The Unfortunate Chain of Events called “The Shibuya Incident”.
*Spoiler Warning* This article will be discussing the events of Jujutsu Kaisen’s first major arc and expound upon the themes involved.
Jujutsu Kaisen has been on the major rise in popularity Globally. With 25 million volumes sold in Japan alone, the phenomenal adaptation by Studio MAPPA, and a new interview with Gege Akutami, Jujutsu Kaisen has solidified itself as a new generation hit in Weekly Shonen Jump. Seemingly, Akutami has no plans of slowing down, and with Jujutsu Kaisen recently completing its first major arc; “The Shibuya Incident”, the popularity is sure to grow.
“The Shibuya Incident ‘’ is a properly named arc due to being a series of events that causes a major shift in the world of Jujutsu Kaisen, and being the first arc showing the major stakes for each and every character within the series; good or bad. Between giving more development for characters, and killing off fan favorite side characters, The Shibuya Incident embodies everything needed for a high stakes “war” arc between two major factions within the story.
In this article, I will be breaking down The Shibuya Incident in three sections: 1) The Purpose of the Arc, 2) The Arcs Major Events, and finally 3) The Aftermath. Each one of these major points holds major weight to completely understanding how The Shibuya Incident came about and how the incident has completely changed the story of Jujutsu Kaisen, pushing into a much more serious and dangerous atmosphere. Even Gege Akutami in their recent interview with Mando Kobayashi, stated that the slice of life or “down-time” chapters previously given in the story will be no longer, and the story will be getting much more serious from here on out. However, this isn’t to be unexpected considering the build up to the arc, and the things at stake for both the curses and the jujutsu sorcerers. For the curses; the future they will have in the world, and for the Jujutsu Sorcerers; the safety of millions.
The Arc Purpose
Jujutsu Kaisen is a Shonen Manga that is structurally different from many of its peers. Gege Akutami takes a very deconstructive approach to the tropes within Shonen by disguising their true intentions for characters and plot developments with said tropes, then breaking those down into deeper themes and purposes. Most major Shonen arcs are used to escalate the stakes of the manga for that arc, creating a high level of suspense and threat for the main cast. Example arcs would be “Soul Society” in Bleach, “Edo Invasion” in D.Gray-Man, and “Marineford” in One Piece.
Without Coincidence, The Shibuya Incident falls on Halloween. The perfect time to not only capitalize on the non-sorcerer population count in Shibuya but also the nature of Halloween’s celebration of evil, dark and supernatural. It is this type of detail that exemplifies how much work Akutami puts into making sure every ounce of information is important and plays on the series’ overall theme and setting. It is clear from the date alone that The Shibuya Incident would be more of a tragic event than anything else.
Aside from just increasing the level of difficulty for the main cast, these major arcs create space for world building and to prepare the story to enter a new phase. For One Piece, the Marineford arc was the true beginning to Luffy and the Strawhats’ Journey. It was the final marker showing the audience just how much more there was to go for the cast to achieve their goals, and brought multiple new characters that expanded on the world’s lore. The Shibuya Incident takes a different approach while honing in on the same themes and purposes but strays from the typical outcomes you will find in usual major shonen arcs. Many characters within the series are killed off in The Shibuya Incident, and closes out plot lines that could have been explored in the future but nothing that was necessary for the plot’s compelling progression.
There are also very clear losses and wins that drastically change how certain characters are perceived by fans and also brings back older characters that seemed almost out of the picture and reminding the readers how important Jujutsu Kaisen Vol 0, the prequel to the current series, still is. The grand plan for the antagonist group orchestrating this tragic event was accomplished, and it was a very clear loss for the protagonist group. The intelligence, drive, and cunningness of curses was revealed through pure action and destruction, showing the reader and the main characters just how dangerous the world can be.
The events leading up to The Shibuya Incident, were all meticulously planned out by “Brain-Kun”, a literal brain that has been taking over bodies for 1000 years. The plan to seal Gojo Satoru is so important because it was the key to weakening the forces of the Sorcerers for a new world order. This arc embodies the end of an era and the beginning of a new era in the world of Jujutsu Kaisen.
