Jujutsu Kaisen Answers Fan Criticism of Its ‘Meaningless’ Fights


Contains spoilers for Jujutsu Kaisen Chapter 196!

The popular Shonen Jump battle manga Jujutsu Kaisen has been criticized for the overabundance of fighting in its latest arc, but the series just proved that these fights can still be a joy to read. The manga by Gege Akutami has often been praised for its innovative powers and exciting battles, but the latest arc of the series, focusing on the Culling Game has featured so many fights that fans have grown fatigued. However, this is partially a function of the very nature in which the story of Jujutsu Kaisen is told.

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The Culling Game follows what many fans consider to be one of the best manga arcs in Shonen Jump, the Shibuya Incident arc. That arc was the culmination of everything that had come before it and majorly shifted the status quo of the series in exciting ways. However, it also featured the deaths of many characters, meaning that the series had a lot less characters to work with going forward. The Culling Game arc has served to introduce many new characters who will likely be important in the next big arc. Each of these new characters are introduced with a fight in order to show off their fighting techniques and character motivations. This has made many fights seem inconsequential, as they feature characters fans don’t care about yet and are used primarily as an expository tool. But the series is finally acknowledging this with a seemingly inconsequential fight that perfectly captures what makes fights so great in the first place.

In Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 196, Maki takes a break from her climactic fight with the cursed remnant of Naoya to fight a sumo enthusiast. This sumo fighter was only introduced two chapters ago, and seemed largely like a gag character, but his passion for sumo and fighting in general is infectious and his genuine care for his opponent sets him apart from most of the Culling Game participants introduced thus far. His fight with Maki essentially serves as a therapy session, reminding her to actually enjoy her fights, as fighting is a pure expression of freedom. This isn’t just an important lesson for Maki, but for the readers themselves.

Through this clash, Gege is reminding fans that fights can be compelling no matter which characters are involved, as long as they take the time to enjoy it. The fact that the Sumo sorcerer has only been around for a couple chapters and yet is part of one of Jujutsu Kaisen‘s most enjoyable fights so far is proof of this. In addition, the way that the fight is portrayed released from the typical confines of manga panels reminds readers of the fluid beauty of physical conflict, which can often be lost when battles are reduced to individual snapshots of important moments.

While this fight does specifically address the complaints that Jujutsu Kaisen has received, it can easily apply to other battle manga as well. Fans often tend to view certain fights as “filler” if they don’t directly progress the plot of the story in a meaningful way. But Jujutsu Kaisen just proved that every fight in a Shonen manga can be enjoyable and even beautiful, as every battle is an expression of passion and freedom on behalf of its participants.

Jujutsu Kaisen Chapter 196 is available to read from Viz Media.

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