. This is something that is even frowned upon by certain Jujutsu Sorcerers, causing them to go down a path even darker than the one they were already on. The basic principles of Juryoku is the most crucial information needed to understand the stakes behind a Jujutsu Sorcerers’ job. As Gojo explained in Chapter 12, cursed energy can be thought of as electricity, and the application of that energy are cursed techniques. The origin of this energy comes from the negative emotions within the sorcerers; fear, anger, and anything in between, this is massively important because the jobs of sorcerers are high risk, constantly putting their lives on the line and in the midst of this they must stay in control of their emotions to be able to fight efficiently.
A Jujutsu Sorcerer’s job is always looking death in the face. As principal Masamichi Yaga said to Itadori, “Jujutsu Sorcerers always die with regrets and always are close to death while having to tear apart the flesh of a curse”, and even goes to say that the job requires not only motivation but to be slightly crazy. Consistently throughout JJK (Jujutsu Kaisen) we have seen examples of this; Megumi using Chimera Garden, Nobara and Yuji vs the Half-Cursed Brothers, Gojo vs Toji and more recently Yuji vs Choso. The Curses themselves are embodiments of negative emotion and that alone can be morally antagonizing for the characters. It is consistently stated in the world of JJK that Jujutsu Sorcerers die with regrets. There will always be that feeling that you failed or wished you did something differently, but your strength comes from accepting those emotions, channeling them, and fighting to live another day or die trying.
One of the most powerful statements that exemplifies this would be Gojo’s words to Megumi, where he says “As a Jujutsu Sorcerer you will always die alone. To die and then win; and dying victoriously are two completely different things Megumi”. These words of wisdom are so important because of the nuance given to the importance of mental fortitude and creativity to reach your full potential as a sorcerer. To be able to grow mentally is such an important skill for Jujutsu Sorcerers, that it literally can define whether they live or die.
What makes Jujutsu Sorcerers stand out from other supernatural occupations in manga, is the clear negative connotations made towards the job. Nothing about being a Jujutsu Sorcerer is glorified or painted as a dream job. There is no public compensation, or recognition, it is simply people who can fight curses, doing just that may it be for personal reasons or external ones. Characters like Megumi and Maki make that noticeably clear with Megumi literally saying, “I’m not a hero, I’m a Jujutsu Sorcerer” during the events of the cursed womb arc, and Maki stating, “I don’t think about saving people” when Megumi asked about her personal creed on saving people as a Jujutsu Sorcerer. This aspect is unique because Jujutsu Sorcerers don’t see their jobs as pleasant and some even question their moral standpoints, causing them to even betray the Jujutsu Schools, becoming curse users when the pressure of being a sorcerer influences them negatively, Getou being the obvious example of this. These pressures are brought upon Jujutsu Sorcerers daily and never go away, which is why mental fortitude is so important.
For 16-year-old characters to go through these thematically deep and life threatening situations it really gives a dark perspective on the life of Jujutsu Sorcerers. They cannot be strangers to death, or loss. They must accept all the misfortune that comes with the world of Juryoku and become apart of it. Even characters who do not align themselves with the Jujutsu Schools are people who live as assassins, thieves, and in extreme cases terrorists. Even for characters who are not born with the ability to become Jujutsu Sorcerers, they might be stuck in the pit of this world if they are born into families who can. Jujutsu Sorcery and Juryoku is not a power people would commonly want. It is not a fairy tale power that would make the world a better place, it is actually the opposite.
Jujutsu Sorcery is a power system that spans a lot of concepts within Jujutsu Kaisen, but the focus around Jujutsu Sorcerers and their relationships with Curses is the deeper subject matter within Jujutsu Kaisen. Juryoku being a power that regular humans exude to create Curses subconsciously, while Jujutsu Sorcerers have full control but fight against these curses for the sake of normal people. It reminds me of Mutants from X-men to an extent. Are the people who are born able to see curses and use Juryoku evolving to match the supernatural? If this is the case, why do they need to protect regular humans? If they can’t see it are they meant to understand it? These philosophical questions directly relate back to simple evolution in reality allowing for applicable thought processing and debates while engrossing readers in an engaging story. Without specifically speaking on the applications of individual characters, Jujutsu Sorcery creates dynamic situations and relations between characters. It is impressive how Akutami has created such a similarity to Yoshihiro Togashi’s “Nen” power system in Hunter x Hunter while keeping it cool, new, and expansive beyond power scaling conversation.