The Shibuya Incident is a tragic way to bring in a new tone of seriousness to the story without compromising the shonen story telling integrity, yet still being fresh, new, unrelenting, and suspenseful. A battle of ideals and wills for the future of the world is the best way to describe the purpose behind Shibuya taking place, and ultimately leads the world into its next stage.
Arc Main Events
The entirety of The Shibuya Incident is filled with high stakes combat, high pressure battle choreography, and surprising twists that kept the audience engaged every chapter. From Gojo’s sealing to the death of Nanami; the Shibuya Incident kept the suspense high. Aside from this however, the actual events to unfold play major roles in plot progression and character developments.
It is unrealistic to go through every event that happens but there are key events that happen like a domino effect that advances the story telling immensely and opens the door for almost anything else Akutami wants to explore in the lore of Jujutsu Kaisen.
For the characters involved, the battle in Shibuya was a battle with everyone’s lives on the line; the lives of the Curses and the lives of the Jujutsu Sorcerers and non-sorcerers. First and foremost, the sealing of Satoru Gojo and the reveal of Brain-kun having taken Geto’s body expanded the possibilities of cursed techniques and the added more mystery to the character that the audience had been following for 80+ chapters by that point. Not only did it invoke discussion among the fans, but the characters within the story have now been placed in even more danger because they are being fooled by the true culprit at hand.
The key here is manipulation. Brain-Kun has the skill to trick those around him, become someone else, and manipulate things the way he sees fit for the goals he wants to achieve. This level of manipulation goes even deeper once the truth about him also taking Noritoshi Kamo’s body was revealed. These two moments solidify Brain-Kun as a massive enemy for the protagonist group showing that they are at a complete disadvantage beyond just preparation but skill as well.
On top of the reveal of Brain-Kun, there were multiple instances of the characters being pushed to their limits. Each one of these moments were utilized to progress the characters but not just in strength but also in their wills to fight. For instance, Dagon vs Nanami/Maki/Naobito showed the antagonist’s will whereas we never got this side of Dagon before. Seeing him literally grow from an infant curse into his full fledged form and the death of the curse Hanami provoked it.
On top of that, we get Naobito’s perspective on curses with him consistently saying “cursed spirit”, and how it angers Dagon because he felt his identity was being denied. The personification of Curses is an overarching theme within Jujutsu Kaisen causing psychological pressure for Yuji, but also reminds the reader that these aren’t just entities to be exorcised, but beings born from genuine feeling and emotion hence them having their own.
The relationship between Toji and Megumi is organically expanded upon within this same event. Megumi more or less coming to the rescue of his seniors in their fight against Dagon opened space for Toji; albeit a puppet, to come into Dagon’s Domain and finish off their enemy. Afterwards Puppet Toji grabs Megumi to a secluded area and they clash. Here we see Megumi’s growth since Origin of Obedience, where he decides to focus on envisioning himself stronger. This allows Megumi to hold his own against Puppet Toji who at the climax of their clash wakes himself up from berserk mode and kills himself after asking Megumi his name and realizing he was fighting his son. Akutami takes this moment to give a flashback into Toji’s decision to sell Megumi to the Zenin clan and we get the truth that Toji felt like Megumi would prosper in the clan due to his strength and potential.
Akutami easily takes these high tension moments and gives the audience an oppurtunity to learn more about the characters and their motives. Even Sukuna’s awakening within Yuji’s body gave us insight on Nanako and Mamiko’s denial of Brain-Kun having control of Geto’s body. There isn’t a moment where Akutami doesn’t take the time to delve into the character’s identities, and the final fight between Mahito and Yuji makes it clearer.
In the final clash between Yuji and Mahito Akutami gave the final push for Yuji’s character to fully grow. Starting with Yuji noticing the total destruction caused by Sukuna using his body and him feeling that his execution is necessary now. This plays directly back to chapter 2 where he says he doesn’t understand why he has to be executed. Things have changed and Yuji is now fully understanding just how dangerous he and Sukuna are. From there Yuji witnesses the death of his mentor Nanami, and soon after seemingly witnessed the death of his friend and classmate Nobara Kugisaki by the hands of Mahito.
In Between these two major moments we get Nobara fighting against a clone of Mahito and getting the upper hand using her resonance ability causing damage to both versions of Mahito. Yuji notices this and has an internal monologue thanking Nobara for reminding him that he isn’t alone in his fight. Once again Akutami makes sure to give the reader proper insight on the mental state of the characters.
Even with Mahito landing a fatal blow on Nobara we get her reminiscing on her life and even her saying to Yuji “Tell Everyone…it wasn’t so bad” before the blow takes effect. This breaks Yuji down to being unable to fight and Mahito beats him down physically and verbally, expressing that Yuji could never beat him because he doesn’t understand that their fight is a battle of wills, not just random Ghost-busting. What Yuji had yet to fully realize was that the curses he was fighting were not just things to be fixed but truths of the world that had to be combatted and destroyed. He had to accept them fully before he could truly fight against them. This high level character dynamic adds tension to the audience and blatantly states the mental flaws of Yuji, opening up for Aoi Todo to arrive and give the opposite insight to Yuji which gives him the strength to continue fighting.
Mahito’s evolution and Yuji’s final resolve to stop looking for reasons behind the curse’s destruction and choices is the final closing to Yuji’s uncertainties and brings the story past the initial internal conflicts that plagued Yuji throughout the series. There are many more instances of this throughout the arc but the moments I mentioned are strong examples of Akutami prioritizing high stakes in combat while keeping the psychological depth relevant and progressive.
The Aftermath and Conclusion
Finally, the Aftermath of Shibuya is the most prevalent to the entire arc. What will happen after Shibuya has been decimated and how will the Jujutsu world change after Gojo’s sealing? Brain-Kun has set up multiple pieces before the Shibuya arc to prepare for the return of “The Golden Age of Cursed Techniques”. These pieces include not only releasing cursed spirits but even Megumi’s sister Tsumiki. Now awoken due to Brain-Kun releasing the seal on her, the cursed item she swallowed and him apparently awakening a few non-sorcerers into Jujutsu, the current state of the world is leading into chaos. In chapter 137, Yuta Okkutsu has returned to the story and has been assigned as Yuji’s executioner. On top of that, Gojo and Principal Yaga have been framed for the events of Shibuya. It is clear that the higher ups or elites in charge of the Jujutsu School are being manipulated by the coincidental events of Shibuya and are being fooled continuously by Brain-Kun.
With 23 wards almost destroyed, the Shibuya Incident has completely changed the tone of the story. Beyond Brain-Kun’s ambitions to have the human race optimize cursed energy and to expand upon its potential, the secrecy of Jujutsu is beginning to falter. If this happens and the public becomes aware of curses’ existence it could cause paramount fear throughout the world. It could possibly be worse for Japan who has now had an influx of curses due to the tragic events in Shibuya. Wherever the story goes from here is profoundly shaped by these events making it even more difficult to predict how the rest will unfold. Is this where the Jujutsu Schools begin to fall under the pressure of society, or will the Japanese Government do everything they can to cover up the truth giving the Jujutsu Elders even more power?
The possibilities are almost endless and we can only wait to see how Akutami decides to carry on the story. However, it must be expressed how impeccable and well put together The Shibuya Incident is. Pulling from previous information given in past arcs, giving in depth insight to both antagonists and protagonists, along with revealing a new villain that goes beyond the understanding of the audience and cast, Akutami has solidified themselves by writing a classic arc even outside the Shonen genre. For this to be the first major arc for the series and to still be under 200 chapters, Jujutsu Kaisen has definitely entered the realm of elite stories within the medium. Fans can’t help but be excited for the future and rightfully so.
The next saga to Jujutsu Kaisen begins now and it will not be pleasant.